Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Wizards Sparkle

Yesterday evening I had the distinct pleasure of going to watch the Washington Wizards host the Los Angeles Clippers.  Unfortunately, 3 of the best 5 or 6 players did not play.  On the other hand, I paid $5 for my ticket, so I think I got my money’s worth. 

7:05PM – We walk in (the we being myself and two of my roommates) just in time to see the Wizards intro video. John Wall is obviously introduced last. His eyes look…blazed…and he doesn’t look terribly happy.  Not that it’s a live feed, but he just clearly isn’t trying.

1st Quarter (times indicate how much time remaining)

10:50 – The Verizon Center does this “stand until we score” thing.  In case you were wondering what that meant, they encourage the crowd to stand and cheer until the Wizards score their first point. Roughly 33% of the crowd is standing, and when the first ball goes in there’s a collective sigh of relief from everyone.

8:40 – Wall picks up his 3rd assist of the game.  Pretty impressive, especially considering how well Washington has to shoot in order for Wall to get 3 assists. Also, every time he gets an assist the announcer presses a button that prompts a recorded “Wall with the dime” that sounds like it is straight out of NBA Jamz ‘99 for the N64.

5:00 – I just realized the true value of watching a game in person – bench reactions are awesome.  For starters, it seems a bit odd that the team sits in the corner while rich people sit near mid-court.  But at this point the Wizards got a steal and were off on a break.  A foul stopped the break, but someone threw it down anyway.  Even though they all knew (well, I think they all knew) that it didn’t count, the Wizards' bench still erupted. 

3:00 – One thing I’m trying to pay attention to this game is what I think all the talk about a Clippers-Celtics trade would entail.  Jamal Crawford just drained a deep 3 with a hand in his face.  If the Celtics do anything, I’d target Crawford, not Eric Bledsoe. Is that maybe asking too much? Perhaps. Do the Celtics think either Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett would be worth that much? Absolutely.

2nd Quarter – The Wizards ride good shooting and a few “dimes” from Wall to a 24-16 lead after 1 quarter of play.  In between quarters they have a video of Jordan Crawford and Bradley Beal naming as many types of candy as possible in 20 seconds, and a fan tries to guess which person can name more.  Beal won (as did the fan), 8 to 7.  Crawford ultimately lost because he got stuck and all he could come up with was “Cheetos?” or perhaps more appropriately, "CHEETOS!"

10:25 – A Wizards turnover leads to an uncontested Bledsoe dunk on the sweeper kid who didn’t anticipate a turnover (rookie mistake) and couldn’t really get out of the way fast enough to avoid the ball after Bledsoe threw it down.

Side note – I finally decided to look it up and found out that Blake Griffin is sitting out this game.  So no Chris Paul (knee), Bradley Beal (wrist), or Griffin (hamstring).  Good thing I’m sitting up so high that I cant tell who is playing anyway.

9:35 – During a timeout I have flashbacks to watching the Lancer Dancers in high school.  Except this is a paid dance team. And they are wearing less clothing. Although not significantly less…

4:05 – Nene (I think Wall loves having Nene and Emeka Okafor, two somewhat reliable guys around the rim and guys who are decent interior passers, to pick and roll with) puts in the most forceful layup I have ever seen on Lamar Odom. And then glares at him with that “yeah I just layed one up on you” face.

3:08 – Jamal Crawford scores 6 points in a row on three straight possessions to cut the lead to 5.  I’m not a huge fan of his game, but he can absolutely score.

1:49 – Okafor airballs his second free throw.  This would not turn out to be the best free throw moment of the game, but it was hilarious.

0:01 – Wall takes the ball hard to the rack and scores. The crowd is as loud as it has been all night, acknowledging that a healthy Wall adds 20 wins to their team’s expected total.  He finishes the half with 7 points and 7 assists.

Halftime – Acrobat Li Liu captivated me for her entire 8 minute set.  I could balance on one arm and twirl rings on my legs and other arm if I wanted to.  Wizards up 51-46.

9:44 – It has taken me this long to catch on to the fact that every time the Wizards force a turnover a recorded “Yezzir!” plays over the loud speakers.

