Before the Wizards and Bulls tipped off, the Wizards along with Comcast SportsNet celebrated Phil Chenier's 25 year broadcasting career. From a personal standpoint I have been watching Phil's work since he first started covering the team in 1984 on Home Team Sports.
As Dan Steinberg pointed out in his column earlier on Friday, Chenier started his Bullets broadcasting career with legend Jon Miller, was later joined by Mel Proctor and then was finally paired with his current play by play man, Steve Buckhantz.
In the media room, I got a chance to talk to Buckhantz and explained how giddy I was to see Mel Proctor, to which Buck replied, you must be a long time Bullets fan. An obvious indictment that I have been following this team for quite some time. We both chatted for a bit and he explained to me that not only was he honored to be emceeing the event tonight, but how special it was to have two men that he idolized in Phil Chenier and Earl Monroe in attendance.
The presentation was well deserved and very well planned. The fans were treated to the likes of Bullets greats, Wes Unseld, Bobby Dandridge, Earl the Pearl and of course Chenier himself.
Unfortunately, the Wizards were unable to bottle up the magic of the old-school Bullets legends and turn it into a victory over a Bulls team that is frankly just better than them. Washington managed to keep the game close going into the 4th quarter but went absolutely ice cold shooting a startling 12.5% on 2 of 16 shots. When you have more made free throws in a quarter than made baskets you can't reallly expect to stay in games, although Chicago did their best to play down to the level of the Wizards.
I could write a full detailed summary of the game but I don't really know how many times you can say the same things over and over again. Washington moved the ball well for the first three quarters then played selfish basketball in the fourth. They held the Bulls to a relatively low shooting percentage but that doesn't matter all that much when you go out and shoot even worse by nearly 7% points less. I'm not quite sure how many other times this has happened this season but the Wizards again failed to have a player with a positive +/- rating. Now, was it all bad, of course not. There were moments, as there have been all year long, but when you are not a consistant team, you dont' win games in the NBA. The typical players flashed moments of brilliance, which were followed by mental hiccups.
Andray Blatche finished with 18 points, 7 assists, 13 rebounds and 2 steals. Again, a killer stat line if you take out the 7 for 20 shooting and factor in the logic that Kyle Weidie used in one of his last game recaps. When you play 40 mintues you should be able to get double-double type numbers. The issue again is consistancy and perhaps it's not all on Andray. I mean, we've got a former 2nd round pick playing with a bunch of role players and he's basically being asked to carry a team. Does it mean he should be taking bad possessions at the end of games, and jacking up a long, very deep shot he knows he shouldn't have taken resulting in the Blatche headband toss? No. Lucky for the fan in the front row, not so much for Flip. Teachable moment? Yes, but is it really learning if you continue to make the same mistakes over and over again?
I want to see Andray continue to grow, but from where I was sitting I'd like to see him a little more responsive to the coaching from the bench. Sam Cassell is continually teaching as the game goes on and Flip will occasionally yell out some marching orders to Dray but I just don't feel as though he is completely on board with the message being thrown his way.
I liked what I saw from JaVale McGee at times as he put up 13 points on 6 of 14 shooting along with 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Something that I've noticed though with McGee over the last few months of covering the team is that when he starts to get tired his decision making becomes questionable. As McGee becomes winded you tend to see less of the hard drives to the basket replaced with finger roll attempts, jump shots and unsucessful swat attempts which are usually followed by Coach Saunders calling to the bench for a new big man.
I think JaVale is a big piece of the puzzle moving forward with the Wizards, but one that is still a few years away from realizing his true potential. McGee shows us flashes of the brilliance that Dwight Howard, Shaquille O'Neal and Steve Nash have all raved about but the unfortunate part is that his weaknesses are magnified on a team that doesn't have a strong supporting cast.Once this Wizards team is rebuilt I'd like to see how JaVale would succeed being asked to come in and give a solid 20 mintues of pure energy off the bench, swat some shots, grab some boards and not having to worry about carrying an offensive load. Another Wizard who I continue to watch closely in hopes that he will be around next year is Shaun Livingston.
While I would love to see Shaun's assist totals stay in that 5-8 range per game, especially as a starter, I love the way he uses his height to his advantage over smaller defenders. His vision is incredible and he just has an incredibly high basketball IQ, and Flip has menitoned this on a few occasions now. In close to 40 mintues Livingston had 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a blocked shot. Again, am I thrilled about the 3 assists, not really, but this is a guy who is playing more mintues than anybody woud have thought possible for him at the begining of the year.
I hope Saunders continues to use Shaun as much as possible in these last few games to get a real good look at how he improves game by game. Obviously there are things that Shaun needs to work on but I'd love to see what he could do if was running the point with some guys who could knock down shots on a continual basis, a-la, a Gilbert Arenas. My player of the game however did not go to a Washington Wizard, it went to the best and most talented player on the court, Derrick Rose. Rose has got it all and he is just beginning to figure things out. The ceiling on his game is so high, it's scary to think that he has so much more to grow as a player.
Once he gets himself a premiere player to play alongside him, the Bulls are going to be a very good team for a very long time. Rose finished with 24 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Staggering numbers, hardly, but sometimes in basketball it's more about the how than the what. Rose pushed the ball up the court on just about every possesion faster than the Wizards could get back on defense. At times I had to remind myself that these were not fast breaks or transitions off of rebounds but inbound plays where he simply used his speed to burn past defenders.
Rose is one of those NBA talents who gets to do just about whatever he wants to whenever he wants to. His athleticism was on complete display as he twisted and turned in mid-air, took alley-oops that took the crowd's breath away and made plays out of nothing. If fans at home were keeping track, the hockey assist would have come in handy tonight. Rose's assist numbers might not have been high, but the guy who got the ball one touch after his orignial pass was made, was the beneficiary of the defense not being there as they were still trying to recover from being burned by Derrick.
What Wizards fans got to see Friday night was a glimpse of the promise that a certain individual in the upcoming draft has. This unique talent is being compared quite frequently to the Bulls Derrick Rose and those in attendance and watching on tv got a chance to see why. John Wall has the explosiveness, court vision, ability to change direction at will, can create for teammates, and the list goes on and on. These were all the things said about Rose when he came out as well. In a season that has shown no mercy for Wizards fans, for one night we should all be able to close our eyes and imagine for just a second what it would be like to have a playmaker with Derrick Rose-like ability in DC.
The ooh's and ahh's would be for us and not for the other team. We could be the team on Sportscenter highlights, and not for being on the recieving end of plays. One has to assume that it's only a matter of time before luck and chances start to go your way, right? Just for the hell of it, for one day Wizards fans, allow yourselves to dream of John Wall in DC, you might have seen the closest thing to it actually happening on Friday night at Verizon Center.
- Joe Glorioso Wizards Extreme Correspondent
Wizards Extreme's Fans of the Game
This really was a no-brainer. This group of fun loving Wizards fans used the entire 48 minutes to heckle the crap out of the visiting Chicago Bulls. The brunt of their ire came at the hands of Brad Miller, Joakim Noah and Flip Murray. Some of my favorites from the night were: To Flip Murray: "your name is Ronald, there is only room for one Flip in this town" To Joakim" "quit your crying, you don't even know the right time to complain", "those are the ugliest shoes ever, get yourself a pair of Nike's", and my absolute favorite of the night which got a chuckle from Mike Miller, "hey Joakim, Billy Donovan hates you!"