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Posted at 12:39 AM ET, 02/10/2011

JaVale McGee, Cartier Martin help Wizards end eight-game slide

By Michael Lee

This is the only way you'll be able to slow me down tonight, Andrew. (By Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The Wizards needed a game like the one they had on Wednesday night, when they played so well to end an eight-game losing streak -- against an opponent that obviously is struggling -- that their momentary lapses could mostly be overlooked. But JaVale McGee really needed a game like the one that he had, after taking his lumps nearly every time he matches up against a quality center. And Cartier Martin also needed a game like the one he had, as he offered a reminder of why he earned his roster spot in training camp.

Dwight Howard kicked him around last week, but McGee wasn't going to let Andrew Bogut do the same, although it started out looking that way. Bogut scored the first eight points for Milwaukee, making a dunk, a running hook, a jumper (aided by a McGee goaltend) and a layup.

"The way he came out, I thought he was definitely going to have 20, 24" points, McGee said afterward.

But McGee offered a hint that he was prepared to compete early on. Bogut blocked McGee's jumper, but McGee grabbed the carom, drove around Bogut and made a layup. It meant a lot to see McGee make a mistake, but make up for it with a more aggressive play.

McGee would continue to attack Bogut, box him out, and swoop in to keep his teammates from grabbing rebounds as well. The Wizards thrive off McGee's energy, but it has been absent of late, especially since he returned from his bout with the flu. But he grabbed 17 rebounds -- the most since grabbing a career-high 18 against Philadelphia on Nov. 23 -- and blocked three shots while providing a much-needed interior presence.

"He's a force in there when he wants to be, when he's active and into what we're doing," Kirk Hinrich said. "He rebounded the ball very well."

McGee also scored 16 points, rarely going outside of his game, and attacking the rim for layups and dunks. He did go a little overboard with his dribbling, which Flip Saunders had to remind him after McGee made the entire crowd gasp as he attempted to bring the ball up the floor, before eventually passing it back to Andray Blatche.

"JaVale was active rebounding wise, did some nice things offensively. I had to explain to him, when he started going on his dribbling exhibition, that's one of the reasons we lose on the road, because we get in close games and we do those things," Saunders said. "I tried to ask him, I said 'Why?' He said, 'I don't know. I can't explain.' I said you can't do that, because players lose trust as far as throwing him the ball in late-game situations and then you become easier for teams to defend against you, and put more pressure on you. That's probably the most glaring negative."

The Bucks handled the Wizards pretty handily in Milwaukee last month, as former Wizard Earl Boykins and Keyon Dooling provided some surprising production. But for some reason, neither player got much action at Verizon Center. That was largely because Brandon Jennings was back, without restrictions, after missing the outing while recovering from a broken left foot. But Boykins only saw the floor for the final 70 seconds, which is odd considering that he entered the game with a career record of 11-5 against the Wizards.

I'd give you the game ball if we could afford it, Cartier. (By Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

But after becoming a surprise playoff team last season, the Bucks didn't seem to have much going for them, as the Wizards easily built a 22-point second-half lead despite being shorthanded.

The Wizards were limited to just 10 players, with both Al Thornton (dislocated finger) and Yi Jianlian (sprained left ankle) forced to sit out, but the situation got a bit more difficult when Rashard Lewis's right knee began to stiffen up at the morning shootaround. Saunders was unaware how much Lewis could give them, and it proved to be little as he scored just three points on 1 of 5 shooting, and had hardly any lift on his two three-point attempts, both of which hit the front of the rim.

After the game, Lewis walked out of the locker room and said his knee "doesn't look good. Doesn't look good." He then shrugged and lifted his arms helplessly.

With the team needing a lift, Martin came through in the fourth quarter, as he scored 12 points, all from three-pointers, as John Wall consistently looked for him to hit shots from the corner.

"John has a lot of confidence in me. He knows I can shoot the ball, just from practice, playing with him, throughout the season," Martin said. "I'm confident always. I always feel like I can go out and make shots. The main thing is just go in when I have opportunities and keep shooting the ball."

Saunders said, "Cartier was huge" after Martin helped thwart a few mini-runs by the Bucks. Nick Young called Martin "the star of the night," but he did more than make a career-high five three-pointers while scoring 15 points.

Martin also was the most animated player on the bench, getting out of his seat when Young posterized Ersan Ilyasova and hopping up again when Hinrich sent a John Salmons shot into the front row. "Yeah, man. I see Kirk bring out the bunnies, bring out the hops," Martin said. "That was a nice block. I'm always rooting for all of our guys. He made a nice play. I'm off the bench, cheering him on."

Young also had an efficient offensive performance, as he scored 26 points in the first three quarters and didn't have to do much more than serve as a decoy in the final period.

