Dave Johnson: Better Effort Does Not Give Better Result

Dave Johnson: Better Effort Does Not Give Better Result
March 17, 2010, 3:51 am
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010 11:49pm

Wizards vs. Nuggets Game Highlights & Postgame
By Dave Johnson
CSNwashington.comDenver----Insult and injury have often gone together for the Washington Wizards this season. It happened again when the Wizards lost Andray Blatche to a sprained left ankle and a game to the Denver Nuggets 97-87.With 6:48 to go in the fourth quarter Nene threw down an open slam dunk to give the Nuggets a 79-70 advantage which at the time was their biggest lead of the game. Nene was alone for the finish because Blatche had landed on Nenes foot and turned his ankle and ended up wreathing in pain on the baseline.It was the cruelest of finishes on a night when the Wizards gave themselves a chance at a big upset. Blatche, who is now listed as day-to-day with the injury, tried to play through after a timeout but was forced to the sidelines.Playing against an imposing Nuggets frontcourt including Nene and Johan Petro, Blatche excelled with a series of strong low post moves as he led the Wizards in scoring with 23 points. Blatche was the focal point of a Wizards effort that did not allow the Nuggets a single lead until almost halfway through the third quarter."We dictated how the tempo was played," said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. "We got the ball inside and played off Dray. But when they turned the pressure up, we started taking some perimeter shots and quicker shots and not making them play defense and that fed into their ability to run and get in the open floor."Carmelo Anthony scored a game high 29-points and also grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Nuggets. J.R. Smith provided the Nuggets boost off the bench with 17 points and 13 of those points in the fourth quarter when he was hitting shots even when he barely had a handle on the ball.Playing their fifth game in six nights, the Wizards seemed to surprise the Nuggets with a strong start. Al Thornton finished a break triggered by a JaVale McGee block of an Anthony drive to give the Wizards an 18-10 lead with 5:03 to go in the first quarter.Thornton finished with 16 points but guarding Anthony put him in foul trouble. Alonzo Gee, an undrafted rookie from Alabama who is on a ten-day contract, stepped in and not only defended Anthony well but scored 13 points with 10 rebounds and 2 steals."He is playing well. He is a guy who can play in this league I like the things he does," said Saunders. "We are going to resign him to another ten-day contract. He is athletic and he defends."In some ways it was amazing the Wizards not only led for most of the game but stayed competitive deep into the fourth quarter even though they missed 11 free throws. In addition the Wizards could never really get Randy Foye or Mike Miller involved in the offense.The Wizards losing streak is now nine games and is the longest since a nine game slide in January of 2001."We have a couple of days to lick our wounds. Well get a day of rest and then a practice and then we have a couple tough games," Saunders said. "We got better in situations tonight and that is a positive. We know how we have to play; it is just a matter of being able to bottle that."