Andray Blatche’s new haircut (photo Patrick Pho)
Earlier this week we said that Andray Blatche was growing malcontent. He’s slumping, the center of trade rumors, and hasn’t been winning fans over.
He didn’t act like that during warm-ups last night.
Sporting his crazy new ‘do he warmed up today all smiles. He laughed with players and in a moment of playfulness gave his basketball to a girl on the sidelines and asked her to inbound it back to him. The energy appeared to be infectious amongst the team as the Wizards trounced all over the New Jersey Nets 97-77.
Where did this newfound energy come from? Would you believe a viral video?
Before the game Coach Flip Saunders showed the team the Battle at Kruger, a video that first made waves two years ago and currently has over 58 million views. The video depics an attack on a heard of buffalo in South Africa. A lone buffalo strays from the pact and is attacked by a pride of lions. The rest of the herd comes to the rescue, showing the power of a unified team.
“Since we came back from Philly we tried to do some things, we showed a kind of a different edit tape tonight to the guys to get them a little bit focused and a little bit energized,” Coach Saunders said after the game. It certainly had an effect, the Wizards outscored the Nets 30-13 in the opening quarter of the game.
Rashard Lewis set the tempo early draining 3 three-pointers in the first quarter. He would go on to lead the team with 16 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists. Now this is the player Washington hoped to have after acquiring him in the Gilbert Arenas trade: a veteran long range shooter.
“My shot felt good coming to the game,” Lewis said, “the past couple of days I was working on it.”
JaVale McGee also felt the need to celebrate his All-Star dunk contest selection with a few dunks to show why he was worthy of the bid. He had a certain swagger about him, saluting the the small crowd after his first dunk of the night. He had plenty to be happy about with 15 points in the game.
On the other side of the ball, I didn’t think I could of seen a team put up a worse performance than some of the Wizards defeats I’ve seen this season.
It looks like I was wrong.
The Nets struggled with shooting, putting up brick after brick in the first quarter and went 5-22 in the field. It’s hard to determine if it was the Wizards constant press on defense or the Nets inability to sink any long-range shots (and refusal to charge the basket) that was to blame.
What definitely didn’t help the Nets was the terrible play from Sasha Vujacic, who somehow played more minutes off the bench than starter Devin Harris and ended the night shooting 1-14, taking the most shots for the Nets. “The Machine” was easily handled by Nick Young even though it didn’t take much to stop him. “There are some LA guys, back when they were with the Lakers, who would talk all this trash,” remarked Young, “I had to get him back- my first win against [Vujacic] since I’ve been in the NBA.”
After a road loss in Philly this week, the Wizards needed a shot of adrenaline to end their three-game skid. It looks like they got it from an unlikely source.
- Yi got some garbage time in his home return after battling a knee injury. He told me after the game he was finally feeling good and hopes to work on getting his strength back. He was seen wearing a brace while on the court.
- A photo of Kurt Hinrich’s new eyewear that he’ll now wear after a doctor’s recommendation at a recent eye exam.
- Because I can’t stop hating on Vujacic enough, George Panagakos, the Wizards Examiner, made an interesting note: Yi has out-scored Sasha Vujacic in a third the time.
In The Scrum
JaVale McGee talks about his performance, the Slam Dunk competition, and what he thought about the video: