[#WittmanFace set to Twilight Zone music]
Well that was quick.
Friday was a day off from regular work (and the Wizards, sort of). Future wifey and I made an afternoon of grabbing lunch at a previously unvisited spot, and then we painted some ceramics (shout out to All Fired Up! in Cleveland Park—there’s a D.C. flag-themed oven spoon holder in my future).
Then naps, then drinks/dinner with the future wifey’s cousin and the cousin’s fiancé. The idea was to have the game on somewhere; the cousin’s fiancé is also a dedicated D.C. sports fan. By the time the four of us walked into a pre-dinner bar option—some place inexplicably called the Blue Banana on Georgia Avenue, which, to its credit, had the Wizards game on three of its several well-placed televisions—the game was over. Brooklyn was up 25 and it was early in the second quarter. We were the only people in the place who cared or paid attention for the rest of the game; I was just happy that no one changed the channel. Later on, I would get to explain to the future wifey—and show to her on YouTube—that Reggie Evans is most famous for grabbing a tall blond man’s nuts from behind during a playoff game. Thanks, Internets.
What had happened? Deron Williams happened. The Nets took a 38-14 lead after one quarter in which Williams went 7-for-7 from the 3-point line. At half, Brooklyn was up 59-33. The Wizards made a half-hearted attempt to once almost get within 10 points with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, but A.J. Price was called for travelling as he made a 3-pointer (inducing the above #WittmanFace).
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In basketball, you’re either a winner or you’re a loser. There is no middle ground.
The inviting glow of the winners’ locker room (which I had the pleasure of stepping into after yesterday’s 109-94 win over the Toronto Raptors) effectuates a merry media ceremony. Members of the press toast their champions with microphones, audio recorders, and Flip cams. The players imbibe in the festivities, reciprocating praise with sound bites and smiles.
The locker room across the arena is just like this, but flipped entirely on its axis. The frigid, polar opposite.
Post-game thoughts often roll off the tongue in the heat of the moment, with little thought. And there are always two sides to every story. Let’s read between the lines:
[Quotes via Washington Wizards Basketball Communications]
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With John Wall sitting out for the first time in his young career, Kirk Hinrich moved over to the point position and played 39 minutes of rock solid basketball against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night in a Wizards 109-94 win. Displaying the attention to detail that allows him to impact games despite average athleticism and skill level, Hinrich routinely made the hard rotation, the sharp pass, and the clever read on his way to a double-double delight — a 13 point, 12 assist, four rebound and two turnover performance.
On back-to-back plays in the first quarter, just four minutes into the game, Hinrich made a pretty move to split two defenders and finish, then made a smart rotation and was able to give Reggie Evans a hard foul– preventing a dunk and sending the career 52% free throw shooter to the line (where he made one shot). The 20-second exchange summarized a night in which Hinrich made more flashy plays than usual, while also contributing the gritty, intelligent veteran plays that have kept him in the league.
Hinrich worked effectively in side pick-and-rolls, scoring three times by refusing the screen and either hopping laterally for a mid-range pull up or attacking the basket. In transition, Hinrich made a number of touch passes for easy finishes—he doesn’t replicate or even approximate Wall’s end-to-end speed, but the results were similar: two points for the Wizards. With the inexperienced Sonny Weems or diminutive Jose Calderon checking him for much of the night, the big veteran guard controlled the tempo throughout the game. The Wizards got off to a hot offensive start, in no small part because Hinrich was able to hand out four assists in the first quarter alone. Playing the awful Raptors’ defense didn’t hurt either.
Despite his enormous impact on the game, Hinrich’s subtle double-double is best understood by way of contrast to Nick Young. Young, who scored 20 points on 10-15 shooting, was the local broadcast’s interview subject at the end of the first half and in the locker room following the game. His impressive individual efforts on the offensive end were easy to appreciate. Young hit on a number of catch-and-shoot opportunities and even tossed in a couple of pull up Js before punctuating his night with a terrific fast break dunk. But in 30 minutes of run, Young contributed almost nothing other than hot shooting (well, he did pull down a career-high defensive six rebounds — Toronto’s woeful shooting made that pretty easy).
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[Editor's Note: Rashad Mobley has reported on the Wizards with media credentials since the 2008-09 season for Hoops Addict. He occasionally contributes to Truth About It.net, providing excellent analysis and a different perspective from his up-close coverage of the team.]
Less than 24 hours after he arrived in Washington D.C., newly-acquired Washington Wizards forward Al Thornton held court in front of the locker previously occupied by DeShawn Stevenson. He had just led his team in scoring with 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and the Wizards defeated the playoff-bound Denver Nuggets. Under normal circumstances, the members of the media would be focusing on how he was able to score so easily, or how hectic things had been for him recently.
But that wasn’t completely the case.
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Published in 2009-10 Wizards
, Rashad Mobley
, Toronto Raptors
Tags: al thornton
, amir johnson
, andrea bargnani
, antoine wright
, carmelo anthony
, hedo turkoglu
, jarrett jack
, reggie evans
, Toronto Raptors