Finally, Nick Young faces Wizards in D.C.

Finally, Nick Young faces Wizards in D.C.
April 12, 2013, 10:45 pm
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Andray Blatche returned in January, JaVale McGee in February, but it took until the Wizards final home game of the season for Nick Young to make it back to the Verizon Center.

As part of the deal that brought Nene to Washington, the Wizards shipped their 2007 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers after 4 1/2 seasons.

"I haven't been back here in a while," said Young, sporting his ever-present carefree smile pregame but this time in the visiting locker room.

Young, who signed with the 76ers as a free agent this offseason, is averaging 11.0 points while shooting 36.2 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in 57 games. For those wondering, he's still not much of a facilitator, only 1.5 assists per game.

Though partly because the season is on its last legs, much more was made of when Blatche made his first appearance back in Washington. Granted Blatche was the poster child for the franchise's previous dysfunction. Young's incorrigible volume shooting habits led the Wizards to part ways with him, but his ending included none of the bitterness that accompanied Blatche and McGee.

"I guess he had something more to prove than me," Young said of Blatche. "The fans booing him, the coaching staff and everything he went through toward the end of his career here.

"I think the fans kinda like me. We're going to see how it goes tonight."

There were some cheers when "Swaggy", as 76ers coach Doug Collins calls Young, entered the game midway through the first quarter, but there a healthy amount of boos covered those up. In fairness, the jeers felt had more of an obligatory vibe than full-throated venom.

It was not the most glamorous of returns as Young played a scoreless eight minutes, missing his three field goal attempts. He never took off the warm-ups after halftime as the 76ers prevailed 97-86.

One sequence in the first quarter looked rather familiar. Young missed a 3-point shot, sulked and then weakly fouled Garrett Temple on the other end of the court, setting up a 3-point play.

Without Young's perimeter presence, the Wizards drafted Bradley Beal with the third overall pick in the 2012 draft. Ironically, the two will end the season never having faced each other. Young missed the previous game in Washington last month with a left foot injury. Beal sat out the January game in Philadelphia with a wrist injury and is now out for the season with a leg injury.

Guess there is always next year for a head-to-head scoring guard dual, though where Young will be is uncertain. He only a signed a one-year contract with the 76ers. While Collins appears charmed by Young, there are conflicting reports about the coach's own future in Philadelphia after the season.

As for his own offseason plans, Young said, "Just getting stronger, get better in the gym. Taking my time, seeing what happens in free agency."