Wizards at home with a small crowd and I mean a SMALL crowd at home. Total of 11, 513 people showed up, or so they say. I have a huge bone to pick about that because there was nothing going on in Washington. People were still pissed about the Redskins game probably. I understand the team isn't 8-0 but they still have the #1 pick. Now grant it, he is injured, didn't play, and may not play the next game. But the Wizards need the fan's behind them just like any other local team around here. I'm actually dissapointed like my son just failed the 5th grade.
The Wizards started off hot and didn't stop there. It started with a Gilbert Arenas 3 pointer to start the game off. Gilbert Arenas made his first start due to the injury of John Wall. It looked as If Gilbert had his legs underneath him. He was shooting well throughout the game. He was only 2 for 7 in the first half. Gilbert came out with a different pair of shoes, and even shot better. So it must have been the shoes.
He was wearing the Jordan Spacejams in the 2nd half. Gilbert loves his Jordan's because that is all he has been wearing. Also in the 2nd half, it looked like Gil was mid-season form somewhat. He had a little extra boost in his jumper which helped him finish off with 20 points. Gilbert after the game talked about his performance and the team's overall performance, and called John Wall the, "One man fast break." Went on to say, "I'm just happy to play basketball all over again."
"I had a rough summer, all that stuff that I was reading, I thought the fan's were gonna murder me because I was with Kwame Brown."
Gilbert's right hand man, Nick Young did his best impersonation of Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. He just got the ball and shot it. No hesitation, no and, if's or butt's. He just got the pass and through it up. It's just like how Caron and Antawn would do the exact same thing before they got traded. Only difference is, Nick Young was hot and didn't cool down. I asked Nick after the game if Coach Flip Saunders told him to just grab and shoot, Nick responded, "Na man, I just do what I do." He then began to become his goofy self by calling Blatche and Arenas by name but adding, "The Great" to the beginning of their names (Ex. The Great Andray and The Great Gilbert). Nick finished with 20 points, which was 2nd high with 'The Great' Gilbert Arenas and added 6 rebounds.
I had a conversation with an another media member who covers the Wizards as well and we talked about, what 'IF' Andray Blatche scored around 18 points per game, would we see him make his first NBA All-Star Game? As of right now, he is averaging 16.4 points per game, and had a game high 22 points. Andray has been the most consistent scorer right behind the rookie phenom John Wall who leads the team with 18.1 points per game. Blatche has changed for the better ever since last year after the big trades of Caron Butler, Brandon Haywood and Antawn Jamison. He was forced to step up and he has taken the queue and has been playing very well for 2nd rounder. People have forgotten that he was a 2nd rounder and he's blossomed into a solid NBA player so far.
Defense was played and it was shown by the super athletic JaVale McGee, from what I counted, had around 4-7 times where he changed an opponent's shot. He had 4 blocked shots against the Raptors. He averages around 3 blocks a game, so It was right around his average. In the first quarter, McGee blocked a shot without using his freakish vertical and it was a smart play by him because if he would have jumped, the zebras would have called a foul on him. JaVale's final stats were 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks. If he can bring that to the table every night, the Wizards can finally have an inside presence not named Andray Blatche.
What I saw/heard
* JaVale made a Kareem Abdul Jaabar hook shot that was nothing but net. He's been working on that since the summer and it paid off tonight.
* Josh Howard is probably one of the nicest Wizard players. There was a fan who wanted to take a picture with him who sits right next to the bench. Howard waited patiently as the kid's father could not work his camera. Finally, he got it to work but it was 5 minutes later. Showed his character.
* I heard alot of echo because nobody was there. I heard Flip Saunders yell for Andray Blatche to get up and go to the scorers table to get sub'd in.
* DC United Soccer Legend Jaime Moreno was in attendance.
Post Game Quotes courtesy of the Washington Wizards and the hard working PR department
WIZARDS HEAD COACH FLIP SAUNDERS
Strengths in the game:
“You come into the game and we carried over what we did in Chicago in the second half. We played with a great amount of energy. We took a team where their strength was their rebounding ability; one of the top two rebounding teams in the league, and we out-rebounded them. From the beginning, JaVale (McGee) really started that in the first quarter.”
On the ability to play as a team:
“I love the ability that we had 28 assists and had maybe a little bit too many turnovers; we gambled a little bit. We played a lot of guys. But more than anything else, I liked our aggressiveness; I liked our aggressiveness in pick-and-rolls; I liked the way we really shared the ball as a team and played as a team.”
WIZARDS GUARD NICK YOUNG
On his play tonight:
“You know my mindset is right. I played the forward at USC, so I’m used to getting rebounds. I kind of lost track of that coming into the league. I’m learning more on how to get rebounds and help the big men out.”
WIZARDS FORWARD ANDRAY BLATCHE
On playing without John Wall and Yi Jianlian:
“When a guy falls down another one steps up and has to perform. You have to be ready. Tomorrow we are going to come in with the same attitude we had today. We are going to need Nick to come out and do the same thing, and JaVale to do the same thing and definitely Gil, and compete.
WIZARDS GUARD GILBERT ARENAS
On how it feels to start instead of coming off the bench:
“You know it’s been almost four years since I have really played the game of basketball. Just going out there and playing means a lot to me. Starting or coming off the bench you just have to give it your all. I know while I was out there as a starter I had to give a good spark, the same as when I come off the bench.”
On his play in the third quarter:
“Kirk was pushing the ball getting easy layups, so he had the defense sinking in and he found me. He found me trailing and by that time it was too late.”
RAPTORS HEAD COACH JAY TRIANO
On the key to the game:
“When we were at shoot around today you guys asked me what the key to the game was. Stop Arenas, Blatche and Nick Young . Take a look at their numbers, 22 [points for Blatche], 20 [points for Arenas], and 20 [points for Young]. Obviously we didn’t do that. It’s not like we didn’t relay that same message to our players this morning. We came out a little bit flat and let those guys get a little bit of momentum going and then when we tried to pick up the intensity they’ve already got a good feeling and juice in the game.”
On JaVale McGee:
“You don’t get lay-ups against this team. McGee is inside, blocking shots and he doesn’t give you anything free to the rim.”
On the 3rd quarter run:
“We were trying to find somebody with some energy to get some pressure on the ball. At that point, they shot the ball really well, they were already heated up. I thought a couple possessions where we were decent defensively and they made tough shots. That’s because we didn’t play 48 minutes. We got off to a slow start, and when we got off to a slow start, they got their confidence going. I don’t think they felt guarded all night and that can’t happen.”
RAPTORS GUARD JARRETT JACK
On the game:
“They had the energy in their home building which is normally the thing that usually happens. We were close in the second half, but in the third quarter it got away from us.”
On the 3rd quarter:
“They started hitting some shots and making plays. I got yanked early on in the third quarter, so I was on the side trying to help with our defensive rotations. It seemed like we got a little rushed in our offense and they took advantage.”
RAPTORS FORWARD REGGIE EVANS
On the game:
“We just didn’t play with pride, passion, dedication, nothing like that. It was more just going through the motions, stuff like that. Washington did well, but I feel if we would have got our intensity up we could have done well tonight.”