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Washington Wizards Defeat Philadelphia 76ers 116-114 In OT Thriller

FuThis is what one might call an optical illusion game. The enduring images from tonight will be of Nick Young's game winner, John Wall calmly hitting three free throws to send the game into overtime and JaVale McGee contesting everything in sight and grabbing offensive rebounds like his life depended on it. Rightfully, those are the images that should last with Wizards fans. But before we start running into the streets and proclaiming ourselves world beaters, we need to remember that we were down 58-32 at the half to a team that is currently 3-11 in the standings. So lets celebrate, but remember that we have a long way to go before we start talking about the playoffs.

Indeed, if it weren't for one of the dumbest Flagrant-2s I have seen in a long time, the 76ers might have cruised along to an easy victory. The Sixers had survived a point barrage from Nick Young to bring the game within one at 74-73 only to respond with a 9-0 run and eventually extend their lead to 13 with 5:55 left to play. However, with 3:32 remaining in the 4th quarter and up 98-91, Elton Brand shoved JaVale McGee down following a dunk. Not only was it an incredibly stupid foul by a veteran player, but it also got Brand ejected for his troubles. As Brand had torched the Wizards bigs all night, his absence from the remainder of the tilt swung the all important "momentum" towards the Wizards.

But enough nay-saying, let us hear from Coach Flip Saunders about who brought the goods tonight for the Wizards after the jump.

There were many heroes for the Wizards tonight, and Flip Saunders was happy to single out those who did exceptionally well:

On John Wall:

John Wall gave us a great lift and made plays. I think the one thing he does bring is that character of never quitting. He made a vet move. He heard the whistle, threw it up, got three shots, and showed big ones to go up there and hit all three in that type of situation.

On JaVale McGee:

We had great individual performances. Ever since JaVale was put on the All-Star ballot, he’s playing like an All-Star. He’s played great in playing his role and I think that’s his big thing. If he can stay and play within his role and not try to play outside of his role, he becomes so much more effective.

On JaVale and scoring:

He is one of those guys, he should be able to get 14, 16, 17 points without having to run plays for him. Because right now his lower base...we've tried to run a play for him as he got going, he got it and he shot an airball from five feet. He is better at getting the ball off the move and playing off people than he is...he just isn't ready to be the central focus of the play yet. That's his next thing.

On Doug Collins -

I'm sure you've got to keep all sharp objects away from Doug. Because they've come here twice and been there right at the end.

Anytime that you need to hide sharp objects from Doug Collins is a good day for me.

One thing that should be mentioned prior to wrapping this up is the play of Andray Blatche. Blatche was absolutely porous tonight, failing repeatedly to close out the lane or provide proper help defense. He became such a liability as the game wore on that Flip had to go to Trevor Booker in situations where Booker would normally be riding the bench. Making matters worse, Blatche had one of his jumper happy spells tonight, routinely shooting fading 17 footers rather than take the ball to the basket against the slower Sixer front line. I'm growing more concerned that the McGee and Blatche combo may not be tenable over the long term, which calls Blatche's summer extension into question. It would be a shame for the franchise to find themselves in a similar situation as the Timberwolves did with Kevin Love and Al Jefferson, but the team cannot afford to allow McGee to keep playing his frenetic style if Blatche is going to continue playing his matador defense. This is an issue I plan to do some research on and I will get back to you guys with some findings in a bit.

Wizards Notes:

  • Al Thornton sprained his ankle. His status after the game was unknown.
  • John Wall did tighten up in overtime. With all his players exhausted after the last two game, Saunders was unsure as to who his starters would be against Atlanta.
  • CJ will be updating this thread with Arenas and McGee interview content. I will be back tomorrow with an update on Nick Young's performance and interview clips.

Fun night. Great win. I will see you guys tomorrow.