This was a very, very good win. Not so much because it was a good game, mind you. It was pretty ugly on both sides out there tonight. But we fought back against a decent team and were really quite poised going down the stretch. But most of all it would have simply crushed the guys--and probably all of us--to lose another one in dramatic fashion (as was looking possible in the final seconds) and for that reason alone it's a great victory.
Wizards 98, Blazers 100
--The shooting out there was nothing short of gross...for both sides. It was a hard game to watch...surprisingly so for two relatively inept defensive teams. However we hit far more clutch shots down the stretch than they did. We also shared the ball far better in the second half than they did (or than we, ourselves had done in the first half). It felt like the first bunch to come together as a team was going to win this game and that turned out to be us.
--We didn't get pasted on the boards! Woohoo! And what a job we did team rebounding! We ended up outrebounding them by 2. We didn't get a whole lot of offensive rebounds, but even though it may seem sacrilegious to say on a team that scores quite a few points that way, I think offensive rebounds are one of the more overrated stats out there. You get very few of them by percentage and when your team really thrives on that you often get your pants beat off in transition because guys are hanging back under the hoop instead of running back. In other words, I don't care much that we only got 8 offensive boards. This was still a great night rebounding for a young and mostly undersized team.
--We didn't turn the ball over and we only trailed the Wizards in foul shots by six (by 4 in made foul shots). That gave us a chance to win.
--Despite all that, the biggest reason we won this hugely imperfect game was one Gilbert "Colonel Klank" Arenas. His shooting was awful. No...no...wait. Let me try that again. His shooting was AWFUL. He went 4-16 for the night (one better than his 3-15 effort earlier in the year). The only ways he scored were layups and free throws. Anything else was repugnant. And nothing more so than his last-second shot to tie the game. We were up 100-98 and he had the ball at the top of the three-point arc with three seconds left. Instead of hoisting for the win he drove. He beat the socks off of his man and pulled up before he could be bothered by the next layer of defense. This left him a wide-open 10-12 foot shot. He had beaten his man so badly my instinctive thought was, "Dang! Here comes overtime!" Colonel Klank didn't even live up to his nickname though. That 10-foot shot never touched rim. It fell a good THREE FEET SHORT. It was the most amazingly pathetic shot I've seen in...forever. In his book "Loose Balls" Terry Pluto describes the last shot of prolific scorer Marvin Barnes' career. He rose up and lofted a ball that fell way short like a duck that had been shot out of the sky. That's an apt description of this shot. Of course the good Colonel is at the apex of his career and not the end, but does that make the shot better or worse?
--Brandon Roy was the MAN tonight. To be honest in the first part of the game it looked like he was having trouble dealing with all of the extra attention the Wizards were throwing his way. But when it came down to the fourth quarter and we needed shots he was the Clutch-o-Matic in spades. Have I mentioned how much I love this guy? He's not just our future, he's our present. He's started to prove that in the last part of this season. And, by the way, on a night when we needed extra rebounding he grabbed 12. He had 5 turnovers too, but we'll give him a pass on his first night as Da Man.
--Lamarcus Aldridge was the other brilliant player. You'd think maybe with Zach out he'd put extra pressure on himself to carry the load. But he didn't do anything outside of what he's capable of doing. I swear he looked like a ten-year vet out there in that sense. It was wonderful! He ended up shooting 9-15, drawing 8 foul shots, grabbing 8 rebounds, and adding 2 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks along with 25 big points. Wow.
--The rest of the starting unit also played within themselves. There was little panic in this game. In fact if anything there was too little energy at first. Ime, Jamaal, and Jarrett all filled their roles.
--Travis Outlaw really needs to hit some of the open shots his teammates are setting him up with. His 12 shots were by far the most among the second unit guys but he missed 9 of them.
--Sergio had 9 points and 9 assists in 22 minutes. The Espresso junkies can relax...you're going to get another shot or two based on this game. He had a SPECTACULAR alley-oop to Freddie Jones that should make SportsCenter tonight.
--Martell Webster came alive in the fourth quarter! When we needed it he hit two key three point shots plus later he got a conventional three-point play off of a strong drive. 11 points, 4 rebounds, an assist, and a steal ain't bad for 20 minutes.
--Fred Jones hit 3-4 tonight but his outside shot still looks iffy. That dunk though. WOW. I like him.
--Antawn Jamison had a really great game. I was actually far more scared that he'd attempt the last shot of the game than Illbert.
OK...how many nicknames can one guy have? Just as long as I don't end up on the pages of his blog myself, I guess. "Dave had THREE typos in ONE post! And his use of parentheses for everything is craptacular. I bet he's a Swagless Wonder in real life." Then, of course, I would be forced to challenge Mr. Arenas to an exotic dance-off and that would get really messy.