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Yi Jianlian getting comfortable, with support from cheering section


We love Yi! (Jose Argueta/Wizards Photos)


The errant lob pass was headed out of bounds, but Yi Jianlian grabbed the ball just as it caromed off the padding on the side of the backboard. Yi gathered himself, dribbled closer to the basket then elevated toward the rim.

JaVale McGee jumped over at Yi to contest the dunk attempt, but McGee was probably surprised by what happened next. Yi jammed the ball over him with two hands and coolly ran to the other end of the floor to play defense.

It was an assertive move, hailed by an entire section of middle school tourists from Beijing, in town to watch a symphony performance. They fit Yi into their schedule and waved red Chinese flags and serenaded Yi after every play he made. And Yi made his fair share of plays as the Wizards concluded training camp on Sunday with a 40-minute scrimmage at George Mason's Patriot Center. He caught an alley-oop lob from Hudson and dunked, and repeatedly stepped out to knock down open jumpers all afternoon. He even added a blocked shot.

Afterward, Yi walked over to his cheering section to sign autographs and take pictures with his adoring fans.

"It feels great. I'm so happy. I'm very happy," Yi said about the supporters from his homeland.

Yi had been slow to find his groove after returning from his stellar performance as the leader of China at the FIBA world championships in Istanbul, where he missed a game and was slowed in the second half of another with a sore left Achilles' tendon. But after easing his way back, Yi is starting to get healthy and more comfortable with his surroundings.


When you get back Gil, I should be even better. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

"My foot feels pretty good. I don't have any problem," Yi said. "In the beginning [I felt fatigued], a little bit, but day by day, I'm getting better. My body feels great for the past week."

John Wall also took time to meet with Yi's Chinese cheering section after the game and pointed out how the 7-foot forward carried the black team offensively through the second and third periods of the scrimmage, when Yi scored 11 points and helped the black team maintain its lead. "He can pick and pop. He's one of those type of players, that if they try to trap you or blitz you, you can pass back to him," Wall said about Yi.

Coach Flip Saunders said he has noticed an improvement in Yi as training camp concluded, especially during the scrimmage. "I thought he played very good. The last two days, it's like he's gotten his legs underneath him, and with that, he's been a lot more lively shooting the ball, he's been a lot more lively rebounding, running the floor. He's big. You can play him and Dray together. I think we haven't had the opportunity to play a total big front line yet because Dray's been out, but you might be able to play all three of those big guys together."

By Michael Lee  | October 4, 2010; 10:58 AM ET
Categories:  Yi Jianlian  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Wizards conclude training camp; Gilbert Arenas, Kirk Hinrich injured
Next: Bob Dandridge at Fan Fest

Comments

Yi's jumper looked good, and those weren't practice cones or folding chairs he was draining them over.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 4, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

You make it out there hollywood?

Posted by: SDMDTSU | October 4, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Gonna need Yi to have his A-game tomorrow night against Dallas, their front-line Is going to destroy us: Haywood, Chandler, Ajinca, and Mahinmi.

Posted by: closg | October 4, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

...and how could I forget Dirk :)

Posted by: closg | October 4, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Gonna need Yi to have his A-game tomorrow night against Dallas, their front-line Is going to destroy us: Haywood, Chandler, Ajinca, and Mahinmi.

Posted by: closg | October 4, 2010 11:34 AM

Call me crazy, but I dont see that frontline striking fear into the hearts of opponents.

Posted by: divi3 | October 4, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

That commie flag should not be allowed to fly here.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 4, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"Call me crazy, but I dont see that frontline striking fear into the hearts of opponents."

Posted by: divi3

You're crazy. But in this case, you're also right. Dallas will likely have an advantage on the boards, but it's not like they're rolling out Bird, McHale, and Parrish. I don't see Haywood, Chandler, Ajinca, and Mahinmi dominating anyone anytime in the near (or distant) future.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 4, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

You make it out there hollywood?

Posted by: SDMDTSU | October 4, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Nah cuz. Sundays are strictly for football. i had to whip up a pot of chilli for me and the homies to enjoy my 'skins. But I'ma have to get my lil guy out to see a wiz game this year. I'd love to toast up a couple with some of yall guys if you get out to some games. i think it would be interesting to see some of yall in person. Anybody down? Gotta figure out a way to arrange a WizInsider section where we can all watch the same game together and argue over how we see things completely differently.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 4, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

DC_MAN88, if you think we should ban people from waving a "commie" flag, then maybe you should move to a commie nation where they actual do that sort of thing.

Posted by: nuzuw | October 4, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"DC_MAN88, if you think we should ban people from waving a "commie" flag, then maybe you should move to a commie nation where they actual do that sort of thing.

Posted by: nuzuw | October 4, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse "

If you want to wave a commie flag, maybe you should move to a commie nation.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 4, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

They waved that flag with the intention of getting on DC-Man's nerves.

Posted by: G-Man11 | October 4, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to toast up a couple with some of yall guys if you get out to some games. i think it would be interesting to see some of yall in person. Anybody down?

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 4, 2010 12:57 PM

i live by VC, always up for a pregame drink

Posted by: divi3 | October 4, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey DC-Doofus88...guess it doesn't matter to you that the computer you're using to type out your comments about commie flag waving (and probably most or all of its components) was likely manufactured in China. Commie.

Posted by: tomdean128 | October 4, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

"Hey DC-Doofus88...guess it doesn't matter to you that the computer you're using to type out your comments about commie flag waving (and probably most or all of its components) was likely manufactured in China. Commie.

Posted by: tomdean128 | October 4, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse "

And the strap on that your mom uses on your dad is probably made from a commie nation too.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 4, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

you all are children over here... time to grow up.

Posted by: LeBullet | October 5, 2010 1:45 AM | Report abuse

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