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Wizards 94, Heat 84

Just scrolling down the box score from Friday's game, a few things stand out. First, Nick Young had more shot attempts (23) than Antawn Jamison (20) and Dwyane Wade (19) and Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler combined (16). Second, Wade only attempted seven free throws. And third, the Wizards had 23 assists and 12 turnovers.

From those numbers, it's pretty easy to glean how the Wizards (5-9) snapped a six-game losing streak to the Miami Heat, including the past four in Miami, and won consecutive games for just the first time since Feb. 20.

That time on the shelf, and not suiting up at all against the San Antonio Spurs has provided the necessary jolt to Young -- especially with the team counting on him to deliver with Mike Miller out with a strained right calf, Butler easing himself back while nursing a sore right ankle, and Arenas admitting that he has yet to fully regain his rhythm after missing so much time the past two seasons.

Young was back to dusting himself off, as he scored a season-high 22 points and handing out five assists. About the only thing Young didn't do well on Friday was shoot the three ball, as he missed all three of his attempts from long distance. Young said he played with "courage" on Friday, which translated to controlled aggression.

"I told him, until I get a rhythm where I can play consistent basketball, I need him to score. I need him to be aggressive. I need him Tawn and CB to be the scorers in that starting group," said Arenas, who had just nine points and five assists in 27 minutes.

But he did some smart things with the ball, especially late in the third quarter, when the Heat scored nine consecutive points and got within 63-62 when Wade made two free throws. Instead of settling for some fallaway jumper, Young responded by driving to the basket and converting a nifty reverse layup.

"Nick did another very good job," Coach Flip Saunders said. "Not only offensively, but defensively. He used his length, he got in front of him and contested every shot. Nick has made good progress this last week defensively."

Young helped contain Wade -- who looked unusually listless on Friday night -- to just 18 points on 6 of 19 shooting. Young helped tire Wade by running around on offense, and he also didn't give up much room for Wade to get to the basket for dunks and fouls. It's easy to forget sometimes that Young has an especially long wingspan of seven feet. But he has used it to his advantage against Wade and Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala, who shot just 2 of 10 mostly against Young on Tuesday. It was only the second time this season that Wade was held below 20 points. You cannot forget that he scored 81 combined points the first two games.

The Wizards wore black tape on their uniforms to recognize Abe Pollin, who was buried earlier in the day. Young said the team will continue to use him as an inspiration for the rest of the season. "We wanted to change our momentum," Young said. "We lost AP, so we wanted to Come out there with a chip on our shoulder every game."

For the second time this season, Earl Boykins played the role of fourth-quarter closer. Boykins played a nearly flawless fourth quarter as he had six points, six assists, three rebounds and zero turnovers as the Wizards extended their lead to 14 points with 3:39 remaining. He finished with 10 points and nine assists in just over 20 minutes.

As I said earlier, the Wizards valued the ball on Friday as they only had 12 turnovers. The last time the Wizards were in Miami, Arenas set a franchise record with 12 turnovers, with seven coming in the second quarter alone.

This game also showed what a difference it makes to have Jamison back. He had game-highs with 24 points and 13 rebounds. He also surpassed the 16,000-point mark for his career and moved Jack Marin for 11th place in the Wizards' all-time scoring list with 8,020 points.

But with Jamison in the fold, Coach Flip Saunders is also able to do some tinkering with his lineup. He used Jamison at small forward a lot, with Andray Blatche at power forward and either JaVale McGee or Brendan Haywood at center. That lineup paid off, as the Wizards grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, which led to 26 second-chance points. This came one game after the Wizards had a season-high 19 offensive rebounds and 19 second-chance points.

"That's one thing about this team. It's numerous things we can do. We can play small, we can play big," Jamison said. "But Dray has been doing a good job, making it tough offensively and defensively. We know what Brendan has been doing. To have me post up and stretch the defense. I just like our intensity. You got three guys that can move and make it difficult."

By Michael Lee  |  November 28, 2009; 12:16 AM ET
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NY was ballin' on both sides of the ball. Keep it up, youngun, and if Blatche/Foye/McGee/Boykins keep bringing good play off the bench, Arenas can focus on getting the rust off. Games like this help rekindle the hope!

Bring Back the Bullets!

Posted by: jcbcmb68 | November 28, 2009 12:33 AM | Report abuse

""I told him [Young], until I get a rhythm where I can play consistent basketball, I need him to score. I need him to be aggressive. I need him Tawn and CB to be the scorers in that starting group," said Arenas, who had just nine points and five assists in 27 minutes."

