Friday, December 14, 2007

Stevenson Drops 26 on Lukewarm Heat

There’s something magical about beards. Rip Van Winkle, ZZ Top, Stanley Cup Playoff beards, Merlin… Now you can add DeShawn Stevenson to that list of Grizzly Adams protégés. Thursday night in South Beach, Washington’s scratchy-faced shooting guard exploded for a season-high 26 points on 8-15 shooting to help the Wiz knock off the floundering Heat 104-91. Stevenson nailed six three-pointers as the Wizards shook off D-Wade and the Diesel to pick up their first win at American Airlines Arena in their last 11 trips to Miami.

Washington (12-10) sprinted out to a 28-16 first quarter lead behind 10 straight points from Stevenson in just over one minute. The Wizards led 59-49 at the break and despite their usual second half lapse – this one came midway through the fourth – controlled the game from tip-off to the final horn. For the third straight contest, five Wizards scored in double-figures as
Caron Butler (19), Antawn Jamison (16), Brendan Haywood (12) and Antonio Daniels (11) all pitched in on the offensive end. The suddenly sizzling Roger Mason Jr. and Andray Blatche each chipped in eight and played. Mason played 20 minutes while Blatche was on the floor for 13.

Shaquille O’Neal, limited by foul trouble in the first half, managed just seven points on 3-of-6 shooting and Dwyane Wade – who entered the game averaging over 30 in his previous three – was held to 17 on 5-of-11 from the field. Udonis Haslem scored 19 and pulled down 11 boards but it was former Notre Dame stand-out Chris Quinn who prevented the game from spiraling into a rout. The undrafted free agent scored a career-high 22 on 7-of-13 shooting including 6-for-10 from distance. His triple with 3:44 left pulled the Heat (6-16) within nine at 96-87, but they would never get within striking distance.


“It definitely feels good to get a win down here. It’s been so long and they’ve owned us for so long, it’s one of those things that’s good for you mentally.”Brendan Haywood on finally winning in Miami. Haywood and sidelined teammate
Etan Thomas had been the only two current Wizards to have won at American Airlines Arena as Wizards.

  • When the Wizards crash the boards they win. When they don’t, they come up short. It’s just that simple. Washington won the battle of the boards 48-36 and owned the offensive glass, pulling down 14 compared to Miami’s seven. Jamison, who notched yet another double-double led the way with 16 while Haywood and Butler each grabbed 10.

  • Rookie Nick Young rode the pine pony all night in Miami. After playing more than 18 minutes against Cleveland and Phoenix a week ago, the flashy scorer has been used sparingly of late. He tallied only four minutes against Minnesota on Tuesday and six Sunday against New Jersey before sitting out Thursday night. There’s no indication of an injury so it appears the publicized prankster may have recently fallen out of favor with Eddie Jordan. Young had been posting solid contributions off the bench and he will likely re-emerge as a key offensive spark-plug when the Wizards need him. As for now it appears Jordan is leaning heavily on his veterans. (Fellow rookie Dominic McGuire saw two minutes of action against the Heat.)

  • Forward Darius Songaila, returning from a mild left ankle sprain, fell awkwardly after driving to the hoop in the fourth quarter. He appeared to re-injure the same ankle and did not return. Songaila scored four points in 10 minutes.

  • No Gilbert, no problem? TNT color commentator and future Hall-of-Famer Reggie Miller repeatedly noted the Wizards’ improved ball movement and balanced scoring since Gilbert Arenas re-injured his surgically repaired knee one month ago. And so far, so good. After stumbling to a 3-5 record out of the gate with Hibachi, the Wiz have gone 9-5 without him, restoring respectability and reclaiming second place in the Southeast behind Orlando (16-7).

  • In case you're curious about why DeShawn's chin has become one giant tuft of turf, check out Dan Steinberg's explanation of Stevenson's bet with fellow hairy-baller Drew Gooden of the Cleveland Cavaliers on the DC Sports Bog. Looks like Drew might be leading this contest by a hair.

Up Next

Washington hosts the deplorable Sacramento Kings on Saturday night at Verizon Center. Ron Artest and the rest of the purple-clad Kings (8-13) have struggled to find consistency this season and the loss of budding star Kevin Martin has really damaged their prospects for the season. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard was averaging 24.5 points and 4.9 boards through 17 games before straining his groin on December 4. Sacramento - already short-handed with guard Mike Bibby yet to play a game this season with a broken thumb and forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim recently shelved for the season after right knee surgery - has dropped three of four in his Martin’s absence.

-- The Tar Heel

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