Washington prevented a familiar fourth quarter decline Monday afternoon, as the Wizards beat the visiting Utah Jazz 108-101. Nick Young had a slow start due to the coarse defense of Raja Bell, but Nick led Washington with 25 points and scored a huge three pointer with only 40.9 seconds left on the game clock. Deron Williams led the Jazz in defeat with 28 points and 11 assists.
From the opening-tip, Bell, known for his physical style of defense, immediately tried to wail on Young. However, Young, undaunted, pushed back, which resulted in an offensive foul call within the first minute of play. It would take Nick three quarters — and a more favorable match-up against an undersized opponent in Ronnie Price — to really get going. But once Nick gets going, there isn’t much an opponent can do.
“This is his maturation process,” Wizards Head Coach Flip Saunders said postgame. “Now teams are coming out and saying, ‘We are going to stop Nick Young.’” Young scored 9 points in the third quarter, three times what he achieved over the first half. And in the fourth, Nick added 13 to his total, none of those points bigger than his final three ball of the evening. “It’s been a two-year process with him,” Saunders continued, “He had some struggles (over the summer) but he made a conscious effort to hit the weights and get stronger.” Young showed off some of his new found strength this afternoon when he went up against Price, backing Price up from the post in an attempt to use his size advantage, and calling for the ball to make a point. But it was perhaps Nick’s defensive attitude which reflected what the team was able to accomplish as a whole, as he went up tough against Bell and inspired one heck of a run-down block by Andray Blatche, who finished the evening with a season-best 4 blocks.
“It means a lot,” Nick said postgame, with regards to how the win felt. “We have been working hard, playing hard. We are starting to get it a little bit. We are starting to feel the chemistry. Hopefully it will continue to grow.” The Wizards will look to extend their first two-game winning streak of the season with a win on the road Wednesday, something Washington has yet to achieve. Can Young do the same kind of damage he’s been doing at home when the Wizards travel to Milwaukee, or will the Bucks find a way to keep the gunner quiet?
JaVale’s Monster Jam
If you didn’t catch the game, or want a look at one of the better highlights of the night, be sure to check out this alley-oop jam by JaVale McGee. “Dunk Contest baby, that’s why they put him in the Dunk Contest,” Young said postgame. “He got everyone going and everyone hyped, and we need more plays like that.” I asked Nick whether or not it meant anything more since McGee ended up posterizing Bell. “Nah, it was a great play,” he said, then looked over at JaVale, to his right. “I was kind of disappointed, I was the one that should have been dunking,” Nick continued. “I’m always there to pat him on the back, ’cause, me and him got something special about to go down at the dunk contest, Nick Young and JaVale McGee got something special.” JaVale, who will be one of the fourt participants in this year’s All-Star break Dunk Contest, smiled from his chair.
“It definitely got me going,” JaVale told the media later, regarding the alley-oop jam. “Really made me more aggressive on defense, and I felt like I had the team going, got the crowd into it.” However, JaVale wasn’t all dunks on MLK Jr. Day, he also had two very nice dimes. Postgame, Coach Saunders highlighted McGee’s passes, one to Blatche early and one to Rashard Lewis in the third quarter. Flip has been wanting McGee to mix it up with some passes, and I asked JaVale to talk about what he saw on the court. “Just trying to be more patient. I’m not a ball hog, if the person is wide open I’ll try to faciliate and score, and when ‘Dray cut out I saw the lane so I passed the ball.” With JaVale’s 2 assists on the night, all five starters for the Wizards achieved 2 or more assists, with Wall achieving a season-best 15.
For more on JaVale’s dunk, check out this alternative look at the McGee jam, and this awesome .GIF via Mike Prada of Bullets Forever.
Around the League
Wizards play Jazz and sound good doing it!
Talk about the bigs, Blatche and McGee, Young’s performance, and the latest shoe updates.
Washington Wizards Dream Big And Defeat Utah Jazz
How the Wizards beat a physical team in the Jazz.
#Truth About It:
Wizards-Jazz Play of the Game: DAGGER!
An in-depth look at Young’s “dagger” three pointer.