Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wizards Get One Before the Break

After coming up short for two weeks and following back-to-back heartbreaking defeats, the Washington Wizards finally stopped their eight-game landslide Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

Antonio Daniels was back in the starting lineup after missing two games with bone spurs on his right ankle and provided the steady hand that the Wiz have been missing. He scored nine points, pulled down eight boards and had seven assists with just one turnover in 46 minutes in Washington's 91-89 victory over the Clippers (17-33). AD also played a key role in Washington's final possession.

With the score tied at 89 and the clock winding down, Daniels drove into the lane and put up a fade-away jumper the bounced high off the front of the rim. Darius Songaila alertly tapped the ball back up into the air toward the glass and Antawn Jamison somehow got a hand on the ball to tip it in.

It was an improbable play but one the Wizards (25-27) desperately needed and also deserved
after another strong showing in the finale of their brutal West coast swing.

Jamison overcame a slow start to the game with 29 points on
13-of-25 shooting with nine boards, Brendan Haywood had another strong showing with 15 and nine and DeShawn Stevenson and Andray Blatche both scored 13.

Rookie Dominic McGuire, who has seen an astronomical rise in
his playing time with Washington's various injuries was on the floor for 23 minutes and had a game-high 12 boards.

Another great team effort for the Wiz who managed to avoid letting a second straight game slip away despite an impressive 24-point, nine-board effort from rookie Al Thornton and 20 points from Corey Maggette.

Now the Wizards will have a much needed respite during the
weekend's All-Star break to recover before resuming play against the Knicks at home on Tuesday. Caron Butler will not play in Sunday's game, despite being selected, in order to get his hip flexor injury fully healed. The rest will also be a welcome one for Daniels, who has been hobbled by his ankle injury and the Wizards are already counting down to the return of Agent Zero early next month. Expect Etan Thomas to be back in uniform soon after as well. So while Jamison enjoys his night under the bright lights in New Orleans, the rest of the guys will be kicking back to get ready for the stretch run.


"That's my game. It's different from all of the other guys in the league but as long as it's working, and it's successful, I'm going to continue to do it. Just from being quick off my feet, I was able to go out there, get a hand on the ball and tip it back in. If I would have come back down with it, I would have run out of time." - Jamison on his tip-in game-winner.

"It was a heck of a stretch for us, especially when we were down, but our guys stuck in there and were warriors for us. DeShawn was a warrior. Antawn Jamison was a warrior. Brendan Haywood was great. We had a bunch of guys step up and that's going to help us down the road." - Eddie Jordan on the road trip.

The Numbers Game

- Washington's utterly dominant rebounding margin against the Clips.

- The Wiz's edge on the offensive glass - which included two key taps by Songaila and Jamison that gave them the winning bucket.

12 & 7
- D-Mac's rebounding numbers. Twelve total boards, seven coming on the offensive end in his first NBA game with his father in the stands. Now you see why I'm so high on this guy. He brings that intensity on defense and on the glass that the Wiz must have off the bench.

- Washington's record in games decided by four points of fewer this season.

- Their record without Caron Butler.

- Their record on the four-game West coast trip, dubbed "the rookie tour" by Eddie Jordan.

All photos AP/Getty Images

-- The Tar Heel

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