[Editor's Note: Rashad Mobley has reported on the Wizards with media credentials since the 2008-09 season for Hoops Addict. He occasionally contributes to Truth About It.net, providing excellent analysis and a different perspective from his up-close coverage of the team.]
- When I initially read that the Wizards would unify and rally around the recent passing of owner Abe Pollin, I must admit I had a certain degree of cynicism. I wasn’t doubting the sincerity of their feelings around Abe’s death, because I have no doubt that he touched each and every one of those players in some way. Being touched is one thing–translating that into a team that plays well together in every facet of the game is another. But on a night where Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler combined for 18 points, the Wizards were still able to win by 10, despite losing double digit leads one more than one occasion. I don’t know whether Coach Saunders has found his rhythm substitution-wise, or if Abe is inspiring this team from above, but it was nice to see the Wizards put two strong efforts together.
-JaVale McGee checked into the game unusually early (with 3.27 left in the 1st quarter), and Coach Saunders clearly must have known that was the right move, because his impact was immediate. Within 15 seconds of entering the game, McGee had a first block on Jermaine O’Neal. Two minutes later he scored on a pretty finger roll around O’Neal. A few seconds later he blocked a Joel Anthony shot, and then he stole the ball from Udonis Haslem with 15 seconds left in the quarter. McGee only played 15 minutes total, and he didn’t have much of an effect on the game after the first quarter, but it was nice to see McGee do the little things and be seemingly content.
-Just last week I wrote an article about Nick Young‘s inconsistency, and I questioned whether he was truly ready to step in and be an effective contributor to this Wizards’ team. On Wednesday, lost in the shuffle between Eddie Jordan’s return and Abe Pollin’s untimely death, was the start and solid play of Nick Young. In that game, Young scored 20 points on 50% shooting, and he seemed to develop some confidence. Against the Heat, Young’s confidence only increased with a 22 point, five assist performance. But more importantly, Young played solid defense on Dwyane Wade who had burned the Wizards for over 40 points in their prior meetings. Wade was held to 18 points on 6-of-19 shooting, and much of that was Young’s defense. He consistently had a hand in Wade’s face, and he forced him to take some uncharacteristically bad shots. More importantly, he played well with the starting lineup of Jamison, Haywood, Arenas and Butler.
-When the Wizards defeated the Cavaliers last week, both Arenas and Jamison sat out much of the fourth quarter, and the second unit was able to both maintain and extend the lead against Cleveland’s starters. Against the Heat, Arenas shot 4-for-7 with nine points and five assists through three quarters, and with 1:57 left in the third quarter, he left the game and Earl Boykins took his place. Arenas never entered the game again. In that 14 minute span, Boykins tallied six points, seven assists and two rebounds, and controlled the tempo completely, giving Mario Chalmers fits on the defensive end. Boykins’ performance kept Arenas to just 27 minutes, which is key considering the Wizards play the Bobcats this evening. But Boykins also demonstrated, yet again, that he can do more than just provide instant scoring.
-Antawn Jamison scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, pushing his season averages up to 25 points and 10.8 rebounds. More importantly, he scored his 16,000th point, becoming only the fifth active player to amass 16,000 points and 6,000 rebounds. The other four are Shaquille O’Neal, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.
-While the Wizards should be happy that they defeated the Miami Heat on the road, there is no room for complacency at all. Their opponent tonight is the Charlotte Bobcats who defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 94-87 on Friday. They were led by Gerald Wallace, who filled the stat sheet with 31 points, 14 rebounds and three steals. It will be interesting to see whether Coach Saunders puts Nick Young on Wallace given his strong performance against Wade. If not Wallace, then Young will be forced to guard Stephen Jackson, also a tough cover.
-Dominic McGuire, who has a limited offensive game, but is a hard worker defensively, had his second straight DNP, and has fallen to the bottom of the rotation, despite Coach Saunders singing praises of his versatility during the preseason. To his credit, McGuire has not complained, and he could be seen on the bench tonight and against the Sixers, cheering his teammates, and congratulating t hem when the came off the floor. I hope to talk to McGuire either before or after the match against the Bobcats to see how he’s able to maintain his composure, despite his demotion in the lineup.
Against Young, Wade was 1-2 from the field in the paint and 2-11 outside of the paint. Against other Wizards defenders, Wade was 2-3 in the paint, 1-3 outside the paint.
In the first two games against the Heat, the Wizards averaged 26 points in the paint per game on 45.7 FG%. On Friday, the Wizards scored 42 points in the paint on 63.6 FG%.
In the first two games against Miami, the Wizards averaged 11.5 second chance points per game. On Friday, Washington scored a season high 26 second chance points.
[source: ESPN Stats & Information]