Washington hasn't seen someone as small as Earl Boykins have an impact this big since James Madison was in office.
Boykins spent last season in Italy -- where his performance in a matchup with Jennings left an indelible mark on President Ernie Grunfeld -- and the Wizards signed him on Nov. 11 only after Javaris Crittenton, Mike James and Randy Foye came down with injuries, leaving the team with one point guard in Arenas. But Boykins has quickly provided some fourth quarter stability for the Wizards, leading the team to victories against Cleveland, Miami, Toronto and now Milwaukee, one of his eight former teams. He was especially clutch on the foul line, where he made his final four shots after missing three of his first six. "I was awful from the foul line, but it's different when the game is on the line. It's actually easier to play when the game is on the line," Boykins said. "Tonight, I was able to get it done for us."
It’s been Earl Boykins not Gilbert Arenas who has led the Wizards down the stretch, to a couple of close wins. Boykins scored 11 of his 13 points in the final 10 minutes, causing the fans in the Verizon Center to chant "MVP! MVP! MVP! At this point in the season he’s been the Wizards fourth quarter MVP if nothing else. Not that Arenas isn’t doing his part --finished with a game high 22 points and 9 assist-- but with the game on the line Flip Saunders put the ball in the hands of his 5’5’’ spark plug. "If you look at the games that we have won, (Earl) he has finished games for us. He has the ability to make plays and make free throws. The first game was a great example, we lost but he finished strong and he is a unique player with the ability that he has to do. "
Earl Boykins, who wasn’t even on an NBA roster at the beginning of the season, scored 10 of the Wizards' last 14 points, including two free throws with one second remaining, to give Washington a 104-102 win over Milwaukee. It wasn’t just that Boykins (13 points – 11 in the 4th quarter – and four assists) played the role of closer – again – instead of any number of players that the Wizards are built around, but the way he did it. With the Bucks leading, 99-96, Boykins played the pick and roll, and smoothly stepped back for 14-foot fadeaway jumper of 7-foot Andrew Bogut. On the next trip down the floor, Bogut wasn’t going to let Boykins do the same thing, and stepped out even further, only to see Boykins feed Brendan Haywood (8 points, 14 rebounds) for an uncontested throw-down.
In the game’s final 1:39 Boykins made four free throws, hit a 14 foot fade a way jumper and put the Wizards ahead for a good with an assist on a Brendan Haywood dunk to make it 100-99 with: 59 seconds left. Boykins used his 5'5" size as an advantage as he weaved around the top of the key and then in need of assistance called for a screen to be set by Haywood. With the screen set, Boykins drew all the attention at the right elbow and then shoveled a pass to a cutting Haywood for the dunk. "[Andrew] Bogut hadn’t stepped up on a shot for a guard all night long so we chose to attack him down the stretch and see what he was going to do and he finally stepped up. Earl dropped a pass and I was able to get an easy dunk," Haywood said.
Funny how Boykins was working out in Denver last month when the Wizards called him out of desperation because of their depleted backcourt. Three weeks later, he's on the floor with three all-stars in Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, and he's making plays in the end. Boykins has now closed out wins against Cleveland, Miami, Toronto and Milwaukee. He has done this in previous stops, so this isn't a surprise for Arenas or Jamison, who watched him do the same thing with the Golden State Warriors. "To you guys it's a surprise, but that's what Earl does. He was a great scorer at Eastern Michigan, he's been in the league 11 years because of it. He makes plays," said Arenas, who scored four points in the final period. "I was with him at Golden States and the same results. We played in the fourth quarter together and that's how we did it. Coach yelled at us four games ago...and said 'Why don't you run the [darn] floor?' and I was like 'Well, see me and Earl have this thing from the last couple years. He attacks and if nothing's there, he kicks it back to me. And then I drive and attack.' So, that's just how we play."
Seriously. I mean, I know it may drop off at any moment, but for now, Earl Boykins is hot at the right time for the Wizards. Gilbert Arenas still is working his way back, and although he's getting better as is evidence of the last two days. But without Earl Boykins and his late-game charges of energy, the Wizards very well could be looking at 3-14 instead of 7-10. This little dude has now had four games in which his fourth-quarter heroics have led the Wizards to victory.
In a league populated with giants, it's easy to forget about Earl Boykins. Standing at five-foot-five and tipping the scales at 133 pounds, he is, quite literally, a David amongst the Goliaths of the National Basketball Association. But when Boykins picks up his figuartive slingshot, he suddenly becomes a lot harder to miss. The Lilliputian one scored 11 points in the last ten minutes, including hitting two free throws with one second left to lead the Wizards to yet another win last night -- their fourth in their last five games.
