The Streak Continues

Posted by By at 30 January, at 02 : 44 AM Print

There were twelve games in the NBA last night and the one that I watched from start to finish, surprisingly, was not the match-up between the Bulls and the Magic. That would’ve been the obvious choice. Why? First, because I’m a Bulls fan. Second, because the two teams had a combined record of 62-31 heading into last night’s play making it, on paper, the best match-up of the night. Third, it had a great story line leading up to the game. Derrick Rose had been diagnosed with stomach ulcers earlier in the week and the questions ultimately began of whether the MVP-candidate, and first Bulls player elected to start an All-Star game since Michael Jordan, would take the floor against perennial Defensive Player of the Year front runner Dwight Howard and his Magic. Despite all of that, my attention was elsewhere.

I was tuned into channel 642 on DirecTV, Comcast SportsNet Washington, to watch the 13-31 Washington Wizards take on the 29-16 Oklahoma City Thunder. For every reason I had to watch the Magic-Bulls game, I had probably equally as many reasons to not watch this one. Heading into last night’s game the Thunder were leading their division and the Wizards were last in theirs, 18.5 games behind the Miami Heat. Oklahoma City was 16-6 in the Thunder Dome and the Washington was 0-21 on the road. The Thunder’s core players were healthy. The Wizards were without starting center JaVale McGee and Kirk Hinrich, who’s been averaging 31 minutes this season. About the only real case, outside of being a Wizards or Thunder fan, to watch this game was probably the 1-on-1 match-up beween two of the top young point guards in the league in Russell Westbrook and John Wall.

The game started well for the Wizards who put together a very good first quarter and took a 29-21 lead into the second. Rashard Lewis got off to a strong start and both Westbrook and Durant were slow to get involved. The second quarter went as well for the Thunder and the first quarter went for the Wizards and the score at halftime was 56-52 Thunder, a score that, I’m sure he wouldn’t admit, but Flip Saunders had to be pleased with. After the third quarter it looked as though the streak would be over. With only 12 minutes to play the Wizards had an 80-75 lead.

Throughout the first three quarters I caught myself thinking on several occasions that there was too much going in the direction of the Wizards for them to lose the game. The #1 ranked free throw shooting team in the league was uncharacteristically missing free-throws. Andray Blatche, the teams second leading scorer, picked up 3 fouls in the first 4 minutes of the game and his body from the start language honestly looked like he would rather have just had a paid day off last night. And to top it off the Wizards were getting a career night from the 23rd pick of the 2010 draft, Trevor Booker.

Then the fourth quarter started, or should I say the “KD-RussWest” show started. After the fourth quarter and both overtime periods I’m convinced that they are the best 1-2 punch in the NBA not named Kobe-Gasol, and given the day I think they could be better. Durant drained jumper after jumper with hands in his face and the Wizards learned in a hurry that if you give Westbrook an inch he will take a mile. The Wizards had multiple chances to win the game, but as they had 21 times this season before last night, they left an NBA city not named Washington DC on the losing end.

Are the Wizards really as bad a team as their 0-22 road record suggests? After watching last night’s game I’m going to say no. A healthy JaVale McGee is a solid defensive presence. A steady Kirk Hinrich adds maturity to the back court. Nick Young has grown leaps and bounds and the Arenas trade may have uncovered a budding star. Maybe Arenas was right to bench himself for a pre-season game this year to allow Young a chance to get some playing time. John Wall will be dynamite as his shot selection and jumper get fine tuned. Andray Blatche, while being one of the biggest enigmas I’ve seen in some time, does have talent when he puts his mind to applying it. Rashard Lewis is a solid veteran presence who can stretch floor. Trevor Booker and Mustafa Shakur, who was signed from the D-League, have given solid lifts when called upon.

The streak will end, it has to right? But when remains to be seen. The schedule Gods don’t appear to  be favoring the Wizards anytime soon. Games in Memphis tonight, at Dallas Monday, in New Orleans on Tuesday await. The next two road games after that are at Cleveland and at Orlando. The NBA record for road losses to start a season is 29 by the ’92-93 Dallas Mavericks. I’m going to say the Wizards don’t get to 29. I’m also going to go out on a bigger limb and say the streak ends either against either Dallas or New Orleans. Will the Wizards continue to trudge towards the record or make me look good? We’ll see.

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One Comment

  1. Zig, 9 years ago Reply

    The Wiz are like the Blazers….Perm JINX’d!!

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