EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Two days after the NBA suspended their leading scorer and another teammate, Earl Boykins and the Wizards' reserves gave Washington a much needed lift, if only for a night.
Boykins hit a jumper with 0.4 to play and Washington defeated the New Jersey Nets 81-79 on Friday night, the Wizards' first game since guards Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton were suspended for the remainder of the season for bringing weapons into the locker room.
"You have to stay resilient," Wizards forward Caron Butler said. "You know, this has been a tough and trying period for all of us mentally and physically, but you have to try to find a positive. That's what we have been doing, trying to stay afloat, stay positive and keep pushing. Fortunately the city has been behind us and we have been moving forward."
Boykins was the main reason the Wizards snapped a four-game losing streak and prevented the Nets (4-41) from posting consecutive victories for the first time this season. New Jersey beat the Clippers on Wednesday to end an 11-game losing streak.
The 5-foot-5 guard came off the bench, scored a team-high 15 points on 7 of 13 shooting from the field and grabbed five rebounds. His biggest shot, of course, was his last, which came 12.6 seconds after Brook Lopez tied the game at 79 for New Jersey with a layup with 13 seconds to go.
After the Wizards called a time out, Boykins dribbled the ball slowly up the court and waited for the final seconds before dribbling to his right to come off a screen by Antawn Jamison.
"It was a read of the pick and roll and how they were going to play it," Boykins said. "The previous possession they switched. The last possession we were prepared for it and I was able to take advantage of it because of the mismatch."
"Earl came off and hit a magnificent shot, a shot he is very capable of making," Dooling said. "You have to tip your hat to him."
It was a win the Wizards really needed, not matter how close it followed the suspensions.
"For us to come here and get a win like that with a shot from one of our littlest guys, we'll take it," Butler said.
Reserves Andray Blatche added 14 points and Nick Young had 10 for the Wizards, who did not get double figures from any of their starting five.
Courtney Lee had 19 points — 17 in the first half — and Lopez added 17 and eight rebounds for the Nets.
"This are tough losses when you compete this hard," Nets interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe said. "Everybody across the board was competing."
The Wizards and the Nets came into the game with the two worst records in the Eastern Conference and neither seemed to want to win in the final minutes.
Held without a point for almost the final five minutes, the Nets tied the game at 79 when Lopez spun away from Brendan Haywood and hit a layup.
After Boykins game winner, Jarvis Hayes wasn't close with a hurried 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Washington had taken a 79-77 lead with 2:23 to play when Butler hit two free throws after being fouled going up with the rebound of Jamison's missed shot.
There were only nine points scored in the final five minutes and the Wizards had seven of them.
After Lopez hit two free throws to put New Jersey ahead 77-74 with 5:01 to play, Jamison followed his own missed to cut the lead to a point and Haywood tied the game, making one of two free throws with 3:07 left.
Washington, which trailed by 12 points in the first half, stayed closed thanks in large part to the play of Boykins, Blatche and Young.
The trio combined for 22 of the Wizards' 28 second-quarter points to get Washington within a point at the half and Boykins had the final five in a late 7-0 third-quarter spurt that had the Wizards within 66-63 heading into the final quarter.
A 3-pointer by Chris Quinn with 6.8 seconds left in the quarter gave the Nets the lead.
NOTES: ...The Wizards are 2-0 vs. Nets this season. ...New Jersey has not won consecutive games since Apr. 11 and 13, 2009. ..Lopez had a brief chat with ESPN's Michelle Beadle, who used to work as a sideline reporter for Nets games, after blocking a shot by Boykins and chasing the ball into the sideline courtside seats. ...The Wizards outscored the Nets 35-32 in the second half, with New Jersey getting 13 points in the fourth quarter. ...The Nets 26-18 lead after the first quarter was their largest of the season after an opening 12 minutes.