Saturday, February 4, 2017

16 Didn't Come Easy as Wiz Edge Lakers

Ray Rogers AKA USS Blogger

The Washington Wizards recorded their 16th straight home victory last night with a 116 – 108 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Entering Thursday night’s contest the overwhelming notion was that the Wizards would win handily over a young Lakers ball club searching for an identity. As a matter of fact, there was very little focus on the Lakers at least on the part of fans and media with everyone pondering whether Washington can climb up to the #2 seed in the eastern conference and/or challenge for a trip to the NBA finals.
Once the game began, it also seemed evident that the Wizards themselves were overlooking these Lakers which entailed a 1st quarter where the Wizards shot just 41% on 12/29 shooting, resulting in a mere 31 – 29 advantage. However, arguably the second hottest team in basketball (behind Golden State) built a 19 point second quarter advantage and at halftime led 58 – 44. It was at this time where many believed this game was over and throughout the third quarter the Wizards maintained their lead, entering the final period up 11.
Then it happened. The Lakers began to make a run and a miracle occurred as the Verizon Center was transformed into Staples Center. It occurred just as quickly as Clark Kent turning into "Superman". While apparent from the start that the Lakers faithful came out in droves, the team’s early fourth quarter surge was resuscitating which saw the Lakers erase the Wizards lead to tie the game 91 - 91 with 9:08 remaining.
Lakers fans however were not the only ones to come to life at this time. So did All Star guard John Wall. Wall outscored the Lakers 8 – 2 including two 3 pointers to put the Wizards ahead 99 – 93. Wall, who entered the fourth quarter just 17 points, finished with a game high 33. We haven’t seen a closer this good in DC since maybe…former Nationals pitcher Chad Cordero. And that’s exactly what Wall is developing into, a closer, which former teammate and current Lakers guard Nick Young acknowledged after the game “He’s taking the big shots now in the fourth quarter, he’s taking over games”.

With Wall emerging as a closer the Wizards are expected to continue this hot streak. The rest of the NBA continues to take notice and teams will now be gunning to end this home winning streak. It won’t be easy for Washington, but with more and more games taking on playoff type intensity, this upcoming stretch can only further the Wizards growth. Next up is the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday February 4th and the team from the “Big Easy” is expected to be anything but easy to defeat.     
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Urban Sports Scene Wizards Lakers Post Game Show

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Make it 14, 'Men in Black' Stay Hot at Home with Win over Celtics


Ray Rogers (@urbansports_Ray)

There was obvious hype entering Tuesday Night’s Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics matchup as result of a post game scrum following their previous meeting on January 11th in Boston. Capping off the drama heading into the much anticipated rematch was the Wizards vow to wear all black on Tuesday which was a promise they kept although if you ask me they weren’t scaring anyone, maybe presenting handsome at best. However, the intent was not to look tough or scary, but to send a message. A message that appeared to include a desire to differentiate this current team from last year’s group that was swept in the regular season by the Celtics. All that was left to do was back up their talk with strong play and most importantly a victory.

Mission accomplished.  

The Wizards quickly established control in a 123 – 108 blowout of the Celtics. The game began with two quick baskets from starting center Marcin Gortat in route to a 33 point first quarter that entailed Bradley Beal, John Wall, and Gortat all scoring 8 points each. Coming out and setting a tone was critical in a game filled with emotion. Postgame, Celtics SG Marcus Smart alluded to the fact that his team allowed the Wizards to become “comfortable” which was critical with the Wizards being winners of 13 straight home games entering Tuesday’s contest.

What was even more impressive in my opinion was the Wizards ability to withstand all of Boston’s comeback efforts. On two occasions in the second quarter the Celtics reduced the Wizards lead to 3 points and in the third quarter cut a 12 point deficit down to six, but each time the Wizards had an answer including John Wall scoring five quick points to push the Wizards lead back to 11 with 1:05 left in the 3rd quarter. The Verizon center was covered in green, but the Celtics’ faithful sat quietly the entire night even during comeback attempts which was in stark contrast to a raucous home crowd. Wizards small forward Kelly Oubre expressed gratitude toward a fan base that is growing with excitement over this steadily improving team.

