For three quarters, the Wizards played possibly the best game they played in the last two years.
A subpar fourth quarter made the Wizards’ performance look a lot worse than it really was.
The Wizards did two things very well. First, they really moved the ball well offensively. When the Wizards struggle offensively, it’s because there is too much one-on-one play. With Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, the Wizards have two fantastic one-on-one guys they can depend on when the shot clock goes down, but it’s dangerous to think they can just go one-on-one every single possession. It really wasn’t surprising to see than Antawn Jamison, a guy whose production rises when he’s in the flow of the offense, had his best game of the season last night. Dallas is a tough defensive team, especially inside, so to get all those open looks was really encouraging.
The other thing the Wizards did unbelievably well was they pounded Dallas on the glass. That really shocked me when I looked at the numbers. The Wizards outrebounded a very good Dallas rebounding team 53-39! That’s really solid, especially considering Dallas’ incredible offensive rebounding ability. Etan Thomas was an absolute monster last night with 10 points, 11 boards, and that one block on Devin Harris. That block was a play that really set the tone for the entire game. The Wizards showed tons of energy on defense and locked down on a really explosive Dallas team. Jason Terry, Josh Howard, and Devin Harris shot a combined 5 for 23. If you do that, you’ll beat Dallas.
While Arenas was huge with 38 points and 8 assists, (you listening, Michael Redd! You can score a shitload of points and be a good playmaker. It’s possible) the key to this game was Jamison. Unsilent pointed out a couple days ago that the Wizards are a completely different team when Jamison is playing well, and tonight showed it. Jamison’s the one guy that really needs to get his points in the flow of the offense. If the offense becomes too much based on one-on-one play, Jamison ends up trying to overcompensate and jacks up bad 19 foot jumpers. This also prevents him from getting inside for rebounds. When the offense is moving the ball well, Jamison is much more successful, and when Jamison is successful offensively, he’ll get in there and grab key rebounds. The play he made to seal the game at the end was a prime example of this.
However, I hate to say it again, but this game didn’t really prove all that much. The Wizards are 7-2 at home and could very easily be 9-0. We know they can play up to their potential against anyone in the Verizon Center. Now, they have to prove it and play well on the road. The offense needs to keep moving the ball well instead of stagnating and watching Arenas or Butler go 1 on 5. With road games against the Knicks and the Sixers on the docket this week, the Wizards have a great chance to finally get a road win.
In other news, Gilbert Arenas is going to be signing autographs/discussing his new shoe over at the NBA store in New York City. This wouldn’t ordinarily be newsworthy, but, apparently, Dan Steinberg, Unsilent Majority, Will Leitch, SLAM, and With Leather are all going to be there. Steinberg is calling this event a “Blogocalypse.” If anyone else is planning on being there, I’d really like to hear about it.
Also, Steinberg pops the “what if you could pretend you guys are at home when you’re on the road” question, and gets a ton of player responses. In an earlier Bog entry, Post Wizards beat writer Ivan Carter wondered aloud, "Is there a Shakespeare tragedy about an army that was great on its own soil but couldn't win on the road?" Clearly, this road thing is getting old and the players really have to find a way to break through. It better come this week with the Knicks and Sixers on the docket.
Finally, if you were at the game yesterday, let me know and send me your postgame thoughts. I’ll put them up here on the blog when I get them. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Postgame thoughts? Please someone be positive for now!
Labels: Antawn Jamison, Bloggers, Dallas Mavericks, Etan Thomas, Game recaps, Gilbert Arenas, Wins