Dave Johnson: Blatche Leads Wizards Past Timberwolves

Dave Johnson: Blatche Leads Wizards Past Timberwolves
February 18, 2010, 2:51 am
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010 9:35pm

Timberwolves vs. Wizards Game Highlights And Postgame

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comWashington----Off the court the Washington Wizards worked on their future with another major trade. On the court the Wizards just worked through the present in a determined 108-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.Andray Blatche led the Wizards response to a period of change and uncertainty by scoring a career-high 33-points to go with 13-rebounds. JaVale McGee also turned in a double-double with 14-points and 11-rebounds and five blocked shots.The victory brought joy on a night when the Wizards, in another move to free salary cap space, traded Antawn Jamison in a three-team, six-player deal. Jamison was sent to Cleveland and in return the Wizards picked up current NBA players Zyrdunas Ilgauskas from the Cavaliers and forward Al Thornton from the Los Angeles Clippers.In addition the Wizards received the Cavaliers first round pick in this years draft and the draft rights to Emir Preldzic, a Slovenian forward who is playing in Turkey. To complete the deal the Wizards sent forward Drew Gooden, who was just acquired from Dallas, to the Clippers and the Clippers sent guard Sebastian Telfair to the Cavaliers.Antawn Jamison has been the embodiment of leadership on and off the court for this franchise for five-and-a-half seasons and we thank him for all he has done for the Wizards and the city of Washington, said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. We feel that we were able to acquire a quality young player in Al, a first round draft choice and a young prospect while putting ourselves in a much better position in terms of the salary cap.It was clear Jamison was on his way out when he did not appear for pre-game warm-ups. Already trying to adjust to the loss of Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson in the weekend deal with the Mavericks, the Wizards stumbled at the start against the Timberwolves.Barely two-minutes into the game, Wizards coached Flip Saunders was forced into a time out as a lifeless Wizards team, perhaps reeling from the Jamison trade news, allowed the Timberwolves to open on an 8-0 run. Al Jefferson was big part of the Timberwolves early success as he scored ten of his team-high 18-points in the first quarter. Ryan Gomes added 16-points, while Kevin Love had 13-rebounds to go with 13-points.Still through the Wizards early difficulty, Blatche offered a glimpse of what was to come with 13 points on six of nine shooting in the opening 12-minutes.Dray was a lot different. He was a more aggressive player and a more intense, consistent player, Saunders noted Sometimes when you bring people in, they take the guys that you have and bring them along right with them.Saunders was referring to Josh Howard, James Singleton and Quinton Ross, acquired in the deal with the Mavericks, and who all played a role in securing the win over the Timberwolves. Singleton had seven rebounds and his energy on the boards helped the Wizards outrebound the Timberwolves 47-44 and in the process prevent second-chance points.Howard scored seven of his 14 points in the pivotal third quarter when the Wizards finally grabbed their first lead of the game after chasing the Timberwolves the entire first-half. In that third quarter the Wizards outscored the Timberwolves 34-21.It was a Howard who put the exclamation mark on the third quarter when he deflected and then stole a pass and finished with a one-handed slam dunk to give the Wizards an 86-75 lead going to the fourth quarter. Howard had two of the Wizards five steals in the quarter as they scored 13-points off seven Timberwolves turnovers.Ball movement also stood out in the third quarter when the Wizards recorded nine assists including six from Randy Foye. With the ball moving the Wizards shot 70 percent from the field in the third quarter led by McGee who had eight points and triggered a 22-12 run with an alley-oop fast break dunk.For all the positives of the third-quarter, the Wizards had a nightmare start to the fourth quarter and missed their first nine shots from the field. The Timberwolves went on 16-1 run to turn an 11-point deficit into a four point lead at 91-87 with 6:18 left in the game.Like he did in a jagged first quarter, Blatche then provided the Wizards with a stabilizing influence. Blatches reverse layup midway through the fourth quarter not only was the Wizards first field goal of the quarter but it started a 15-2 run to counter the damage caused by the Timberwolves run.Mike Millers three-point shooting was critical to the Wizards closing the win over the Timberwolves. Miller was five for five beyond the arc 3 of his three-pointers coming in that 15-2 run. Miller finished with 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists.Tonight was emotional for the players, but even during the game and at the end there was as much emotion in the new guys as the guys weve had all year, so I would say we have pretty good chemistry at this point, Saunders concluded. But thats one game, now we get to play Denver and thats a pretty good team, so well see where we are.