A Team Worth Watching, Wizards Mine A Win Over Nuggets 107-97 | Truth About It.net

A Team Worth Watching, Wizards Mine A Win Over Nuggets 107-97

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Updated: February 20, 2010

Ok, it was just one game … two games counting the win against Minnesota. With a 107-97 win over the Denver Nuggets, the Wizards have won two games in a row for just the sixth time all year (three has yet to be accomplished). Is it a reason to think this team just might do something crazy and sneak into the playoffs? Absolutely not. Is it a reason to get excited? A resounding yes.

Energy, effort, hustle and hunger were the themes tossed around the Verizon Center Friday night, the obvious reason why Wizards fans, even those who came to see Baltimore’s Carmelo Anthony, stood up and cheered for a brand of basketball that’s rarely been seen this season, if at all.

“I told guys at shoot-around, ‘We gotta play like a pack of mad dogs,’ and that’s how we played tonight,” said Flip Saunders after the game. The new guys, Josh Howard, Al Thornton and James Singleton set the example and led the way. “Thornton at 6’7″ can play like 6’10″ rebounding-wise, and Josh can play bigger, and of course Singleton. Those are energy guys,” the coach continued.

Thornton can score too, netting 17 of his 21 points in the second half. He arrived in D.C. at 2 am on Friday, and wasn’t able to participate in that morning’s shoot-around, but dug deep and found a way to play some damn good defense against Anthony. “Once Carmelo gets in a groove and gets in jab steps going, he’s very hard to guard. So, I just tried to get in him and frustrate him a little bit and make him take off-balanced shots,” Thornton said. Melo had 23 points in the game, but only five in the second half and zero in the fourth quarter. He shot 1-10 in the second half.

Yes, the Nuggets had to be tired in the second leg of a back-to-back where Anthony had hit a jumper in LeBron’s face to win the game Thursday night in Cleveland. But I’ll also remind you that Denver has the second best record in the Western Conference and these are the Washington Wizards. When asked if all of the new pieces were an advantage because opponents don’t exactly know how to prepare for these new Wizards, Saunders said, “Well, the disadvantage would be that we have a lot of new pieces and we don’t know how to prepare for ourselves.”

In the fourth quarter, Washington out-scored Denver 34-15 with only one starter, Josh Howard, receiving playing time. Mike Miller, Andray Blatche, Randy Foye and JaVale McGee also started to game, but Thornton, Singleton, Nick Young and Earl Boykins finished the game, each, along with Howard, playing all 12 minutes in the final period.

“We don’t play Andray or JaVale down the stretch, yet those are the guys that are up on the bench cheering the whole time in the 4th quarter. We haven’t had that this year. It’s been the guys that are on the floor and the guys on the bench,” said Saunders.

Hear that folks? A team. Not starters versus bench. Not veterans versus youth. A team. And not to say that those factions were previously at odds, nor to indicate so soon that the past two games are a big indictment of Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Brendan Haywood, although, it’s becoming clear that those guys were less hungry and less capable of unifying than what remains.

“When is the last time you saw Nick [Young] diving on the floor for loose balls and stuff? It becomes contagious,” said Saunders. Later, in the locker room, Nick would say, “When you see guys out there playing hard, you can’t do nothing but join them.”

Young’s biggest play of the game came with 1:47 left in the fourth and the Wizards only up 102-97. He moved his feet against Chauncey Billups and drew a charge on the all-star guard. Washington closed out the game making all of their free-throws, going 22-25 on the night

Wizards fans can only hope lessons have been learned and complacency has been forgotten, now, when playing time is up for grabs, in addition to down the road when roles may be more defined.

So, snicker at playoff talk from the players if you will, or stay bitter at the way the team you used to know horribly fell below expectations, or even get mad because this team isn’t tanking for the NBA Draft Lottery. Take any of these unfortunate attitudes, but know that you could be missing a damn exciting basketball team that’s even worth watching when losing.

And then there was the time James Singleton blocked J.R. Smith so hard a tattoo fell off …



  • http://macgsworld.com Mac G

    Heart and Hustle are breaths of fresh air in a season of devastation disappointments.

  • ray charles

    if you don’t have the kahunas to call it i will: Wiz make the playoffs

  • ToNe

    how about jamison’s line?
    sportscenter verified it was the WORST DEBUT in the history of the NBA.

    if charlotte finishes only 8th not likely, and faces cleveland first round and upsets them, unlikely, but possible because matchups.

    it will mean 2 things.
    1) biggest upset ever, easily topping GS over Dallas, and nuggets over sonics.
    2) lebron will leave cleveland.

  • ToNe

    wins against minnesota still count in the tally. wilbon’s on recorrd saying he’d bet nj would go undefeated against new look wiz

  • http://www.truthaboutit.net/ Kyle Weidie

    Holy crap, I didn’t know Wilbon said that.

    When & where?

    PTI?

    He deserves to be let known about that one.

  • Incandescent Rex

    I went to this last night and I gotta say it was like getting to water after months in a desert. Awesome. The crowd loved it.

  • ToNe

    @Kyle, not PTI the tony kornheiser show on sports 980, podcast can be found here
    http://www.thiswebsitestinks.com/thepodcast.asp
    February 15th Michael Wilbon, approx 10 minutes in
    first he said they will be as bad as NJ, then takes it further.
    Kornheiser says they will 10 games next year and they both agree no way flip saunders and ernie grunfield both return next year.

    I couldn’t disagree more, I think they should let Flip build something, and Ernie is a good talent evaluator, he only overpaid to retain own free agents, luckily for us, larry hughes and jared jefferies had other suitors.

    here is a complete list of his calls: http://hoopshype.com/general_managers/ernie_grunfeld.htm

    I think Flip is the guy to turn this team around, especially now that got rid of the players who wanted to continue to play a flawed way. Everyone points to the season where Wizards coach Eddie Jordan was coaching the all-star team. The team’s record was better than they were, their point differential was closer to a 500 team, than East leading, so law of avgs…