[Whether you're a Laker fan or a Thunder hater,
blows to the brain aren't anything to joke about.
An intense game between two Western Conference powers. A hard smack to one player’s head.
The Lakers’ Ron Artest in the middle of it.
But this was February 2011 in Memphis, not yesterday’s Thunder-Lakers game. And Artest was the player getting popped in the head, not the one dishing it out.
Obviously, names and circumstances have changed in the past year. Our understanding of concussion-related risks, too.
So when Ron Artest…er, “Metta World Peace”…threw an elbow into James Harden’s temple on Sunday, I didn’t ponder whether it was intentional. I didn’t quip about “World Peace” committing the most violent act of the season.
Long after last Wednesday’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks, Jordan Crawford remained in the training room. He likely knew the microphones waited for him to speak, but couldn’t do anything about it. A throbbing ankle spoke louder. Meanwhile, assorted media members squatted around his locker, eager to record the shooting guard’s comments after his big 32-point, 11-for-17 shooting performance in Washington’s 121-112 victory over the Bucks. When he finally emerged, Crawford gingerly limped over to his stall; he could barely put any pressure on his right ankle. He looked more like a man who would struggle moving to the right on a Metro escalator without falling down than one who just significantly diminished the hopes of a playoff contending team, including burying Milwaukee with a Agent Zero-esque 30-foot dagger to put the Wizards up six points with 50 seconds left.
Mo Evans argued that the sprained ankle, which afflicted Crawford from the opening tip, was actually beneficial:
“I think the ankle injury helped him because he slowed down, took his time and utilized all the many skills that he has; he has a ton of them. He was extremely effective tonight.”
Coach Randy Wittman expressed sentiments on Jordan’s decisive 3-point make: Read more »
On Saturday night in South Beach, the Washington Wizards beat a LeBron James/Chris Bosh/Dwyane Wade-less Miami Heat team, 86-84. The Wizards improved to 17-46 on the season without Trevor Booker, Roger Mason Jr., Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis, as Ted Leonsis might remind you (playing without Blatche… very funny, Ted). Showing signs and giving hope that this current set of players is more worthy of playing together as a team going into next season, the Wizards now hold the second-worst record in the NBA after the seven-win Charlotte Bobcats and before the 20-win Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Hornets. With three games left, beating the Heat also gives Washington their first three-game win streak of the season. The Wizards won three in a row once late last season over the Cavaliers, Bobcats and Pistons. Prior to that, a streak of three wins or longer hadn’t been accomplished since victories over the Heat, Bulls and Pistons in April 2008. Below is the reaction to that rare third win.
With nine assists and zero turnovers in the fourth quarter (13 and five on the night), how could I not give the MVP to John Wall (especially after I spoke bad about his passing on Twitter)? Also, credit the strength of Nene’s hands and his ability to finish with agility; four of Wall’s assists in the final period were off pick-and-roll action to the Brazilian, including the game-winning layup with 0.5 seconds left. But, ultimately it was John’s blazing bursts of speed that Mario Chalmers could not touch which gave the Wizards better chances, and the win. Wall still has major lessons to learn about creating and seeing passing lanes, and his jump shot continued to look bad (0-for-5 outside the paint; 13 points on 6-for-11 FGs), but he was active on defense (four steals) and put his body on the line to draw a key charge against Udonis Haslem late in the game. Wall had what it took to win on this night.
No energy. No result. The Wizards dropped their 45th game of the season, this time in a home meeting with the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers. TAI’s Rashad Mobley (@rashad20) and John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) have the reaction.
This past week has been a blur, mostly because I’ve been oddly feeling under the weather… in a haze of a head cold that won’t quit. It also might be the Wizards. Have I mentioned how this 2011-12 NBA season can’t be over soon enough? A week? These past several years of the Washington Wizards franchise, one that can’t stop finding ways to top itself in futility, has been a blur. Actually, they’ve been bottom-feeding for a while, so nothing should surprise, even almost breaking the all-time franchise low for points scored in a game (64), which happened to be set less than 100 days ago.
After getting embarrassingly demoralized, 103-65, by the New York Knicks in their only appearance in Madison Square Garden this season, Washington has now collected 223 losses since falling to the New Jersey Nets on opening night of the 2008-09 season. There are just 82 wins to show for it. During the calendar of those previous three NBA regular seasons and including this fourth, lockout-shortened one, Wizards fans have experienced a loss every 2.8 days, a win every 7.5 days of a season.
But the key number from Friday night’s defeat: 22. The Wizards made 22 field goals, a franchise low, and committed 22 team turnovers, while the Knicks had 22 assists. How should fans respond to such ugliness? How can they? They can’t.
It’s not about this team losing to those Knicks in that manner on whatever night while being heckled by New York fans, media members and players alike. There are mitigating circumstances. Over the past eight games the Wizards have trotted out the youngest starting lineup in franchise history. The hard sell of the team and its television broadcast partners won’t let anyone forget.
The shutting down of Andray Blatche for “conditioning” meant less jeers being thrown about the Verizon Center, as the power forward has been infamously booed by the hometown crowd almost all season. Fans sometimes express displeasure for their team (or an individual) after a bad play or sequence, but the audible disgust for 7-Day Dray would start when he went to the scorer’s table to check in and again every time he touched the ball. It even seemed like the Wizards coaching staff would sneak him into the game during timeouts to avoid igniting the negative reaction. Wizards opponents indicated they had never seen such behavior by home fans, and many gave Blatche advice on how to deal with his unpopular aura. TAI’s John Converse Townsend even penned a compelling piece on how his own booing of Blatche as a fan seemed counter-intuitive.
This unfortunate storyline overshadowed the fact that there are actual opposing players that Wizards fans still heckle on a regular basis; the normal way crowds are supposed to do it.
Ex-Wizard Kwame Brown has been a target for years; Wizards fans of a certain age will never forget that he was a bust as a No. 1 overall draft pick. For being the playoff adversary to Agent Zero and the Wizards back in the mid-2000s, Lebron James is still lustily yelled at; his decision-quest from the Cavaliers to the Heat simply propelled how Wizards fans felt to mass audiences. Even the presence of Juwan Howard can still spark bad memories of him never living up to his egregious contract in Washington. And surprisingly, Indiana Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough has heard it from fans in the Phone Booth this season, which one would assume derives from his days at North Carolina and “Psycho T” being a relatively unlikable player in Maryland Terp country.