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Wizards 92, Sixers 85

Sierradave was there, and he'll probably give a better recap than me, but here's what I took away from this nonetheless.

It's a win, and it wasn't pretty.  I'm not convinced that the Wizards would win many games like this, especially when they play higher-quality teams.  But still, it's a win, and it was good to get after the turmoil of the previous week.

Defensively, this was one of the best Wizards' efforts this season.  The Sixers shot only 38 percent, and Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala shot a combined 8 of 30.  The Wiz also forced 18 turnovers and made guys like Rodney Carney beat them.  Without Jamison, these are the types of wins the Wizards need to get.  Jamison's the only guy who truly is not going to become a better defender.  Everyone else has the ability.  They just need to tap into it.

The two guys that stuck out at me were Darius Songaila and Antonio Daniels.  Songaila was awesome tonight.  He was able to stretch out their opposing 4s, and when he got the ball, he was either hitting shots or drawing fouls.  I don't see him shooting 7 free throws again, but he did exactly what Ernie Grunfeld paid him to do in the offseason.  Daniels' line didn't look impressive, but he did a lot of the little things.  The Wizards were +11 with AD in the lineup tonight.  

Andray Blatche also played a pretty good game, although he was -7.  Anytime he can get you 10+ rebounds, that's going to help a lot.  You're going to get boneheaded plays from Andray sometimes, but 10+ boards more than makes up for it.  Calvin Booth also played really well when he was in there.  Eddie didn't put Jarvis Hayes at power forward, and the guys made sure it paid off.

I really didn't like how Arenas or Butler played.  I thought Arenas was going to come out strong, but he really was just the same Gilbert of the last month.  Anytime Arenas shoots more three-pointers (9) than free throws (8), there's a problem.  Arenas, and by and large, the Wizards offense, are not nearly as effective when they aren't shooting free throws.  Butler's struggling with the exact same problem.  Both are volume shooters to a certain degree, but that's only dangerous when they're also going to the rim.  This has to change for the Wizards to pick it up in the second half of the season.

The Wizards nearly blew this game because of Eddie Jordan's love affair with Michael Ruffin.  Readers of this blog probably don't know that Michael Ruffin is my least-favorite Wizard.  I'm sure Ruffin is a nice guy, and there's nothing wrong with having him on the team.  I just don't understand why he plays at all.  He's not much of a rebounder, he definitely can't score, he's slow, he can't defend, and he's not an enforcer.  He's just a body that can pick up 6 fouls, and while he had to play by necessity last year, the signing of Songaila and the improvement of Blatche should have tethered him right at the end of the bench.  Instead, Ruffin is playing crunch-time minutes, and Songaila, who was carving up the smaller Sixer defenders, is on the bench.  Huh?  How does that make sense?  I'd rather see Jarvis in at power forward that Ruffin.