Nick the quick, the return of Tough Juice

The vets on the team love messing with Nick Young, who along with Dominic McGuire and Oleksiy Pecherov, is something of a little brother but all of them are aware of Young's talent.

During tonight's 105-97 win over the Bucks, it was on full display as the rookie scored a season-high 22 points on 9 of 15 shooting and got the crowd involved (imagine that) with a string of spectacular plays including in-your-face dunks over Andrew "Bling Bling" Bogut and Dan Gadzuric.

Young's best play came in the fourth quarter when he took a feed from Antawn Jamison and drove baseline where he found himself cut off but managed to reverse spin in the air and make a layup while drawing a foul on Gadzuric. He's had a few plays like that this season but man, that was nice. It also sparked a game-clinching 12-2 run that Roger Mason Jr. capped with a three-pointer.

"I was trying to do a reverse dunk but there were too many big men in there," Young said. "I tried to just get the ball in the hole, threw it up and it went in."

For those of us who have been around the team on a daily basis since camp, Young's talent as a dunker in no secret but, with the exception of a few plays here and there, that ability had not been on display in games (OK, the dunk over LeBron James was the best of the season). That has changed recently as Young is trying to dunk over everything in sight.

"It's just being more aggressive," Young said. "I'm tired of Brendan Haywood calling me a practice dunker and all of that. It was my way of trying to show them that I belong here. I can jump a little bit."

Antonio Daniels on Young: "He's a natural scorer, that's what he does. We kid with him all of the time. We joke with him all of the time because he has blinders because all he sees is the rim but that is one talented man. No question about it. He does a great job of creating his own shot. Good scorers in this league kind of make it look easy. They kind of make it look simple. We he makes a move and creates his own shot, it doesn't look difficult for him."

The Wizards were the more aggressive team all the way around tonight as evidenced by their season-high 66 points in the paint and 50 percent shooting which was mainly due to the fact that they attacked the basket rather than settle for jump shots all night.

The win moved the Wizards (31-32) 1 1/2 games up on seventh-place Philly and set up an interesting game Thursday night. The good news is that Caron Butler could be back in the lineup against LeBron and the Cavs. He went through shootaround and Coach Eddie Jordan said that if all goes well tomorrow in practice and in Thursday's shootaround, Tough Juice will be back.

The not-so-good news is that a bunch of other guys are banged up. Antawn Jamison (23 points and 8 rebounds tonight) has been playing on a sore back for several games and was getting treatment in the training room right after the game. He may not practice tomorrow.

Daniels caught his left thumb on a jersey in the fourth quarter and said it was sore after the game. Rookie Olekisy Pecherov did not suit up tonight due to a left mid-foot sprain. He's day-to-day. Gilbert Arenas did not practice Monday due to some soreness in his surgically repaired left knee and it will be interesting to see what he does in the coming days.

By Ivan Carter |  March 11, 2008; 11:47 PM ET
Previous: Tuesday update | Next: Bogut, The Easy To Forget About (But Pretty Good) Big Man

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Posted by: Bullets70 | March 12, 2008 12:19 AM

thats ok news but how come it seems when caron comes back antwan is hurt are we going to see only one all star in the lineup again.

Posted by: brandon | March 12, 2008 12:22 AM

anytime some good news comes around, there's a list waiting to make it disappear. it is nice to see young be aggressive and it was a much needed win.

Posted by: good news? | March 12, 2008 1:43 AM

Soreness is to be exected in Gilbert's knee. If there's swelling, then there may be a problem.

Posted by: mark | March 12, 2008 6:43 AM

Haven't heard anyone throwing around that B word lately in refering to Young. By the way, did anyone notice that Nick Young passed Juan Carlos in 3 pt. feild goal percentage a few days ago?

Navarro would have only ended up taking minutes from Young and slowed his development. Once Juan Carlos waited until after the draft to announce his buyout with his Spanish team, the die was cast, Grunfeld was commited to Young. If Juan Carlos would have came out earlier Ernie may have went another direction in the draft, but it looks like things are going to work out pretty well for the Wiz.

