The Wizards came out with some decent energy to start the game off. Andray Blatche continued his trend of starting out of the gate hot. Blatche had 7 points on 3 of 5 shooting in the 1st quarter and tied with Al Thornton to lead all scorers. I believe this is turning into more of a trend than a rarity and it’s been fun to watch.
In the 2nd quarter, Washington was up most of the time with smart defense and good ball movement. I would have like to have seen more aggression out of Randy Foye and Mike Miller. I can’t remember the last time I saw Miller shoot more than 4 shots in a quarter, and while he is one of the most unselfish sharp shooters in the game, I believe the Wizards would be better served if he jacked up some more. Newly acquired Sean Livingston made his Wizards debut with 31.8 seconds left in the first half but ended the game with 0 points and a -9 +/-.
Prior to the game I spoke with Gus Johnson (famous CBS voice for the final 4) and he told me how surprised he was with how much the team had changed for the better without the “superstars.” It seems as though Gus is not alone in his assessment, as pretty much everywhere I go, people stop me and say that this team is a bit more exciting to watch than they were to start the season.
In the 3rd quarter, Blatche decided to carry the Wizards and his all around efforts on both offense and defense were simply fun to watch. Between blocked shots, rebounds and his signature reverse layups, it seems as though the trades that have allowed Dray to get more mintues have unearthed the potential he has always been said to have. The play that had me take notice was was the charge he took. A CHARGE PEOPLE! When was the last time when the big 3 were on the court you remember anybody taking a CHARGE!
In the 4th quarter, Dray’s good play continued but he was joined by JaVale McGee. I saw a lot of great passion by the young big man. The surprise of the night was when they showed Comedian Mike Epps at the game but there was nothing funny about the Wizards comeback. The crowd went crazy as Miller hit a 3 and went even crazier as he hit the LAYUP to go up one! It went right down to the wire but Al Harrington proved to be too much with a layup as McGee tried taking the charge. Harrington then missed his free throw to make it 112-110.
That’s when Randy Foye provided a clutch jumper that tied it up followed by a HUGE McGee block that sent the game to overtime. On Wizards first possession in overtime, Foyes fired up an airball that seemed to set the tone for the entire OT session. It felt like the loudest scream all game was when the Knicks Harrington missed two free throws to give the crowd free Chick-Filet. Final Thoughts: The Wizards fought hard but could not finish it out at home. Blatche had 8 turnovers but had impressive stats otherwise with, 26 points, career high with 18 rebounds and 6 assist. Overall, the team fought hard but just could not get over that hump for the win.
McGee had a quiet 18; all of his points were mostly in the paint of course. Foye was feeling it throughout all 4 quarters, but went completely dry in overtime. It was an entertaining game to watch and experience and this game showed there is a big learning curve for this young Wizard’s team. But, like my mama used to tell me, one step at a time.
- Asad Naqvi - aka Man In The Field Wizards Extreme.com Correspondent
WIZARDS HEAD COACH FLIP SAUNDERS On the game: “We got into foul trouble and our best guys were on the bench. Harrington went crazy hitting threes, but we didn’t finish out quarters at all tonight. The first quarter we were up by ten and they made six points in the last 45 seconds, then we didn’t finish out the end of the second and third quarter. I’ve always said if you could win the first four minutes and the last four minutes of the quarter you have a pretty good chance of winning the game. “
On JaVale McGee: “He was involved in the last two minutes in numerous plays. He’s probably been in more plays that it mattered that we win or not in this game then he’s played his whole career in the NBA so far.”
On the game: “That’s part of the learning process. You look how the team does and they did some special things. It’s just a consistency stand point and it becomes frustrating at times. The longer they play hopefully the consistency will come farther and fewer in between.”
WIZARDS FORWARD ANDRAY BLATCHE On tonight’s game: “That was one of the toughest games to lose, especially when we are playing hard. It seemed like when they would make a big play then we would make a big play. We were able to make it to overtime and to lose in overtime is a painful way to lose. We just have to learn from it and continue to get better. I thought it was a great game. It was going back and forth; both teams were playing extremely hard. It was an exciting game.”
On his improving game: “This is all new to me. I’ve never been the go-to guy. I feel like I’m adjusting, learning and I feel like I’m getting better. There are going to be some games like this but I’m going to go home, watch film and figure out how to get better from it. I just have to keep my head up, continue to watch film and get better.”
WIZARDS GUARD RANDY FOYE On tonight’s game: “It was definitely frustrating, especially the way that they won by making a buzzer beater. I have to give New York credit because they played hard and they finished the game off. They made it tough because they put a bigger guy on me. I guess they knew that I was going to get the ball so they put Chandler on me and it was tough for me to make shots. I was a little frustrated with my play in overtime because I think that I could have helped the team out a little more.”
On the Knicks: “The Knicks always play hard and they keep on grinding. If they have open shots then they take them, and if not they try to get the ball moving and find Lee, Harrington, or McGrady in a mismatch and go from there. I’m still trying to finish the year strong and take it one game at a time. I’m trying play as hard as I can and I’m trying to learn as much as I can from my coaches.”
WIZARDS GUARD NICK YOUNG On tonight’s game: “Players always try to find a way to get their team going, and I always wanted to hit one of those types of shots. I know that I’m a three point shooter so I took the shot. I try to bring energy and stay out there on the court doing everything that I can. When my teammates believe in me the sky is the limit.”
WIZARDS CENTER JAVALE MCGEE On the last possession: “I tried to block his (David Lee) shot and I feel like nine times out of ten I’m going to block that shot. He put it right in the right spot and I just missed it.”
On playing better: “I’m just trying to be more patient and trying to show Coach that I can be a consistent player. I wanted to come out quick and provide a lot of energy. I felt like when I entered the game the energy level was a little low so I tried to bring it up.”
On tonight’s game: “I felt like tonight showed that we are competitors and that we showed everybody that we aren’t just a bunch of guys put together. We’re a team. We want to show everyone we want to win.”
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