Can it get any more ironic than this!?
After missing a week’s worth of games, the injury rock was rolled away, and Caron Butler rose from of the bench to lead the Wiz over the LeBrons on Easter Sunday. We also FINALLY clinched a spot in the post season, which would have damn near ruined my summer had we lost.
Does this Butler guy really mean THAT much to our team? Evidently he does, as his play inspired the guys to finally calm down, take their time, and stop trying to be individual heroes. Sometimes guys try to step up, score more than their season average, and still lose because they’re playing someone else’s unfamiliar role. But tonight, with everyone going back what they’ve been doing all year, the guys showed heart and got comfortable. The home cooking wasn’t bad either, with lots of booing and “yo’ mamma” type heckling for our once native son Larry Hughes, who caught it every time he touched the ball.
The guys were in control from start to….well…almost finish. Once again, the 2nd Half Collapse (now sponsored by Geico) was in full effect. A twenty point lead dwindled and shrank for a good while until, you guessed it, Butler broke the drought with a bucket inside to stop the bleeding on defense. This sparked off a few fastbreaks and easy buckets for the guys to finally bury the Cavs.
LeBron was hurt? Really? He didn’t look like it tonight, with a few nasty dunks. But he wasn’t the dominant, Nike LeBron. He had only 17 points and 5 boards in a losing effort. There’s no doubt that this guys game is smooth and his skills are phenomenal, but what gets most people about LeBron when they watch him, is how high his basketball I.Q. is. The guy sees the floor well and can pretty much read what needs to happen and how to do his thing. I think he kinda tanked it in the end, because Cleveland already locked up a playoff spot, and might’ve been saving his game for the David Stern Circus of the Stars, I mean, NBA Playoffs.
Larry Hughes didn’t really get as much time as I thought he would, as the Wiz got a heaping helping of Flip Murray, who’s actually a pretty good backup guard that came over from Seattle. Damon “Sidekick” Jones was weak, like clock radio speakers tonight, with only 5 point in 17 minutes of floor time. “Sideshow Bob” (Anderson Varejao) was his usual annoying self, notching 12 points for the game.
For the good guys, aside from Butler, it was good to see Jamison get his act together on the rebounding tip, with 10 boards. Finally, a veteran that realizes that when his shot is off, there’s other things you can do to help the team, and we needed it tonight. Gilbert was Houston All-Star Gilbert again, as he straight slap-boxed Cleveland for a 35 point outburst, that fired up the crowd and the bench. Antonio Daniels originally was the guy lost in the Wiz’ rotation after the Kwame trade. He had problems understanding Eddie’s offense, and struggled with his shot, but these past few weeks showed me this guy has a bangin’ work ethic and a ton of heart. From stepping in for injured players, to sucking up his own pain, he’s played his ass off to keep D.C. afloat in the NBA ocean.
I hope whatever momentum we have from this game, the guys keep and carry over from here on out. We’ve got a revenge game coming up against the Bucks here at home, and I still have the taste of that game-winning Mo Williams three-pointer in my mouth. D.C. better get another one, so we can roll into the playoffs confident and not have to back into the postseason.
By Brian Taylor @ HoopsAddict.com
Mon 04/17/06, 4:42 am EST