It would be hard not to cheer for a team winning their 14th game in a row at home, but it’s also the way the Wizards are defeating teams with Tuesday’s win punctuated by a monstrous dunk by John Wall over Celtics center Kelly Olynyk. Yes, it’s safe to say that the Wizards had the better Kelly on this night. A season high 123 points scored, five players in double figures led by Beal with 31, and a convincing, gritty win versus what is becoming a hated rival is giving Wizards fans dreams of a deep playoff run. As the Bullet/Wizards’ great song puts it “that’s the reason I’m a Bullets fan”.            
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Urban Sports Scene Post Game video

Sunday, January 15, 2017

John Wall Developing the Clutch Gene

By Waleo

Last night, the Washington Wizards defeated the Philadelphia 76ers (Sixers) 109-93.  The victory put the Wizards over .500 (20-19).  If you didn’t watch the game and just looked at the score you would think that the Wizards just ran away with this game but that would be false.  Sixers’ center Jahlil Okafor did whatever he wanted to do in the first quarter, scoring nine points.  Wizards Center Marcin Gortat had issues guarding him throughout the quarter.  It didn’t get any better for most of the second quarter.  The Sixers jumped out to a 45-32 lead with 6:31 minutes left in the second quarter.  The Sixers’ fan base took over the Verizon Center, chanting the phrase “Trust the Process”—which is a saying used for Sixers Center Joel Embiid who didn’t play.  The Wizards looked sluggish and their own fan base had nothing to cheer for.  All of a sudden it happened, Wizards’ point guard John Wall took over and showed his superman game.

After being down 13 with 6:31 minutes left in the second quarter, Wall and Wizards outscored the Sixers 24-11, which included a key bank shot to tie the game (56-56) going into halftime.  Wall scored 11 points in the second quarter after only scoring three in the first quarter.   Now, that’s called showing up when your team needs you.  But that wasn’t it for the “Great Wall of DC”. 

The Wizards now had the momentum.  The “Trust the Process” chants got lower and lower.   At the 11:36 mark of the third quarter, Wall gave the Wizards their first lead (58-56) since the 8:55 mark of the first quarter (9-8).  The Wizards started the third quarter on a 7-0 run going ahead 63-56.  At 4:42, the Wizards took a nine point lead (71-62), then Wall, to use the term the kids say, went H.A.M.

Wall hit a 3 point shot putting the Wizards up 74-62.  Then followed that up with two more threes.  Wall had three straight three-pointers which equaled nine straight points for the Wizards.  In the third quarter, from 4:13 to 2:32, Wall outscored the Sixers 9-3.  “The Great Wall of DC” closed out the Sixers in the third quarter and put the dagger in the hearts of Sixers fans who invaded the Verizon Center.  After the game, in his presser, Sixers head coach Brett Brown acknowledged that Wall took over the 3rd period.  He did! Wall scored 11 points in the quarter, helping the Wizards outscore the Sixers 30-15. John Wall finished the game with 25 points and sat out the entire fourth quarter.

It’s amazing that not too long ago fans and pundits were asking for Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal to be closer for this team.   The word was that Wall doesn’t have the jumper and skillset to close games out.  Well this season John Wall has proven the haters wrong.  What he did last night and throughout this season lets you know that Wall is becoming that dude which no one wants to see when it’s 5-4-3-2-1.  Currently, John Wall averages 6.7 points in fourth quarter which is 11th in the league.  The fourth quarter is your money quarter and Wall has been money.  Now granted, in Sixers game Wall brought the fourth quarter to the third quarter.  His team need their “superstar” to show out and he did.  This team needed him to end the game and he did.  That is a main element of developing that stone cold clutch gene.

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