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Haywood holds his own, and then some

The Washington Wizards' 104-97 victory over Southeast Division leader Orlando Saturday night at Verizon Center was filled with standout performances, but none was more impressive than that of Brendan Haywood.

The 7-foot center scored 18 points on 6-for-6 shooting and added a game-high 15 rebounds all while contending with Magic all-star center Dwight Howard. Even more impressive was that Wizards Coach Flip Saunders didn't give Haywood much help inside defending Howard.

"He had a great game," Saunders said of Haywood. "I was on him a couple times because I wanted him to try to wrap up down there. [Howard] got a couple three-point plays. I was screaming at [Haywood]. He was screaming back at me, but that's good to keep the fire going.

"We didn't give him a lot of help down there. We said, 'Hey, we're going to let you play him one-on-one down there,' and we tried to stay at home as much as we could on their three-point shooters."

The strategy worked as Washington limited Orland to 7 of 27 from three-point range, including 4 of 20 in the second half.

Haywood, meantime, had 16 points and 13 rebounds in the second half and earned multiple ovations for his determined defense against Howard, who scored 23 points but missed 7 of 12 free throws.

"The thing with Dwight is, we really wanted to concentrate on not letting him get a lot of those highlight dunks and those spectacular plays that really pump him up and his teammates up," Haywood said. "He had a great night still, but he didn't get any of those dunks, and we fouled him a lot and sent him to the free throw line, and he wasn't having a great night from there, and I think that led to our victory."

By Gene Wang  |  January 8, 2010; 10:48 PM ET
 
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Comments

"That was the most fired up I've seen Caron all year."

He plays better without Gil, always has.

There's one saving grace for his team...well actually two:

1) They make the playoffs, even as an 8 seed.

2) They void Gil's deal so they can sign his replacement this summer.

IFFF these two things happen I don't think you're going to see them blow the roster up. Everyone pray they keep this going a few more games.

I will be 100%.

And yes BH played well, but then so did the whole team. I still say he's soft. :P

I kept thinking to myself watching this game,"How the heck did Orlando get to the finals last year?"

Vince Carter going down was a Godsend also.

Good job AJ!

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | January 9, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Everyone in here knows that BH sucks. It was just recently that someone tried to name about 20 centers better than him, which is an absolute joke. I don't have stars in my eyes to where I am not fully aware of his limitations, but with BH it is the classic be careful what you wish for situation.

Posted by: rphilli721 | January 9, 2010 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Based on tonight's performance it looks like this team might be as good as that 07-08 team. It's going to be tough for the organization to make any major changes with that kind of product on the floor.

Posted by: djnnnou | January 9, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

@Ray,

I think it's too late to save this team. The rumors have been that some of the players are actually asking to be traded to go along with the fact that they are being actively shopped. They would probably have to go on an impressive winning streak of 5+ games like right now to even have a prayer to stay together.

Tonight seemed like a last hurrah of sorts for the "Big 3" or make that the "Big 2".

Foye, Miller, AJ, CB, and BH is still a pretty solid starting unit as we saw tonight.

Posted by: rphilli721 | January 9, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

I'm skeptical that any of the players in tonight's starting line-up are asking to be traded (e.g. the core players).

Jamison and Butler seem to be committed to the organization, so long as the organization is committed to them.

Haywood, Foye, Miller aren't under contract next year. At this point they should get plenty of opportunity to demonstrate their value in advance of next year's free agent marke. Championship, late round playoff experience might increase their market value in free agency, but the next best thing is getting plenty of PT.

I'm sure EG is open to making a deal for the right price, but there's no hurry now.

There's some risk that a key tradeable player might get injured, but from the Wizards perspective, if they're looking to deal, they're more likely to get the most serious offers closer to the trading deadline from contenders. If they're in the hunt by then, that's one consideration. If they aren't, the pressure is on the contenders who want to win this year to make a serious offer.

Tonight's game will probably encourage EG to exercise patience. We still aren't even at the mid-way point and the Wizards are only 3 games back from the 8th playoff spot and 6 back from the 5th spot.

Posted by: JPRS | January 9, 2010 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Hope springs eternal. I'm heartened by what I saw tonight. Just yesterday someone was saying Caron had given up. Apparently not! He was intense. Great games from Foye and AJ and especially BTH. This is one game I'm not bothered about McGee's DNP. Good to have Miller back.

It sure seems that removing the Arenas distraction helped. They seemed focused and intense. Hope this lasts.

Posted by: 7snider7 | January 9, 2010 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Hope does spring eternal. It was really nice to see the effort and team play. They played a good team and they held their own defensively.

I had no idea what a difference Miller makes, btw. He hustles, is a great passer, and is at least big enough to bother some shots from the perimeter. That dude is like a breath of fresh air. And as was mentioned, BH was terrific.

But the night belonged to AJ - before the game even started. That little pre-game deal was from the heart and whether he gets traded or whatever the future holds, the man is a class act, an adult and it won't be forgotten. I was actually kinda moved by it and well... proud. I have a family and what he said matters. It just does. And this has been a season where with this Gilbert deal and everything else, I've felt stupid and embarrassed for caring about the league in general and this Wizards team in particular.

Go Wiz!

Posted by: fenderdeluxe | January 9, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse

I was glad to hear AJs remarks as well. That picture from Philly with him smiling at the mimed gun play has been really bothering me.

Posted by: Delle | January 9, 2010 1:43 AM | Report abuse

@JPRS,

well, then you are arguing against reports by none other than Michael Lee. What is left here for AJ or CB? Certainly nothing even close to enough talent to contend.

Part of the success tonight is that Flip finally let go of Boykins jock and played Foye, which he should have done weeks ago.

