Wizards Put on a Show for President Obama
Eight Score In Double Figures To Top Chicago : Wizards 113, Bulls 90
Saturday, February 28, 2009; Page E03
It was a far cry from the spring of 2005, when the Wizards and Bulls tangled for a memorable first-round playoff series that the Wizards clinched with a tense Game 6 victory in front of a rabid crowd at Verizon Center.
Still, the presence of President Obama did throw a jolt into last night's otherwise forgettable meeting between the one-time rivals. Obama, a Bulls fans who hosted the team at the White House on Thursday, didn't even stick around to see the Wizards put the finishing touches on a 113-90 victory in front an announced crowd of 18,114.
By the time Obama left his courtside seat to a standing ovation with just more than four minutes to play, the Wizards (14-44) were comfortably ahead and well on their way to capping one of their better performances of a dreadful season.
Antawn Jamison led the way with 27 points and 11 rebounds, but the key was balance. For only the second time all season, all five starters scored in double figures. For the first time since 1993, when they were known as the Bullets, eight Wizards reached double digits.
The Wizards shot a crisp 50.6 percent, turned the ball over only 10 times and finished with a 53-37 rebounding edge. In short, it was a performance worthy of a president.
"It was great for the place to be electric like it was tonight," said Jamison. "That's something that, due to the kind of season we've had, we haven't experienced much. That brought back good memories."
John Salmons led the Bulls (26-33) with 25 points off the bench, but the team's overall energy was well below that of the home team.
It was obvious it was a Wizards kind of night when Jamison rose up and threw down a rare reverse dunk late in the third quarter, an event that is about as common as Democrats and Republicans agreeing.
"He's a Bulls fan so I didn't want to whip everything out," joked Jamison, who promised on Thursday to throw down a 360-degree dunk for Obama. "I just wanted to give him a little something-something."
That, and Jamison's more traditional driving scoop shot on the next possession, gave the Wizards a commanding 81-67 lead. The Wizards then closed the game by outscoring the Bulls 30-16 in the fourth quarter.
"There is no way to explain tonight's effort," Bulls Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "They just outplayed us and we didn't play hard enough."
One of the most disturbing trends of the Wizards' season is that the team's young core of Andray Blatche, Nick Young, Oleksiy Pecherov, Javaris Crittenton, Dominic McGuire and JaVale McGee hasn't shown the kind of collective progress the team hoped to see at the season's outset. But McGuire, who became a starter when Caron Butler shifted to shooting guard in December, appears to be a keeper.