Sports Fix, The Features

What’s next for the Wizards?


‘Wizards v Jazz – 01.17.11′
courtesy of ‘MudflapDC’

The 2010-11 Washington Wizards season, which ended Wednesday night with a 100-93 loss at Cleveland, will largely be remembered for the sparkling play of rookie point guard John Wall, who averaged 16.4 points and and 8.3 assists per game and would be a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year if it weren’t for the stunning emergence of Blake Griffin. Apart from that, however, most of the positives of this past season could only be seen on paper, rather than on the court.

To wit, in December, General Manager Ernie Grunfeld traded Gilbert Arenas and his horrendous contract to the Orlando Magic for the slightly less odious commitment made to Rashard Lewis. Two months later, with the NBA’s trade deadline approaching, Grunfeld swung a deal with the Atlanta Hawks that brought Mike Bibby and two promising young players to D.C. in the persons of Jordan Crawford and Mo Evans. Grunfeld then became even more fortunate when Bibby became so desperate to play for a contending team (eventually settling in Miami with the Heat) that he passed on all of the $6.2 million the Wizards would have owed him in 2011-12. Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

For first time in three years, Wizards win a 3rd straight game

Photo courtesy of
‘John Wall | Wizards’
courtesy of ‘Danilo.Lewis|Fotography’

Like a lot of things, basketball works in mysterious ways. If Austin Daye’s buzzer-beating three-point shot Tuesday night had done what many thought it was going to do and rattled through the net, Washington’s 107-105 win over the Detroit Pistons would instead have gone down as one of the three most excruciating losses of a largely excruciating season (my top two being the 95-94 home loss to Miami on December 18, the day the Gilbert Arenas trade was officially announced and the Wizards blew a four-point lead with 17 seconds remaining, and the 100-99 home loss to Orlando on November 27 that was settled with a Dwight Howard baby hook).

But Daye’s shot didn’t rattle through the net. Instead, it rattled back out, leaving the Wizards players shaken by just how close a call they’d had. “I’ve never seen [a shot like that],” said John Wall after the game. “I’ve never seen one go all the way in like that before coming out.”

“We’ve lost enough tough ones,” Flip Saunders said ruefully after the game. “We deserve a little bit of luck. That last one was definitely pretty right on.” Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Without Wall, Wizards fight hard, but lose to the Heat

Photo courtesy of
‘Wall Ascending the Sky’
courtesy of ‘Mylar Bono’

Defying the odds and most expectations, the Washington Wizards gave the star-studded Miami Heat a run for their money Wednesday night at the Verizon Center, twice cutting their deficit to one point early in the fourth quarter. But ultimately, the 94 total points scored by LeBron James (35 points), Dwyane Wade (33 points), and Chris Bosh (26 points) proved too much to overcome as the Heat (52-23) defeated the Wizards 123-107.

As heartening as the performance was by the Wizards (18-56), it’s hard not to wonder what might have happened if Washington’s star rookie point guard John Wall hadn’t gotten himself thrown out of the game with 8:48 to go in the first half and the Wizards leading 37-36.

The incident began innocuously enough, as Zydrunas Ilgauskas grabbed a loose ball at the top of the key and was defended by Wall. As Ilgauskas turned to face the basket, the Wizards rookie got right into the Lithuanian’s personal space, and Ilgauskas responded by nudging Wall twice with his right elbow. Wall took a futile swipe at the ball as Ilgauskas brought it over his head, an action which left the Miami man’s midsection exposed. As Wall turned to face up to Ilgauskas, television replays showed that the Kentucky alum pursed his lips, picked a spot, and let fly with a right cross to Ilgauskas’ ribs at the same instant that the 7-foot-3 center reached out with his left arm to shove Wall further back. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Cheat Sheet: Bye Week Edition

Puck Warning

It’s Monday morning, and there’s a water cooler to talk at, but the Redskins are off this week. “Crap!” I can hear you thinking, “with no Redskins, I know that Darryl from Accounting is going to talk about the Wizards,” or “Roger from Marketing wants to talk about the Capitals!”  Fear not, DC, we have your talking points regardless:

