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Finally in first place


It will be interesting to see how the Wizards handle Dwight Howard tonight. I think we all remember how Etan Thomas won his matchup with the budding superstar in the first meeting between the team's back on Nov. 6. Thomas played perhaps the best game of his career, finishing with 14 points, 15 rebounds and 6 blocks in a 106-103 loss. Brendan Haywood gets the call tonight and will have to play well.

And hey Mike, I don't have a personal beef with your boy Brendan. Calm down. In fact, I like Brendan and think he's played damn well but I'm a journalist first and I examine these things through that lense. Nothing personal. That said, I will be asking Eddie about what he's going to do when and if Etan Thomas gets back. I'll touch on it later.

The thing I remember about that first game against Orlando is Gilbert, Caron and Antawn each having open shots down the stretch that would have swung the game in Washington's favor but those shots missed. Lately, the fellas have been hitting the big shot, whether it starts a run, keeps a run going or ends a run by the other team. Perhaps that's why I've never been as caught up with percentages and other stats as some people. The way I see it, when a guy hits a shot can be more important than how many he makes.

Word from the Orlando beat writer, Brian Schmitz: The Magic will have every player tonight but Hedo Turkoglu is hurting with a bad back and DC native Keith Bogans is slowed by a bad ankle. The Magic were the early story in the NBA with their 13-4 start but the team has lost 8 of the last 11 and can't find a second scorer to take pressure off of Howard. Schmitz said teams are double-teaming Howard and forcing the other Magic to beat them.

Bad news for the Magic: Opposing point guards have been killing them lately. Smush Parker dropped 18 in the third quarter for the Lakers Wednesday night, Baron Davis put up 38 last week and Chauncey Billups put up 31 back on Dec. 8. That's not a good trend considering the way Gilbert's had that hibachi going recently.

By Ivan Carter  |  December 29, 2006; 4:51 PM ET
 
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Next: On to Milwaukee II

Comments

I'm glad to hear Turkoglu is ailing (at least for tonight :-) as he has hurt us in the past....if I rememeber correctly he was a 3 point scoring machine in our first matchup.....or was that last season?

Posted by: Lisa | December 29, 2006 6:30 PM | Report abuse

It will be interesting to see if Coach Jordan decides to double-team DHoward considering he doesn't really like to double-team. Something tells me Agent Zero is going to have a monster game tonight.

Posted by: Bullets Fan in L.A. | December 29, 2006 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Great start for us thus far, although I'm still not secure with Turkoglu and Arroyo roaming behind the 3-point line. You know how they hurt us last game, but we've been keeping Howard in check and crashing the boards, so it looks like it should be a fun game. I'll check back in after the game.

Posted by: Will Mui | December 29, 2006 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Ok...what is the deal when Turkoglu plays the Wizards???? He is doing it again...a 3 point machine!

Posted by: Lisa | December 29, 2006 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Lisa, EVERYONE does it against us. We simply don't play opponents tight man-up, especially behind the arc. That's why everybody that plays us has a Captain Irrelevant who goes off for a career night.

Whatever, though: when you average over 107 a game, it's a track meet and we're basically daring the other guys to keep up.

Posted by: Gack | December 29, 2006 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Nice move by Blatche, I thought he was going to lose it with that questionable dribble right before he got fouled.

This is a very doable game for us, we're totally off-kilter and only down 4 to a team shooting lights-out, and they won't shoot that way the entire game.

The second half will be what I like to call.....Zero Hour

Posted by: Gack | December 29, 2006 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Another nice play from Andray! And what is the deal with the star carved into DeShawn's fade? Is it throwback night?

Posted by: Gack | December 29, 2006 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Does Gilbert know he's allowed to pass the ball?

I love him to death, but if his shots aren't going down and he can't drive because he's getting double and triple teamed, why doesn't he find the open guy?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 29, 2006 9:31 PM | Report abuse

He had 7 assists -- so yes, he does know he's allowed to pass, and he drew fouls on just about every starter on their team -- so I'd say the strategy was fairly effective. He just missed more shots than he has been lately.

The only reason this game was this "exciting" was some really ill-timed FT misses, and a handful more bad handles than usual. Let's not go getting all "why doesn't Gilbert pass more" because of tonight.... as Legler said the other night, he's got the greenest light of anybody in the NBA, and for good reason.

Posted by: Gack | December 29, 2006 9:52 PM | Report abuse

We've been getting spoiled with the Wiz hot shooting lately. Tonight wasn't one of those nights but some good can come out of these close games. What's up with Grant Hill-I believe he sat the whole 4th quarter.

Posted by: PTP23 | December 29, 2006 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Blatche once again gave some good minutes on defense. This should help his confidence. Tough game tomorrow. Milwaukee's hot and Mo Williams usually has a career game against us. Should be an entertaining game.

Posted by: PTP23 | December 29, 2006 10:10 PM | Report abuse

I thought Blatche played really well, and really, Calvin logged some pretty decent minutes, too.

