Tuesday, November 2, 2010 10:22 p.m.
WIZARDS PAGE WIZARDS VIDEOS
By Dave Johnson
CSNwashington.comWASHINGTON -- For the Wizards it was a home opener to remember. The electric atmosphere was charged by a near triple-double by John Wall, a dramatic last second shot by Cartier Martin, and in the end a satisfying 116-115 defeat of the Philadelphia 76ers in overtime.
Sure Wall turned the ball over too many times, but he more than made up for his miscues. Wall's 8 turnovers, while frustrating, did not take away from his 29 point, 13 assist and 9 steal performance. The nine steals tied a Wizards franchise record.
"He's got an unbelievable will to win. I mean he wills the team," said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. "He got us in trouble tonight at times but he fought through it and was able to make some big plays at the end. I think that his ability in getting nine steals in a game just changes the complexion of the game so much at that end and it got us aggressive."
It was Wall who helped bring the game to life in the third quarter when he scored eight points and had six steals. Wall was in attack mode and his aggressive play helped jump start the Wizard defense when they forced the Sixers into ten of their 23 turnovers.
Still the Wizards could not pull away and when Lou Williams hit an amazing three-point shot from 26 feet on the sideline it looked like the Wizards were about to let one slip away. Williams, who scored 25 of his game-high 30 points in the second half was almost falling out of play on that shot and gave the Sixers a 96-90 lead with 2:12 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Wizards stayed the course and Cartier Martin, one of the Wizards who made the team without a guaranteed contract, guaranteed overtime on a three-pointer at the buzzer. Martin received the ball at the top of the arc with 3.1 seconds left and somehow got the shot off and still made the shot with the Sixers Andre Iguodala draped all over him.
"I just have to stay ready for whenever I'm called on," and an elated Martin said. "I think they were trying to foul before the shot was taken, but that was one of the biggest shots I've ever hit in my life. This is the big leagues, and there were a lot of fans out here supporting us tonight. I felt like it was a good shot when I let it off."
In the extra session Andray Blatche was the hero. Before the game, Blatche talked about the need to get to the free throw line more after only attempting two free throws in the first two games of the season. Blatche backed up that talk in the most emphatic of ways, by sinking two free throws with 7.1 second left in overtime to secure the win.
Blatche earned his trip to the line for the game winning free throws on a strong baseline drive on the Sixers Elton Brand. Starting from the block, Blatche was able to turn to the baseline and get inside Brand who then committed his sixth personal foul.
"I told people before the game, my main focus is to get to the hole and get fouled," said Blatche who scored 23 points including 13 of 14 from the free throw line. "As far as outside jumpers, that's going to come, but I'm going to continue to be aggressive and get to the hole.
Like Williams did for the Sixers, Nick Young provided the spark off the bench for the Wizards and finished with 20 points. Young scored 15 of his points in a little over 13 minutes of the first half to help the Wizards recover from a lackluster start and a 14-point first quarter deficit.
Check out Bob Youngentob's 76ers-Wizards Photo Gallery here