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Riding the Wizards Bench November

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Wizards Record New Jazz Tune For First Win

3 November 1997. Washington Wizards 90, Utah Jazz 86 (record: 1-2)
Game leaders: Webber (26 points), Webber (13 rebounds), Strickland (9 assists)

It was last year at the Utah Jazz that marked the low point of the Wizards season, as they were embarassed and humiliated in Jimmy Lynam's last game as coach of the Bullets. Somehow, the Bullets resurrected their season and made the playoffs last year, setting the tone on a promising new season this year.

CWebb Initiating The Offense
Well, you're going to see CWebb initiating the offense more in the half-court set, according to Ric Bucher of the Washington Post. Coach Bernie Bickerstaff has been experimenting with this facet when Chris Whitney, more of a spot-up shooter than ball handler, is on the floor and Strickland is resting his ailing hamstring. It's been reasonably effective in the past couple of games, so the team will continue to tinker with the options that can be run out of that set.
Unfortunately, it didn't start out that way, in particular with a heart-rending loss to the Heat on Saturday. However, the Wizards didn't back down facing a seemingly impossible foe - the defending Western Conference champion Utah Jazz. Yeah, the Jazz were without the services of All Star point guard John Stockton, but they have enough weapons to beat teams on their home court, where they went 38-3 last year in the regular season.

Enough of that. The Wizards came into Utah and grabbed their first victory of the season by playing a disciplined brand of basketball that emphasized defense, ferocious rebounding, and efficient offense. They got good performances when it counted from 4 of their starters. CWebb had a typically good night; Juwan woke up to provide 19 points and 10 rebounds; Rod Strickland, keeping the Jazz point guards in constant foul trouble, played efficiently for 17 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals; and Calbert Cheaney woke up in the second half to provide 14 points, including several key jumpers in the 4th quarter that evokes memories of his days at Indiana (we can hope the giant is awakening).

And tonight was the first night Terry Davis played for the Wizards, and I don't think his impact can be ignored. His stat line wasn't impressive (1 point, 5 rebounds, 1 steal), but he drew the job of guarding All Star Karl Malone and did a more than impressive job, plus drew 4 charges during the game. One of the more interesting stats noted in last night's game was that the Wizards outscored the Jazz 45-26 when Terry Davis was on the floor (for 25 minutes). Note that he didn't affect the Wizards offensive output (they scored 45 points in 25 minutes when he was on the floor, versus 45 points in 23 minutes when he was off the floor), but the defensive presence was bigger (26 points in 25 minutes for the Jazz, versus 60 points in 23 minutes when he wasn't on the floor). One man doesn't make the entire difference, but he can be a large factor (especially when harassing a superstar like Karl Malone). His veteran savvy is something the Wizards were looking for all summer in a free agent signing, yet he was found only by luck.

Now, the Wizards must not lose momentum and take care of business tonight against the Denver Nuggets, whom they beat twice in the preseason.

wtf 4 November 1997

 <== Terry Davis Added To Roster, Jimmy Oliver Cut Denver Provides Rocky Mountain High For Magical Wizards  ==>

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