Gilbert Arenas had his second good game in a row. The point gaurd added a team high 22 points and nine assists on the night. While it seems he has finally found his confidence to attack the basket, he is still struggling to find his shooting stroke. Arenas was 1-6 from three tonight, and only 10-24 overall. On the season he is shooting a career low 39 per cent from the field.
I'm impressed with Young. He turned the ball over five times last night, which is too much, but he shot well from the field and seems to play well with the other starters. I wasn't sure if he'd be able to bounce back from not playing much to start the season, but he worked hard and is certainly contributing right now. I'm not sure if Randy Foye is completely healthy or not, but Young's recent play and the presence of Earl Boykins have really cut into Foye's minutes. Last night, Foye played only five minutes and didn't score a point.
In the second quarter, Gilbert Arenas came down on three consecutive possessions, drove the ball, was seemingly fouled, but nothing was called. After each call, he went and pleaded his case to the referees. This happened just one night after he earned a technical foul against Toronto for doing the same thing. In the third quarter, Arenas again complained about the officiating, and this time that complaining led to him being relaxed on defense and Brandon Jennings went by him and scored. Flip Saunders promptly called a timeout and yelled something to Arenas as he ran off the floor. After the game, Arenas explained his behavior, "I used to average 11 or 12 free throws a game, and now I can’t even get a call. I feel like they’re profiling me as a player," Arenas said while he stood in front of his locker. "They say I’m creating all the contact, and I’m saying that’s what a scorer is supposed to do, there’re supposed to create the contact when they get in the lane. If they [the defensive players] are outside the lane its a charge…now if they’re inside the lane and I run into them, its a no-call. I’m asking [the refs] where do I win that? Last night I got frustrated I got a technical."
From where I sit, Arenas needs to stop worrying about the refs (at least not more than the standard in-game politicking). Warranted or not, he can’t use a lack of calls as a lingering reason in the back of his head to why some things might not be working. Keep attacking the basket, but do it with scoring in mind, not trying to draw a foul while throwing up whatever attempt that can be mustered. Arenas is still trying to get a feel for his own game, his new coach, and his teammates … much less a feel for how he will be addressed by referees on aggressive moves to the hoop. Allowing frustration to mount won’t help his play or standing with the whistle-blowers. But just like anything else, and to quote a favorite term of Ernie Grunfeld and Flip Saunders, Arenas achieving an offensive comfort zone is a "process." Only time will tell if this process will result in success for Agent Zero his team.
The Wizards shot 54.3 % from the field despite none of the big three really feeling it tonight: Arenas (10-24), Jamison (5-8), Butler (4-10). Post-game, Skiles had nothing good to say about the defensive performance, and I must say that I can't recall many big stops on that side of the ball.
Bogut STRUGGLED. I was worried Brendan Haywood’s length and strength would give Bogut problems and they certainly did. He was getting very few clean looks and his touch didn’t seem to be there even when he did get some looks. On the plus side he was able to dish out five assists, a sign that he recognized it was not a favorable match-up for him.
It was Saunders' 1,000th career game as a head coach. He has a 594-406 record. ... Before the game, Saunders said he's adjusting to the number of fans arriving after tipoff at Washington games. "It's something we've got to try to change," he said. "As the team becomes better ... they'll want to come out and hopefully get out here sooner."
Best of Twitterville
Twitter / Mike Jones
Wizards fans only get out of their seats for food. People screaming themselves red in the face over some free donuts.
Twitter / Michael Lee
Poor Andrew Bogut. Gilbert Arenas knocked him to the ground, he stood up, then Caron Butler dunked on him. Stay on the ground!
Twitter / wizznutzz
oh, our bad!!! you not mean massive slobbering. sorry so much!!!! RT @BulletsForever: Earl Boykins does a lot of dribbling.
Twitter / Tas Melas
The ball in Earl Boykins to win the game. Love the call Flip. Brandon fouls him. He didn't think he'd be guarding smaller players in the NBA
Twitter / Truth_About_It
Earl Boykins is the Closer. Flip has only called for Pick&Rolls b/t him & Haywood on last couple of possessions. Wiz up 100-99, 0:59 left
Twitter / George V. Panagakos
Boykins 11 pts in 4th Q; MVP chants; the man is rolling since he's been in a Wizards uniform