For the Washington Wizards Saturday night’s win over the Atlanta Hawks really was like opening night all over again. John Wall returned to help the Wizards capture consecutive wins for the first time all season and now that momentum will be tested by Orlando tonight at Verizon Center.
Here is today’s Wizards Report:
After a week of practice with Wall back from a stress injury to his left knee patella, the Wizards looked like a band eager to unveil a hot record. That positive vibe and body language carried over into the game and by the end of the first quarter the Wizards led 27-17.
The good news doesn’t stop with Wall. Trevor Booker is back too. Bookerhas been out since November 19th with a knee injury. Yes, that’s A.J. Pricestarting at point guard. He returned as a substitute in last Monday’s win over Oklahoma City after missing 15 games with a fractured right hand. Suddenly the Wizards are healthy and have options.
Healthy is a relative term. Jordan Crawford is the Wizards’ leading scorer, but in an interesting twist he has missed the last two games, both victories, with a sore left ankle. Last in the NBA in offense, the Wizards still need Crawford’spoints and competitive desire. Cartier Martin’s offensive sparks off the bench have also been missing the last two games because of hyper-extended knee.
Wall made an immediate impact in his return on Saturday. On defense the Hawks had to respect Wall’s ability to drive and get to the basket and as a result that opened up the floor for the rest of the Wizards. Wall forces opposing players to make a decision. Should I help guard Wall or should I stay with my man?
Oddly enough two missed alley-oops with Jan Vesely served as a reminder ofWall’s effectiveness. On both occasions’ with the Hawks’ defense wary of Wall’s next move, Vesely was free to cut to the basket. Unfortunately one ofWall’s passes was low and Vesely fumbled the other lob. It is rust that should go away.
“John, he’s just awesome. The impact he had on the game, he brings so much energy and enthusiasm and he plays hard. He’s really helping us down the stretch in the fourth quarter. He really makes things easier. He takes the pressure off you, you don’t necessarily have to care for yourself all the time. He draws the defense into him. He showed he can score or he can make a nice pass, or a jump shot.”
The Orlando Magic:
The Magic ended their ten-game losing streak in surprising fashion with a 104-101 win over the Clippers Saturday in Los Angeles. On the strength of 11 three-point field goals, the Magic stopped the Clippers franchise record 13-game home winning streak.
The key to the Magic is beyond the arc. The Magic are 13-13 this season when they make it least five three-point field goals in a game.
The Magic’s struggles are linked to the absence of Glenn Davis. Before Saturday’s win, the Magic’s last victory was against the Wizards at home on December 19. In the closing moments of that win Davis suffered a sprained shoulder after being fouled by Emeka Okafor.
While the Magic has not been successful without Davis, they have been competitive. Six of the last eleven losses by the Magic have been by four points or less.