Washington, which had a fourth-quarter lead at Houston on Tuesday before losing 98-94, was in control of this one almost all the way. The Wizards led by 4 at the half, 70-59 at the end of the third quarter and answered every Hornets run. "We play hard and we play well, we just don’t have anything to show for it," Washington coach Flip Saunders said. "The last couple of games we have been moving the ball well, making good plays and giving ourselves opportunities to win games."
To the Wizards players that stayed competitive through the disappointment of a 16 game losing streak, the 96-91 victory over the New Orleans Hornets was a reward overdue. At the very least the Wizards only win in March brought incredible relief. "It feels like a championship," said Wizards guard Shaun Livingston. "I told Mike (Miller) after the game it feels like we won a ring or something. It is good to get a win and hopefully we have learned that we can play and compete. We just have to settle down and get the best shots we can.
Miller often jokes about being old after turning 30 on Feb. 19. But after erupting for a new season high to help the Wizards avoid becoming only the second team in NBA history to lose 17 games in the same month, Miller could only shake his head. He hadn't scored at least 20 points in a game since he dropped 25 points on the New York Knicks on Jan. 30. Miller has had just three 20-point games this season. It's a little startling that it took Miller so long to have a game like he did in New Orleans. Miller seemed like a likely candidate to fill some of the scoring void after the Wizards shed the roster of nearly every offensive option at the trade deadline, and then lost Josh Howard for the season. After all, this is the same Miller who averaged 18.4 points just three years ago in Memphis and has had 11 games with at least 30 points or more in his last two seasons with the Grizzlies from 2007-09.
There's no question the Wizards play with more energy and vigor than the Hornets did, and it showed on the scoreboard and on the stat sheet. The Wizards shot better than 50 percent in every quarter, including shooting 55.9 percent overall from the floor. Saunders said the Wizards' week-old new offense has helped improve the team since then in sharing the ball and creating opportunities.
The Bees were outplayed the entire way. Just over a minute into the game, Morris Peterson scored his third point (of four total in 20 minutes). For the rest of the way they trailed a Wizards team missing four starters. Let me rephrase that. In the closing 46 minutes of play against a team which previously lost 16 straight games and was missing four starters, the Hornets never led. Did I mention this was a home game?
Mike Miller made us look silly (primarily Morris Peterson... which may not be all that hard in the NBA anymore). JaVale McGee capitalized on our pitiful defensive awareness (read: Aaron Gray), taking the backdoor for something like 4 or 5 uncontested dunks. Even Andray Blatche got in on the fun by adding 23 points of his own. So what did the Hornets do? Well, we never held the lead once. David contributed 5 turnovers in 34 minutes. We were ice-cold from deep (3 for 11). James Posey made several stupid fouls and then had the audacity to draw a foul with 15 seconds remaining when we're down 2... which would have been fine, except he didn't bother to try and shoot for an and-1 opportunity and ended up missing a free throw. Oh, and Bower inexplicably let CP play for 44 minutes.