The Wizards fought hard, but it was a tough day for the franchise. Promising rookie forward Trevor Booker will miss the rest of the season with a broken bone in his right foot. Then the Wizards went out to host the visiting Miami Heat, who were spoiling for a fight after an embarrassing road loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers last night.
Lebron James came out and dominated against the Wiz, scoring 35 points on 12-16 shooting, adding 8 boards and 8 dimes. Running mates Dwyane Wade contributed 33 points and 9 assists, while Chris Bosh had 26 points and 8 rebounds. Miami's Big Three led the Heat to a 123-107 win at Verizon Center, but in some ways the real story was a first half fight that led to the ejections of John Wall, Zydrunaus Ilgauskas and Juwan Howard.
The trouble started when John Wall was closely guarded Big Z, who was holding the ball about 20 feet from the basket. Z didn't like Wall's attentions, apparently, because he pretty clearly swung a couple of elbows at the rookie's head, connecting at least once. Infuriated, Wall responded by punching Z in the side, about as high up as he could get on the 7'3" geriatric. Something more serious was about to happen when Javale McGee raced over to break things up. As he did so, Juwan Howard ran over and attacked McGee from behind, tossing him away. Wizards Head Coach Flip Saunders ran on to the court to separate the players, but that only seemed to enrage Howard more, as he leaned menacingly over Saunders and screamed what looked like some pretty spicy epithets in his face.
Result: Wall, Z and Howard all ejected. McGee received a technical foul -- I'm not sure why -- but was allowed to remain in the game. [This is Howard's second ejection this year in a game against the Wizards. When former Wiz center Hilton Armstrong pushed a Heat player in mid-air, Howard attacked Armstrong from behind and drove him into the court. Armstrong was also, correctly, ejected for that fracas.] Watch video of the fight here:
Once that was over, the story of the game for the Wiz was rookie guard Jordan Crawford, who stepped up in the absence of his backcourt partner. Crawford went bonkers, hitting 12 of 24 from the field, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range, and 10 of 10 from the line. Crawford's 39 points lead all scorers tonight and helped keep the Wizards in the game well into the fourth quarter. It was the kind of performance that Crawford-watchers have been waiting for. The kid loves to shoot and score and isn't shying about doing it. He almost reminded me of Gilbert Arenas tonight with his ability to bomb from downtown, get into the paint and run the floor. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying Crawford will approach Gil in his prime -- but I think we're seeing real evidence that he could be an important part of the Wiz rotation next year and beyond.
Forward Mo Evans poured in 21 points on 8 of 14 shooting and Andray Blatche came back from injury and off the bench to score 14 points on 15 shots and grab 8 board. Blatche looked pretty good at times, particularly considering how much time he has missed, but he also looked pretty stiff in spots, his shot wasn't there and neither was his defense. [Big shock, I know.] Personally, I'd like to know why a team with Blatche and Yi Jianlian [0 points in a starting role tonight] at power forward can't get Kevin Seraphin at least 9 minutes of burn on a night like this. I know Seraphin is raw and foul-prone, but the Wiz actually went on a nice run when he was in the game and I don't understand the rationale for not playing him more. Let Seraphin foul out -- what difference does it make?
Swingman Othyus Jeffers hopped off the bench and scored 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting in 29 minutes. If ever there was a warning shot across the bow of the S.S. Cartier Martin, this was it. I trust Cartier "Diamond" Martin was paying attention.
I was really impressed by the way the Wizards fought in this game, literally and figuratively. John Wall reacted poorly to Big Z's elbow cheap shots, but I liked the way Javale McGee rushed to his defense and I loved the way the team responded to the loss of their star player by digging deeper and clawing their way all over the Heat for the rest of the game.