Apparently the Wizards were not looking for a quick fix when the moved their hot commodity, guard Kirk Hinrich. A few days ago, just before Thursday’s trade deadline, Washington moved Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong to the Atlanta Hawks for a few needed pieces.
They received Maurice Evans, Jordan Crawford and Mike Bibby, but the most important parts of the trade may be the first-round draft pick that the Wizards picked up for the end of the season. Bibby was included to fill the hole left by Hinrich.
Nick Young did not have any concerns with the incomers.
“I really knew most of them before, so it’s an easy adjustment,” Young said. “We’ve got great players coming in, so you’re looking forward to them helping us out on the court.”
It was baptism by fire for the trio. In their first night with the new team, they went up against the division-leading Miami Heat. They only had 29 minutes of play between them, but it was enough to take part in an offensive shootout. While Evans scored six, Nick Young and John Wall combined for 62 points as Miami’s Dwyane Wade and LeBron James combined for 66.
Following the road loss to the Heat, they came back home to take on the Dallas Mavericks, second in the Southwest division with a 41-16 record.
“They’ve been on a playoff team, so they’ve seen everything.” Young said. “They’ll be alright.”
While Bibby and Evans were limited in the first quarter of Saturday night’s matchup, the second half saw all three new players on the court together. Crawford was the first to score, with a jumper at the 9:07 mark in the second quarter. Bibby followed less than two minutes later with a 2-point jumper of his own off a fast break.
It was not a stunning statistical night for the new bench players as Bibby finished with two points and five rebounds, but could not get an assist as the team’s ball handler for nearly 20 minutes. Evans scored five in just over 15 minutes while Crawford scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds.
“I thought our rookies tonight were all great,” said Head Coach Flip Saunders. “You know Jordan Crawford came in and gave us a great spark and did a nice job. I was extremely happy with how they played.”
The new additions gave the team some life when they entered the game. They weren’t huge offensive players, but their work on both ends of the court kept the Wizards within striking distance for most of the game. While Dallas would occasionally move to a 10- or 11-point lead as the second half progressed, Washington kept clawing to keep it a single-digit game.
“They’re playing great,” Young said. “Without knowing the plays and they come in and give us that boost. That’s big. That shows that they’ve been on good teams.”
Head Coach Flip Saunders even had five players off the bench in the game, and they still kept it close. No doubt they were helped by a 3-pointer from Evans and 4-of-8 shooting from Crawford.
But they were unable to claw back, so Saunders put the starting five back in.
“I’m glad he gave me the opportunity,” was Crawford’s humble response to the 17 minutes of court time.
After John Wall made a few drives to tie it, a Jordan Crawford shot from outside tied the game at 97 with 1:36 left in the contest.
“We missed a couple shots, put them in transition and they were right back in the game,” Dirk Nowitzki said after the game. “You have to give them credit. They kept coming, kept playing hard, fought all the way down the stretch.”
But n typical Washington fashion, a 3-point shooting foul was assed to Rashard Lewis on Dirk Nowitzki. After some downed free throws, the lead was too much to handle.
The trio from Atlanta gave Washington energy to hang with one of the tougher teams in the league, but the final minute ruined their welcome to Washington.
Photo Courtesy of John Powell