Having Young play behind a solid Vet that is an accomplished NBA defender is a smart move. Young made some smart defensive plays last night that were overshadowed by his offensive game. He's not an NBA defender yet, but he's worlds ahead of where he was in Nov.

Blatche sure likes to get out and be the middle man on the break, must have read some of the "next Magic Johnson" comments on here. The kid's got a really solid game and is growing as an NBA player by the day, but he's sure not the guy you want running the break.

I'll agree with Mark, same thing I said back in Nov., if Gil's got soreness that's normal. If fluid's building up like in Nov. he needs to take it slow. Fluid doesn't always mean there's still something major wrong, but it does indicate at the least healings not complete.

But we don't know any of that either way, so we have to hope that gil's coming along ok. If he's not ready, he doesn't owe it to anybody to play until he's healed.

Posted by: GM | March 12, 2008 8:38 AM

AJ needs a break. EJ should limit his mins to half of what he has been avg for the rest of the regular season. And sit him a couple of games. Sounds like GA has been smart to not push it anymore than he has been. Why is BH not avg 30-35 min a game? I still think beyond getting a top flight pt guard this offseason, getting a well respected coach with strong leadership skills is paramount for the Wiz to get to the next level. 3rd would be L.Deng!

Posted by: oddjob | March 12, 2008 8:41 AM

It was great that Les BouleS won last night. But, did anyone notice the great job DS did in picking up his game, and also shutting down Redd? DS is DA MAN!

http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=280311027

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 12, 2008 8:58 AM

You know what is funny... When GA went down after game 8 this season, almost to the man we all agreed in here that if we could stay at .500, that would be a great achievement. Here we are 1 game below .500, and we're w/o GA and CB.

Not too shabby for a patchwork team, with a horrible coach and cheap owner.

Posted by: JSchon | March 12, 2008 9:06 AM

I like seeing Nick Young go one-on-one. The goal of all that ball movement in the Princeton is to create high-percentage shots. If they get Nick Young the ball in a situation where he can break down a lone defender and get to the rim, I think that's a pretty high-percentage shot. Now that he's trying to dunk everything, he's either going to get two points or a foul. If they sag on him and give him the step-back jumper from 17 feet, he's almost automatic on that. I think the problem comes when he finds himself doubled and invariably tries to split two defenders, but he'll catch on eventually.

Speaking of dunks, I happened upon a great YouTube clip of Darryl Dawkins' 10 greatest throwdowns. Man, I had forgotten how truly astonishing that guy was...even Dwight Howard pales in comparison. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeqKjXKGrFI

Posted by: John Brisker | March 12, 2008 9:45 AM

Great game by Nick! He's looking better and better as the season goes on. Dominic also -- at least they got a lot of much needed playing time during all these injuries.

Posted by: washingtonian | March 12, 2008 9:55 AM

Glad Young'n had a great night. However, who is coaching these young guys during practice? Why does EJ continue to allow his players to play ball like they are down at Barry Farms? I don't care if Young was able to score when he continues to have the bad habit of playing one-on-one ball every time he touches the ball. This may be appropriate %10 of the time.

AB. AB you are not a SG, stop throwing up garbage shots instead of keeping the ball moving.

Posted by: Wizzy | March 12, 2008 10:11 AM

Simply amazing that fans think they know how to coach better than coaches...and how to be a GM better than proven GMs. Ridiculous.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 12, 2008 10:12 AM

Anyone notice EJ was trying to throw the game?

Both BTH and AB were having good games and they helped build that 13 point halftime lead. And what does he do to start and keep running in the 3rd quarter until they lose the lead completely? SMALLBALL with DS at center AGAIN!

That was when Redd kept taking it to the hole and getting scores with nobody even resembling a shotblocker. It's not like he's wearing BTH or AB down - they're not averaging enough minutes to wear out.

Wiz didn't pay for EJ's mistake this time mostly because Young got going afterwards but the stakes are high now that Philly is right on our heel and our margin for error is so low with all the injuries.

