This photograph was a repetitive scene Wednesday night for the Wizards in Los Angeles. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- I don't recall ever being pleased with a performance following an 18-point loss, but I actually am. I think the Clippers will at a very minimum be heading to the Western Conference finals under the direction of Chris Paul (16 points, nine assists, one turnover) and Blake Griffin (23 points, 15 rebounds). L.A. defeated the Wizards 102-84 Wednesday evening.
Washington threatened the Clippers, trailing by just three points at the half and even took a 60-58 lead with just under six minutes left in the third. Things have changed for the better under Randy Wittman and this road trip is vindicating Ernie Grunfeld's decison to can Flip Saunders. This loss was plenty watchable, unlike episodes of the Wizards nightmares we saw frequently in the past.
Remember the legend of bigfoot? The scary half-man half-beast who lives in the wilderness? Well, he's been found and he wears number 32 for the Los Angeles Clippers. Blake Griffin took a bulldozer to the Wizards defense in the paint, taking over the Staples Center namely in the third quarter. His 11 points and six boards in the quarter were the title wave sinking what has been a pretty steady Wizards ship over the past 10 days.
I will say this about Blake Griffin: the manchild gets every single call from the referees. Jan Vesely, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin were coerced into a combined 14 fouls. The second Griffin is able to draw contact, the whistle will be blown. It'll be nice if John Wall ever gets this kind of preferential treatment on a nightly basis.
*JaVale McGee's early February slump can officially be put to rest. The Wizards center produced his third consecutive double-double (8 points, 11 boards) and noticably outplayed his counterpart DeAndre Jordan. I jotted down a few instances where McGee chose not to go for a shot block and instead positioned his body better to alter the attempt. Consistency is the lacking component with all rebuilding franchises. Hopefully a McGee lapse is a few games away though.
Also remember that DeAndre Jordan signed his contract for four years and $43 million. And because the Wizards unwisely valued Andray Blatche at five years and $35 million, it isn't out of the question to think McGee will be asking for $50 million as a free agent this off-season. I said ask for, not deserves.
*Jordan Crawford (12 points on 5-of-15 shooting) wasn't a force offensively and kind of went cold in the second half. It was his help defense, passing on cuts and overall hustle which stood out to me. This time away from D.C. sure is serving Crawford's basketball mentality in a good way.
*A great point brought up by newly anointed ESPN.com writer Beckly Mason on John Wall's defense. "Wall has blocked two fast break lay ups. He's really like a skinny Dwayne Wade defensively." Wall can appear out of nowhere and has been using his length like a flying squirrel.
Offensively it was also another good night for Wall (18 points, 12 assists and five turnovers). Maybe its because I don't often watch the Wizards on television, but does Wall seem chattier to you? Whether it's to an official, a teammate or an opponent, I've liked seeing some yapping out of the Wizards floor leader.
*Here's the minute total from the game: Wall-41, Young-35, McGee-34, Crawford 32, Booker-28, Singleton-20, Lewis-17, Vesely-15, Seraphin-9, Mack-7 and Mason-1.
*Between those last six guys (from Singleton to Mason) the Wizards collected only 13 points. You can't beat the Clippers without bench play. Mo Williams, Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin all would flourish in Washington. Those are guys playing minor roles for the Clippers. Like I said, Western Conference finals at the minimum.
*The Wizards quit in the fourth quarter, which I don't have a huge problem with. As long as they convert that rest time into early energy like tonight at Utah on Friday.