Dave Johnson: Wizards Surprise Nuggets


Dave Johnson: Wizards Surprise Nuggets

Friday, February 19, 2010 9:35 PM

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comWashington---Welcome to Washington Al Thornton and Josh Howard. Two of the newest Wizards helped spark a 107-97 win over the Denver Nuggets built on old-fashioned grit and determination.In his Wizards debut, it was Thornton who led the team in scoring with 21 points and held the Nuggets Carmelo Anthony scoreless in the fourth quarter on 0-5 shooting from the field. Anthony, who finished with 23-points, is one of the NBAs great closers. The night before he scored 40 points including the game winner in an overtime victory against the Cavaliers, but Anthony struggled to get his shot off against Thornton and did not even get to the foul line in the fourth quarter.I just tried to get up in him and make him frustrated, said Thornton. Once Carmelo gets into a groove and gets his shot going hes very hard to guard. I just tried to get in him and frustrate him a little bit and make him shoot off balance shots.

Theres been a knock on me that I dont play any defense so I just tried to come out and play defense the best that I could., added Thornton who was acquired from the LA Clippers in the three-team six-player deal that sent Antawn Jamison to Cleveland and just joined the Wizards Friday morningAl (Thornton) played with a great amount of energy, head coach Flip Saunders said. I told the guys at the shoot around, we have to play like a bunch of mad dogs and thats how we played tonight. We went after loose balls, we went after rebounds, we didnt give up on plays and then the crowd gets into it and the crowd keeps our guys juiced up.Indeed the crowd of 17,212 was standing for most of the final minute of the game as the Wizards closed out a fourth quarter in which they outscored the Nuggets, the NBAs third-highest scoring team, 34-15.The Wizards were in trouble in the third quarter when they trailed by as many as 13-points and only shot 7 of 21 from the field. A determined effort on the boards gave the Wizards a chance by preventing the Nuggets from getting second chance points.For the game the Wizards out-rebounded the Nuggets 47-40 and only allowed the Nuggets eight second-chance points. In addition the Wizards had nine blocked shots and only turned the ball over ten times against a Nuggets team that is second in the league in steals.Down 82-73 entering the fourth quarter, the Wizards went on a 22-11 run capped by Howards 19-foot jumper to give the Wizards a 95-93 lead with 5:51 left in the game. Howard, in only his second game with the Wizards since being traded from Dallas, added 20 points.Chauncey Billups led the Nuggets with 28-points but only scored four points in the final quarter. Billups seemed to be bothered by the length of the Wizards Nick Young who used his 67 frame to his advantage and offered one of the most inspired defensive efforts of his career.Its like theyre starting all over again, Billups noted. Guys are going to be out there playing extremely hard, trying to earn the coachs trust, and earn some minutes. All the new guys came out and played so well and so hard. They had an effect on the game.Against the Nuggets the Wizards had the proper response from the start and scored 28-points in the first quarter. Andray Blatche, coming off a career-high 33-points against the Timberwolves, scored the games first ten points and finished with 18-points and 11- rebounds.Andray (Blatche) had a great first half and carried us in that half and when he picked up his fourth (foul) we went to the bench and those guys started playing well,Saunders said. "Even though we didnt play Andray or JaVale (McGee) down the stretch those are the guys up on the bench cheering the whole time in the fourth quarter, we havent had that this year.

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With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

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With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

After a night in which Otto Porter Jr. only took nine total shots, just two of them in the second half, many questions from Wizards reporters in the postgame locker room centered on how the team can get him more involved. This came on the heels of a seven-shot, zero-three outing for Porter against the Heat on Thursday and a preseason in which getting him more attempts was a persistent storyline.

It sounds like some are tired of talking about it. Point guard John Wall, who is part of the equation as the team's main distributor and highest usage player, put it in relatively strong terms.

"This will be the last time I talk about Otto Porter getting threes," Wall said. 

Wall went on to explain how it's a combination of defenses taking away the three-point line for Porter and the flow of the game creating better shots for others. It's a common explanation Wall has given on the matter in recent weeks, and it's understandable.

Head coach Scott Brooks has admitted his own role in Porter not getting enough shots, how more plays could be called for the small forward. But after the loss to Toronto, one in which Porter played just south of 25 minutes, he was a bit more blunt in his assessment.

Brooks believes Porter can be doing a lot more to help himself.

"Gotta get yourself open," Brooks said. 

When asked about Porter playing fewer minutes than usual, Brooks went on about the need for guys to play hard. That warranted a follow-up, as it seemed Brooks was questioning Porter's hustle.

Brooks explained what he meant by that in detail.

"You've got to move. You've got to set yourself up. You've got to run the floor. We got a fast point guard. I don’t know if you guys know that but he’s fast and if our wings aren’t running, what good is it when you’re going to have a one-man break? What makes teams play with pace is guys running." 

"I love Otto. You guys know that. But he has to play faster. He has to. Physically, he’s not going to jump over anybody and dunk over everybody, but he has to get himself into position. He’s a big-time player for us. He’s a glue guy. He makes winning basketball plays. He gets in plays but he has to do that consistently for us. He can’t do it for a half. He has to do it for the entire game. The guy can do it. I’ve seen it. He didn’t do it tonight but he’s going to bounce back. He didn’t do it the first two games but he’s going to bounce back and do it. And we need it.”

Porter, 25, was the Wizards' most efficient player last season, but averaged only 11.5 shots per game. With one of the best three-point shots in the NBA, the numbers suggest he should have a larger role.

The Wizards insist they are trying to get him more involved. In their eyes, it's time for Porter to do his part.

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Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Saturday night produced a link between some of the best players in recent Wizards/Bullets franchise history.

With a fourth-quarter three, Bradley Beal surpassed Gilbert Arenas on the franchise list for career triples

Beal, an All-Star last season, has already established himself as one of the best to play for Washington in decades. Afterwards, he paid homage to the man whose record he broke.

"I was always a fan of Gil. He was Agent Zero," Beal told NBC Sports Washington. 

"I loved everything about him; his confidence, his swagger on the floor. Granted, everyone talks about his off-the-court stuff, but what he did on the court is just untouchable. It's untouchable. He's a legend, for sure. Part of me wishes I could have played with him and just learned from him in a lot of ways. That's an accomplishment for me. I'm happy I was able to surpass it because he is a legend, in my opinion anyway."

Arenas' tenure with the Wizards was epic for its highs and lows. At his peak, he was arguably the most dangerous scorer in the NBA. But his downfall both on the court and off has left him as a notorious figure in the game's recent history.

John Wall, who has assisted on many of Beal's three-pointers, played with Arenas back in the 2010-11 season as a rookie. He is happy for his current teammate, who now has a distinct place in the team's history books.

"He's probably the best shooter I've ever played with in my eyes, so it's great to see him accomplish that," Wall said. "He's going to keep setting the bar higher and higher."

Beal passed Arenas in just the second game of his seventh NBA season. He's only 25 years old, so odds are he will keep adding to his franchise record for many years to come.