Roger Mason Jr. Strikes Again

Here I come to save the day. (Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)

Once I saw that the San Antonio Spurs were struggling with the Golden State Warriors last night, I had to flip over on League Pass to check out the closing minutes. The Spurs have been having a hard time trying to click with less than a month remaining in the season. Manu Ginobili is still sidelined by his troublesome ankle and Tim Duncan has been playing despite a gimpy knee.

The Spurs appeared to be headed for their third loss in a row -- to the lottery-bound Warriors?!? -- when Duncan got stripped and watched Kelenna Azubuike score to give his team a one-point lead with 33.9 seconds left. Tony Parker had scored 30 points and Duncan had 13 of his 21 in the fourth quarter, but guess who took the biggest shot of the game? You already know.

Former Washington Wizard Roger Mason Jr. came around a curl at the top of the key and sank the go-ahead jumper with 23.8 seconds remaining in the Spurs' 107-106 victory. It was the fifth game-deciding bucket for Mason this season, which is huge when you consider that if Mason had missed those shots the Spurs could easily be 41-29 insteadof 46-24 -- which would make them the eighth seed in the Western Conference right now.

Entering last night, they had lost four of six, including a home loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday that bumped them from the top spot in the Southwest Division for the first time since Jan. 6. The Spurs' struggles coincided with a little slump by Mason. He had averaged just 7 points and shot 35.5 percent (11 of 31) in the four losses. Mason finished with 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting last night.

San Antonio also moved back into first place in the Southwest Division and second in the Western Conference after the Utah Jazz beat Houston, 99-86, later in the evening.

A few weeks ago, Agent Steinz asked me how much difference of a Mason would've made for the Wizards this season. I estimated that the Wizards would only be about four games better. I had no idea he would make the Spurs at least five games better (I'm not even factoring in his contributions in the absence of Ginobili, who has missed 32 games this season). Who knew that the Spurs signing Mason to a two-year, $7.3 million contract would be the difference between first place or fretting a first-round series with the Los Angeles Lakers -- at least?

By Michael Lee |  March 25, 2009; 8:38 AM ET
Previous: Tuesday Update: Arenas, Haywood Practice | Next: Caron Butler Update


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When you get around to grading Tapscott, remember what he said on Day 1:

Tapscott said of his meeting with Jamison and Butler. '"But I will tell you what I believe. Very simply, I believe in putting the best players on the floor, and in having the best of the best shoot. So that's what we're going to do: We're going to run this through you because I trust you guys and we're going to work and develop a rapport.'

He stuck to his strategy - as ill-conceived as it was. The result - minimal wins, injury to CB, minimal teamwork and no player development (other than McGuire, who improved but is still below the NBA average player).

The players on this team - without Haywood and Arenas - should win at least 30-35 games. Said another way, a 15-20 win season reflects more than just injuries. Mason wouldn't have made much of a difference.

Posted by: Izman | March 25, 2009 9:17 AM

Butler and Jamison games do not complement one another's games. Roger Mason would have been that third scorer that this edition of the Wiz so badly need.

Would we getting ready for the playoffs if Mason remained? doubtful

Would it have made this brutal season more enjoyable to see the hometown hero develop into a legit NBA starter...most definitely.

Barkley called him the biggest free agent pick-up of the season last night, hard to argue that. Who would have thought?
Just goes to show that good things happen when you work as hard as Roger has to become a better player.

Posted by: g-money | March 25, 2009 9:57 AM

If I knew we would would be starting deshawn trash and or mike james instead of nick young...i would never let roger mason jr leave. Then we resigned gimpy arenas to a 70 year 90 trillion dollar contract. Boy I hate this franchise now.

But having Roger Mason on this team would do nothing. WE DONT KNOW HOW TO PLAY DEFENSE. Unless Mason has become Charles Oakley + Rodman + Artest + Gary Payton. Then maybe we would have like 3 extra wins.

Posted by: | March 25, 2009 10:15 AM

You hear a lot on these boards about Butler and Jamison's failure to elevate the team to more wins. Butler and Jamison are as disappointed as the fans, no doubt. You have two All-Star vets and it does seem counter-intuitive that you should have a rotten team.

Certainly can't accuse them of laying down on the job. They've played, and played hard all season.

I suspect it has more to do with what sort of players they are -- complementary players -- and also with the piece that's still missing: a talented floor leader.

Neither Butler nor Jamison shines most when the ball is in their hands. You can see the struggles Butler's had when he's had to handle the ball too much. Jamison is in some ways the ultimate garbage player, getting many of his points off his rebounding rather than creating his own shot. Both are valuable to say, a Lakers team with Kobe, or a Cavs team with LeBron, or a Wiz squad with ball hog Arenas in charge. But without that element, their weaknesses show.

