When Jordan Crawford leaned left, kicked out his right leg and his ridiculously-high arching shot splashed through the net as time expired, the Washington Wizards reserve guard leaned down and made a beeline for the locker room.

Nene, Trevor Ariza and John Wall all looked around stunned, making sure that the shot counted — and that Wizards really had pulled out a 98-95 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers — before chasing down Crawford. But before Crawford couldn't even make to the other end of the court, point guard A.J. Price had already wrapped him in an embrace and other exuberant teammates crowded and danced gleefully.

Eventually, the party got sloppy, the players stumbled to the ground and Crawford found himself buried in a heap of head slaps and hugs. Martell Webster wouldn't let go of Crawford and kicked his feet wildly in the air.

Clumsy celebrations should kind of be expected for a Wizards team that has been unaccustomed to winning much this season, let alone in the fashion that they did on Monday night at the Rose Garden, where Crawford spared them from another collapse, or another potential overtime defeat with a shot that rained down from the heavens.

"I always say, the basketball gods usually even things out, and we've been on the other end so many times this year," Coach Randy Wittman said after the Wizards improved are 3-6 in games decided by three points or less. "Our guys are just sticking with it and learning and staying with it and making plays down the stretch when we need to make a play to win the game."

The Wizards (9-30) also showed that they can compete — and win — even when their best player, Wall, and their promising rookie, Bradley Beal, were far from their best. And after Nene, Webster and Emeka Okafor put the Wizards in position to win, Crawford closed out the game by scoring all 13 of his points in the final period — none bigger than a three-pointer over Portland's Wes Matthews that few besides Crawford would've had the confidence to take.

"I wanted to get a clean look," said Crawford. "I knew it had a chance. Thank the Lord I made it."