Harrington regains old burst to inspire Wizards

Harrington regains old burst to inspire Wizards
March 17, 2014, 2:00 pm
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(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

The last 12 games for Al Harrington have been a mixed bag, but the 34-year-old -- still playing with minutes restrictions because of his right knee -- felt like he was officially a member of the Wizards after he was greeted by a sellout crowd at Verizon Center with a standing ovation. "That felt good," he said of what happened Saturday. "I wanted to stay in the game." 

Harrington had six points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal in 21 minutes in that 101-94 comeback win vs. the Brooklyn Nets, but it was his emphatic dunk on an offensive rebound in the fourth quarter that started the flurry. Dunking has been hit or miss for Harrington since returning from surgery to clear loose particles from his knee in December that interrupted his first season in Washington. 

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Bradley Beal missed a jump shot, and Harrington darted in to catch the carom for the putback that cut what had been a 10-point deficit to 84-77. Harrington then put a drop-step on Alan Anderson to get to the basket for a layup and stole the ball from Marcus Thornton on the next possession which led to Beal putting back Harrington's miss of the transition layup. With 9:11 left in the game, the deficit was down to just three. 

"Al, even when he’s not making shots all the time, he spaces the floor, which creates openings," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "You have to acknowledge Al when he’s out there. He missed a couple early threes and then he got to the basket. That’s a veteran.”

That's where Drew Gooden, who scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth, took over to put the Wizards (35-31) back in front. Harrington exited with 4:50 remaining and the score tied at 92 and the third sellout of the season, on fire because Harrington is the one who started it, stood to applaud his effort. The defense was inspired, holding the Nets without a field goal for the final 6:22. John Wall punctuated the game with a dunk on the final possession. 

"Just gave the team a jolt of energy. Sometimes it takes little plays from different players to get guys locked in and energetic. I was able to provide a play like that," Harrington said of the dunk, "and we just kind of rolled from there."