"He's a tremendous scorer," Blatche said about Young. "It's starting to become second nature to see him do things like this. I want him to continue to get better."

Young had three-exciting dunks and three three-pointers, but jokingly complained that the NBA keeps overlooking his season, as he was left out of the slam dunk contest and the three-point competition.

"I got robbed," Young said. "I'm done with the NBA. I retired."

By Michael Lee  | February 10, 2011; 12:39 AM ET
Categories:  Cartier Martin, Flip Saunders, JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Rashard Lewis  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Open thread: Wizards (13-37) vs. Bucks (20-30)
Next: One losing streak snapped


Anybody notice who was the star of the Clips' road victory over the Knicks tonight? Not Blake Griffin.

Try Randy Foye.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 10, 2011 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Wow, I guess that one good game means the wizards should have kept him.

Posted by: daigunder | February 10, 2011 1:38 AM | Report abuse

"He's a force in there when he wants to be,
when he's active and into what we're doing," Kirk Hinrich said.

Pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the NBA.

Posted by: breth | February 10, 2011 1:54 AM | Report abuse

Someone must have talked to Javale about his pace because he was more in control. Instead of sprinting up and down the court at every opportunity, he took his time and it seemed beneficial as he seemed to have more endurance to hit the boards and offensively capable, interesting.

Posted by: zxhoya | February 10, 2011 2:29 AM | Report abuse

When things go bad you leave yourself vulnerable to comments like this. The should both keep losing until Sunday when they can meet in the toilet bowl. This so wisely said by the man who caused Cleveland to destroy their team and who just decided to dump on Washington. I hope between the two teams there is someone that can enlarge his lip for him and dot an eye. He is a loser, the scum of the earth.

Posted by: 1bmffwb | February 10, 2011 3:24 AM | Report abuse

@1bmffwb: If you are talking about LeBron, sure it sucks to hear him talk about the Wizards that way. But guess what? I wanna see the "Toilet Bowl" too. Like McGrady said, it ought to be on national tv.

Posted by: tundey | February 10, 2011 7:37 AM | Report abuse

As one of his dunk entries, Javale should take the mic and announce that he has elected to allow one of his teammates, Nick Young, to perform an "honorary dunk". He should make note of Nick's longstanding desire to participate in the dunk contest, and as a show of camaraderie and benevolence give him and opportunity to shine for one moment in time. It may cost him the dunk contest, but win him a multitude of fans.

Posted by: bazookajoe1 | February 10, 2011 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Foye is just starting to get regular minutes. It's not just one game -- he's had about 4 or 5 good games in the past 10. This is after seeing almost no time in the first few months of the season. He struggles against the elite competition, but performs well against the mediocre teams and the bottom feeders.

I was never a Foye-hater, but it's hard to see him improving the Wall-Hinrich-Young back-court rotation.

Posted by: JPRS | February 10, 2011 8:50 AM | Report abuse

I have not commented on any of the Wizards games until now. Last nites game should be a wakeup call for Andrey. If he want to be with this club much longer, you should stop eating late at nite. It's robbing you of your conditioning and performance. Next consider your height. Your almost 7' tall and you play 6' 4". Take a page from some of compitition. Play hard and play above the rim. Work extra hard on your jump shot inside and particularly outside. Become more consistant hit those 3's. Then your opponent will have to check you closer making himself open for jab steps and your going the opposite direction. With your back to the bucket. Really learn to sell the fakes hard and quick and not automatic and animated. Develop a jump hook on the inside left hand and right ali Kevin Mchale Boston Celtics. I promise you will become leathal. I do love the antisipation of the steals. Save it for the end or for when your team needs to push ahead. Remember no cupcake move on the inside. Power is respectable. After you gain the respect then you can use the finess moves on the inside. This how you become the 800lbs. Garrilla in the room. Try it will change you life.

Posted by: mccoytw1 | February 10, 2011 9:23 AM | Report abuse

"He's a force in there when he wants to be,
when he's active and into what we're doing," Kirk Hinrich said.

Pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the NBA.

Posted by: breth | February 10, 2011 1:54 AM | Report abuse

I think that Hinrich was complimenting McGee. Your post makes it sound like a criticism. You must remember that JaVale was sick with flu-like symptoms. Add that to his asthma, and it was remarkable that he was able to play at all.

Posted by: musicmanjr | February 10, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

"With the team needing a lift, Martin came through in the fourth quarter"

I guess that's a cue for Flip to sit him the next 5 games.

Posted by: tedunni1 | February 10, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Having asthma AND the flu can explain a mini-slump which McGee just broke out of last night.

However, the dribbling thing is problematic. I think if Flip every learned diplomacy he could say:

"You're allowed two dribbles off an uncontested board but find Wall and run the floor afterwards. The herky-jerky dribbles aren't allowed in the backcourt son."

Posted by: elfreako | February 10, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

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