Hockey: It’s not just for breakfast anymore

Okay, relax. Hockey’s easy. Talk about how disappointed you are that the Caps haven’t put their offense all together yet.  If they grill you, citing a few blowouts, ask about where Ovechkin’s mojo is.  They might get defensive, yes, but you can say that you’re still happy with the top of the Southeast with last night’s overtime win.  You’ll be fine.  I promise. And get out to Verizon Center, that’s a pretty fun and fan-friendly atmosphere.

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Entertainment, Interviews, The Features

The Harlem Globetrotters take to the capital’s courts

Blakes on the ice with Capitals players
“Buckets Blakes” with the Washington Capitals
Courtesy Washington Sports & Entertainment

In early December, I sat down with Harlem Globetrotter “Buckets” Blakes over some tacos and salsa—the spicy garnish as well as the flavorful tunes playing overhead at Rosslyn’s Baja Fresh. A warm soul with a wide smile, Blakes arrived all suited up and with his basketball perched nonchalantly on his hip. When the behind-the-counter Baja employee jokingly extended his hands for a pass, Buckets playfully tossed the ball his way, afterward posing for a photo with the ecstatic fan.

Buckets Blakes (#15), now in his eighth season with the Globetrotters, clearly enjoys these press junkets he’s sent on as one of the team’s more experienced players. He kept busy during this past DC/VA tour—taking to the ice rink with the Capitals (learning “just how bad he is at hockey”), gift-wrapping at Tysons Corner, surprising Horton’s Kids youth with free eyeglasses and even, to the delight of some Wizards fans, swiping tickets at the Verizon Center (“Hey, I’ve got to make some cash somehow!” he joked). Blakes returns to the area with his teammates next week as they take over the court December 29 at Fairfax, Virginia’s Patriot Center at 7 p.m. and then at downtown’s Verizon Center December 30 at 7 p.m.

The Harlem Globetrotters are as American as apple pie. Who doesn’t hear Brother Bones’s whistled version of “Sweet Georgia Brown” and envision those red, white and blue-clad, towering magicians miraculously spinning basketballs atop long fingers and catapulting balls into the net from a court’s length away? The group, formed by London-born immigrant Abraham Saperstein, evolved in the 1920s on the South Side of Chicago where the original players grew up. The team (then called the Savoy Five) turned professional in 1927, later getting a new name when promoter Saperstein wanted to give the impression that the all-black team represented that mostly black New York borough. Famed for their unique combination of athleticism, theater and comedy, the Globetrotters have fluctuated between playing competitively and for show, resulting in one of the best-known sports entertainment franchises in the world.

Continue reading

Fun & Games, News, The Daily Feed

Wizards Win Season Opener, 102-91

Photo courtesy of
‘Caron Butler at the line’
courtesy of ‘afagen’

Don’t look now, but the Wizards won their season opener against the Dallas Mavericks last night.  For a team that won fewer than 20 games last season, it’s an impressive feat.  Gilbert Arenas announced that he was healthy by putting back 29 points with six assists.  The Wizards moved like a well oiled, respectable team and led the Mavs for almost the entire night, winning the game 102-91.  Is this a prelude of things to come?  Will the DC field a decent basketball team this year?  It looks hopeful, right now.  What are your thoughts from last night?

News, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Wizards Kick It Off Tonight

Photo courtesy of
‘Washington Wizards’
courtesy of ‘RMTip21′

The Wizards kick off their season tonight in Dallas against Mark Cuban’s Mavericks. While it seems the Wiz will wait even longer for the holy trinity of Arenas/Jamison/Butler to be united, but since we’ve been waiting since 2007, anyhow, so what’s another 3-5 weeks? This will also mark the Washington debut of coach Flip Saunders, who took over at the helm during the off-season. Saunders’ past success with Detroit and Minnesota make him a candidate to lead the turn-around for the Wizards, but much is dependent at this point on getting everyone healthy and keeping them that way.

