The Wizards needed someone to step up huge to give them a chance against the second best team in the West last night in New Orleans. They found that someone in the form of a bushy-bearded Locksmith.
DeShawn Stevenson exploded for a career-high 33 points and capped it all off with his best Gilbert Arenas impersonation, dribbling the length of the floor as the final seconds ticked away in a tie game and nailing a game-winning three-point dagger from the left corner just before the buzzer.
The "DAGGER" from the corner was Stevenson's fourth triple of the night - his second straight contest with four treys - and sealed a come-from-behind 95-92 victory over the Hornets for the depleted Wizards. Washington had not won in New Orleans (37-18) in it's previous 10 trips.
The Locksmith had never before hit a game-winning shot in his NBA career, with his most recent late-game attempt coming at the end of Washington's loss at Golden State on February 11. But the hard-nosed two-guard is fully deserving of the limelight following this one. Remember, Stevenson has started 223 consecutive games.
The Wizards (27-29) also got solid scoring contributions from Antawn Jamison (10 points and 10 boards), Brendan Haywood (12 and 8), Antonio Daniels (10) and 12 from Roger Mason off the bench. They were out-rebounded by the Hornets 42-35 but made up for it with another great night taking care of the basketball. Washington committed a season-low seven turnovers for the second consecutive game and had 11 steals to New Orleans' three. The Wizards also out-shot their opponents at the charity stripe, connecting on 21-of-24, while the Hornets made just 12-of-22.
All-Star point guard Chris Paul led the Hornets with 22 and Morris Peterson added 18 as New Orleans lost its third straight game to fall one game behind San Antonio in the Southwest division.
This was a huge confidence builder for the Wiz as they continue a three-game road trip tonight in Houston, against a Rockets team that has won 12 straight.
"Down the stretch, it was like DeShawn Stevenson versus the New Orleans Hornets." - Brendan Haywood
"He's a warrior, man, a true warrior. His confidence is growing -- he's making threes -- he's just a true pro. This is a man's league and he is man. In the dictionary next to that word there is a picture of DeShawn Stevenson." - Eddie Jordan
- The Yahoo! sports page has started including +/- numbers in its basketball box scores. The concept might seem silly, but it provides tremendous insight into which players are making the most of their minutes on the floor and who is a liability for his team. The +/- stats for the Wizards in last night's game appear to do just that.
- Stevenson (+19), Daniels (0), Haywood (+3), Jamison (+9), Andray Blatche (-20), Mason (-3), Darius Songaila (+3), Dominic McGuire (+14), Nick Young (-14), Oleksiy Pecherov (+4)
- I doubt Jordan uses this specific stat to set his lineups, but after a while, it becomes apparent who gives the team the best chance to win on the floor. Blatche's number is pretty telling that he doesn't do enough on the defensive end an is inconsistent on offense at times while McGuire's strengths on the glass and on the defensive end are reflected in his number. Maybe that's why Jordan started the second half with the rookie and Mason in the lineup instead of Daniels and Blatche.
- Gilbert Arenas did make the trip to New Orleans with the team and was seen playing some one-on-one with Nick Young before the game. He recently backed off his plan to be back for next Sunday's home game against the Hornets. There is no time-table in place for his return to a roster that desperately needs its stars back and healthy to resume their fight for playoff positioning.
-- The Tar Heel