Cavs Are Slam-Dunked
Friday, April 25, 2008
When things start going bad and playoff pressure mounts, most teams get serious, talk about fighting for their postseason lives and approach the next game with fierce determination.
After dropping the first two games of their first-round series with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Washington Wizards got haircuts and shipped in a rapper.
When it did come time to play, however, the Wizards were plenty serious and it showed with a dominant 108-72 victory last night.
Before Game 3, all-star forward Caron Butler had his nickname, "Tough Juice," carved into the hair on the back of his head. DeShawn Stevenson and Andray Blatche showed up with modified Mohawks, and Stevenson invited rap star Soulja Boy to watch the game from a seat near the Washington bench.
The sold-out crowd at Verizon Center dutifully dressed in white and made the kind of noise that hasn't been heard in the building all season.
The 36-point final margin was the largest ever in the playoffs for both teams. Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday at Verizon Center.
Five Wizards scored in double figures, but the tone for the night was set by Butler and Stevenson, two players who personified the team's problems in Cleveland but burst out with spectacular efforts.
Butler, who managed nine field goals in the first two games, got things rolling with energetic play at both ends in the first half and finished with 17 points and four assists. Stevenson, who in the first two games made 5 of 16 shots and couldn't do much to slow LeBron James, connected on five three-pointers and scored 19 points.
"I saw the first shot go in," Stevenson said. "And with me, when I see that first shot go in, I feel comfortable and get into a groove."
The ease with which the Wizards cut through the Cavaliers reached a level of comical absurdity early in the fourth quarter when Stevenson made three-pointers over James on back-to-back possessions.
Moments before Stevenson made the first of the two long-range shots, Soulja Boy, who wore a Stevenson jersey, was shown on the arena's big screen as his hit song "Crank Dat" played and the crowd danced with him.
As he danced, Soulja Boy waved his hand in front of his face a la Stevenson.