Good stuff from Arenas.

Posted by: ArmChairQB | November 28, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Nice game Wiz! Foye's lost his rythm but he'll get it back in a few games.

Posted by: ptp23 | November 28, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Nice from Sheed tonight.

"They've got to know that he's a [darn] flopper. That's all Turkododo do," Wallace said after the Celtics beat the Raptors 116-103. "Flopping shouldn't get you nowhere. He acts like I shot him.

"That's not basketball, man. That's not defense. That's garbage, what it is. I'm glad I don't have too much of it left."

Commissioner David Stern has complained about flopping because it's a way to fool the officials, but the league has been unable to find a way to punish or prevent it.

Wallace is the NBA's career leader with 296 technicals and 29 ejections, according to STATS LLC. But he said some of it is because of his reputation and lack of status in the league.

"Let the Golden Child [LeBron James] do that, or one of the NBA Without Border kids do that, it's all fine and dandy," he said.

Posted by: ptp23 | November 28, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse

"I knew I had a big assignment," Young said. "My goal was to try to keep him under 40 [points]."

Posted by: ptp23 | November 28, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, small ball rolls out in Philly, via EJ's comments to the Inquirer:

"Jordan said he was looking to take positives from the game on the Sixers' four-game road trip to San Antonio, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Charlotte, even if the journey looks to be a daunting one that could leave the team in a big hole when it returns.

"I told the team after the game, just keeping bringing positive energy," Jordan said. "We're going to be undermanned until Elton gets back. We're going to be small, but keep your confidence, keep the positive energy, and we'll work through it."

Posted by: jcbcmb68 | November 28, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

EJ stepped on a land mine when he took the 76ers job. No one wants to play on that team.

And I like Sheeds quote. All these brittle Europeans are turning the NBA into Premier League flopfest.

Posted by: awb9h | November 28, 2009 1:49 AM | Report abuse

i think Hubie Brown said it best. The Wizards are a very good team, and will be at its best by January. Once everyone is back healthy, Ankles, Knees and Shoulders are healthy, The Wizards will be a force to reckon with in the East

Posted by: mrhney03 | November 28, 2009 6:17 AM | Report abuse

I think this kid has learned a lot from DNP,offense is about rhythm but defense is some thing that a player can control every single night.If he continue to play like this he will remain in the starting line up for the whole season.I also like his focus on assist. He already know how to find CB and AJ.Again AB is playing like a real pro.His all rounded game is so good, he need more minutes.No need to force the big three to play heavy minutes with injury but it helps to keep them active.

Posted by: gtefferra | November 28, 2009 6:34 AM | Report abuse

Gotta like NY's new attitude and play. But I don't think it was just the DNP that did the trick. He got a lot of those under EJ and the light didn't come on. I have to think it's the way Flip Saunders has handled NY since he (Flip) came onboard. Being upfront with players and telling them exactly what they need to do in concrete terms can do wonders. If AB and NY go on to have career years, one has to wonder just how badly Eddie Jordan handled this team. Especially if he keeps trying small ball to no success with Philly.

Posted by: tundey | November 28, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse


I don't know if he was ever exactly buried as deep on the bench as he seemed to be just a few games ago. Plus, he was literally left inactive for a game, which actually might have scared NY a little. I think he even said something along those lines. Regardless, something clicked and he decided to fight back. His couple of auditions earlier in the season looked like he was closer to being out of the league than starting. My how things change!

Posted by: rphilli721 | November 28, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Nine-inning complete game last night. Wiz had complete (well almost) command of all their pitches, and withstood their three-error seventh inning (3rd quarter).

Offense, defense, special teams were all on their games last night.

Game, set, match!

Two things most stood out about this game for me. The first is that Gil didn't force anything. He was content to move the ball and he didn't become a black hole (although a win by ten points and a -2 +/- by Gil not real good).

The second was that they kept their composure when Miami got within one at 63-62 in the third. They stayed within the system, got back to defensive basics (where they had a temporary lapse), and were able to blow the game open in the fourth with stellar team play.

I really hope they are able to build on this game. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, you can always find a silver linings in the dark cloud if you look for it. It is quite possible that Abe's passing may light a fire under this team. Success in sports is mental, and with something to play for now, it should take their MINDS off the dumb stuff and focus them where their focus needs to be.

They will beat Charlotte by 20 tonight, and I'll be afraid to come on this board tomorrow morning. ;-)

Posted by: bpybay | November 28, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

when teams win, the players get along; when they are losing, even friends start arguing.

