Before the Wizards started making moves a little more than a month ago, these last two games would’ve been losses. Thanks to the “Wise Guys” –- Drew Gooden, Andre Miller and Al Harrington –- they’re back in the driver’s seat with the No. 6 seed and a chance to move up a spot.
“We’ve got to continue that,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said after Saturday's second-half comeback to beat the Atlanta Hawks 101-97. “That is what makes us better, obviously, when our bench comes in and plays like that.”
Gooden contributed 16 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes. Just as importantly, with the Wizards struggling to close out, it was Gooden who stepped to the foul line to sink both free throws with 11 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.
Miller had 10 points, three assists and a steal in 19 minutes. When the Wizards were in dire need of a basket early in the fourth quarter, it was Miller who backed down the undersized Dennis Schroder to make it 83-79. On a broken play when John Wall slipped to the floor, Miller ended up with the ball and hit a 12-foot jumper to push it to 90-85.
Gooden and Miller combined for 10 points in the fourth quarter. They combined to shoot 9-for-9 overall, though the Wizards almost blew a 10-point lead in the waning minutes to a struggling team after beating the Indiana Pacers, who have the East’s best record, on Friday.
“We got good problems. For one, we can play anybody in this league, which is great,” Gooden said. “And then we don’t do a great job of 48 minutes of concentration, focus and execution.”
Harrington had 12 points in beating Indiana. Ten of those came consecutively in less than three-minute span of the second quarter when Washington led by as many as 16. The game was controlled for the duration and the final score 91-78.