Will Hay-mania be put to the test tomorrow night if Brendan can't go? Can we possibly win with B-Hay gimpy, or is the mere fact that he starts all we need to secure the "W"?

FYI, with Milwaukee losing tonight, we now have the longest win streak in the East at 5 games, and the second longest in the NBA behind Dallas, who has won 8 in a row.

Redd looked human tonight, "only" dropped 24 points in 38 minutes.

Posted by: Gack | December 29, 2006 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Let's hope Haywood is good to go tommorrow night. Boothe and Blatche are OK coming off the bench, but I'm not sure that they can handle Bogut for a full game. If Haywood can't go I hope that Eddie will give Lang some serious minutes (rather than going small ball). It will be interesting to see if Lang can rise to the ocassion...

Posted by: pk1 | December 29, 2006 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Kobe "Quality Shots" Bryant, desperatedly tried to match Arenas 60 tonight. He got 58 in a triple overtime lost. Hoisted up 45 "quality shots". No other Laker had more than 10 shots. I got tickets when they come to the Verizon Center. I hope Arenas drops 60 more on Mr. Modest.

Posted by: PTP23 | December 29, 2006 10:51 PM | Report abuse

I was surprised to see Caron sitting so much in the 4th quarter tonight; did anyone else notice it? I wondered if he was hurt, or in foul trouble or something.

As for Andray, I don't know why Eddie puts him in, he plays well, then comes out again for the rest of the game. If he's getting it done, leave him in, Eddie!

One other thing, Eddie, while I'm on a roll: do you or do you not tell players to NOT COLLAPSE INSIDE when they're guarding a hot 3-pt. shooter? When Turkoglu was going off, I kept seeing Caron collapsing into the middle, to give some help defensively. I truly wonder, Ivan - doesn't he tell players to stick like glue to a hot shooter? Why did Caron keep dropping down? Does he not understand some simple principles, like DON'T LET A GUY HAVE OPEN 3s WHEN HE'S MAKING EVERY ONE! I am truly, truly mystified. I'm counting on you, IC, to ask EJ about this. It's really getting ridiculous.

Posted by: Keithinator | December 29, 2006 10:53 PM | Report abuse

This is a blog where sober reality rules. I like seeing that no one is getting carried away about "latest time in first place since 1978-79." I was in Fla. and missed the game, how did Haywood get hurt?

Posted by: George Templeton | December 29, 2006 11:01 PM | Report abuse

George, he just rolled his ankle. Should be OK. He was only out for a few minutes, and then back in.

BTW, why on earth does EJ continue to play Jarvis Hayes? He does nothing productive that I can see. He's John Wilkes Booth, and the Wizards are Abe Lincoln.

Posted by: Keithinator | December 29, 2006 11:12 PM | Report abuse

George, he just rolled it during a rebound sequence, nothing really spectacular. It was one of those "half rolls" where he started to roll it, realized it and reflexed the other way.

That reflex might have saved him a month on the shelf, but I have no idea how well he plays through injuries.

One thing's for sure, he was definitely tentative and bolted to the floor when he came back in, and the Magic knew it. Thankfully we got some help and rotation and Howard wasn't able to capitalize too much (got called for an offensive or two which helped).

Posted by: Gack | December 29, 2006 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Keith -- no kidding. Thing about Jarvis is, he's so horrible for 95% of the game, and just when I'm about to start researching occult sacrifice voodoo to try and banish him from the team, he'll hit some crucial 3 that basically bails us out of a tough spot.

He really is having a horrendous season, though. Doesn't really have the fundamentals down PLUS he's building a house with all those bricks, and that's just a disgusting combo.

Gack's top moments from tonight's game:

1. Andray Blatche going coast to coast at the end of the 2nd, nearly losing the ball in the paint, getting fouled, finger rolls in the bucket, and hits the FT for 3 the hard way, to close the half.

2. In the 4th, Gil splitting two defenders guarding him TIGHT at the stripe, drawing contact from Darko (and Howard, too), hits the FT for another 3 point play. I have no idea how he kept control of the ball on the first step to split the defenders, there was like 3 inches of space between their feet.

3. Also in the 4th -- Calvin Booth nailing the 19-footer at the top of the key to just stun the Magic and put us up by 5. Chenier reminds us that Calvin practices the long range shots but he doesn't get any lovin' from the broadcast crew!

4. Right at the end of the game, Caron spotting up and nailing the fadeaway to break the tie and basically give us the win. Icewater. He's hit these shots so many times this year, I literally think he owns at least 3-4 wins because of those shots.

Posted by: Gack | December 29, 2006 11:27 PM | Report abuse

You know Gack the same thing happened with Jarvis Hayes in the game on the 26th. I was ripping him at work and he started hitting 3's. Maybe he will shoot his way out of it eventually.

One of the earlier posters correctly mentioned Mo Williams. Will someone get the memo and cover that guy tomorrow night. I could do without him nailing another 3 to beat us at the buzzer.