EJ needs to be smarter than that. He fell right into the smallball trick when we played Nellie's GS, this game he did it all on his own.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 12, 2008 11:05 AM

NO MORE SMALLBALL!!!! We all saw it, I hope the coaches saw that atrocious display and acknowledge the fact that we are amazing with blatche and BWood in the game at the sametime. Even with at least one in we are much more efficient. The game should have been over by the start of the 4th quarter. AJ needed rest and the smallball made him stay in. Glad we won, sucks we let them back in.

Posted by: Burg w/ a U | March 12, 2008 11:33 AM

Here we go again, we won last night! I don't think EJ did a bad job. Small ball is what helped put them back up in the fourth! He brought Haywood back in the game towards the end and that is what helped seal the deal. How about congratulating the Wizards on the things they did to win instead of constantly nick picking and finding fault with EVERY game win or lose. GO WIZARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Great game!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 12, 2008 11:38 AM

"You know what is funny... When GA went down after game 8 this season, almost to the man we all agreed in here that if we could stay at .500, that would be a great achievement. Here we are 1 game below .500, and we're w/o GA and CB.

Not too shabby for a patchwork team, with a horrible coach and cheap owner.

Posted by: JSchon | March 12, 2008 09:06 AM "

I don't know where you got "everyone to ma man ...blah blah...500" from, but if you're talking about a conference where teams below .500 can make the playoffs, it's pretty sad. For example, Atlanta, 24.5 games back, 11 games below .500, and 3-7 last 10 games at the 8th spot.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 12, 2008 11:40 AM

DC Man88...

My point isnt whether or not its easy to make the Eastern Conference playoffs. It is. My point was this team has managed to play well enough, although inconsistent, to maintain a play-off spot while missing a ridiculous amount of games due to injury. While teams like Atlanta, have been pretty much intacted throughout the year and traded for what they thought would be an upgrade at the point have continued to struggle.

Who knows what would've happened if GA and CB were injury free this season.

Posted by: JSchon | March 12, 2008 11:40 AM

"Simply amazing that fans think they know how to coach better than coaches...and how to be a GM better than proven GMs. Ridiculous.

Posted by: | March 12, 2008 10:12 AM "

Put wins on the board, and put championship banners in the arena, and people will shut up. Otherwise, live with the criticism.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 12, 2008 11:42 AM

Nice to win but disappointing that EJ sat BH during the critical points of the 3rd and 4th when Milwaukee was rallying. No one was challenging Redd when he went to the hoop and Bogut was scoring at will. I can't understand how EJ could play smallball against a team with a talented 7 footer and try to cover him with AB or Songaila. Was it a coincidence that BH either blocked or altered 3-4 shots in the last 3 minutes after EJ put him back in the game? He had 15 pts., 6 boards, and 5 blocks in 23 minutes!!! They need BH in the 4th quarter to protect the basket plus avoid the stupid plays that AB makes when he's trying to be Magic. EJ made the game a lot closer than it should have been. AJ should sit out on Thursday especially if CB is able to play. We need his back healthy for the long-run - EJ needs to force him to sit out a game or two even if means less of a chance of winning.

Posted by: wizfan89 | March 12, 2008 11:47 AM

Look, can't you all understand why Haywood only gets 28 minutes/game? I mean, take last night for instance. He had 15 points, 6 boards and 5 blocks in 25 minutes. Why would you want to put a player who puts up those mediocre numbers on the floor more? It doesn't make sense.

According to John Hollinger's PER rankings, Haywood is the 9th most effective center in the league, and second best in the East, after Howard. Guys like that shouldn't be getting even 30 minutes a game. Bravo, Eddie!

Notice how when Eddie put him in at the end of the Bucks game, Brendan got about 3 blocks, which were crucial in keeping Milwaukee from making a comeback? He dominated inside every minute he was in. THAT'S why he needs to stay on the bench. We like to keep games close, not put our best interior defender on the floor too often and maybe get some easier victories.

If anything, Jordan should cut down his minutes even more. I can't wait until Songaila, that shot-blocking defensive force, cuts into more of Haywood's minutes. After all, you've seen how teams stop driving to the hole every time Brendan goes out, right? When Haywood's patrolling the paint, it's a layup drill.

Eddie, you da man!

Posted by: Keithinator | March 12, 2008 11:50 AM

"

DC Man88...

