What The Wizards Want For Christmas, A 109-97 Win Over Milwaukee Is A Good Start | Truth About It.net

What The Wizards Want For Christmas, A 109-97 Win Over Milwaukee Is A Good Start

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Updated: December 24, 2009

Pretty nice scene, huh? Well, not as nice … last night’s game was on CSN+ in D.C., not CSN HD. Heart-warming nonetheless. After the game I tweeted that beating the Bucks 109-97 was the first ‘feel good’ win for the Wizards in a long time. Mike Prada of Bullets Forever called it the best win of the year.

And the scene above captures it all. Gilbert Arenas goes down after an errant Bucks knee to his leg, not to mention losing a tooth, Earl Boykins comes in to save the day, and the two leave the court arm-and-arm and all smiles. Arenas started it with 13 points, three rebounds and seven assists, to only a single turnover, in the first quarter, and Boykins finished it with 12 of his 15 points in the final period.

It looked pretty bad when Gil went down. But after seeing him hold his thigh, and the replay, it was clear there wasn’t a reason to fear for his knee. Although, those thigh bruises do hurt. The Wizards have two days off, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Arenas sat out of Saturday’s game in Minnesota. It all depends on how deep the bruise is. He was noticeably limping right after it happened, and those things only stiffen and get worse.

So with that win, the Wizards, and their fans, will have a holiday that’s just a little bit better. But what would be this team’s ultimate Christmas (or holiday, or whatever you celebrate) wish?

Here’s what I wrote for ESPN’s Daily Dime:

The Wizards don’t want Ernie Grunfeld to break up their team. The big three of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison are in their fifth year together and each player has too much pride to call it quits. So what do the Wizards want for Christmas? They want to go 10-3 in the next 13 games, pushing their record to a respectable 20-20. Flip Saunders recently extended his initial judgment period from 20 to 40 games, and at that point an even .500 would show a lot of promise. Seems like a tall order, but what are holiday wishes for?

Check out what several other TrueHoop Network bloggers wished for their teams for Christmas on ESPN’s Daily Dime.

Also, I put something together on the game for Daily Dime, here’s the beginning:

It wasn’t the first time the Wizards relied on the late-game heroics of Earl Boykins. His 12 fourth-quarter points Wednesday night propelled the Wizards to a 109-97 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, only Washington’s third two-game winning streak all season.

Late-game offense led by the 5’5″ Boykins hasn’t always been ideal, but more than not, it’s been effective. Wizards’ fans tend to cringe when he dribbles the air out the ball, burning precious seconds worth of offensive movement off the shot clock. But that anxiousness often results in an explosion of excitement from the seemingly improbable sight of such a small guy rapidly moving around the court and making key buckets.

Check out the rest on ESPN’s Daily Dime for December 24th, #8 in the right-hand column.

[note: Currently, in the third paragraph, it says that Jamison scored 11 points after Arenas went down in the fourth. That's wrong, it's was nine. The box score needs to be corrected because a Caron Butler basket was wrongly attributed to Jamison. I've requested that the change be made.]

>>Happy Holidays Everyone.


{best web cuts}

[Michael Lee - Wizards Insider, Washington Post]

To understand how control the Wizards were without Arenas, all you had to do was look at Arenas, who sat on the bench clipping his finger nails as Earl Boykins, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler closed out the game. And get this, after the win, the Wizards are just one game out of the eighth spot, and two games out of the sixth spot, in the Eastern Conference. Gotta love that East.

[Mike Jones - Wizards Outlet, Washington Times]

“There was a three or four minute span where we really got some stops,” Brendan Haywood said. “Caron hit some tough shots, we executed, we ran plays taht were drawn in he huddle. Basically we did what we should’ve done all season. We stuck witht eh script. Flip called a play and we ran it, we executed it, and we got good shots.”

This has to be the first time in forever — if not ever — that a team has won by 12 and finished with only one offensive rebound. But Flip Saunders said that was basically by design.

He instructed his players that as soon as shot was taken, two players were to clear out and get on the defensive end. This was to take away the fastbreak scoring opportunities that the Bucks like to create. Tonight they had only three, so I guess that strategy worked. But because of that, the Wizards were outscored 21-2 on second-chance opportunities.

[Dave Johnson - CSN Washington.com]

Determined to build on Tuesday’s win over Philadelphia, Racine, Wisconsin native Caron Butler returned home. Earl Boykins then brought it home and managed the Washington Wizards to a 109-97 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Off the court Butler purchased tickets for 1,000 kids and their chaperones from his home town, and then delivered on the court by leading the Wizards with 25 points, ten rebounds, and two steals. Quietly Antawn Jamison also put together a double-double with 23 points and ten rebounds.

[William Yoder - Agent Dagger]

Gilbert Arenas had a stellar first quarter that saw him score 13 points and pick up 7 assists. He also helped spur the club to 37 first quarter points. Arenas would struggle in the next two quarters before taking a knee to his left leg, an injury that would take him out of the game for most of the fourth. While Arenas has been playing well of late, perhaps it was a blessing in disguise as Agent Zero had already committed seven turnovers on the night in a close game.

[Jarrett Carter - Stet Sports]

Really, what does it say when Ernie Grunfeld has the eye to grab a diminutive journeyman point guard that can produce on a consistent basis? It says he knows what he’s doing.

But what happens when that same diminutive point guard is your best fourth quarter scoring option? Given all of the scoring ability on this roster, it also indicates that Grunfeld doesn’t know what he’s doing.

This is the gift and the curse of Earl Boykins, the little guy with the big game and growing expectations to match it. He is steady where Gilbert Arenas has been erratic, consistent where Caron Butler has been unreliable, and available where Antawn Jamison has been injured. Were you to single out a Mr. Fourth Quarter at the beginning of this season, it would’ve been impossible to peg Boykins as the guy.

{the other side}

[Jeremy Schmidt - Bucksetball]

Not bad numbers from any of them.  Washington was going right at Jennings all night, whoever he was guarding took over point guard duties if they had in both Foye and Arenas.  And in the fourth quarter, Boykins went to work showing Jennings how a little man can get off shots in the paint.  Jennings shining moment was brief and swift when he blocked one of Boykins shots with ferocity (though he appears to have been incorrectly credited with a steal for the play).

While it wasn’t just Jennings that struggled on a night the Bucks allowed the Wizards to shoot over 50 percent, he certainly did not help matters.  The Wizards “attack Jennings” game plan also left Jennings battling foul trouble all night long and sat him for all but 6:33 in the second half.