For a team that is just 27 games into their regular season schedule, the 2016-17 Washington Wizards sure seem to get a lot of chances at last-second buzzer beaters. Markieff Morris had an opportunity to be the hero in Orlando. Otto Porter and John Wall have both had their shots. And on Monday night in Indiana, the man many have clamored for all year to take the final shot actually got one at long last.
Just like the others, that one rimmed out, too. This time it was Bradley Beal who had the open look, yet once again the Wizards saw the same result. It was another heart-stopping finish, one that brought Marcin Gortat to the floor in disbelief.
Yes, it was another missed opportunity, another play that will stick in the memory of the player who came up short in the final moment. But, just like most of the other last-second shots before, Beal got an uncontested look. The play drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks worked to perfection and the Wizards had their chance, it just didn't go in.
"I felt like it was good," Beal said. "It was kind of tough with the angle and it being 0.9 seconds, but I’ll take the blame for it. It was definitely a shot I can make. Just move on."
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"We’ll take that shot any day of the week," Brooks said. "We did a great job of executing, setting screens and coming off hard. It was a good look. There was 0.9 seconds, so the shot had to get up in a hurry. He had plenty of time to catch and gather. It was a good look. Marcin set a great screen. Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way."
The time left on the clock certainly produced a challenge, but the same was the case for a play just seconds earlier. On that one, Beal knocked it down right before the shot clock ran out and with just 15.7 seconds left in the game. That tied the game at 105-105, though initially it appeared to be a go-ahead shot before a referee review determined his foot was on the three-point line.
Afterwards, Beal - who finished with 22 points on 7-of-19 shooting - still wondered if it should have counted for three.
"It was a three to me, but the refs thought otherwise just like they did for a lot of other calls throughout the game. It is what it is," he said.
"I think he was on the line by half an inch," Brooks added.
The 15.7 seconds remaining were more than enough for Thaddeus Young to sink a running floater on the other end to put the Pacers up 107-105. That snapped a Wizards' three-game winning streak and kept them outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. A win would have put them in the playoff mix for the first time this season. Though it's still early, that would have been a nice short-term goal for a team that is still recovering from a disappointing 2-8 start.
The Wizards are now 12-15 on the season. They are 10-6 at home with five straight wins at the Verizon Center. On the road, it's been a much different story where they are just 2-9, the second-worst record in the East.
Like Monday night, they just haven't been able to consistently close the deal.
"We’re so close in these road games. We’re going to have a breakthrough," Brooks said.