In last night's 118-112 loss to the Miami Heat, the only thing uglier than the Wizards' throwback uniforms was their fourth quarter free throw shooting. After hanging with the division leaders the whole game - the teams traded leads throughout and neither led by more than eight points - Washington choked at the free throw line with the game on the line. To be fair, you can't ask Michael Ruffin to do better than 3-4 (his career FT% is .467), but Gilbert Arenas missed a chance to take the lead from the line with 1:13 left, and Antawn Jamison missed both his free throws with Washington down two with 15 seconds to play.
So, instead of closing the gap on Miami after the All Star game as I had hoped (okay, predicted), the Wizards have lost five of their last six and are in danger of falling below .500 again. Instead of overtaking Cleveland in the fourth playoff spot and setting their sites on the Heat, they slipped back to a tie for sixth with Philadelphia. The talent is there but they just can't seem to put it all together. If Caron Butler has a great game, Arenas is in a slump (at Dallas). Or Arenas and Jamison put up 72, but Butler is hampered by stomach problems (Memphis). Eddie Jordan challenged his "bigs" to play better after the Boston loss, and they did play well last night, but even with balanced scoring from the Big 3, they could not get it done at the end.
It would probably help if Washington stopped putting a huge welcome mat in front of the hoop for every All-Star they face. In recent games against the Wizards, Dwyane Wade had 40 points, Paul Pierce went for 31, Allen Iverson had 47, and Pau Gasol put up 39. How mad is Kobe Bryant that Washington's upcoming West Coast road trip doesn't include the Lakers? Kobe was probably hoping to go for 120.
Yes, these are the times that try Wizards fans' souls, but I blame myself for last night's loss. You may recall that I knew the Wizards would beat Cleveland when I found "The Karate Kid" on another channel while watching the game. Last night, after the game was over, I flipped around and found "Caddyshack." Obviously, if I had found it during the game, instead of an the average "Seinfeld" rerun that filled the game commercials, Jamison makes his free throws, Arenas steals the ball from Wade before he puts up the gamewinner, and the Wizards are on their way to the division title.