7:26 – The Clippers score 9 straight to cut the lead all the way down to 3.  Classic NBA. I’m sorry, I meant classic Wizards. Actually, I meant both.

6:47 – They make it 11 straight. Bledsoe has their last 5.

5:48 – After giving up a bucket, Bledsoe throws an oop to DeAndre Jordan for a ferocious dunk.

5:15 – Bledsoe puts in 2 more to give the Clippers the lead.  To recap, that’s 7 points and an assist over their last 5 possessions.

Look, I think Bledsoe is good. And I also think he thinks he’s worth more than he probably is.  There are places that could use him (Dallas, Detroit, Memphis), and I suppose Boston thinks they’re in that category without Rondo. But for much of this game he dribbled too much, got stuck too often, and wasn’t in control of the game the way you’d like your point guard to be.  Granted, he’s trying to fill the shoes of the greatest floor general in the league, and in moving to Boston he’d be trying to replace a top-3 point guard as well.  But with a healthy Griffin the big-man rotation gets clogged if Garnett is added, and while Pierce's experience and scoring would be most welcome, it’s not like the Clippers are lacking in depth.  Bledsoe-Butler for one of them? Or Bledsoe-Jordan? Is that really enough to tempt the Celtics (winners of 4 straight) into giving up one of those two guys?  If you’re Bledsoe, do you really want that anyway?

3:15 – Sorry for the rant.  The refs just made a terrible call (Trevor Ariza got blocked going for a dunk).  Then without anyone knowing why, the Clippers inbounded the ball and just headed back the other way.  I’m not even sure the refs changed the call. I think they just went with it.

0:20 – The Wizards just ran one of the worst 2-or-even-3-on-1 fast breaks I have ever seen that resulted in Lamar Odom fouling, even though he had basically defended everyone at once.

End of 3rd Quarter – The “G-man and his secret service” do a trampoline dunk show. That’d be a fantastic way to make a bit of extra money.

8:40 – Wall, still playing a reserved number of minutes, gets out on a fast break off a jump ball and takes two guys to the bucket.  Again, the crowd cheers in anticipation for the future. We decide we should probably be rooting against the Wizards so we can continue paying $5 for tickets.

5:25 – TV timeout means it’s time for the “dance cam”.  Hilarity ensues, and the guy who wins was some overweight white dude who started to take his shirt off when he won. Needless to say they cut away from that immediately.  Coming out of the timeout the Wizards put together a nice little 6 point spurt, started by Nene banking home a free throw (still not the funniest free throw moment of the evening).

3:26 – Wall commits his 3rd foul. This half he has 2 points, 2 fouls, and 0 assists. Also notable: since my rant Bledsoe has been very quiet.

2:39 – Wall scores two more to stretch the lead to 8 on a step back jumper.

2:26 – A steal and outlet leads to a wide open Wall who throws it down.  It’s almost like he heard me writing.

1:38 – The Wizards do this hilarious thing were if an opponent misses two free throws in a row in the fourth quarter, everyone in the building gets a free Chik-Fil-A sandwich.  Odom steps up for his first free throw – the crowd is kind of loud and engaged. He misses! The crowd applauds, then realized what that means.  Suddenly the building is electric.  By far the loudest it has been all night.  Odom’s second free throw bounces around….and falls in. The collective sigh (by everyone, at this point Clippers fans just wanted free food too) was the loudest single moment during the game.

0:49 – Nene sinks two free throws to push the lead back out to 8. Though I certainly do not trust the Wizards with this lead, the D6 bus headed back towards our place was coming soon, so we head for the exit.  Fortunately I have one of those intelligent phones, so I was able to track the rest of the game.

It is great to know that, at least for the rest of this season, I can buy a $5 ticket 2 ½ hours in advance and go see any team that is in town.  It was certainly disappointing not to see Beal, Griffin, or Paul.   And unfortunately, as the playoffs draw closer, more teams will likely be resting top players against the Wizards. But who cares. $5 to a professional sporting event is awesome.  I’d definitely pay $5 to go see anything that involved Alex Morgan.

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