Originally posted on Wizards Extreme  |  Last updated 1/23/12

Without Rajon Rondo in the line up and Ray Allen being sidelined in the first half due to injury, today's game was there for Washington's taking. Instead, the only thing the Wiz Kids got was a steady dose of Paul Pierce.

The future hall of famer had a game high 34 points and 10 assists in his best game this season for the C's and lead his team to a 100-94 victory over the home town Wizards. He was able to take Chris Singleton out of the game early by getting him in foul trouble and Washington struggled to find a defensive solution for Pierce the rest of the game. 

Despite the defensive mismatches, the Wizards showed a lot fight and were able to keep the game competitive. Even after trailing by as much as 15 points in the 3rd quarter, the Wiz kids showed a lot of heart and were able to take an 82-81 lead in the middle of the 4th quarter. However, Washington had no solution for the incredible duo of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett who combined for 51 points, 12 assists, 13 rebounds on 17/25 shooting from the field.

Ray Allen Who? Did I mention Rondo wasn't playing?

It was a back forth game from beginning to end and despite the loss, the team's performance highlighted a lot of positives for the Wizards to take with them tomorrow night against a Philadelphia that has owned them. The 76ers are 2-0 against the Wizards this season and have outscored them by a combined score of 223-179.

Ouch.

For starters, this team has seemingly found a successful formula to compete in each and every game.

I'll give you a hint, It involves a heavy dose of John Wall.

It's no coincidence that the team's recent turn around has been spear-headed by the former #1 pick.  He's been playing some of the best basketball of his short NBA career over the last 4 games and today finished with a team high 27 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Over his last 4 games, Wall's been averaging 26 points, 8 assists and has been shooting over 40% from the field. MUCH improved from the 32% that Wizards fans have been seeing earlier this season.



Nick Young has also found his shooting touch and has become the consistent scoring threat that fans have been accustom to watching, and Jordan Crawford has been able to spark this team with his productivity off the bench. It feels amazing to say that today since last week it seemed like this team was not capable of competing against any team not named The New York Knicks.

Yes Wizards fans, this team is competing!

"We're going in confident and now it's just about finding a way to win the game," said Nick Young.

The way you close games out in the NBA is with your defense and the run and gun Wizards realized that driving to the basket became much harder in the 4th quarter. As Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics found ways to seal off access to the paint, Boston's defensive pressure made it extremely difficult for the Wizards to establish a low post game which eliminated John Wall from being able to attack the basket with the game on the line. As a result, we saw this team settle for perimeter shots and play the game at a much slower pace. Just the way Boston likes it.

"There's a reason why they only give up 89. Their game is not a high tempo game," said Flip Saunders.

He also emphasized that the way the Wizards can close out games is by improving their defense, especially in the 4th quarter. I hope this has a roster of quick learners because tomorrow night's game against the 76ers will be the ultimate test. Philly's put up the most points in a single game this season against the inexistent Wizards defense and has managed to make it look very easy in the process. As this team continues to grow and mature, Wizards fans hope (and pray) to see the same effort on defense as they've seen on offense.

Go Wiz!

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