Anyone care to claim that Flip is a coaching genius after seeing how he has handled NY? Blatche s solid.

I was getting tired of seeing 14th season Jermaine Oneal beating Haywood. Was thinking, "let McGee have a go at him." Sure enough, McGee comes in and blocks his shot in his very first play. Right now, the mix should be haywood 32 minutes, McGee 15, + or - depending on the matchups.

By end of the season, I think it will be Mcgee getting closer to 20-22 minutes. Hopefully haywood will be cool with that, bc we will be winning.

Posted by: Blurred | November 28, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I've resisted posting in the last few weeks because my frustration and rantings would be all over the map. But now we've seen a few examples of what this Wizards team can do. Away victories in Dallas and Miami, beating Cleveland at home. This team needs to work its way out of the mind games it plays with itself. I support Flip 100% with this team, but I was disappointed that the team's stars were so difficult to coral. Saunders should have his spare time to work with Young, Blatche, and McGee, already three successful efforts with lots of further upside. With a team stocked like this, there is no excuse to whine about injuries, that is why it is so heavily stocked, to get over that. Also, the finger-pointing must stop permanently. Also, they must bear down. I can't stand this talk of needing to learn to play together. Teams that were significantly re-made in this decade have hit the ground running in November, why do we need to listen to the big 3 and others whine about learning to play together, and waiting until January. Our Novembers almost always suck. Bottom line is, all players need to expedite the team play and understanding of their roles. I'd rather have Miller back sooner than later, but other than that, this team is about to bust loose, and it's only their own mind games that keep them from doing it.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you 5 foot 5 Boykins. You are going to be the one to keep Gilbert honest. You won that game last night, and Gil could take a rest. Given the back to back games, that was perfect. As long as Gil understands he does not need to take that personally, that he can watch and enjoy as you take a game and control it, and now he can do the same tonight, or trust that you will be there to have his back even if he has another slow night, then we are moving forward.

Players need to see the advantage of that teamwork, not take the selfish view.

Posted by: ragtop4spd | November 28, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

By the way, this team should cut through the December schedule like a hot knife through butter. If they don't/can't, then I'll start supporting trade talk, but I'm confident that by the 12/29 Thunder game to close out 2009, we'll be working our way up the playoff seed ladder. The 4/5 slots may be the best we can acheive after screwing up November, but aim high. Remember too, the regular season of the Bullet's championship season was not stunning.

Posted by: ragtop4spd | November 28, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Don't like that Flipper singled out NY on defense and let GA continue to get away with his Toreador personna. Ga has no effort in his defense and no lateral movement. ..can't blame that on 'learning the system'.
I just hope he puts up bigger numbers so we can dump him.
The other potential plague and supposed spokesman BH,also needs to grow up. He is not the future but a part time role player. Has no athletic or BB skills, but doesn't know it, and will start to pout and disrupt the more minutes he loses to JM, just watch!!!
Love NY from the beginning, Monroe like potential.
JM has those rare skills and abilities that are so rare in big men today, very exciting upside.
Together with RF and MM and the steady AJ and a healthy CB and soon to be new ownership the Bullets future is bright.
Not to mention for oh so long a real coach.

Posted by: mricklen | November 28, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Boykins was fantastic. It's been a long time since we've been comfortable with the lead.

Posted by: cballer | November 28, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Couldn't help noticing that the fouls were unusually even for an NBA game (where the home team usually gets a big edge). That left the Wiz with a big advantage in FGs that offset their crappy 3 point shooting.

Still haven't figured out how to stop Jermaine O'Neal, though. He seems too quick for Haywood and too strong for the others.

Also looks to me like Mike Beasley will have to play SF. He has a nice inside game but he's just not big enough to defend the tall 4's.

About Young: these last two games he seems to be exploiting his natural advantages in a way that he hasn't since camp. I don't think anybody knows how long this will last before he gets that excited look in his eyes and starts dribbling around looking for a spot to launch his fade, that is. Still, it's nice to watch him play the right way. You can see that teams are going to have trouble matching up with him.

If I recall correctly, the Wiz were one of the worst 3 point shooting clubs in the NBA last year. With Miller out, they don't seem a heck of a lot better. But if they can exploit their other advantages, I don't see it hurting them in the long run. And if Foye, Butler, Arenas, etc., get hot from outside -- watch out.

Nice road win against a good club.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 28, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

boykins is a better point guard than arenas. i say trade arenas fast before he keeps playing poorly and makes himself impossible to trade.

Posted by: garyhalperinyoga | November 28, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

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