McGee, Young Help Wizards Snap Five-Game Skid
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Simply put, it was a game the Washington Wizards absolutely had to win if they didn't want an already brutal season to be tinged by embarrassment.
After all, if there is a team in the league in worse shape than the Wizards, it's the Los Angeles Clippers, a club that has been rocked by injury all season and recently started a game with two rookies (guard Eric Gordon and center DeAndre Jordan) and a journeyman guard who was only added to the roster in December (Fred Jones).
"We're home, we're going against a team that's had devastating injuries like we have and they haven't been as coordinated because of those injuries like we have," Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott said before the game. "So, you look at this as opportunity."
The Wizards, who have been short-handed all season themselves, took full advantage of their opponent with a 106-94 victory in front of a surprisingly energetic crowd of 18,277 at Verizon Center.
It snapped a five-game losing streak and helped the Wizards open a five-game homestand in positive fashion.
In doing so, the Wizards (10-37) became the last team in the league to win its 10th game. It happened because of a balanced effort that included 25 points and 12 rebounds from Antawn Jamison, 18 points and nine rebounds from rookie center JaVale McGee and 22 points from guard Nick Young.
It also helped that the Clippers (10-37) turned the ball over 25 times while often resembling a squad that had been thrown together in the parking lot before the game.
The game turned for good with just more than nine minutes remaining in the fourth when Caron Butler (16 points, 7 assists, 7 turnovers) capped an 11-0 Washington run by making a steal in the Los Angeles back court before elevating over Brian Skinner and throwing down a one-handed dunk.
The Clippers never drew closer than eight points the rest of the way but hovered around until coming up with a play that pretty much summarized their night and their season.
Gordon had the ball in the back court when he spotted Baron Davis breaking open behind the Wizards' defense for a possible easy score, but when Gordon made a long pass, Davis somehow managed to break the wrong direction and the ball caromed out of bounds for the team's 25th turnover.
And because it was a Wizards-Clippers game, there had to be at least one moment of unintentional comedy. One occurred in the second quarter when Ricky Davis of the Clippers was lining up to attempt a free throw when the referees noticed that the Wizards only had four players on the floor following a substitution.
After the referees told Davis to wait before shooting a free throw, Tapscott turned, looked down the bench and gestured for Young to get into the game.
Still, this mostly a night of good vibes for a Washington team that hasn't had many. The season's longest homestand continues tomorrow night when the Wizards host the 11-win Memphis Grizzlies.
"Just because their record is what it is, that doesn't mean anything," Jamison said. "We've lost to some teams with bad records so, coming into the game we just needed a win to get this homestand started on the right foot."
The first half featured a wild ending. First, Young finished a break by throwing down a one-handed dunk over Skinner with 4.9 seconds left.
The Clippers quickly inbounded the ball to Gordon near midcourt, and he beat the Wizards all the way to the rim for a layup with 0.9 of a second left. The Wizards quickly got the ball inbounds, and Mike James drained a buzzer-beating three-pointer from 26 feet to give the Wizards a 58-47 lead.
The Wizards shot 51.1 percent in the first half with 23 field goals coming on 14 assists.
"We had a good night just running our plays and playing the game the right way," said James, who finished with nine points and five assists.