My point isnt whether or not its easy to make the Eastern Conference playoffs. It is. My point was this team has managed to play well enough, although inconsistent, to maintain a play-off spot while missing a ridiculous amount of games due to injury. While teams like Atlanta, have been pretty much intacted throughout the year and traded for what they thought would be an upgrade at the point have continued to struggle.

Who knows what would've happened if GA and CB were injury free this season.

Posted by: JSchon | March 12, 2008 11:40 AM "

My point was to correlate how bad the teams are in the East such that a team like Atlanta can make it in the playoffs. Therefore, Les BouleS near .500 record has a lot to do with the poor state of the teams in the eastern conference, and also a lot to do with their success when Caron was still healthy.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 12, 2008 11:54 AM

"Simply amazing that fans think they know how to coach better than coaches...and how to be a GM better than proven GMs. Ridiculous.

Posted by: | March 12, 2008 10:12 AM "

So when you were a child and you actually knew a situation that your parents messed up on and pointed it out to them, that AUTOMATICALLY MEANT YOU WERE ACTUALLY a BETTER parent than your parents are overall? Yeah, I thought so...

Posted by: Anonymous | March 12, 2008 11:55 AM

Keithinator, I think we should have Haywood ride the pine and instead start Antonio Daniels for his shotblocking prowess.

GO EJ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 12, 2008 12:24 PM

Nevermind, we should instead move Roger Mason into the starting center slot since he has more blocks this year (12) than Songaila has (11.) Now let's see Redd attack the paint! He's gonna be quaking in his boots seeing Roger waiting for him there.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 12, 2008 12:42 PM

Keithinator, I think we need to get the Poet back as the starter so BH rides the pines. EJ's going to cost us a game or two if he doesn't learn to keep his best interior defender in the game 30-35+ minutes a night. We don't stand a chance against Orlando or Cleveland (likely playoff opponents) unless BH plays more minutes. It's ridiculous to see some of the poor coaching decision that are made nightly by EJ. Regardless of who is back on the team next year, we need a coach who is a better in-game manager.

Posted by: wizfan89 | March 12, 2008 12:55 PM

@DC Man88

GA has missed 55 games and CB has missed 20 (or something really close to that). If you take the best player out of every Eastern Conference team for 55 games and 20 games from the 2nd best player where are those teams?

BOS - Garnett/Pierce
DET - Billups/Hamilton
ORL - Howard/Turkoglu
CLE - James/Ilgauskus
TOR - Bosh/Calderone
PHI - Igudola/Miller
ATL - Johnson/Smith
yada yada yada...

I would imagine that our record would be markedly better than 31-32.

Posted by: JSchon | March 12, 2008 1:25 PM

I'd agree Haywood's a 30-35 min. a game player. And his interior defense is badly needed on the court when a guy like Redd starts attacking the rim.

But 28 minutes isn't alot less then 30, not what I'd call a firing offense. Overall Eddie is calling a much better game this year then last. After the job he's done holding this team together with two Allstars out for an extended period I'd think people would be willing to cut him some slack.

I'd have never predicted that this team could hang in there for this long with Butler down. Jamison has had a huge year when you consider how much he's being relyed on to carry this team with such a young bench.

Blatche and Young still have parts of their games that we can pick on, but what a pair of talented guys. And Eddie needs to be comended for bringing these youngsters along.

The one thing I noticed last night, in the post game Young talked about having good practices that got him to the point of getting the extended look last night. Eddie seems to be building the right kind of work ethic in these guys to succeed in this league.

The foundation is being laid for a team that can hang some banners from the ceiling and not be one and done like the Heat were. Grunfeld stayed out of the trade market because he's got some good young talent and he's not going to give it away.

Posted by: GM | March 12, 2008 1:27 PM

I remember those howling when John Hollinger said we got lucky to not have more injuries last year. He said we'd have many more games lost to injuries from top players in his preseason preview: Final record 33 wins and 13th place in the East.

He got the first part right. We went OVER in the games lost department but still play .500 ball. This team has a legit shot at winning more games than last season. Trying to downplay this accomplishment makes you look simple.

Posted by: Monte | March 13, 2008 10:58 AM

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