Cartier Martin is like Clockwork. You need him to be that guy? He’ll be on time. Play defense, hit a corner three, box out and keep the other team from getting a second possession, hit a last-second, game-tying three? He’ll do it. I don’t know if “Clockwork” will stick, but that’s what I’m calling him.
Beautiful shot by Cartier last night by the way. He only sent the game into overtime, no biggie. Kirk Hinrich was supposed to be the decoy, Nick Young the first option and Martin the second, according to Flip Saunders. Let’s take a look after the jump:
To be a Debbie Downer for a second, that buzzer beater allowed the Wizards to have 34 points in the fourth quarter, bringing their total to 106. The Sixers had the same total at the end of four, but scored 40 points in the final period.
The lows and highs of a young Wizards team.
The Wizards ended the third quarter up eight points and pushed that lead to ten at 78-68 until 9:22 was left in the fourth, when a Philly charge began. A Lou Williams three at the 2:12 mark capped a 28-12 Sixer run in just over seven minutes, putting them up 96-90 and the Wiz looking down the barrel of 0-3. Williams had 14 points in that span and looked like he would kill Washington once again — like the time he poured in 26 points in just under 29 minutes off the bench in a Sixers win on December 19, 2008. Mike James dropped 16 and 6, rebounds, that night for Washington. Exactly.
But with just under two minutes left in regulation of Tuesday night’s Verizon Center opener and down six, the Wiz Kids sparked a run of their own, guided by …. free-throws? Yes, free-throws.
Andray Blatche fought off fatigue to sink two at the 1:44 mark. John Wall hit an And-1 free-throw with 52 seconds left. Al Thornton hit a couple key ones to keep the Wizards within one at 100-99 with 17 seconds left. And the rookie Wall hit two very clutch free-throws with six seconds left, with a camera flash in his eye no less. From the other end, I could see some lady behind the basket taking a picture with a mini digital camera and an automatic flash aiming toward Wall’s face. Thanks for the help, some lady.
[UPDATE: That 'some lady' was evidently Christy Cooley (via @hogshaven, h/t @wzzntzz) -- I should've realized that because I knew that's exactly where Chris Cooley of the Washington Redskins was sitting with his wife, Christy. Way to go Cooleys.]
Cartier Martin’s three finished a 16-10 Wizards run in the fourth’s final 1:45; nine of those points came from the charity stripe.
And guess what? Free-throws won the overtime too.
In OT, the Sixers doubled the Wizards’ field-goal output, going 4-8 to Washington’s 2-4 (Philly’s extra possessions were mostly thanks to three turnovers from Blatche in OT). But Doug Collins’ team only went 1-2 on free-throws in OT; Flip Saunders’ team went 6-6, two coming from Wall and four from Blatche. Andray sank the game winning freebies as a result of the play drawn up to get him isolated against Elton Brand (yes, an iso even after he already turned the ball over thrice — he was the Wizards’ best chance to score). That play was diagrammed by John Townsend in the previous post.
“We know were going to go through these times,” said Saunders after the game, describing the growth process of learning through mistakes. “We’re feeling really good right now, we’re one shot away from feeling really bad and we’d be saying ‘if we had one less mistake or made one more play, we would’ve won.’”
With this young team, and free-throw shooting a concern (the Wizards shot 66.3-percent in the preseason and 70.6 from the line in the first two games of the regular season), it’s refreshing to see them hit 36-43 (83.7-percent) with so many tingling the twine with the game on the line.
Cartier, your shot was great, but the free-throws were better.
[At Wizards games, the Dallas Cowboys logo is shown on the jumbo-tron to get fans to boo while an opponent shoots free-throws. It's a great tactic, and a good way to turn Washington fans often more passionate about their NFL team to the NBA team's favor.]