Ok, back to back nights for the Wiz. Gilbert played 38 minutes last night. 10 minutes of rest, not bad….especially since Gil tells us that his knee is improving in his latest Agent Zero blog entry.
It’s early in the season, so I wouldn’t be too concerned with Caron Butler burning out; he played 46 minutes against the T-Wolves. It’s obvious that he is the #1 horse this year, the pillar that the team must lean on since they really don’t know what they will get from Gil on a nightly basis. Even though Arenas came through big last night, I’m not ready to officially declare him back. Butler is shooting .508 from the field this year, a dramatic improvement from the .463 he shot last year. Let’s hope he keeps it up.
The big issues for tonights game:
>> Production from the 2, the Wiz are desperate for someone to step up.
>> Who’s guarding LaMarcus Aldridge? It will probably be AJ, and we are never thrilled with his D. But LaMarcus has a good perimeter game, so you definitely don’t want Haywood away from the basket, chasing him around…then again, Channing Frye likes to roam too. I’m sensing that we will see the big line-up (one of them) early tonight. Blatche will be key (obvious).
This just in: Gilbert Arenas will not be playing tonight, gotta rest that knee. I’m okay with this… gives Eddie a chance to see who wants to man up. This team has their work cut out for them though. Can Antonio Daniels step it up like he did in last year’s playoffs? Unfortunately, this also means run for Nick Young…and I’m okay with that too. I’ve been down on the guy, but I still want to see what he’s made of. Can he rebound after a horrible game last night? Let’s roll.
Wiz go to Haywood early…good, but I’d like to see him get lower post position before feeding him the ball. He misses the first shot of the game.
Haywood actually starts off on LaMarcus, AJ on Frye.
7:14 – Great pass by Daniels to Haywood for a dunk…a little dribble penetration, and a great maneuver of the correct passing angle. Wizards up 11-2. Also, Stevenson has started the game strong on D, bothering Brandon Roy a good bit.
The Wiz are doubling Aldridge from the top at times.
5:01 – Andray in for Haywood, along with Roger Mason Jr for Stevenson….now it’s his turn to show what he can do.
3:43 – Not a pretty game so far, just under 4 minutes left and Eddie Jordan must take a time-out as the Wiz are still stuck on 11 and the Blazers have 7.
2:17 – Still on 11, 9 for the Blazers. Fro some reason the Wizards have stopped going to Butler. The lull is cut short with a Jamison 3.
As the clock runs down in the first, the ball is in Roger Mason’s hands at the top, he gives it to AJ on the right wing, who zips it back to Roger, who then feeds it to Butler on the left wing. But Butler only gets the ball with 3 seconds left on the clock….lucky for the Wiz, he fires up a 3 and gets fouled, makes all three FTs. My problem is the sequence and the Joe Gibbs-like clock management. The ball should have been in Caron’s hands much earlier.
Wiz up 22-15 at the end of the first.
Roger Mason is playing solid so far. He’s hit a 3, and just made a breakaway lay-up after a Stevenson steal. More importantly, he hasn’t made any mistakes. Wizards up 32-19.
7:57 – Blatches checks out after playing some great ball on both ends of the court. AJ, Haywood, Songaila, Mason Jr, and Stevenson in the game.
5:49 – Wiz up 10, 34-24 – Haywood gets blocked by Przybilla, but stays with it and gets fouled on the 2nd attempt, makes both FTs. You really have to be proud of the Wizards effort so far. Yea, they aren’t shooting well (35%), but they are making Portland work for theirs (33%), and they only have 2, get it TWO turnovers so far. Damn, I hope that I just didn’t jinx them.
5:34 – 2 points, first points, for Steve Blake….just a minor mis-communication for the Wiz on D. Tighten that up fellas. Blatche is back in the game though…you see, Eddie is not going to confuse any players…or send mixed messages. If you earn playing time, you will get playing time.
Wiz up 40-32. Why am I surprised? Butler only has 7 points…4 of those came in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the game, and the other 3 came on those FTs at the end of the first. Believe it or not, this is a GOOD sign.
3:02 – Jamison 3, the Wizards, including Blatche, are really moving the ball well on offense. AJ has 13 points and is 3-5 on 3s.
Does anyone have the plus/minus on JUST when Haywood and Blatche are in the game at the same time? Bullets Forever? They just seem to have great chemistry. I know that Haywood is more down-low and Blatche roams around the mid-range…even still, they never get in each other’s way, nor do they congest the offense for anyone else.
Ha! I love it…very nice tactic by the Wizards. My boy Rob, who is at the game, texts me that they are putting the Dallas Cowboys logo on the big screen when the Blazers are shooting FTs to the increase Boo factor. They show it on TV a couple minutes later.
