Trevor Booker lost his starting job, lost his spot in the rotation and seemingly lost his ability to provide the hustle plays, physicality and contagious emotion that the Wizards have grown accustomed to receiving from him.
The uncertainty of playing time has led to inconsistent production but Booker put aside any frustration or confusion and made the most of his opportunity in the Wizards’ 106-93 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Booker had his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds – both season highs – in 22 minutes and made several huge plays in the second half to help the Wizards recover from blowing a 20-point, second-half lead and pull away in the fourth quarter. Afterward, Booker said, “I felt like the old Book.”
Fighting through several nagging injuries, Booker started the first eight games before losing his job with some sporadic outings. He then went down with a sprained right knee in a Nov. 19 loss to Indiana. Averaging career-lows of 5.0 points and 47.7 percent shooting this season, Booker has continued to work and wait for his chance.
The performance against Milwaukee was somewhat surprising, even to Booker, since the third-year forward had totals of 13 points and 11 rebounds in his first five games this month. Booker received at least 20 minutes for just the fourth time since he returned in January from the knee injury that sidelined him for 24 games.
“He’s got to be Book,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “He only knows how to play one way—hard. And he’s just got to do that. If he does that, good things happen.”
The Wizards were in desperate need of a momentum shift after Milwaukee used a 28-6 third-quarter run to take a 74-72 lead. Martell Webster missed a shot and the Bucks had a chance to build on their lead, but Booker intercepted an outlet pass from Mike Dunleavy and the Wizards regained the lead on a Trevor Ariza three-pointer.
“I think it helped us a little bit,” Booker said. “They were kicking our butt in the third quarter. We needed something to happen. I think that steal changed the game a little bit.”
Booker converted a three-point play during a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter that gave the Wizards a lead they never relinquished. He also helped slow down Bucks forward Irsan Ilyasova, helping to limit him to just two points in the final period after Ilyasova scored 12 of his 21 points in the third period.
“Book wore his heart on his sleeve, and he came out and performed, which is the most important thing,” Webster said. “Whatever it takes you to get ready, you’ve got to do it. Some people are superstitious. Hey, if it helps you get your mind into the game, do it. Do it. At this point where we are in the season, I don’t care if you have to come in here and blast music. Whatever it takes. Have two midgets come in here and massage you. Whatever it takes, man, do it. ‘Come on in here. Bring them in here. Rub them down.’ We’re at that point right now where we have to sacrifice to get guys into the game, so I’m going to have two midgets come in here and rub me down.”
Booker didn’t rely on any special remedies to have his best game of the season. With the Wizards shorthanded, Wittman let Booker cook and he helped serve up a win.
“I really didn’t know,” Booker said, when asked about getting more playing time against Milwaukee. “Some days I was playing, some days I wasn’t playing. I just try to stay ready. [Wittman] called my name and I had a pretty good game.”