Three in a row
The Wizards did what playoff teams and would-be conference contenders are supposed to do tonight: they beat a bad team with a good start and a great finish. The Wizards (3-5 now after three straight wins) put it away with a 14-3 fourth quarter run that was a thing of beauty for Washington fans and an ugly sight for Minnesota fans who might want to get used to that kind of thing now that Kevin Garnett is wearing the green and white.
Caron Butler finished with a season-high 29 points to go along with eight rebounds and is making an early bid to be in New Orleans for another All Star game.
Gilbert Arenas scored 27 with eight dimes and overcame eight turnovers by making three straight jump shots during the crucial fourth quarter run. Darius Songaila came off the bench to chip in 10 points and five boards and Brendan Haywood nearly picked up his sixth double-double. Blatche had a couple of dunks, played some good defense and had one really cool blocked shot in the fourth quarter after Sebastian Telfair blew past Arenas and appeared ready to make an easy lay up.
As a Wiz fan, you also had to like the energy and passion the team showed in the fourth, especially the juice that came from bench players who were not playing. The bench was up cheering and waving towels and several player ran out to greet Arenas, Butler and crew with chest bumps when Wolves Coach Randy Wittman tried to slow the fourth quarter surger with a timeout.
"There was a lot of talking going on over there tonight," Butler said. "We shut 'em up though."
You could argue that Eddie Jordan is playing his starters way too much and he's not getting a ton from his bench and you might be correct but after that 0-5 start, it had to be done. This team is starting to jell, Gilbert is getting his groove back and Butler is playing like a beast. This game could have been a bigger blowout had Antawn Jamison knocked down some wide open threes.
"We started off slow out of the gates but now we're picking up some momentum," Arenas said. "We just want to get out of November alive. December and January is when we start playing our best basketball, that's when we really start to come alive."
The Wiz are flying home as I write this and face Portland at home tomorrow night. They'll have a chance to keep stacking up wins if they play like they did in the first and fourth quarters tonight. The Blazers are beatable as is Tuesday's opponent (Philly) and Wednesday's opponent (at Charlotte).
I'm staying back here in Minneapolis (my hometown) to see friends and family tonight, tomorrow and Sunday so Michael Lee is covering tomorrow night's game. I'll catch up with the team on Monday. Take care and have a good weekend. I know I will.
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