Originally written March 25, 2013 on Wizards Extreme:
wizards 107 grizzlies 94 3/25/2013 - Verizon Center, Washington, DC ESPN Boxscore NBA.com Game Highlights Stephen Gosling I feel just the way Randy Wittman did when trying to open up his post-game presser after tonight's game. “I don’t know where to begin,” Wittman said as he settled into his seat in front of the media. And I don’t blame you, Coach. That WAS truly “incredible,” just as you put it. For moments at a time during his interview, Wittman struggled to find words to define John Wall’s performance. And when you glance at it from Wittman’s perspective, you’d wholly understand. I mean, he’s been through it all with John. The endless stretch of time spent recovering from a post-stress fracture in his knee; the scrutiny of critics constantly questioning his game and his potential to be a franchise player; will he or will he not turn the corner in his 3rd year; and of course, the constant chatter about his worth and whether he deserves a max deal. Well, one thing we do know for sure is John’s WILL. His WILL to suppress all the circulating doubts about him and the commitment to turning his naysayers into crickets. Those instincts and emotions run deeper than we know, but the important thing is that we got to witness the gratifying outcome of those emotions tonight against the Grizzlies. Please pardon the Shakespeare moment. The Wizards were totally slated for an off-night. With Trevor Ariza (flu), Nene (knee), Martell Webster (abdominal strain), Bradley Beal (ankle), AJ Price (groin), Leandro Barbosa (LOL) all inactive, the Wizards roster was thinner than Nicole Richie before rehab. How shorthanded were the Wizards tonight? Jan Vesely got 18 minutes of burn. THAT shorthanded. Facing a Western Conference powerhouse who were winners of 17 of their last 21 and playing for proper playoff seeding, the Wizards seemed destined for a disappointing night. But to the pleasant shock of everyone who was witness, John Wall took charge. He took over. He carried the team with a performance that left everyone, even his coach, dumbfounded. Wittman had talked a lot about 'pace' the past few weeks. He’s been heavy about controlling the tempo and not succumbing to the pace of their opponents. Ultimately, the Wizards’ control of the game, led by Wall of course, was what deflated the Grizzlies tonight. As pesky as the Grizzlies were, the Wizards never let up. While Wall dominated, his teammates followed through with their own contributions. Chris Singleton, a Wittman-doghouse regular, got the start and played an outstanding game. Emeka Okafor owned the paint tonight like he was paying a mortgage on it. His post game was about as good as we’ve seen all year, just ask Grizzlies forward Darrell Arthur. The Wizards have breathed new life since the return of Wall three months ago. There’s a sense of bonding and togetherness within this team that was rarely seen before, and tonight’s performance was pure evidence of that vibe. John. Wall. His ejection during the Golden State game may had been a great underlying factor in his outburst tonight. He was clearly down on himself for not guarding his emotions against Klay Thompson and tonight’s performance was good enough to cancel all that out. Wall shot an impressive 13-for-22 from the field for a career-high 47 points, including 19-for-24 from the charity stripe. He had 26 by halftime. Wall eclipsed his previous career-high of 38, achieved last year against Houston, and had an opportunity to notch it up to 50, but smartly refrained from chucking up a 3 in the closing seconds of the game. Wall humbly credited his performance to his intense offseason workouts and his determination to improve his jumper. John Wall: Oooooo more on Wall. The dude was nothing short of spectacular tonight. His offensive prowess turned up a notch from a just a game facilitator to a cold-blooded threat with the ball. His shots came from all over the floor, mostly from 15+ feet, but he was clearly determined to get the rim as well (24 FT attempts). Wall was also extremely effective off the dribble, manhandling his defenders with ankle-bruising crossovers and maneuvering his way to find open shots or open teammates. He finished with a quiet 8 assists. Mike Conley: Conley led the Grizzlies with 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting. He also had seven dishes and six turnovers. I just want to keep talking about my Wizards, please. The Good The demeanor of this team has progressed so vastly over the past year and a half that it’s simply astonishing. There’s clearly no lying down or quitting in these guys no matter WHO is on the floor. I credit that to Randy Wittman. A team that had often looked misguided and lacking direction is now playing with ferocity and will. Mindless of their opponent, these guys bring the noise onto that hardwood night in and night out. That obviously comes with talent and some intangibles, but it also comes with proper guidance, and Wittman is totally responsible for that. He’s been patient with his group, has allowed them gel and build chemistry and to improve their weaknesses and come together as a group. In my opinion, THOSE are the primary reasons why the Wizards won tonight. The Bad Hey, it was a sweet win considering the countless disadvantages coming into the game, but damn, the injury bug is at a season-high. With four of the team’s premiere ballers sitting out, it can’t be expected that the Wizards will always outperform all their opponents like tonight. With just a dozen or so games left in the season, it’ll be interesting to see how the lineup shapes with the guys bruised and banged up.   The Ugly Not sure what was more ugly here. Jan Vesley's 18 minutes of floor time, or Jason Collins' 0 minutes of floor time. I may just be reaching for something to insert in this segment, but it is nonetheless tough to watch Jan just continuosly look out of the loop and out of sync. As for Collins, he was the only healthy Wizard to not see the court tonight, and there's not much else needed to be said about that.
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