Friday, March 29, 2013

Harris Leads Magic Past Wizards

The Washington Wizards had won 2 out of 3 games against the Magic this season, coming into tonight's fourth and final meeting between the two clubs at the Amway Center in Orlando. Washington was still shorthanded, playing without Bradley Beal, who remained sidelined with a sprained left ankle. Trevor Ariza returned to the lineup, after missing three games with the flu.

Orlando led 58-46 at the half, and held on for a 97-92 victory, behind 30 points and 11 rebounds from their new sensation Tobias Harris. Maurice Harkless added 18 points and 9 rebounds. Jameer Nelson left the game with a sprained ankle in the 1st quarter.

Wizards guard John Wall is fouled by Magic forward Kyle O' Quinn (Photo by John Raoux/Associated Press)
Washington was led by John Wall with 35 points and 9 rebounds. Martell Webster, the only other Wizard to hit double figures, added 19 points and 6 rebounds.

The Wizards will return home on Sunday to take on the Toronto Raptors at the Verizon Center.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thunder Strike Down Wizards

On January 7th, the Washington Wizards defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder by a score of 101-99 on a Bradley Beal game-winning jumper. Tonight, the Wizards made their lone trip to Oklahoma looking for a season-series sweep of the defending Western Conference champs, but they'd have to do so without the services of Beal, who remained on the bench with a sprained left ankle.

Washington was also missing Trevor Ariza, Nene, Martell Webster, and A.J. Price, all of whom sat out with various ailments, ranging from a strained groin to the flu.

Wizards defenders could only watch Thunder center Kendrick Perkins throw down the slam dunk. (Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman)
The shorthanded Wizards, who only dressed eight players, trailed 53-45 at the half, and fell to the Thunder by a score of 103-80, despite 18 points and 12 assists from John Wall. Garrett Temple filled in nicely at shooting guard for Martell Webster adding 13 points in a starting role.

The victorious Thunder were led by Russell Westbrook with 21 points on 5-8 shooting from the field. D.C. native Kevin Durant had a well-rounded game, contributing 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.

The Wizards will now head to Orlando to take on the Magic on Friday night.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Memphis Blues

On February 1st, the Memphis Grizzlies knocked off the Washington Wizards by a score 85-76 down in Tennessee. Tonight, the Grizzlies made their lone trip to the Verizon Center for their final meeting of the season with the Wizards, who had won 5 of their last 7 games. Memphis was shorthanded coming into tonight's contest, missing Marc Gasol with a lower abdominal strain.

Now in his third season with Memphis, Grizzlies swing-man Tony Allen is averaging 8.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 27.3 minutes per game.
Memphis acquired forward Austin Daye from the Detroit Pistons as part of the three-team deal that sent Rudy Gay to Toronto.
Allen lines up a jumper during pregame warmups
Memphis acquired forward Jon Leuer from the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this season in exchange for Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, and Josh Selby.
Grizzlies forward Quincy Pondexter has averaged 6.5 points in 21.6 minutes per game this season in Memphis.
The Wizards were also plagued by injury, and in the case of Trevor Ariza, the flu. Bradley Beal remained out with a sprained ankle. Nene sat out with a sore right knee, and Martell Webster was sidelined with an abdomen strain.

It was a taciturn crowd. Inclement weather seemed to prevent about half of the 17,868 from showing up to the arena. A springtime snowstorm had blanketed the city in white, causing poor driving conditions. The Verizon Center fans had never seemed so unengaged, but fortunately, John Wall was there to engage them.

