Wizards Win in Commanding Fashion
Carla Peay | 2/27/2009, 11:53 p.m.
The excitement generated at Verizon Center as the Chicago Bulls came to town to play the Washington Wizards on Fri. Feb. 27 came not from the court, but from a courtside seat. President Barack Obama attended the game as his hometown Bulls suffered a 23 point defeat at the hands of the Wizards.
Prior to the game, Wizards interim head coach Ed Tapscott said his players were prepared for the occasion.
€It should be a good atmosphere. It is a highlight of a career to play in front of the President of the United States. You have to be prepared for the moment, and respond to the moment,€ Tapscott said.
The Wizards certainly seemed to be following their coach€s advice as they jumped out to an early lead over the sluggish looking Bulls. Perhaps looking to give the President another team to cheer for, the Wizards turned in one of their most entertaining and energetic performances of the season.
Forward Antawn Jamison led all scorers with 27 points, as all starters scored in double figures, as well as three players off the bench, forward Andray Blatche with 12, guard Nick Young with 12 and forward Oleksiy Pecherov with 10. The Wizards shot over 50 percent from the floor, and lead the Bulls in rebounding (53-37) assists (21-16) and points in the paint (48-36).
€It€s great to get an affirming win,€ Tapscott said. €We had good ball containment, we had smart execution on offense and had a pretty good effort team wise. If we play hard and play with intelligence, we can win games,€ Tapscott said.
A major problem for the Wizards (14-44) this season has been a lack of consistency, and an inability to close out games, but on this night, the team corrected those mistakes.
€I€ve been screaming all year about consistency. Tonight we moved the ball and we executed our offense,€ said forward Caron Butler, who admitted to sneaking a few glances at the President sitting at courtside before the game began. The scheduled 7p.m. tip off was delayed by three minutes as the crowd awaited Obama€s arrival, which Butler didn€t mind at all.
€I told the ref€s lets warm up a bit more. I was truly nervous for the first time in my career. But it was good just to see him out there interacting with everybody. It was a special moment,€ Butler said.
Forward Antawn Jamison said having that tangible excitement in the building reminded him of the days of old.
€We hoped to perform well in front of the President. We wanted to have a good showing. The place was electric and it brought back good memories to have that kind of energy in this place,€ Jamison said, while expressing some concern that it took the presence of the Commander in Chief to for the Wizards to get a commanding win.
€It shouldn€t take the President to come in here for us to play with energy and confidence. We still have to find a way to play consistent, smart basketball. We didn€t let them [the Bulls] get into a rhythm. The most important thing is that we got a win. We got one, now we have to get two.€
The Wizards will have a short time to revel in this victory, as they head to Milwaukee to face the Bucks on Sat. Feb. 28, hoping to carry some positive momentum into this back to back contest, something they have had trouble doing all season.
Rookie center JaVale McGee summed it up succinctly.
€We€re tired of losing.€