Posted by: George Templeton | December 29, 2006 11:32 PM | Report abuse

George, you're right on about Mo. I'd love to see a Wizards' defender get in a guy's grill and disrupt him as much as possible. Rough him up a bit and take him out of his comfort zone. Give up some foul shots to get in his head, and make him know he's not gonna just be able to sit there and shoot wide-open treys.

OTOH, it's nice to see the Wiz win without playing anywhere near their best (and still ring up 112 points).

Posted by: Keithinator | December 29, 2006 11:40 PM | Report abuse

I am contractually bound to holler

MO WILLIAMS IS A SCRUB!!!!

everytime someone mentions his name.

Posted by: Zonker | December 29, 2006 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Ivan,

What do you mean IF Etan Thomas comes back. What do you know? That's a pretty big IF to be throwing in there. If that's true, we REALLY need to get Songaila and Ruffin back soon. Or is there some trade in the works? Is MoPete coming to Tony Cheng's neighborhood?

And to everyone who thinks we should get rid of Jarvis, why wouldn't you give someone with his size and versatility a shot? I actually think he plays pretty good defense most of the time. In fact I thought tonight he played pretty good defense. He just is not hitting his shots. If he does that, he's a real valuable player to have. The bigger question I have is how long does he have the green light to shoot? It sure is a pretty shot for something that draws iron so often. What was Hayes shooting precentage in college? I'm wondering if he ever WAS a good shooter.

Here's a question for Ivan: does MoPete have the size to cover most of the 3's in the league? If we trade for him, does that send Hayes to the bench? Does MoPete have the versatility to play both the 2 and 3?

-sting

Posted by: sting | December 29, 2006 11:43 PM | Report abuse

To be fair to Hayes, he was a good shooter before he hurt his kneecap. As for what Zonker said, you might be right, but its like Michael Redd's abilities enter Mo Williams' body when he plays our team.
Amen Keithinator, I am all for roughing up someone who seems to rise to a different level against us. Just enough to let him know he ain't going to get 38 without having to work his rear end off.

Posted by: George Templeton | December 29, 2006 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Caron's free throw misses at the end had me scared. They just rolled out. Antawn had a tough time at the line, then nailed 2 big FTs. The Wiz were great from the line going into the 4th - at over 90 percent.

I hope they find their rythym early in Milwaukee. If not, I think the big 3 get a lot of rest in a big loss.

Posted by: Shotgun | December 29, 2006 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Zonker, I think the way to put is that Mo Williams WAS a scrub. He's putting up 17.5 points, 5.2 boards and 6.3 assists per game. That's a guy with skeelz, as Tim Hardaway might say. He's really improved.

Posted by: Keithinator | December 29, 2006 11:57 PM | Report abuse

can you ask Coach Jordan what he sees in the Jamison/Hayes frontcourt that gives him an advantage?

Posted by: Brian | December 30, 2006 12:42 AM | Report abuse

A number of you have probably already seen this. And if it has been posted here before, I'm sorry for the duplication.

I am posting this link because it includes possibly the greatest sentence of the year - see the December 21 entry.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=lukas/061228

The article also has a link to possibly the greatest basketball team photo of all time (Ivan, don't show that to Gil - he'll get ideas).

Posted by: Shotgun | December 30, 2006 1:44 AM | Report abuse

forgot to include . . . look for the "truly bizarre photo" link for that photo.

Posted by: Shotgun | December 30, 2006 1:46 AM | Report abuse

One comment and one question:

Never nervous Jarvis is killing this team!

Does anyone know why DeShawn waves his hand in his face after making a shot?

Posted by: CJ Baltimore | December 30, 2006 9:07 AM | Report abuse

"Does anyone know why DeShawn waves his hand in his face after making a shot?"

Yeah I noticed that also CJ. It looks like someone farted or something and he's trying to brush it away. ;)

"I was surprised to see Caron sitting..."

Foul trouble. But for every reason you gave Keith is why I don't like Jordan. Someone plays well and then he sits the rest of the game. I realize he's thinking ahead to the "back to back" nights, but his rotations are so frustrating.

I liked Booth's play tonight though.

One thing that is good and also bad about Jordan is that he will play the guys that have "tenure" over guys who do not. This is the only reason I can see Hayes playing as much as he is. Hayes hasn't playing very good all year but he's still getting minutes.

Jamison was playing the 5 tonight, that's not good for anyone. This is also when Orlando went on thier run towards the end.

Get ready for "smallball" tonight everyone, it's coming. I think the Wiz lose this one and Redd has a huge game.

Please go vote for all the Wizards for the 2007 NBA All Star game NOW at:

http://www.nba.com/allstar2007/asb/eng/ballot.html?from=sweeps

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 30, 2006 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I think the waving of the hands in front of his face, done by Deshawn is saying "in your face" to his opponents. He doesn't do it every time but when he makes a tough shot or three pointer, I notice that he does that.

Posted by: WizFANnatic | January 2, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I think the waving of the hands in front of his face, done by Deshawn is saying "in your face" to his opponents. He doesn't do it every time but when he makes a tough shot or three pointer, I notice that he does that.

Posted by: WizFANnatic | January 2, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

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