Wizards forward Cartier Martin tries to elevate over Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph
John Wall is defended by Quincy Pondexter
Wall drives on Tony Allen
Wall goes up against Grizzlies defenders Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince
Wall shoots over Grizzlies guard Jerryd Bayless
Zach Randolph gets the technical foul
Randolph proceeded to toss his headband into the crowd out of frustration.
Wall drives to the basket against reeling Grizzlies forward Ed Davis
Wall looks to pass over the top of Jerryd Bayless and Ed Davis
Bayless reaches in for the steal on Wall
Wizards center Emeka Okafor takes the jumper
Wall was nothing but smiles after dropping 47 on the Grizz.
Wall gets a hi-five from Cartier Martin after scoring a career-high 47 points.
Wall takes time to acknowledge cheers from the crowd
Wall scored a career-high 47 points to go along with 8 assists and 7 rebounds, as the Wizards cruised to a 107-94 victory over the Grizzlies. Wall's stellar performance captivated an arena in which you could hear a pin drop to start the game. Emeka Okafor added 21 points and 9 assists, taking full advantage of Marc Gasol's absence from the lineup.

Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 23 points. Jerryd Bayless and Quincy Pondexter each added 14. It was a frustrating night for Zach Randolph, who only managed 10 points and 7 rebounds, and committed 4 of the Grizzlies 16 turnovers.

The Wizards will travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder on Wednesday night.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Warriors Fight Off Wizards

On December 8th, the Golden State Warriors knocked off the Washington Wizards by a score of 101-97. Tonight, Washington made its lone visit to Oakland's Oracle Arena looking for its third straight win in what was the final game of their four game Barnum and Bailey road trip. Washington had lost four of its last five games in Oakland, despite not playing there since March 27th of 2011, in a game which they lost by a count of 114-104.

Tonight, Stephen Curry's 20 first half points propelled Golden State to a 58-40 halftime advantage, and the Warriors cruised to a 101-92 victory. Curry finished with 35, but exited the game with a sprained ankle with 6:03 left in the fourth quarter.

Wizards guard John Wall drives on Warriors guard Klay Thompson (Photo by Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY Sports)
Washington was led by Cartier Martin with 23 points. John Wall only managed only 14 points and 3 assists, before being ejected in the third quarter after an altercation with Klay Thompson that garnered him his second technical foul.

After a day off on Sunday, the Wizards will return home to square off with the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night at the Verizon Center.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Wizards Drown Lakers

On December 14th, the Washington Wizards fell to the Los Angeles Lakers by a score of 102-96 at the Verizon Center. That was before both John Wall and Trevor Ariza had returned from their respective injuries. Kobe Bryant led all scorers that night with 30 points. Tonight, the Wizards made their second visit to the Staples Center on the season, having lost to the Clippers 94-87 on January 19th during their first West-coast swing of 2013.

Washington was again plagued by injuries coming into Friday night's contest. Bradley Beal remained sidelined with a sprained left ankle, the same one that had kept him out five games to start the month. Beal had suffered his latest injury in an attempt to block Shannon Brown's fast-break layup late in Wednesday night's victory over Phoenix. Washington was also without Emeka Okafor, who missed his second straight game with the flu, and A.J. Price, who continues to be sidelined with a sore right groin.

Meanwhile, the Lakers, who had been struggling with injuries all season, saw the return of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to the lineup. Bryant had missed the last two games with a sprained ankle. Gasol, on the other hand, had missed the last twenty games with a torn plantar fascia. For Los Angeles, a team still very much fighting for its playoff lives, it was the first time that Gasol, Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Steve Nash were on the court together since January 30th. Antawn Jamison would leave tonight's game with a sprained right wrist, and did not return.

The Wizards trailed 57-41 at the half, but managed to come back and take the lead with 8:52 left in the game on a Trevor Ariza driving layup. Nene put Washington up for good on a bank hook shot with 1:23 remaining. Later, after two John Wall free throws that put the Wizards up by 3 with 1.5 seconds to go, Kobe, who had just drained an off-balance triple on the previous L.A. possession to cut the lead to 1, had one last chance to tie the game, but missed on a three-point attempt, and Washington held on for a 103-100 victory over the Lakers.

Wizards forward Nene, left, is congratulated by teammate John Wall during Washington's 103-100 victory over the Lakers (Photo by USA TODAY Sports)
The Wizards were led by former Laker Trevor Ariza with 25 points. John Wall added 24 points and a career-high 16 assists.