Posted by: rphilli721 | January 9, 2010 5:20 AM | Report abuse

I would Haywood is not soft if he can play Howard like that, or at least he wasn't last night.

Haywood is more of a prescence on defense than he is often given credit for.

Posted by: cannontl | January 9, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse

I would not blow up this team just yet, now that we may have a budding backcourt tandem (Foye and Miller) that play well together and can also keep CB happy.

Posted by: cannontl | January 9, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

We are not talking about being a contender team.EG and AP made bad mistake when they sign GA, right now we need this team to be the replica of 2007-8.Actualy the roster is a little beter than that. MM will have the role of mason,AB is comitted to play defense and good all rounded basketball.BH will play good basketball to convince GM's, he is not a 10 million man but washington need to offer him 6-8 million.There is no advantage for the owner to trade AJ for a player less than him, he is an emotinal leder, he did not do it for 33 games due to GA situation. CB will have a better value next year, there is no pressing reason to trade him for an expiring contract that mandate addition of another player like in the proposed trade of TMc.If the team get close to 500 by mid season EG need to use MJ contract to add a PG that can be the back bone of future rebuilding or a defensive minded young forward that can play PF and give 12 point 10 rerbounds a night.If this is not achivable, there is no need to trade MJ contract , he can play in case of injury or if prefered,late his contract run out.The money of MJ,JC and one of(BH,MM,or foye) contract will keep the team under the salary cup for 2010-11.This action will put washington in a better buisness and also will late them rebuild(improve).When they get the PF that could fight around the rim and they get AJ from the bench they will have voice as a contender.I personaly decide not to say anything about GA.He did every thing against himself.I do not agree with the emotinal decision made by Stern, it will hunt him.NY need to get it.He can not make leaving just by shooting, he has the size, speed and flexiblity, i just do not get it why he is not able to stick with his man consistantly.I like what i saw on flip last night, i think he will be free to make the right adjuestment from now on,I think he was having a little problem in handling GA, he is going to get some ledership role from CB.

Posted by: gtefferra | January 9, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Nothing new here.

BTH usually does well against DHoward, Big Z, KG, and the other top big men in the league.

BTW, it's so much easier to cheer for Les BouleS without Gilby on the team.

I'm sure they are tired of this Gilby drama hanging over the franchise....yeah, since about 5 years ago.

I'm also glad to see the Pollins do a clean sweep by getting rid of most of any indication that he's even with the team.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | January 9, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Wow, where are the Haywood haters, lilhollywood and kalo_rama?

Guess they didn't see the game last night, but even when they are watching they don't have a clue what they are seeing...LOL

Posted by: kevenjones | January 9, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

The thing that's funny about Haywood is that he is getting better and better at age 30, when most players are starting to decline. At this rate, by the end of the season he'll be kicking Tim Duncan's posterior.

Mike Miller is the guy who really makes the difference, though. Hits the boards at the defensive end and cuts down on the other team's second chance points, makes smart passes, and his 3-point range spreads the defense.

Posted by: pjkiger1 | January 9, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I don't think that B-Wood is soft; I think he is lazy. He can play tough when he wants to, and in his contract year, he wants to. Based upon his performance THIS year, some team will give him a nice contract next year, then he'll revert to the same old B-Wood, doing only what it takes to get along.

Posted by: getabigboyoffense | January 9, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Haywood did an awesome job last night against the Magic - I for one was not surprised. I am glad he is a Wizard & I do hope he continues to be on the team. His presence is very much needed...

Posted by: 2StepsAway | January 9, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

This team can go quite far. Mike Miller, definitely more so than Gilbert, is the most skillful passer on the team. Sets up his teammates perfectly. Gilbert's absence is addition by subtraction. They're about to make a meal out of these fools.

Posted by: dokbionic | January 9, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Sports On My Mind: "Stern came down on Arenas in his usual heavy-handed manner. In his statement Stern played pop psychologist in judging Arenas 'not to be fit to take the court in an NBA game.' If true, the suspension is undo and should be revised to include that Arenas should undergo psychiatric treatment immediately and that his reinstatement into the league should, beyond any criminal punishment, entail that a psychologist or psychiatrist find Arenas mentally and emotionally stable enough to continue with his NBA career. Since Stern did not include the aforementioned in his statement of suspension, Arenas' lawyers should immediately sue Stern for defamation of character as his statement is, as of the moment, false, and can bring harm to Arenas because it can be used by NBA teams to use to keep Arenas from potentially ever again playing in the league."
The consensus from both members of the Washington Wizards organization and the NBA office is that actually voiding the remainder of Gilbert Arenas' contract for his violation of league rules by bringing guns into the locker room is unlikely unless he is convicted of a felony. That is one of the actions that can automatically terminate a contract. Short of that, the Wizards would be forced to invoke the 'moral turpitude' clause, which can be difficult to define. The thinking is that if Latrell Sprewell and Ron Artest(notes) could have their contracts remain intact after choking a coach and fighting in the stands, respectively, Arenas could not be cut loose for an act in which no one was physically harmed. Perhaps Arenas' antics have strengthened the resolve of Stern to at least give it a try."
"There's a long list of NBA players, coaches, and executives who have done things which can be seen as decidely worse than both Gilbert and Javaris' bone-headed actions: Stephen Jackson(notes) fired his gun outside a strip joint; Sebastian Telfair(notes) brought a loaded weapon onto a team airplane; Donald Sterling's long and shameful record speaks for itself; people have driven while intoxicated; players have spit on fans and thrown them through plate-glass windows; and would someone be kind enough to clarify exactly how Delonte West(notes) is 'fit to take the court in an NBA game' again? The list goes on and on. And here's the thing: None of the people mentioned above faced the kind of swift and painful justice that Arenas (and inevitably, Crittenton) are about to endure."

Posted by: swish300400 | January 10, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

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