Cavaliers Defeat Wizards In OT To Take Series 4-2

By Carla Peay
Updated: May 9, 2006

“If you miss both of those free throws, the game is over.” – LeBron James.

LeBron James addresses the media after his Cavaliers win their first round playoff series vs. the Wizards.

LeBron James addresses the media after his Cavaliers win their first round playoff series vs. the Wizards.

WASHINGTON — No one but Gilbert Arenas will ever know whether the words LeBron James said to him as Arenas stood at the free throw line at the end of game six at the Verizon Center Friday night got into his head or not.

What is known is this – Arenas missed both free throws. With 15 seconds left in overtime, Arenas’s two missed foul shots set it up for the Cavaliers to take game six – and win the series – on a stunner of a shot by Damon Jones, who hadn’t seen any action in the game until overtime.

After hitting a spectacular three pointer at the buzzer that Arenas might as well have shot from the parking lot to send the game into overtime, it seemed the Wizards just might be accompanying the Cavaliers back to Cleveland for a decisive game seven.

The Gilbert vs. LeBron show continued throughout game six in the first round of the NBA Eastern Conference matchup, as the two all-stars continued putting up numbers that rivaled the greatest offensive playoff duos in the game’s history. But when Arenas stood at the line with 15 seconds to play in overtime, he failed to make the first shot.

What happened after that has been the subject of much debate and scrutiny. And perhaps even folklore. James came up to Arenas in between the two shots, touched his shoulder and uttered his now famous line. An expressionless Arenas missed the second shot.

And Damon Jones won the game. What James did has been called everything from inappropriate to cold-blooded and ruthless. But to trash talk another all-star in his own gym shows that James has that killer instinct.

Dare we call it Jordan-esque?

“It gave us a chance”, Arenas said of his three pointer to end regulation. “We didn’t capitalize on it. I had a chance to seal the game with two free throws, and I missed them both. You live and you learn.”

“It’s something I can take into the summer and use as motivation. But I’m going to be in plenty of situations where I get the chance to redeem myself”, Arenas said after the game.

Arenas was asked if James’ words had upset him, or if his actions, touching him between free throws, might not have been a technical foul. Arenas shook his head, refusing to make excuses.

“I missed em”, he said with a shrug. “The basketball gods weren’t with us in this series”, he added. Whether or nor Arenas truly believes in basketball gods is another subject altogether, but the Wizards inability to close out games is something that will have to be addressed during this offseason.

In losing to the Cavaliers four games to two, three of those games were inexplicably lost by one point. The Wizards are a jump shooting team that struggles on defense, and suffers from the lack of a strong inside presence.

Despite the fact that James and Arenas were once again the top scorers for their respective teams, the stat line of the night belonged to Wizards forward Caron Butler, who had 18 points, 5 assists, and an incredible 20 rebounds.

“It hurts. I think the reason it hurts a little bit more was because we lost three games that were all buzzer beaters. But it’s something you have to live with. It’s tough. We were a play away from winning this series”, said Butler.

LeBron and the Cavaliers will meet up with the Detroit Pistons in round two, while the Wizards will ponder what went wrong, and what must be done to avoid another early exit for the postseason next year.

Arenas, who is known for being the ultimate gym rat, often coming to the Verizon Center late at night to shoot, had planned on taking some time off after the season finally ended for his team.

“I told the trainer I was going to take a week off”, Arenas said.

No one who knows Gilbert Arenas was surprised when he showed up at Verizon Center on Saturday to practice his free throws.