Kobe Bryant paced the Lakers with 21 points and 11 assists in his return from injury. Dwight Howard had a double-double, adding 20 points and 15 rebounds in the loss.

Washington will continue its West-coast trip tomorrow in Oakland, as they take on the Golden State Warriors. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wizards Burn Suns

On Saturday night at the Verizon Center, the Wizards dominated the Phoenix Suns by a score of 127-105. Tonight, Washington continued its Barnum and Bailey road trip in the Arizona desert, making their lone appearance in Phoenix to take on the 23-45 Suns.

In Washington's previous game in Charlotte, John Wall's 25 points were not enough to carry the Wizards past the Bobcats, who were led by Gerald Henderson with 27 points. Tonight, Wall would be matched up with Goran Dragic who tallied 12 points and 11 assists in a losing effort this past Saturday in D.C.

Tonight, Washington led 59-45 at the half, and cruised to an 88-79 victory, sweeping the two game season series with Phoenix. John Wall led the Wizards with 19 points and 8 assists. Nene added 17 points and 8 rebounds. The Wizards did not escape Phoenix without injury, however. Bradley Beal left the game with 9:53 left in the 4th quarter, aggravating the same ankle he had already sprained at the beginning of the month, in an attempt to block Shannon Brown's fast-break layup. To add insult to injury, Beal was called for goal-tending on the play, and was called for a technical foul for throwing his mouth guard following the call.

Wizards guard Garrett Temple and Suns guard Goran Dragic battle for the loose ball. (Photo by Matt York/Associated Press)

Phoenix was paced by Goran Dragic, who tallied another double-double, with 18 points and 11 assists. Wesley Johnson added 18 points on 8-18 shooting from the field. Jermaine O'Neal had 12 points and 6 rebounds, but left the game in the 4th quarter with a sprained ankle.

Next, the Wizards will travel to Los Angeles to square off with the Lakers at Staples Center on Friday night.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bobcats Claw Past Wizards

After winning three straight games on their home court, the Wizards were back on the road, traveling to North Carolina, to take on the 14-52 Charlotte Bobcats.The Cats had lost 2 straight games coming into Monday, and sitting last place in the Eastern Conference, had already been mathematically eliminated from post-season contention.

The Wizards had defeated the Bobcats  at the Verizon Center on March 9th by a score of 104-87. Charlotte had been victorious in two meetings between the clubs prior to that night, but the Wizards played both those games without John Wall, who was still sidelined with a knee injury.

Charlotte led 63-59 at the half, and held on for 119-114 victory, their 3rd of the year over Washington. Kemba Walker banked in a jumper with 1:37 left to play to put Charlotte up 113-111. Walker then intercepted a bad pass by Trevor Ariza, and converted a running layup on the other end  to increase Charlotte's lead to 115-111. Gerald Henderson sealed the deal for the Bobcats, nailing a three-pointer with 55 seconds left to give Charlotte a 118-111 advantage.

Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson drives on Wizards forward Trevor Ariza (Photo by Chuck Burton/Associated Press)
Henderson led Charlotte with 27 points and 8 assists. Ben Gordon added 19 off the bench, and Kemba Walker tallied 18 points and 7 assists.

Washington was led by John Wall with 25 points and 5 assists. Nene turned in a well-rounded game, providing the Wizards with 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Emeka Okafor and Garrett Temple both had solid nights, contributing 17 points a piece.

The Wizards will now head West to take on the Suns on Wednesday night in Phoenix.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


After a 96-87 victory over New Orleans on Friday night, the Wizards were back at the Verizon Center on Saturday to take on the 22-44 Phoenix Suns, who were neck-and-neck with the Hornets for last place in the Western Conference, and had lost their last 3 games coming into tonight's game in D.C.

