In 2008, if I told you that there would be bandwagon Clipper fans invading the Verizon Center to spend top dollar on lower level seats to watch the Clippers plays the Wizards, well, forget what you would've thought, I probably would've Godzilla facepalm'd the crap out of my forehead.
Believe it or not, it's true. The Clippers have become the greatest road show in sports. High flying dunks, fast paced basketball and Blake Griffin flops that rival Greg Louganis. This is what the fans pay to see. Oh, by the way, the Wizards won the game 98-90. Just in case Clipper fans were curious.
Well, with no Chris Paul in the line up and Blake Griffin a very late scratch due to a hamstring injury, Clipper fans got a taste of what life was like before 2010 (assuming they were actually Clippers fan in 2010).
As I walked through the concourse and looked at all the CP3 and Blake Griffin Jerseys, I couldn't help but ask myself, where were all the Corey Maggette jerseys? Where were the limited edition Elton Brand T-shirts? And how come Keyon Dooling doesn't have one of those cool stitched hats like like RGIII does?
Let's get one thing straight, the Clippers are a great team. They have balanced scoring, they play awesome defense, but no one seems to care about them because Blake Griffin can jump out of a gym. Ok, I think that's enough Clipper bashing, on to the game itself.
The Wizards were ahead in the game from the outset. Even when the Clippers made an attempt to tie or take a small lead, Washington showed resolve and was able to go on a run to regain the lead. The score was 80-79 late in the 4th quarter until the Wizards went on a 7-0 run which ultimately put the proverbial Steve Buckhantz "DAGGER" in the hearts of new school Clippers fans. I say new school because old school Clippers fan are used to it ;)
The Wizards received a balanced scoring attack lead by Martell Webster's 21 points including shooting 5-6 from behind the arc and as a team, the Wiz Kids had five players in double figures.
Nene had a solid game, Emeka Okafor continues to be the most consistent player on the court, obviously Webster had another monster game, but the guy who I believe deserves a lot of praise for last night's win is Garrett Temple. After getting the start over Bradley Beal who continues to sit out because of a wrist injury, Temple played extremely tough, making clutch baskets and earning the praise of his head coach in his post game press conference. He played the most minutes and was trusted primarily to do whatever he could to try and stop Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford as the depleted Clippers backcourt tried their best to salvage a victory without their all-star MVP point guard.
Aside from Trevor Ariza, who was asked to try to slow down Jamal Crawford towards the end of the game, Temple was asked to do the most. Not only was he filling in for one of the best players on this team, but he continued to show why he deserves a roster spot next year, and maybe even a starting role.
The Wizards put a halt to their 4-game skid in a very impressive manner. Balanced scoring, great ball movement (27 assists on 37 made field goals) and timely 3-point baskets.
It was a great team win that once again was dominated by the other team's headlines. No one is talking about how the Wizards outplayed the Clippers, but rather it's all about how the Clippers lost without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. When asked about this after the game, Randy Wittman took serious offense. "If we lost you guys would've printed something about how we couldn't beat them without their players…" he later added, "We've had our fair share of injuries as well. No one felt sorry for us early in the year."
Well said Randy. And he's right. No one felt sorry at all for this team when they didn't have Wall, Booker, Ariza, Price, and even Seraphin for an extended period of time. The Wizards are finally playing games with the expectation to win and not the belief that they're going to lose.