At least we know the Wizards still care about the game. In front of a sell-out crowd, with only five more home games left on the season, the team finally gave fans a reason to come back next year.
In the first half, the second altercation of the year between Miami and Washington broke out. Three minutes into the third quarter JaVale McGee blocked consecutive shots from Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. Jordan Crawford set his career high in points, McGee totaled five blocks and 12 points and D-League call-up Othyus Jeffers scored 15 points.
Their style of play was necessarily different from their opponent, Miami. The Heat needed to assert the dominant play of their “big three” and did so in their 123-107 win in Washington, getting closer to a high berth in the playoffs.
The Wizards are looking more long-term; they need to prove that the rebuilding process is working and still did so despite the loss. Two of the 2010 draft picks, John Wall and Jordan Crawford, put up solid numbers in the game.
Despite playing only 15 minutes before receiving an ejection for an altercation with Miami’s Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Wall totaled five assists. Despite the incident happening only three minutes into the second quarter, the team came together and continued to fight.
Still, Wall took the loss upon himself.
“It was an incident where I got hit with an elbow and I just reacted to it,” Wall said. “I’m sorry I let my teammates down and the Wizards organization for not being out there. I’m glad to see that my team fought hard and competed for the rest of the game. “
If the Wizards are looking toward him to lead the team in the future, they should be happy that he is taking more responsibility.
Crawford had his first opportunity to run the offense and did well in the new position. He dished out four assists while totaling 39 points, a career high.
“He had to get by those guys and make plays,” Washington Head Coach Flip Saunders said. “We haven’t had much practice time so we weren’t going to be able to be very intricate offensively; you’re going to be pretty basic. But when you play a team like them that’s locked in defensively, it’s tough to stick to the basics.”
Maurice Evans, a veteran forward that came to the organization to fill a leadership void, scored 21 points on the night.
Yet, despite the production, he still sees the impact of the rookies.
“We’re showing that we’re more resilient now then when we started the year,” Evans said. “We have been playing shorthanded now for a while and tonight John got thrown out … Everyone had to step up and Jordan did a great job taking over, scoring wise that’s what he does and I was impressed by everyone’s fight tonight.”
The team has nothing more to look forward to this season, record-wise. But the team is developing and gaining some pride in the team as a whole. The Heat lead stayed at 10 points or less for most of the game, until the lead was run up at the end of the game.
The young players are gaining maturity and an NBA presence quickly as the team gains more cohesion than earlier in the year.
“Right now, we’re just trying to build the chemistry of the whole team,” Crawford said, “to get as many wins as we can the rest of this season, and hopefully, in the offseason, get better.”
Photo Courtesy of John Powell