Suns rookie guard Diante Garrett has averaged 2 points and 1.5 assists over 13 games in Phoenix.
Suns guard Shannon Brown has averaged 11 points in his seventh season in the NBA
A native of Lubljana, Slovenia, Suns guard Goran Dragic has averaged 14.1 points and 6.9 assists so far this season.
Suns forward Wesley Johnson, right, in his first season with Phoenix, after spending the first two years of his NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Suns rookie guard Kendall Marshall has averaged 2.4 points in 33 games for Phoenix.
Former Houston Rockets center Ralph Sampson, who played one season with the Washington Bullets in 1991, works for the Phoenix Suns as an assistant player development coordinator, after playing in the NBA for eight seasons.
The Wizards lineup was supplemented by the return of Bradley Beal, who had missed six straight games with a sprained left ankle. Beal played surprisingly well in his return, contributing 13 points and 6 rebounds in just under 21 minutes. Meanwhile, A.J. Price missed his third straight game with a sore right groin.

It was another disappointing crowd, though the attendance was listed as 16, 882. There was an odd mix of St. Patrick's Day revelers, clearly inebriated in observance of the Irish holiday, and a lot of little children. It was kid's night at the Verizon Center, so all young fans, or adults who looked exuberant enough, received a Washington Wizards lunchbox.

It was a high-scoring affair. Washington led 66-59 at the half, and went on to demolish the Suns 127-105 in a contest that severely lacked any sort of defensive intensity. Martell Webster paced the Wizards with a career-high 34 points, including 7 three-pointers. John Wall added 17 points and 11 assists. Emeka Okafor also had a double-double, contributing 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Bradley Beal scored 13 points and 6 rebounds in his return to the Wizards lineup from a sprained left ankle.
Wizards forward Kevin Seraphin shoots a hook shot over Suns center Jermaine O'Neal
Give and Go: Wizards forward Trevor Booker tries to hand the ball to a cutting Martell Webster.
Wizards guard Martell Webster goes one-on-one with Suns forward Michael Beasley
Webster steps back against Beasley
Webster gets ready to shoot from the corner over Beasley
Wizards guard Garrett Temple is defended by Suns guard Goran Dragic
Martell Webster tries to drive around Suns forward P.J. Tucker
Wizards forward Cartier Martin takes it inside against Suns forward P.J. Tucker
Cartier Martin tries to drive baseline on P.J. Tucker
Wizards forward Kevin Seraphin and Suns center Jermaine O'Neal anticipate a rebound
Wizards forward Kevin Seraphin goes up for the dunk attempt over Suns center Hamed Haddadi
Wizards guard Garrett Temple stares down Suns guard Kendall Marshall
Garrett Temple is defended by Kendall Marshall
Phoenix was led by D.C. native Michael Beasley with 21 points off the bench. Jared Dudley added 16 points on 6-12 shooting from the field.

The Wizards will embark on a four game West coast swing, starting on Monday night in Charlotte, while the Barnum and Bailey circus inhabits the Verizon Center. They will return home the following Monday to take on the Memphis Grizzlies in the nation's capital.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler

When Anthony Davis was born in 1993, the New Orleans Hornets were still in their 5th season as a franchise in Charlotte. Now in its 11th season in NOLA, the franchise has endured horrendous losing seasons, natural disasters, and the loss of one of its biggest stars, Chris Paul, who was dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Eric Gordon following the end of the 2011 lockout. But, in the summer of 2012, New Orleans selected Davis, the power forward from Kentucky known for his striking unibrow, with the 1st pick in the NBA Draft. Finally, after Hurricane Katrina, years of mediocrity, and the departure of CP3, there was hope in the Crescent City. Earlier this season, it was announced that the Hornets would change their name to the Pelicans at the conclusion of the 2012-13 campaign, changing their team colors from teal and yellow to navy blue, red, and gold.

