Griz Bear Claw Wiz 99-94, Them Dudes Were Big: Gasol, Haddadi & Thabeet | Wizards Blog Truth About

Griz Bear Claw Wiz 99-94: Them Dudes Were Big

Updated: February 25, 2010

Marc Gasol Air Fist.

{keep going for more pictures}

I’ve recently taken to shooting some pictures of early pre-game warm-ups for both the Wizards and their opponent. As I arrived to the court last night, I saw the Wizards’ new guys going through various drills with assistant coach Wes Unseld, Jr. A couple shots of newcomer Mike Harris were a priority, so I did so. But then I glanced to the big man drills on the other end … them dudes were big. And Baby Head Zach Randolph wasn’t even present.

Marc Gasol, Hamaed Haddadi and Hasheem Thabeet out-weight the trio of JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche and James Singleton by 67 points.

Note: I’m got player weight info from each team’s official rosters, but I’m skeptical that McGee weighs 252, a listed four more pounds than Blatche and the “heaviest” guy on the Wizards.

I was afraid of Memphis’ big going in, even as they were coming off a tough loss to the Lakers the previous night. Part of me genuinely feared for JaVale McGee’s life.

And I guess the Grizzlies didn’t disappoint, specifically Marc Gasol. He scored 10 of Memphis’ first 12 points, all in a span from the 8:57 to the 5:48 in the first quarter, and all against JaVale. The Grizzlies also scored their first 18 points of the game in the paint. The Wizards unexpectedly hung around, heading into the fourth quarter only down one. But Memphis eventually wore them out, the 99-94 final score being a little bit closer than the game actually was.

“JaVale was getting his butt kicked tonight, it was a learning experience for him. He plays 15 minutes. The guy he’s going against goes 10 for 10. He gets one rebound. Those are things he’s got to do better. He’s got to fight better, he’s got to keep on learning as far as that situation,” said coach Flip Saunders after the game.

Coach Flip did applaud his team overall for battling on the boards (Washington only lost the rebounding battle by three, 46-43, the difference coming on the offensive end), and said his players gave a good solid effort.

James Singleton had 10 rebounds off the bench in 25 minutes. The 6’8″ Al Thornton had 11 rebounds in 35 minutes. The 6’11” Andray Blatche managed eight rebounds in 41 minutes.

“That’s their strength, that’s what they do. They lead the league as far as points in the paint,” said Saunders, speaking of Memphis’ early romp under the rim. “They scored the first 18 because they scored the first 10 with Gasol going at JaVale. As I said, that’s a learning process for him. He’s going to have to learn how to use his size to try and deny his guy from getting the ball, then being able to contest shots and being able to rebound.”

I didn’t get a chance to ask JaVale what he took most from the learning experience. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, I suppose. The kid is taking his lumps and is ready to keep fighting … because everyone likes playing time (and more Twitter followers — Did you know JaVale wants more Twitter followers? Well, he does).

Part of it is that JaVale just needs more girth, to grow into his body. Part of it is that the Wizards probably need a big man coach with more big man experience, one who can perhaps teach some Darius Songaila-esque leverage when guarding bigger players in the post. I applaud Wiz assistant coach Gene Banks for his efforts, but in his playing days, the Duke basketball Hall of Famer, at 6’7″, was a small forward.

[Sidebar: Did you know Banks once appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated (Mar. 13, 1978)? Also, check this article in the SI Vault for some background on Banks.]

Getting tossed around like he was a rag doll couldn’t have been fun, but McGee will remember nights like this in the future and will hopefully be a better player for it.

And … at least Nick Young dunked on a 7’2″ Iranian dude.

Score one for Los Angeles, America.

{Pictures of Grizzly Bigs}

Hamed Haddadi had 8 points & 8 rebounds in 15 minutes.

Hasheem Thabeet didn’t even get into the game, dude has really fallen off.

Haddadi, Thabeet’s replacement, led all players with a plus/minus of +14.

And if you made it this far, you are treated to some old school D.C. go-go … “Ruff It Off” by the Junkyard Band, and what the Grizzlies did to the Wizards last night.

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.