The Clippers won the game at Staples Center 113-112 thanks to Lou Williams' 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds remaining, but the aftermath of the reserve guard's clutch shot was filled with drama.
After the Wizards used a timeout to set up a potential go-ahead score, backup point guard Tomas Satoransky inbounded the ball to Beal on the left baseline. Beal converted the jumper following a dribble, but it was discounted when the buzzer sounded with the ball in his hands.
However, after a review, the game clock was found to have started early, giving the Wizards another try. Only this time, it was set to 1.1 seconds instead of 1.2, and the Wizards had to inbound from the corner.
Washington's second opportunity didn't go so well. Center Marcin Gortat was forced to take a contested 21-foot jump shot that missed, ending the game.
Beal said that the officials gave him a simple explanation afterward.
"Excuse my language, because I'm gonna say verbatim what they said," Beal said. "They said it's something called the ... some s--- rule. It's a freak rule. To me, it didn't really make sense because you kind of take a basket away. You go back and we get the same amount of time, but we didn't get the same amount of time and then the ball was placed in the corner."
Beal then remembered what the officials said the rule was.
"Oh, it's the tough-s--- rule," Beal said. "That's what it is. I don't really understand it, I don't get it. We had a great play. Now that you take that away, that gives the defense a chance to set up, change some things. Now we gotta go back and change into a different play with the ball in the corner."
Beal called it "a crazy rule" but acknowledged "there's nothing we can do about it, and the officials said there's nothing they could do about it. It's just was what it was."
Wizards coach Scott Brooks was also upset about the ending, but wasn't given an explanation. "I'm not sure, I'm not sure. I haven't heard," he said when asked why there was 1.1 seconds left instead of 1.2 seconds left.
Brooks, though, 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.
According to the NBA Pool Report, officiating crew chief Bill Spooner explained that the rule in question is Rule 13 section 1A-5, which states: "A play concludes (i) with no time remaining on the clock (0:00) at the end of any period or (ii) at a point when the game officials believe that actual time may have expired in any period; and the officials are reasonably certain that the game clock malfunctioned during the play."
But Spooner says that the Wizards actually had an advantage on the play after the review, because the clock should have been reset to 0.1.
"We had a clock malfunction, early start," Spooner said. "The crew actually incorrectly reset the shot clock to 1.1, we should have reset it to 0.1. The reason is, on an early start, we timed the possession, the lost time. The only time that was lost was 0.1. So we should have inbounded the ball at the point of interruption, which is what we did, but it should have been at 0.1 instead of 1.1."
Clippers power forward Danilo Gallinari said he wasn't sure what was going on at the end of the game.
"I had no idea. I'm guessing that the clock started right before [Beal] caught the ball, but I'm not sure," Gallinari said. "I wasn't on the table listening to what the referees were saying, so I have no idea."
Gallinari, who has been playing professional basketball at some level since 2004, said that he couldn't recall if he had ever seen an ending like that on Saturday.
"I'm sure that something like this in my 10 years here might have happened -- I'm not sure," said Gallinari, who scored a season-high 25 points in his second game back from a glute injury. "I'm just glad that we got the W. You don't want that to happen and then they find a way to make the shot, so glad we got the win."
Another call just before Williams' game winner was questioned, too.
With the Wizards holding a 109-107 lead, Clippers point guard Austin Rivers missed a 3-point try with 18.1 seconds left in regulation. But Clippers center DeAndre Jordan backtapped the rebound after engaging in contact with Gortat, allowing Rivers a second chance at a 3, which he made with 12.2 seconds to go.
Beal converted a three-point play, but all that did was set up Williams for the final go-ahead field goal.
Brooks felt there could have been a call made on Jordan, but he wouldn't say that was the reason the Wizards lost the game.
"I'm not one to make the call, but yeah, DeAndre did push him off to get that offensive rebound," the coach said. "But that's part of it, you've got to be physical -- it's a physical game down there. They're not going to call those at the end of the game. You've got to man up and make sure you get the rebound. We gave them a couple of offensive rebounds. We have to have all our guys ready to play, and we didn't have that today."
Beal echoed Brooks' thoughts about the Wizards being inconsistent with readiness, as John Wall missed his eighth straight game due to injury. The Wizards started the game on a 13-0 run, but the Clippers led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter.
Beal scored 16 of his 25 points in the third quarter, and the Wizards had a 109-105 lead with a minute left before all the shot-making.
"It's a little bit beyond frustrating at this point," Beal said. "I just told Tim [Frazier], we should be tired of saying 'on to the next one, on to the next one.' ... [Brooks is] right, he's gonna start calling people out, he's going to start playing people that he thinks need to play, and that's what's going to start happening."