Hornets forward Al-Farouq Aminu stretches during pregame warmups
Hornets forward Darius Miller shoots from the corner, as teammates look on
Former Duke forward Lance Thomas has averaged 2.6 points per game in his second season with the Hornets.
Hornets guards Xavier Henry, left, and Terrel Harris, right, were all smiles before the game.
Born in Atlanta, Aminu represents Nigeria internationally. He is a descendant of a line of Nigerian kings.
Aminu has averaged 7.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in his 2012-13 campaign with New Orleans.
Darius Miller joined Kentucky teammate Anthony Davis in New Orleans, after he was selected by the Hornets 46th overall in the 2012 NBA draft.
In his rookie season, Anthony Davis has averaged 13 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
Davis stretches with Hornets coaching intern Jamelle McMillan
Hornets forward Lou Amundson is on his fourth team of the season, having already been released by both Minnesota and Chicago.
Davis does some strength exercises prior to the game.
Hornets rookie guard Brian Roberts has averaged 6.4 points and 2.3 assists in 14.6 minutes per game in New Orleans this season.
The Washington Wizards had earned their first road victory of the season over the Hornets down in New Orleans on December 11th by a score of 77-70. Tonight, New Orleans made its first, and only trip to the Verizon Center tied for last place in the Western Conference with a record of 22-43. Meanwhile, Washington had ascended the Eastern Conference standings all the way to a respectable 11th place, after starting the season an abysmal 5-28, the worst in the league. Another former Kentucky star, John Wall, has had a lot to do with the Wizards resurgence, averaging 15.3 points and 7.5 assists in 31 games this season. Bradley Beal has also been a key contributor to the recent success of the Wizards, but remained sidelined with a sprained left ankle he suffered in a victory over the Sixers on March 3rd.

The total attendance for tonight's game was listed as 14, 942, but this number seemed impossibly inflated, given all the empty seats. There was a large contingent of Kentucky fans on hand to catch Davis and Wall, but aside from that there wasn't too much fanfare. It was a late arriving crowd. Hornets fans were few and far between, but I did see one couple sporting New Orleans Pelicans T-Shirts, a sight I had not yet seen. There were a couple of fans from Venezuela in attendance to see their countryman Greivis Vasquez, who played his college ball at nearby University of Maryland.

Before the game, I took a picture of Nate McMillan, the former Seattle Supersonics guard, who had most recently coached the Portland Trailblazers. Suddenly, I wondered if a coaching change in D.C. may be imminent, but I'll save that speculation for the off-season. It wasn't until later that I discovered that his son Jamelle was a coaching intern for the New Orleans Hornets.

Hornets guard Greivis Vasquez tries to escape pressure Wizards forwards Trevor Booker, left, and Trevor Ariza, right
Hornets guard Eric Gordon drives around Wizards forward Trevor Ariza
Eric Gordon tries to climb the ladder on Wizards forward Kevin Seraphin
Hornets forward Lou Amundson tries to convert a layup over Wizards forward Kevin Seraphin
Gordon directs the New Orleans offense
Gordon is fouled hard by Trevor Booker
Wizards forward Trevor Booker boxes out Hornets center Robin Lopez
Gordon drives baseline on Trevor Ariza
Wizards forward Nene appears to be the top candidate to grab this loose ball
Hornets forward Al-Farouq Aminu glides to the basket
Hornets forward Anthony Davis reaches for a ball in mid-air, as Wizards forward Trevor Ariza waits for it to come down.
Hornets forward Al-Farouq Aminu knocks the ball away from Wizards forward Cartier Martin
Hornets forward Al-Farouq Aminu comes away with the loose ball after deflecting it away from Wizards forward Cartier Martin
Behind 29 points and 9 assists from John Wall, the Wizards won comfortably by a score of 96-87. Martell Webster added 18 for Washington. Garrett Temple, Kevin Seraphin, and Cartier Martin each had 10.

New Orleans was paced by Eric Gordon with 20 points. Grevis Vasquez added 18 points and 9 assists. Anthony Davis contributed 16 points and 7 rebounds.

The Wizards will be right back at the Verizon Center tomorrow night to host the Phoenix Suns.