A GIF, commentary and links …
[Consecutive wins for the Wizards? Al Thornton approves.]
Two wins in a row from the Wizards for the first time all season, albeit both at home where they are a much better team, is a sign of progress, especially when one of them is against a very strong Utah Jazz squad. But that first win came against the Toronto Raptors this past Saturday, a grind-it-out affair against another bad team. Ryan Gracia, a current junior at George Mason University studying journalism and sports communication, has followed the Wizards for years, and his family has also long held season tickets. Ryan attended Saturday’s game versus Toronto and below writes about a play that created a winning spark. And below Ryan’s write-up, some suggested links to read.
The Play That Created A Spark.
by Ryan Gracia
There was 5:56 left in the 38th game of the season Saturday night against the Raptors when brilliance was displayed before my very eyes and the eyes of those “announced” 14,651 fans surrounding me inside the Verizon Center. That brilliance was in fact demonstrated by our own Wizards team. Four players were involved to be exact: Nick Young, John Wall, Andray Blatche, and Rashard Lewis – in that order. Here’s how it went down:
- Young was stuck in the right corner of the court and found an open Blatche at the top of the three point line. Nick was really feeling the effects of those three first-quarter assists at this point.
- Rather than putting his head down in typical fashion and breaking up any possible hope of the “team” concept by dribbling, making a spin move to the basket or forcing up a shot, Blatche, too, found it in him to share the ball with teammates.
- He strung a pass to Wall on his left, who couldn’t let Young and Blatche down — they both found time to pass in the same play before a shot went up, so John can too!
- Wall listened to his inner Spike Lee and did the right thing, swinging the ball once more to an open Lewis, who stood with his hands ready and mouth watering, finally getting the chance again to finish a championship-caliber basketball play in the left corner.
Lewis drained the three and put the Wizards up 86-82. Assist: John Wall (though it could have been given to Blatche and Young as well, for their rare, yet sublime, acts of unselfishness — we’ll let them share a hockey assist for their efforts).
It was a simple play that Lewis had experienced hundreds of times during his days with the Magic – so simple and effective that all the top playoff teams do it each time they step on the court: Boston, the Lakers, San Antonio, Dallas, you name it. They move the ball, they make the extra pass. And the fact that it was such a unique and shockingly good play from an inexperienced Wizards team indicates that the complete quality hasn’t been displayed often by the young guns … but it sure was nice to see it done (and work) at least once, no matter how bad the guys guarding them wearing the Raptors jerseys may have been.
The Wizards created an easy, wide open, can’t-miss shot as a result of some good, old-fashioned ball movement — what has been missing from the team since their playoff days years ago. There has been too much “me” mentality and not enough “we.” It was interesting that the play started with Young, who is blossoming into a game-changer and more of a complete player by adding increased stats in the form of rebounds and assists to his repertoire, and finished with the newest – and oldest – real professional on this rebuilding team. Could this be the result of a Rashard Lewis-led Wizards team? The effect of having a consistent long distance shooter is certainly paying off (sorry Gilbert Arenas, but consistent you were not) … but we’ll still have to wait and see. A new veteran to the mix is not the answer to all questions surrounding this team, but the affect Lewis has had thus far unquestionably provides positive evidence toward results that only time will tell.
“The Utah Jazz play a style of basketball that is designed to frustrate a young team like the Washington Wizards. Playing the Jazz, one can expect to receive a knee to the back of the leg, an elbow to the sternum and an extra push to the back to remind you that they are still there. While not “technically” dirty, the Jazz teeter as near the edge of playing “smashmouth” basketball as you can in the NBA. It’s as close to a playoff style of basketball that you are likely to see in the regular season and so infuriating that even the unflappable Rashard Lewis drew a technical foul.”
John Wall was a completely different player between the Wizards’ last two games.
With Andray Blatche being a dreamer and all, Bethlehem Shoals comes up with some other dreams of Wizards players.
David Aldridge facetiously wonders if an NBA team is allowed to 0-41 on the road and make the playoffs … then suggests that actually making the playoffs wouldn’t be a good idea for John Wall’s Wizards because they need more lottery picks.
Meanwhile, Ben Standig is encouraging Wizards fans to all-out fantasize about the NBA Draft Lottery and not the playoffs.
Like the Pistons, Cavaliers and Kings, the Wizards have several players, seven from the Wiz to be exact, who have, “a DNP-CD this season and have earned a start without the player ahead of him missing a game due to injury or suspension,” so says Dan Feldman.
When the ’74-75 Washington Capitals ended their 0-37 road losing record to begin the season, they signed a garbage can and acted like it was the Stanley Cup … even went back on the ice to show it to fans.
[Washington City Paper]
Antawn Jamison tells Chris Tomasson that next season could be his last, citing kids, PTA meetings and family stuff as reasons. Personally, I don’t believe this talk one bit. If an opportunity comes knocking, Jamison will gladly forget the frustrations of this year — and the past three years — and suit up for a contender with his versatile game that ages well.