The Wizards broke out the streamers for the win against Cleveland. Wall's performances will become a high note of the 2011-2012 disastrous season.
WSAHINGTON (WUSA) -- As a consumer of Wizards basketball, all you could've hoped for was for John Wall to outplay Kyrie Irving. That feat alone would've been enough to count as a win. The Cav's rookie point guard has infiltrated a feeling of hope into the city of Cleveland. Wall, well ... Wall had a fabulous February?
There was a noticeable pep in Wall's step, like he was out to shut some people up. And he did just that. Behind Wall's 24 points, five boards and five assists, the Wizards toppled the Cleveland Cavaliers ( a playoff contender) 101-98 Saturday night at the Verizon Center.
The win had potential to be the most gorgeous of the season, with Washington leading Cleveland 96-86 with 3:44 left. Jump shots were falling like patients at a nursing home. An array of turnovers, missed layups and Cavalier three-pointers nearly chalked this game up as an epic collapse. Anthony Parker's off balance three-pointer as time expired sailed off the mark, giving Washington their first win in six games.
"Play's you make the last two minutes of a basketball game can't be the plays you make the first five minutes of the game...And we kind of do that," said Wizards head coach Randy Wittman.
Wall was great, Irving was solid, but Antawn Jamison was spectacular. The veteran finished with 29 points in his homecoming to D.C. Wittman said Jamison gave the Wizards problems -- especially Trevor Booker -- because a lot of guys have never played him before. His scoop and spin's in the lane were unguardable for chunks of the game. Credit Jan Vesely for putting a lid on Jamison's 15 first quarter points.
Roger Mason was the captain of the sea who calmed the storm for the Wizards in the second quarter. The 31-year-old poured in nine straight points to open the quarter, trimming the Cavs nine point lead to just three points. If Mason doesn't score those points, the Wizards could've been playing catch-up for the rest of the game.
The three biggest things to take away from the Wizards win against Cleveland:
A) John Wall outplayed Kyrie Irving
What Randy Wittman said: "John's been playing well. I think where he has been going with his decison making...In terms of I don't have to coach [as much] anymore...John's getting an understanding of where I want the ball, who I want to have the ball, plays to run without having to look over at me everytime. That's growth."
What I say: Wall is becoming so confident in his jump shot that he pulled the trigger from the elbow with 17 seconds left and a three-point lead, trying to bury the Cav's. And I completely agreed with the shot, even with a hot Jordan Crawford. He's an entirely different player if he comes out and knocks down a few early jumpers, like he did against Cleveland.
Wall wanted this win badly, even though he played his usual Joe-Cool persona in the locker room following the game. The Cav's roster is inferior to Washington's, the Wizards were playing at home and Wall is a second year player. Even Flip Saunders would have been hard-pressed to make an excuse for this loss. Wall's slowly beginning to show the NBA what Kyrie has flashed the league all season.
The main thing to take away about Wall's game against Kyrie is that he has a killer instinct. You didn't see it late in the fourth, but it was there. Wall was determined to to show Irving who the sheriff in town was. Now it's Wall's job to start flipping that killer instinct switch every night.
B) Jordan Crawford is one of the hottest players in the NBA
Jordan Crawford on his current streak: "I'm shooting with confidence and it's going in...As the two guard you are supposed to be aggressive."
31 points, 5-of-11 three-pointers, 13-of-22 overall. Crawford carried the Wizards in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 total points and led the Wizards on a 14-5 run. Those are Gilbert Arenas circa 2006 kind of numbers.
It's not too early to say that Crawford has stolen Nick Young's spot in the starting lineup. Wall and Crawford have much better chemistry together, and Crawford is one of the hottest players in the NBA. He's averaging 24 points alone in his last five games. As much as we've all complained about his cold streaks to start the year, the second year guard is making the Wizards watchable.
C) The return of Andray Blatche
What Randy Wittman said: "We know, he knows, I told him before the game 'You go out and play.' Don't worry about results right now. He's got a lot of rust on him. It's hard when you have a calf injury where you can't do any running for six weeks."
What Andray Blatche said: "I didn't want to come out and try and force [anything]...trying to do the small things like hustle, get rebounds and set other players up."
The one thing I don't like about Blatche's return is that Kevin Seraphin is now a complete afterthought. The Frenchman did not play on Saturday and likely only will if Wittman decides to bench JaVale Mcgee again -- a more than likely situation.
Blatche is in good spirits and it was honestly good to see him back in the locker room. I've grown to know him a bit and his personality gets a bad reputation. With that being said, no team in the NBA wants Blatche and his contract on the team. So there should be no booing or yelling about Blatche for the rest of the season. He's stuck in Washington, thanks to general manager Ernie Grunfeld. Accept him for who is while he's still on the team.