Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Strong second half effort leads Wiz over 76ers

After allowing the Sixers to score 58 points in the first half (and trailing by 14 points), the Wizards went to work after halftime, outscoring Philadelphia by 12 points in the third quarter and nine points in the fourth. The Wizards also played better defense in the second half, holding the Sixers to 39 points in a 104-97 win on the road.

Playing without Brendan Haywood (sick) and Mike Miller, who wasn't ready to come back from his calf injury, the Wizards shot over 51 percent from the field and dished out 25 assists (to 14 turnovers). The loss of Haywood certainly hurt in the rebounding department -- the Sixers grabbed 10 more rebounds (a 42-32 edge) behind Samuel Dalembert, who had 20 of them (and 20 points too). Still, the Wizards forced 18 turnovers and forced the Sixers into taking more difficult shots in the second half.

Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 32 points on 13-20 shooting; he also led the team with 14 rebounds -- nine more than anyone else. Gilbert Arenas scored 19 points on a not-so-efficient 6-15 from the field, but he did accumulate 14 assists, a season-high for him.

Unfortunately, Caron Butler didn't have a particularly solid game, only scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds in 36 minutes. He also only took eight shots. But back to the good: Nick Young gave the Wizards a big spark off the bench, putting up 21 points on an outstanding 9-14 from the field. With the Wizards trailing by four with about five minutes left, Young put this sequence together: he hit an open three; cut to the lane on a fast break, banking in an and-one layup and making the free throw; and then went right at Allen Iverson and nailed a 15-foot jumper to put the Wizards up four and give them the lead for good.

This performance doesn't mean that the Wizards are going to rattle off several wins in a row, especially with consecutive games against Cleveland and Orlando coming up (and the Arenas suspension looming), but it was nice to see the Wiz close out a game in the fourth quarter and actually play like, you know, they cared.

One more thing: I know Dalembert was busy dominating the paint, but Andray Blatche has to do better than three rebounds in 38 minutes. Come on man, box someone out or something.

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