The sellout crowd at Verizon Center Friday night felt like one of those Capitals-Flyers games at the old Cap Centre, or a Nationals-Phillies game at Nats Park a few summers ago.
If you’ve been to those games, you know the feeling.
The visiting team scores, half the crowd erupts. The home team scores, the other half erupts.
Welcome to Friday night’s game between the Wizards and L.A. Lakers, where a woman dressed in purple and gold stood up and chastised a Wizards fan for cheering an alley-oop dunk by Martell Webster.
“Wait until the end of the game,” she yelled. “Then we’ll see who’s cheering.”
As it turned out, the displaced Lakers fans had most of the fun Friday night, enjoying a 102-96 win that snapped a four-game losing streak for Kobe and Company.
How did the Wizards feel about playing another road game at home?
“I’m used to it,” said Webster, who last week said it was “terrible” that Heat fans outnumbered Wizards fans.
“I saw it in Minnesota, I saw it in Portland. They showed up and we fed off the energy. It was good, regardless. We had a packed house. There might have been a lot of cheers for them, but they were cheering for us, too.”
Cartier Martin certainly felt the energy. The 6-foot-7 guard exploded for a season-high 21 points in a losing effort.
“We knew coming into the game that a lot of people here would be for the Lakers,” Martin said, “but we also had our fans in the stands as well. You just play through it, man.”
The Wizards’ next assignment will be even tougher Saturday when they visit the Miami Heat, who will be looking to avenge their 105-101 loss to the Wizards in Washington on Dec. 4.
“Our hands are going to be full even without us beating them,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “They’re one of the best teams in the league.
“It’s good that we just played them and we won. I think they know that. They played in this league long enough to understand that there are games different teams point to with what’s happened before. That’s part of the NBA.”