It makes more sense if you accept that the team wasn't so much constructed to run Ed Jordan's offense as it was to enhance Arenas' skills and minimize his weaknesses. That's why they traded Daniels (a better player) for Mike James -- his game resembles Gilbert's. Except James turned out to be nowhere near as good.

Arenas is coming back. So is Haywood. We should have a high choice in the fold as well. Now we'll get a chance to see if there was ever anything left in the tank, or if the Wiz FO has been kidding themselves all along.

Next season, we''l see, that is.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 25, 2009 10:27 AM

......And the ARENAS-JAMISON contracts continue to pay dividends for the rest of the league. Just goes to show what the results are when the inmates run the asylum. Never will be different no matter who is drafted, or on the team.

Sorry Mr. POLLIN, the days of throwing money at a club and getting an NBA title are over. The organization must be solid from top to bottom and staffed with B-Ball professionals to win championships. Weight room to medical personnel, the whole ball of wax must be strong to be successful. The WIZARDS appear to be more akin to SILLY-PUTTY. New ownership is called for, and I say that even IF the D.C. franchise wins the 2010 NBA Crown.

Posted by: glawrence007 | March 25, 2009 10:28 AM

"ANOTHER" Wizards screw up, almost rates up there with Rip Hamilton move.... Wonder what is next .. Arenas plays 3 on 3 in practice?

Posted by: bills_2_cents | March 25, 2009 10:47 AM

A great coach and a good coaching staff brings out the best in all of his players. Unfortunately the Wizard don't have one.

Posted by: Dave381 | March 25, 2009 11:12 AM

Roger Mason would have amounted to MAYBE a couple more wins. He's decent but not the savior that some have made him out to be.

As a starter, RM is shooting 42% from the field overall and 43% from 3 point range, which means he's getting open 3's as a result of playing with TD. Take out those open 3's and his regular 2 point fg% is pretty average. He's playing 31 mpg as a starter and averaging 2 assists and 3 rebounds with slightly less than 12 ppg.

Looking at, the Spurs' opposing SG has the highest PER against the Spurs than any other position. The PER for the Spurs at SG is 15.7 while the opposition is 19.7. Not good.

RM is ok but not the answer. He's hit some attention grabbing shots but overall, SG is still the Spurs weakest link. Lets stop deifying him.

Posted by: original_mark | March 25, 2009 12:12 PM

My mistake. The PER numbers I posted were wrong. The Sg position is about even for the Spurs. He's not outplaying his counterpart but isn't getting beaten either. Average. It's about how he performed here, as well.

My apologies to RM.

Posted by: original_mark | March 25, 2009 12:15 PM

It turns-out that Mason was the glue guy last year in keeping us competitive. The fact that the Spurs (great evaluators of talent) kept after after Roger and made him an offer, should have been a big clue that he should have been retained.

Ernie should have said to Gilbert, "Look, we can open the bank for you, but that would leave us precious little resources to retain guys like Mason" Its amazing that a GM would be willing to pay $111 million to a guy with no agent, and who is coming off of multiple knee surgeries. How will we have the money to keep McGee later?

Blame greedy Gilbert and a weak GM for the Mason debacle.

Posted by: closg | March 25, 2009 12:20 PM

closg: "The fact that the Spurs (great evaluators of talent) kept after after Roger and made him an offer, should have been a big clue that he should have been retained."

I'd put it like this: Mason fit Greg Popovich's scheme and the Spurs' needs a lot better than he fit Jordan and the Wizards. Something Popovich had been saying for at least a year before they signed Roger.

Glad to see him land in a good situation.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 25, 2009 12:38 PM


You and I both.

Posted by: glawrence007 | March 25, 2009 12:41 PM

I don't know about that, Samson151. A guy who can play both guard spots and is willing to take and able to make big shots certainly seems like a major need on the Wiz right now, as does a guy who can provide steady offense off the bench 9something they've need for a long while now, even before this season).

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 25, 2009 12:49 PM

Three point shooting is now an essential part of the game. Most of the elite teams have three-four legit three-point shooters, and they build that into their offense. The Wiz really have, minus Gilbert, zero consistent three point shooters, other than Butler or Jamison occassionally letting a few fly. Some of the other three-point shooting teams are just playing a different game than we are. Letting Mason go just wasn't a bad decision, which is foregivable. It reduced the Wiz to only playing two-ball when other teams can just put it in another gear and pull away.

Posted by: jweber1 | March 25, 2009 1:57 PM

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