In a wildly perplexing game in more than a few ways, one decision that left fans and analysts scratching their heads took place with less than 10 seconds to play.
After Davis Bertans made three consecutive free throws to push the Wizards’ lead to three with 8.8 seconds to play, they not only had a foul to give, but were in a position to foul and prevent a 3-point attempt. Neither happened.
The Wizards fouled once, but didn’t foul to put the Nuggets on the line when they inbounded the ball with 5.9 seconds left. Jamal Murray burned them with a deep 3-pointer to tie the game once again.
Bradley Beal bailed the Wizards out after he drew a foul with 0.1 seconds left on the other end of the floor, and with two made free throws he sealed a dramatic 130-128 win over the Nuggets at Capital One Arena.
“We had a foul to give the play before, I think it took the clock down to under six, 5.9,” coach Scott Brooks explained. “Had some couple of mess-ups in that situation throughout this year and then we had a few of them in practice. I wasn’t confident enough to do it again. I know we haven’t practiced a lot, we’ve got a lot of young, inexperienced players on the floor, but I would like to do that especially over five seconds.”
Just a few weeks ago the Wizards were nearly burned late, as Tyler Herro missed a 3-point shot that would’ve sent the game to overtime.
Brooks said he’d prefer to make that particular decision in that situation, but wanted to be sure of its execution before he made the call. He also said Rui Hachimura thought Murray, who finished with 35 points, was too far out for the final shot.
“I said, ‘No, not anymore. There’s a dozen players that jump ball circle, that’s their range. They practice it, they make it,’” Brooks recalled. “We got away with it. These are all learning experiences for some of our guys that are playing, I’m glad that we’re in these moments.”
The decision not to foul didn’t ultimately cost the Wizards the game, as a Beal drive down the baseline to the rim drew a foul from JaMychal Green and put the game out of reach for the Nuggets.
“Like I said, we messed up a few of those already this year and in practice when we did have a practice about a week and a half ago, we messed up a couple trying to foul,” Brooks said. “We’re not quite ready for that, but normally I would like to do that.”
Tune in to NBC Sports Washington at 9 p.m. on Saturday for full coverage of the Wizards' next game against the Trail Blazers