Booker cooking when the Wizards need him most

Booker cooking when the Wizards need him most
May 1, 2014, 5:00 pm
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(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Trevor  Booker's four NBA seasons haven't exactly been attention grabbing. That is unless you're an aficionado of injury reports or a connoisseur of those players consistently yanked in and out the lineup.

With an energetic performance during the Wizards winning series against the Chicago Bulls, now folks are taking notice of the rugged forward.

More importantly and simply enough, Booker is playing, playing in meaningful games at that. There are more to come as the Wizards will face either the Indiana Pacers or Atlanta Hawks in the second round.

"It feels good. I've been through a good bit here, but I've overcome it and look where we are now," Booker said. "Not only me, but other players that have been here awhile like John [Wall] and Kevin Seraphin."

Those three are the longest tenured players on the team, all selected in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft.

"I think he's just improved. All the young guys have improved especially Book," Wall said. "We just have the confidence [in him] shooting the ball, playing defense and being that hard-nosed player most teams need. He does the dirty work."

Booker played a career-high 72 games this season, averaging 6.8 points and 5.3 rebounds. Granted, numbers don't often tell the sole tale of his performances, though eight points, nine rebounds and three blocks while starting in place of the suspended Nene in Game 4 do a little.

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"I thought Booker did a great job to start the game off with the right kind of tone — hustle plays, tip-backs," Bulls forward Taj Gibson said after the Wizards 98-89 win which started with a 14-0 lead.'

Coming off the bench in the series finale, Booker cooked up even more energy plays on both ends of the court, finishing with seven rebounds and six points. The relentless zeal in which he chased down rebounds and loose balls stood in the otherwise slow-paced 75-69 game.

“My new favorite player, in the entire league,” TNT announcer Steve Kerr proudly said of Booker in the fourth quarter.

Though not a go-to offensive threat -- and the Wizards don't him to be one -- Booker shot a career-best 55.1 percent from the field this season.

"We also trust him with the ball in the post, taking open shots," said Wall, who also improved his shooting touch this season. "Those are situations where guys develop. We probably wouldn't have taken those shots early in our career."

What happens going forward with Booker's career, that's uncertain. Washington can make a qualifying offer. Based on his expanded over the course of the season - he started all 21 games Nene missed with a knee injury -, that scenario seems more likely than at other stages.

As for whether he believes he's opened any eyes, Booker humbly said, "I'm not sure. I just try to go and there do what I can every night. Whatever else happens, that's up to other people, what they say about me, what they say about the team."

Right now, they're saying good stuff. The ability to remain on the court helps.

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