Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The way things have been going for the struggling Clippers, it figures a wild finish involving an arcane clock rule would be the way they'd finally win again.
Lou Williams hit a go-ahead pull-up 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds remaining, lifting Los Angeles to a 113-112 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday to end a four-game skid.
"Nothing has been easy," coach Doc Rivers said.
With Bradley Beal guarding him, Williams unleashed the winner from the top of the key, capping a wild final 12 seconds in which both teams traded leads on clutch plays.
"I made a move and Bradley bit on it," Williams said. "I was able to pull up with one dribble. If I go left, I like my chances."
After Williams' basket, the Wizards called a timeout.
They inbounded the ball on the sideline with 1.2 seconds left and Beal hit the potential winning baseline jumper, which was waived off because the game clock started a couple tenths of a second too soon.
After a video review, the referees decided to give Washington possession for a replay, except the Wizards inbounded in the left corner with 1.1 seconds on the clock. Marcin Gortat's jumper bounced off the rim as time expired.
Crew chief Bill Spooner told a pool reporter after the game that the referees incorrectly reset the shot clock to 1.1 seconds instead of 0.1. Spooner said the location of the inbounds changed to the point of interruption where Beal caught the ball.
"We had a clock malfunction, early start," Spooner said in a statement. "The time that they lost was 1.1. With an inbounds at 1.2 that leaves, mathematically, 0.1 and that should have been where we reset it. We actually made the mistake in their favor if you will, and reset it at 1.1."
Wizards coach Scott Brooks wasn't upset about the mistake.
"I never complain about tough decisions and tough plays at the end of the game that referees have to make," he said.
Beal called it "a freak rule" and said it didn't make sense because the Wizards had his basket taken away.
"We had a great play, now that you take that away that gives the defense a chance to set up now to change some things," he said. "Now we've got to go back and try to change into a different play with the ball in the corner. He said we get the same amount of time, but we didn't get the same amount of time. Then the ball was placed in the corner. So I don't really understand it."
Rivers said he wasn't sure what triggered the review.
"I just wanted it to go in our favor and it did," he said. "We showed a lot of heart."
Williams scored 35 points to lead a dominant bench effort for the Clippers. Their reserves outscored Washington's 59-47.
Beal scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half. Otto Porter Jr. had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and Mike Scott had 22 points off the bench for the Southeast Division-leading Wizards.
"This is one of those games that you can't be 100 percent mad because there was so much freak stuff going on at the end of the game it could have played out any way," Beal said.
Austin Rivers hit a 3-pointer from the right wing, putting the Clippers ahead 110-109 with 12 seconds left after he missed a 3 in the right corner and Los Angeles controlled the rebound.
"I thought that was going to be the one that won it," Williams said.
Beal completed a three-point play with 8 seconds remaining to put the Wizards back in front, 112-110. That set up Williams' winning shot after the Clippers had blown a 14-point lead in the third quarter.
Both teams were missing injured stars: John Wall for the Wizards and Blake Griffin for the Clippers.
Neither team led by more than four points in the fourth.
Beal got loose for 16 points in the third. He made four 3-pointers before Porter pulled the Wizards into a 75-all tie on a free throw. The last 1 1/2 minutes turned into a 3-point shootout between Williams and Scott. Each of them hit two 3s and Williams added another basket to give the Clippers an 85-81 lead going into the fourth.
Williams is the NBA's leading scorer off the bench and he's been on a roll in his last six games, scoring at least 18 points in each of them. It's the most dominant run of his career that he can recall.
In an omen to the strangeness of the game, the referees called a foul on the opening tip. "That was the first time I saw that," said Beal, a six-year veteran. "Why was it a foul versus a re-jumped ball or just their ball?"
The Clippers have won 15 of their last 18 against the Wizards dating to March 18, 2009, including 10 in a row at Staples Center, which is the second-longest active home winning streak against a single opponent.
Wizards: Wall missed his eighth straight game with a sore left knee. Coach Scott Brooks said Wall practiced Friday and responded well. He will practice again on Monday and be monitored day-to-day.
Clippers: G Milos Teodosic sat out his 22nd straight game because of a left foot injury. He practiced Friday, worked out Saturday and will work again Sunday. Coach Doc Rivers said if Teodosic can get through all that, there's a chance he could play.
Wizards: Visit Brooklyn on Tuesday night in the finale of their five-game trip.
Clippers: Host the Raptors on Monday night, the last time Toronto will be away for four straight games this season.
More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.