Rookie's buzzer beater lifts Bucks
Ramon Sessions hit a 19-foot jumper at the buzzer Wednesday night to give the Milwaukee Bucks a 110-109 victory over the Wizards, who left the game with severely bruised egos and new injuries to Antawn Jamison and DeShawn Stevenson.
The Bucks, who never led by more than one point, overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and ran a perfect inbounds play to win the game. With 1.1 seconds left, Royal Ivey threw the ball into the post to Andrew Bogut, who was supposed to turn and shoot but instead flicked the ball quickly to an open Sessions in the corner.
There was barely a tick left on the clock as the ball left the rookie’s hands, but the shot was clearly good upon instant replay review.
“That’s the biggest 1.1 seconds of my life right there,” said Sessions, a second-round pick whose eight points and eight rebounds were both career highs. “That’s my biggest shot, by far.”
Charlie Villanueva had 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Bucks, whose celebration took some of the sting from the news that they were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs by Atlanta’s win over Toronto. Milwaukee also ended an eight-game road losing streak.
The Wizards, by contrast, were all out of sorts after the game, so much so that Arenas left the locker room before it was open to reporters.
Wednesday was supposed to a celebration of the three-time All Star’s surprise comeback after 66 games sidelined with a knee injury. The crowd was thrilled by his every move and by each of his 17 points, but Washington was outscored by 15 points during his 19 minutes on the court and blew the 95-86 lead it had when he entered the game for the final 7:23.
Still, all seemed well when Arenas made two free throws with 15 seconds remaining to give the Wizards a one-point lead.
“The script was planned out the right way,” Wizards guard Roger Mason said. “He hit the two free throws at the end of the game, and I kind of thought that was the end. A great story line: ‘Arenas back.’ But Sessions hit a crazy shot at the end.”
Before the winning shot, there was a chaotic sequence that left All-Star forward Jamison with a sprained right shoulder and Stevenson with a sprained right ankle. Both had X-rays and will be re-evaluated Thursday.
Stevenson rolled his ankle on a play that ended in a jump ball between Sessions and Caron Butler under the Wizards basket with 6.3 seconds left. Butler tipped the ball toward Jamison, but Jamison had to dive into the second row of seats to save it inbounds, hurting his shoulder. Sessions then outhustled Antonio Daniels to the ball and called timeout with 1.1 on the clock.
“He’s playing hard, and when he gets in there it’s a fresh look for us,” Bogut said of Sessions. “He doesn’t want to go back to the D-League.”
Butler and Jamison scored 18 points apiece for the Wizards, who missed a chance to clinch their fourth consecutive playoff berth. Butler (strained left hamstring) and Daniels (sprained left wrist) were back after missing Monday’s loss to Utah.
Arenas’ return was befitting of the living soap opera he has become. He kept himself under wraps all day, missing the shootaround, the pregame warmup and even the national anthem. He waited until the 5:30 mark of the first quarter to emerge from the locker room in his customary No. 0 jersey.
He entered the game 9 seconds later to a large ovation and scored on a reverse layup with 4:49 left in the first, his first points since Nov. 16 against Minnesota. With his left leg wrapped in a black supportive sleeve, Arenas shot the ball well and came up smiling after diving into the Bucks bench for a loose ball late in the third quarter, but he wasn’t exactly smooth when he moved laterally on his twice-surgically repaired knee and was a defensive liability.
Arenas first hurt his knee last April, then rushed his rehabilitation over the summer and lasted only the eight games into the season before requiring surgery again on Nov. 21. He was always cagey about his return, and he stormed out of the locker room before a game against Cleveland last month because he wanted to play but didn’t get clearance from his doctor.
The doctor gave the go-ahead during the Wizards’ recent road trip, but Arenas continued to sit out. He had previously said he wanted to make his return at home.
“I’m happy he returned,” Butler said. “But most importantly we need to get a win and clinch a playoff spot and get some momentum with Gilbert back.”