Mashburn can't come through in clutch as Charlotte loses
Updated: Sunday May 20, 2001 7:55 PM
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Once again, Jamal Mashburn failed to come through in the clutch.
With a chance to silence the critics who've dogged him since his days in Miami, Mashburn instead shot a dismal 7-for-25 as the Charlotte Hornets lost 104-95 to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Sunday.
"The shots just didn't fall," he said. "That's part of basketball."
Mashburn finished with 21 points, but nine of those came in the first 10 1/2 minutes of the first quarter. Stifled by Robinson and Ray Allen, he was 0-for-7 from the floor in the second quarter with only one point.
He did get off two quick shots early in the third quarter, but all the Hornets went cold after Baron Davis' layup with 8:11 left. Charlotte was scoreless for more than five minutes, and didn't make another field goal until Mashburn's layup with 1:50 left.
It was such a rough day that when he was fouled by Glenn Robinson with 2:51 left in the game, Mashburn, who made all 25 of his free throws in the first round, missed the first shot.
"We don't worry about shooting percentages on this team," Elden Campbell said. "We just put the ball in the hole. That's why you have five guys on the court. Other guys can fill in the gap."
But filling in the gap isn't good enough. Mashburn needs a monster game if he's ever going to shake that bad rap he picked up in Miami of disappearing when it counts the most. He got the blame for many of the Miami Heat's playoff losses -- including last year's 83-82 loss to the New York Knicks in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
He was only 3-for-15 in that game, but his greater sin was passing up the potential game-winner in the closing seconds. Instead of taking a shot from the top of the key, he passed to Clarence Weatherspoon, hardly an outside threat.
Weatherspoon's 12-footer clanged off the rim. The Heat were done for the year, and Mashburn was done in Miami.
"I've been through a lot of missteps and bad times in Miami," Mashburn said. "You've just got to strap it on for next year."
Traded to Charlotte on Aug. 1, he seemed poised to salvage his reputation with a breakout playoff performance. Against the Heat, he made all 25 of his free throws, a playoff record, as the Hornets upset Miami.
Against Milwaukee, he scored 36 points in Game 3, then followed with 31 in Game 4, making him the first Hornets player to score 30 or more points in consecutive playoff appearances. He was averaging 25.3 points in the playoffs.
But he went 5-for-20 in Game 6, when the Hornets blew a chance to win the series in Charlotte. And he couldn't get it done Sunday, either.
"I think he did very well," Hornets coach Paul Silas said. "Mash penetrated to the hoop. But he kicked the ball when he should have. When they harassed him, such as they were, other guys have to step up. And we just didn't have enough."
Mashburn was hot early, drilling a 3-pointer, then scoring on a bank shot to give Charlotte a 20-12 lead with 4:19 left in the first. But after his layup with 1:33 left, he faded. His only point in the second quarter was a free throw with 21 seconds left.
With the Hornets clinging to a 58-56 lead with 5:47 left in the third quarter, Mashburn made two costly mistakes on one possession. He had the ball out on the left wing with about 10 seconds left on the shot clock.
Instead of taking the open baseline jumper, he drove to the basket. About 10 feet from the basket, he passed to David Wesley at the top of the key.
There was one problem -- only one second on the shot clock, not even enough time for Wesley to catch and shoot.
"It's tough to say," Mashburn said when asked if he thinks he's changed people's perceptions this year. "Hopefully, I've gained a little respect from people around the league. I think I have. But you've got to go and answer the bell.
"It's tough to lose. It's tough to lose any time. It's a tough