The Wizards start of with a brutal first fifteen games. Four of their first five opponents made the playoffs this year, and they’ll be down Antawn Jamison until mid November at the earliest. It’s not exactly the sort of situation you want a team that has so much to prove to be in so early in the season. This is the kind of stretch you want to see much later in the year, once the engine’s running on all cylinders. But, if Saunders can keep the keel even, and can come out of that first fifteen with six or seven wins, then I’d say there’s a fair chance the Wizards might be back to their earlier form. Don’t hold your breath.

Tipoff’s at 8:30 tonight, and the game’s on Comcast Sports Net.

Downtown, Fun & Games, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Slam Dunk Contest

Photo courtesy of
‘Slam dunk’
courtesy of ‘cruffo’

DC basketball is like a wave rising and falling.  Teams like the  ’07 Hoyas raise our hopes, while the Wizards make a yearly attempt at breaking our spirits. On Saturday, Sprite and the NBA will give locals a chance to show what DC is really about.  The Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown, an amateur dunk competition, will be held on that day at 4pm at an outdoor court between 9th and 10th streets on Pennsylvania Ave NW.  Admission is $10 and attendees will be able to vote on their favorite dunks via text messaging. Thanks to Wendy for giving us the heads up!

Special Events, The Daily Feed

Terps Move on to Regional Play

umd

They’ve done it again! Last night the Maryland Terps dominated Utah, 71-56, in the second round of NCAA play at the Comcast Center.  Besides being a one-seed, having 10,000 screaming fans on your side can’t hurt. Oh, and not having lost a home game in 2 years ain’t bad either. 

Senior standouts Marissa Coleman (above far left) and Kristi Toliver said goodbye to their home court last night. Coleman had a double-double with 18 points, 18 rebounds and Toliver clocked in with 17 points. “Don’t forget my two rebounds,” she piped in in the post-game. Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

American Leading at Halftime

Photo courtesy of
‘For Two’
courtesy of ‘brmurray’

The hopes were not high for American, seeded at #14, and up against NCAA
Powerhouse #3 Villanova, but here they are, exceeding expectations massively. Halfway through their first round game, they’re up on ‘Nova 41-31. I’m going to repeat that, because it’s not a typo: American is beating Villanova by ten at the half. Tell your friends. Cinderella’s bucking for a night on the town.

Update: Ten minutes remain and they’re still up by 8. Hang tight, Eagles!

Update 2: Three minutes to go, and now AU is down by 5. Time to get back in the game, Eagles! Gotta make it count!

Update 3: And it’s over. AU can’t hold on to a halftime lead, and goes down in the first round.

Sports Fix

Sports Fix: Redskins Win, Caps Look Good, Wiz Look Really Bad

FedEx Field
FedEx field by Gnomedude

Redskins
Record: 7-4
Past Two Weeks: 1-1
Place: Tied for Second in the NFC East with the Hated Dallas Cowboys.

Two ugly games in a row for the Redskins. This week, unlike last, the Skins came out on top. Clinton Portis continues to be a dominant force in the Redskins offense, with 143 yards on 29 carries, including some second-half sprints that rocketed the Skins to victory. Jason Campbell had an off-day, going 20 of 33 for 206 yards and a single TD. The defense, though, couldn’t stop the 2-9 Seahawks from putting up 228 offensive yards, most of that on the ground. They did, however, force a turnover with under a minute to go as the Seahawks were driving toward the end zone, putting the kibosh on the Seahawks’ last rally.

Up next? The 10-1 Giants. They’ll be here at FedEx on Sunday, and the Redskins will need an impressive showing to take down the top of the NFC East. Currently, we’re tied with the Hated Cowboys, and next week they play the Seahawks while we’re facing the Giants. Not exactly the matchup that we’re hoping for. So, if they want to keep their place, it’s win or die against the Giants. I’m not hopeful. Continue reading