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Wizards Escape Frozen Tundra With Another Improbable Win
13 November 1997. Washington Wizards 91, Minnesota Timberwolves 88 (OT) (record: 4-4)
Game leaders: Webber (22 points), Webber (17 rebounds), Strickland (8 assists)
Will the real Washington Wizards please stand up? Are they the team that can't win a home game or beat the Miami Heat, or are they the road juggernauts who play tight nailbiters in seemingly improbable situations and show the resolve of a champion?
I need to know before I go crazy here.
The Wizards had to overcome a snowstorm last night (they didn't leave Minnesota last night after the game until 2:30 am), but that was the least of their worries. Juwan Howard did not suit up for the game with a strained lower back. And when your opponent's starting small forward is the 7-foot tall Kevin Garnett, that could be bad.
Nevertheless, the Wizards overcame a 7-point second half deficit, the loss of Howard, poor free throw shooting (14 of 27), numerous turnovers (24), and hideous officiating to somehow still beat the Timberwolves on their home floor. They were helped by Tom Gugliotta shooting 4 of 23 on the night, but Stephon Marbury picked up the slack by continually blowing by any Wizards' defender thrown at him.
And despite the fact that the Wizards players (at least in the second half, when I was able to watch the game) were getting mugged on drives to the basket and rebound without a foul being called, while light fouls were given to the Wolves, it still didn't matter. The Wizards showed the mental resolve of the Bulls and Jazz games that allowed them to come back and eventually beat a foe one would consider (at least on that night) superior to the squad the Wizards could field.
I don't think I can comment enough on how calm and collected the Wizards play in these games. But that still doesn't explain the Miami and Charlotte games...
Harvey Grant played in place of Howard, but was of limited effectiveness. The other starters all scored in double figures (Terry Davis also had a double-double), and the Wizards bench outscored the Wolves bench 23 to 6. And while CWebb had the stats last night, I think the game ball may go to Ben Wallace, who played 21 quality minutes last night (4 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals) in his first significant action of the season. He skyed for a couple of defensive rebounds in the second half that left everyone else (including Garnett) just looking up at how high Wallace could go.
Next opponent: Orlando. They've been struggling, but still have some weapons that can be dangerous. The Wizards should get their first home win of the season on Saturday against the Magic, as long as they take care of business like they've been doing on the road.
wtf 14 November 1997
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