The first question out of Flip Saunders mouth when he entered the pressroom following the Wizards loss to the Heat was "which storyline do you guys want to talk about?" Normally, a loss leaves Saunders with one or two talking points and the entire locker room morose in defeat. However, last night's game was filled with so many positives, that it only makes sense to break it down into several storylines in honor of Flip and the effort that the Wizards demonstrated.
Say what you will about John Wall's ejection after taking a swing at Big Z, but you can't say that he backs down to anyone. While Wall getting the boot was possibly the worst possible outcome for the team, but its a situation that he can learn from and figure out how to manage the next time an opposing player attempts to get in his head. To give the the bare minimum of credit, it was a crafty veteran move on the part of Z, who has nettled opposing players throughout his career. I don't want John Wall to start flopping like he has been shot, but neither do I want him to get the reputation of of being someone who is easily riled. To his credit, Wall said all the right things after the game:
Just got hit by an elbow and I reacted to it. I'm disappointed in the way I reacted to it. I let my teammates down, I let the organization down, but I'm glad to see that my teammates fought hard tonight and tried to come away with a win...
On teammates rushing to his defense:
That's good that we are trying to protect each other. But if we are going to do stuff like that we have to better and try to just get a technical, and not get ejected from the game. It was tough. My teammates had to deal without me at the PG position.
Did he have to come back at Z:
I think so. I wish I had a reacted another way without getting ejected. I let my teammates down and that was the toughest part.
Obviously, the big news is that Wall's teammates came together to rush to his defense which is a 180 from the 76ers game in which JaVale McGee was laid out by Elton Brand and no one came to help him up. Notably, McGee was the first one to rush to Wall's defense, with Othyus Jeffers being the one to pull Wall away. Flip Saunders even got in on the fun, separating McGee and Juwan Howard, and had a bit of a salty exchange with the former Bullet. When asked about the exchange, Flip laughed and said they were exchanging dinner plans.
The Ballad of Othyus Jeffers
During our time on BF, there have been many lunch pail heroes who have come and gone and briefly won the hearts of the community. Dominic McGuire, Alonzo Gee and James Singleton are some of the more recent examples, and while I have liked all of these players, none has perhaps captivated me as much as Othyus Jeffers. Some people just know how to go and get the basketball and Jeffers is one of those players. It would be a shame that if the Wizards didn't at least explore giving Jeffers the minimum next year, because he is that glue guy that I think the Wizards have searching for all year. Plus, Jeffers is a really funny dude. When asked about how at 6'3 he grabbed rebounds over Chris Bosh, Jeffers answered with a laugh:
Its basketball. I mean its nothing hard. I've doing it my entire life, I've always played against taller people. Get into the right position, beat him to the spot, jump and grab.
On the new team spirit:
Its the end of the season. But if we came together in the middle of the season, it would be a different outcome than it is now. From what I experience from watching them on TV until now, there is more togetherness. Yeah, we still lose, but we are losing as a team. Instead of getting blown out.
(Note: My Dad attended his first Wizards game of the season last night and while he watches the team, he isn't the same obsessive that I am. He gushed over Jeffers and how one "noticed him on the court." So Othyus, you go out there and continue to win hearts and minds.)
Jordan Crawford has Onions
Really what more is there to say? Goodness.
JaVale McGee vs. Andray Blatche
In the smallest of small sample sizes, McGee's total numbers went down as soon as Blatche returned to the lineup. This will bear watching over the final few games of the season. It should be noted that in pregame Flip noted that the coaches had been working with McGee in staying closer to the basket over the past few weeks, an endeavor in which he succeeded. However, with Blatche returning to the lineup, McGee appeared to spend more time drifting out to the perimeter. I thought both players performed well, but my initial conclusion that the two players are not compatible might not be off the mark.
McGee, however, did have a choice line about Juwan Howard when asked about the fracas:
I don't know, I guess he thinks he is a tough guy.
That's right JaVale, disregard those paper tigers. You'll get them next year