has been cleared for takeoff. The horizon for the Washington Wizards suddenly looks much brighter with
given the medical okay to play and ready for his season debut tonight against the Atlanta Hawks at Verizon Center.
Here is today’s
has been out since September when a stress injury in his left patella was discovered. Last month
received clearance to “ramp up activities” in his rehabilitation process and after a couple of weeks of going through limited contact drills started this week fully participating in practice.
Off go the street clothes and on goes the uniform tonight for
as he finally has a chance to add to his impressive resume. Through his first two seasons
has demonstrated the potential that made him the number one overall pick in 2010 NBA Draft and averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 assists, and 4.6 rebounds.
In a season were the Wizards only have five wins, despite their competitive play,
return triggers a genuine sense of optimism. There was plenty of hope when the Wizards ended last season on a six-game winning streak and with victories in eight of their final eleven games. That hope for Wizards’ fans has been challenged in an injury-plagued 2012/2013 season.
In addition to going without
all season, the Wizards’ athletic training room has been far too busy.
was supposed to fill-in for Wall, but he fractured his right hand December 8.
Price and Trevor Ariza,
who had been sidelined since December 4 with a calf strain,
returned to the lineup in Monday’s dramatic 101-99 over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Wizards were able to upset the Thunder, with
Nene, Jordan Crawford and Cartier Martin
watching with injuries.
, who missed the game with right knee tendinitis, is eager to play tonight with
It is possible
could miss a second consecutive game with a sore left ankle, while
will miss more time because of a hyper-extended knee.
On the plus side it is also possible that
could see playing time tonight.
had said this week he is ready after being sidelined since November 19 with a knee injury.
The Wizards this season have used 14 different starting lineups. The frequent change in the starting five has been some times forced by injuries, while other times it has been part of a quest to find the right combination. Regardless of whether
starts tonight or not, his presence back on the court will help the team’s need to get easier baskets in transition.
“Knowing John, he is going to be going 100 mile an hour. He has to temper that a little bit, but you also want him to play the way he plays. It is a good problem to have. His condition is something I have to keep a good eye on. When I see a point of exhaustion I have to get him out.”
With players getting healthy:
“Now you can put guys in realistic spots and positions on the floor that we envisioned from the start. We have asked guys to play out of position and maybe do more than is right for their skill sets now players can be in a more familiar role.”
The Wizards still have to take care of business tonight on the court, but they received an assist from the NBA schedule maker. The Hawks played last night and had to rally from a 15-popint second half deficit to defeated the Utah Jazz 103-95.
The story so far:
December 18, 2012—-100-95 loss at Verizon Center:
Basketball is still about making shots. On the heels of their worst game of the year Saturday in Miami, the Washington Wizards returned to competitive form and pushed the Atlanta Hawks to overtime before losing 100-95 Tuesday at Verizon Center.
For all the competitive spirit of the Wizards, in the final analysis they were tripped up by shooting only 37 percent from the field. The Wizards had good looks at the basket, but in the extra session were only 2 of 9 from the field.
“I can’t fault our effort. It really just kind of boiled down, as it has a lot this year, to making a play, making a shot, making an open shot, making a play coming down the stretch. I thought in the second half I found guys that were going to go out there and play the right way.”
December 7, 2012—104-95 loss in Atlanta:
It’s hard not to get a sense of déjà-vu with the Washington Wizards. Down by 18 points in the third quarter, the Wizards were able to make fans in Atlanta squirm when it was a two point game in the fourth quarter before succumbing to a 104-95 loss to the Hawks.
It was a familiar script for the Wizards in a season that has produced only two wins against 14 losses. For the sixth time this season, and the second time against the Hawks, the Wizards fell behind by double-digits in the first quarter.
To be sure it was the loss was a disappointment for the Wizards who openly talked of the importance of building on their win over the Miami Heat. Still, the Wizards can ill afford to dwell on the loss with a home game against Golden State tonight at Verizon Center.
For the Wizards it was their tenth straight loss to the Hawks in Atlanta dating back to January of 2008. Players on both teams have changed during that time period, but a corps group of Hawks
including Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Zaza Pachulia
have helped the Hawks control the boards and as a result the games.
had 15 rebounds to go with his game-high 23 rebounds.
grabbed 14 rebounds and added 14 points, while
had nine boards including five on the offensive glass. In total the Hawks had a 47-32 rebounding advantage on the Wizards including 15 offensive rebounds which provided a 22-10 edge in second-chance points.
The Hawks outscored the Wizards 48-32 in the paint and 16-10 in fast break points. All five Hawks starters scored at least 14 points for the first time this season and the group recorded a season-high 86 points. With 23 assists, Atlanta dished-out at least 20 assists for the 15th time in 16 games.
November 21, 2012—101-100 OT loss in Atlanta:
Upon further review, the Washington Wizards are still looking for their first win of the season. The Atlanta Hawks survived a game with twenty lead changes and a video review to defeat the Wizards 101-100 in overtime.
With 7.3 seconds left in overtime
hit a 15-foot jumper to give the Wizards 100-98 lead, only to have
work off a screen and nail a three-pointer with 1.9 seconds left. After a time out,
missed a 14-foot jump-hook that was caught by
and then put back for what the Wizards thought was the game-winning basket.
score was ruled to be after the time expired.
returned to the Wizards lineup last night and scored 12 points in almost twenty minutes of action.
did not play in overtime as the Wizards chose to exercise caution in his first game back from plantar fasciitis. In recent days
had been working out more in practice, but his status was in doubt up until game time last night. After participating in Wednesday’s shoot around ,
tested his ailing foot in pre-game warm ups and then told head coach
he was ready to go.
also helped the Wizards make 17 of 24 free throws.
was 8 of 10 from the free throw line.