Halftime…the Wiz hold strong. Nothing incredibly special, but if you ask me, it’s been a great performance so far. I wonder when exactly did the team find out that Gil wasn’t playing…so they could properly prepare themselves. Wizards up 47-38.
Key…Wiz start the 3rd off strong. Good for Eddie Jordan to keep these guys focused and motivated coming out the locker room. They score the first 5 points and go up 14.
Brandon Roy has been quiet ya’ll….only 3 FTs, 0-4 from the field.
10:11 – Buck says that the Blazers have gone the past 4:20 of game time without a FG.
Haywood has also done a great job staying in between LaMarcus and the basket. But it hasn’t only been this game….he’s been moving his feet well, laterally, the whole season.
8:04 - Haywood offensive rebound draws a foul. He and Jamison are actually fighting over offensive rebounds at this point. Brendan makes both FTs, he’s 7-7 for the game, Wiz up 58-42.
7:01 – Steve Buck says that Stevenson just thought about this first shot of the game, but did not take it. Good…someone has been in this guy’s ear about knowing his role.
6:32 – Nick Young makes his first appearance…holding breath….NOW (until he gets his first turnover)
6:06 – Breath release…not for the TO, but Young hits a 3 after the penetration set up by Antonio Daniels.
5:16 - As expected…a bad close-out from Nick Young, on Steve Blake of all people…foul on Young. Absolutely no defensive fundamentals…what are you doing out there at USC Tim Floyd?
4:38 - Another foul on Nick Young…this time he decides to move his hands instea
d of his feet and fouls Brandon Roy on a drive to the basket.
3:49 – Brandon Roy 3 on Nick Young’s head…8-0 run by the Blazers, Wiz up 66-52 now. Eddie leaves him in the game, but opts for Roger Mason checking in for Stevenson.
3:29 - Young hits 1 of 2 FTs for 4 points in the game…I’m sure the folks on Wiz insider are just raving about his offense and about how he needs to play more.
2:46 - Ok, Props to Nick Young (see, I give it when it’s due)…he dives on the floor for a loose ball that leads to a Wiz fast break. And look, I’m not completely down on the guy….I DO realize that he’s a rookie. I’m still happy that the Wizards got him at where they picked in the draft and I trust Ernie Gruns. Clear?
2:15 – Young hit a J on one end, but fails to get low on D and fight through a pick on the other end…Jarrett Jack hits a crazy shot.
:59 – Breakaway dunk by Young…thank you young man for coming alive and giving the Wiz some offense off the bench. I guess I can’t criticize his D too much….Gilbert Arenas does still play for the Wizards.
:20 – Nick Young is on fire, he hits a deuce just inside the 3 point line as the shot clock was running down. The LA yungin’ has broken into double figures for the first time in his career.
End of the 3rd…AD gets a layup And1 as the clock runs out (ok, :00.2 left). The Blazers cut the lead to 12, but the Wiz now lead 78-63.
Jitters for the Blazers, two turnovers in their first two 4th quarter possessions.
Eddie going with the lineup of Young, Songaila, Daniels, Butler & Blatche.
9:43 – Damn, Andray picks up his 5th foul, Haywood in.
9:21 - Wow, Young hits a back-down-spin-fade-away jumper. Nice! I like!
8:40 - Haywood dunk! Wiz up 88-70. My mom, who is in town for a visit, comments on the funny eye-brows of Jarrett Jack. And hey, they are funny. Haywood is on the cusp of another double-double, 15 points – 8 rebounds. Roger Mason has 8 points as well? Wasn’t aware of that. In fact, the Wiz have gotten 32 points from their bench tonight, and if I’m not mistaken, that is a season high (of course, it’s to be expected since Arenas is out tonight).
6:03 - Wow. Haywood is 9-9 on FTs tonight.
3:51 - Largest lead of the game for the Wiz after an AD steal and a Caron Butler dunk, no Blazer even crossed half-court….while he put his hand behind his head, a la…Karl Malone. 102-79 Wiz.
Dominic McGuire checks in as Eddie starts to clear his bench, joins D-Song, Young, Blatche & Mason Jr.
Everything is great….Caron Butler is dancing on the bench. Antonio Daniels had 10 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds….only 3 turnovers.
But get this….as of right now….and yes, it is now garbage time, the Wizards only have 6 turnovers for the ENTIRE game (finished with 8). Taking a quote from the Steve Buckhantz book, “How ‘Bout That?”
The young Wiz close out the game nicely…. the final score is 109-90.
Wizards fans could not have asked for anything more. Solid game. Arenas got rest. Rookies got experience. Low turnovers. Made FTs. Copacetic.
I can’t even go on anymore….now off to the bar for drinks.