Tonight our very own prodigal son, All Day ‘Dray came back home. Whenever Blatche is in town you know you’re in for a raucous environment. The crowd at the Phone Booth gets a little rowdy, a little bitter, and is committed to booing him EVERY TIME he touches the ball and last night was no different. The Verizon Center was the loudest I’ve heard post-Gilbert. Dare I say there was a playoff atmosphere in the air…Ok. I DARE.
The game started out horribly for the Wizards. Due to bad shots and turnovers the Nets jumped out to a 20-6 lead in the 1st quarter. Brook Lopez came out on a mission dropping 18 points in the first half and seemingly couldn’t miss. None of the Wizards big men had any answer for his wide array of post moves, it seemed like he was going to cruise to an easy 40 point game. And somehow, and I’m still not quite sure how, the Wizards only trailed by 5. I kept waiting for the wheels to fall off and then the Wizards would get run out of the building but it never happened. They scrapped, fought, and never gave up. This is a team still trying to get accustomed to winning and tonight they won in spite of themselves. They had their lapses and the Nets had them on the ropes several times in the 2nd half.
This is a tough one. I could have gone with Bradley Beal who tied his career high of 29 points, or I could go with John Wall based on the way he ran the floor, accumulating a crazy stat line of 17 points, 14 assists, six rebounds, and 4 steals. But the real MVP of the game was Nene who stepped up huge at the end of the 4th quarter. In the last two minutes of regulation, Nene scored the last 9 points for the Wizards and forced the game into overtime on a last second putback. Beal is the scorer, and Wall is the facilitator, but Nene was the glue that held it all together.
LVP: Eric Maynor
Eric Maynor makes me long for those days of AJ Price, Shaun Livingston, and Jannero Pargo…ok not really Pargo. He took ill-advised shots, missed the open man on multiple occasions, and did a horrible job of leading the second unit. Other than Al Harrington who created his own shots, no one on the bench contributed at all. It felt as if every time he touched the floor he sucked the momentum out of the building.
Key stat of the game: – Brook Lopez held to 5 points in 2nd half
In the first half, Lopez looked like the second coming of Hakeem Olajuwon. After the game Marcin Gortat said there’s two halves and he’s glad he was able to bounce back against Lopez when it mattered. This was key to the Wiz pulling out the overtime victory. If Lopez was allowed to continue to feast in the paint, the Wiz were dead men walking but Gortat and Nene effectively shut Lopez down for the rest of the game.
Tweet of the night:
Shout out to my boy Abdullah for this gem..
Next up is a doozy of a road trip with stops in Oklahoma City, Dallas, and San Antonio. Not too long ago the prospect of that trip would have terrified me but this team believe they can not only play with but beat all three of these teams. Let’s hope the Wiz can build off of this fantastic win.