It wasn't pretty and it took some luck, but the Washington Wizards finally snapped their four-game losing streak, defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 98-90 at home. Los Angeles, already expected to be without Chris Paul, was also missing power forward Blake Griffin, and never seemed to find a rhythm. After keeping things close throughout much of the game, Washington pulled ahead for good late in the fourth quarter due to the disruptive defense of Trevor Ariza and Wall's relentless transition game. Martell Webster finished with 21 points, leading a balanced offensive effort that saw five players score in double figures.
The game was close for much of the night, but Washington finally regained control late in the fourth quarter after using a small lineup that featured Ariza at power forward, Webster at small forward, Garrett Temple and Wall in the backcourt and Nene in the middle. Los Angeles had no answer for the lineup's mix of speed and length and had a number of late game turnovers directly because of it. With any luck we'll see more of this lineup in the future.
- Blake Griffin was a late scratch, so Lamar Odom started for the Clippers. Washington jumped out to an early lead on the strength of some good ball movement and three Garrett Temple(!) jumpers. Washington's defense isn't as crisp as you'd like it to be, but it's still good enough to hold a suddenly very short-handed Clipper team to seven points as Washington jumped out to an early eight point lead. LA looks disjointed, which makes sense considering their two best players are out and Bledsoe still isn't particularly polished.
- Washington seemed to get cocky on offense and began to settle for long jumpers. Okafor and Price both took long twos early in the shot clock. Washington continued to lead, though, largely due to the poor Clipper offense. I know a lot of people are high on Bledsoe, but I'm not seeing it tonight, at least when he's forced to be his team's primary ball handler and playmaker. He's definitely quick and can handle the ball, though.
- Kevin is, well, Kevin tonight. He's rushing shots and looks very mechanical with the ball in his hands. It's crazy how much he's regressed since last March.
- Washington 24, Los Angeles 16 after the first quarter. Okafor and Temple have looked good for Washington, while Bledsoe or Crawford would probably be LA's MVP for the night if the game ended now.
- The second quarter began with more of the same, with Washington taking some questionable shots while LA struggled to find open shots within the flow of their offense. Barnes and Crawford as the beneficiaries of Bledsoe's drive and kick game seems to be LA's best option right now.
- The game was ugly through much of the second quarter. Washington tried to get out in transition and struggled in the halfcourt, while LA basically just let Crawford go one on one and toss in jumpers from the top of the key on every possession. It's probably a testament to just how shot-hungry LA's guards are that Jordan and Odom have been almost completely taken out of the game.
- Washington really beat LA up around the basket to close the first half. Nene and Okafor both did an excellent job of boxing out, tapping rebounds out and finishing in the paint despite a lot of contact from the likes of Jordan and Barnes. Wall's floater in the lane over Bledsoe as the half came to a close made it 51-46 Washington. Crawford was by far LA's best player, while Nene probably had the largest impact in the second quarter of any of the Wizards.
- Los Angeles came out sloppy in the second half and had a couple of bad turnovers. Washington did a good job of moving the ball and staying active in the paint (especially Okafor) and quickly jumped out to a 7-0 run to start the half before LA called timeout. LA counters with a run of their own to make it 58-57, largely a result of bad defense by Washington and a few vintage Caron Butler plays.
- Ariza did a good job of trying to stay with Crawford and use his length to throw him off his game in the third quarter. The team as a whole seemed to really step it up once LA took a brief lead. Webster, Ariza and Seraphin were particularly fiery and their grit lead Washington to a 72-66 lead after three quarter.
- Lots of back and forth to start the fourth quarter. Wall and Crawford seemed to get into it at one point, even though it probably wasn't obvious on television. Butler seemed to have some involvement in almost every good thing that happened to LA.
Editor's Note: The story originally said the Wizards had lost five in a row prior to this win. They actually lost four in a row.