Washington’s “Big Three” is gone — Caron Butler to Dallas, Antawn Jamison to Cleveland, and Gilbert Arenas to Orlando. Rookie John Wall is the future, yet he missed 12 of Washington’s first 31 games due to injuries. Can Wall and Wizards find a way to stay healthy in 2011, as they kick off the New Year by hosting Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets?
The 8-23 Wizards will have a tough battle with the 19-14 Hornets. New Orleans has won 21 of their last 32 meetings in franchise history. Chris Paul is looking great, while Wall is still looking for his groove — despite that tremendous 17-point third quarter in Indiana. The Hornets no longer have the tough James Posey, who, as a member of the Pacers, challenged the Wizards over their last two games. However, New Orleans does have Trevor Booker, another tough guy — perhaps not known as being nearly as thugish as Posey, yet a defensive-minded Champion nonetheless.
The Hornets began 2010-11 with an 8-0 win streak, then finished 2010 by going 11-14. They’re fresh off a 83-81 victory over the Boston Celtics, and looking as if they could continue their new win streak, with games against the Philadelphia 76ers and the Golden State Warriors following their meeting with Washington. The Wizards may not be able to field veterans Kirk Hinrich and Josh Howard, both questionable for tonight’s game due to injuries. Hinrich suffered a knee to his thigh, which gave him a thigh contusion, while Howard tweaked the same knee which had kept him out following that ACL tear he suffered in February. However, their “questionable” status is promising, especially with Yi Jianlian back in action.
With both Yi and Rashard Lewis healthy, the Wizards, for the first time this season, have depth up front. Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee not working? Try out Yi, Lewis, Hilton Armstrong or even the rookie duo of Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker. Sure, we’re not talking about a promising youth like Blake Griffin, or a proven veteran like Dwight Howard, yet one of the biggest issues for Washington in 2010 was a lack of frontcourt experience. Consider that problem somewhat checked off — as long as Wall can stay on the court to feed them.
Tonight’s game is back to the regular 7:00 p.m. ET format, on CSN. I hope you all had a wonderful New Year’s Eve, and I wish you all a Happy New Year! Check me out on Twitter tonight as I comment on the game live from the Verizon Center.
Update (6:37 p.m. ET):
Hinrich, Howard out tonight for Wizards.
WAS – Kirk Hinrich (Out; Thigh); Josh Howard (Out; Knee).
NOH – Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Out; Elbow).
Telecast: CSN @ 7:00 p.m. ET
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
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