The Washington Wizards return to the Pepsi Center missing four players who would be starters under normal circumstances. Gilbert Arenas, DeShawn Stevenson, Brendan Haywood are all out and Caron Bulter is unlikely to play due to an inflamed hamstring.
The last time the Wizards were on the court was in Los Angeles and the Wiz watched helplessly as a 95-95 fourth quarter tie rapidly morphed into a 123-108 loss. The kicker is they did not sacrifice the game at the altar of the Lakers. It was against the Clippers that they gave up the game deciding 28-13 run. It was so bad that a perpetually disinterested Baron Davis collected 20 assists.
It all adds up to what should be the easiest win of the group of weaker squads who have been lined up in the Nuggets path during their four game winning streak. The only question is will the Nuggets jump out to an early lead, give it back and then roll late in the game (a la the Clippers, Thunder and Nets games) or will they fall behind and be forced to storm back (thank you once again Memphis)?
The Wizards are not devoid of talent. Antawn Jamison is a true professional giving it his all night after night when most veterans would be mailing it in. I still hold out hope that Andray Blatche will turn into a more dominant Lamar Odom and Dominic McGuire does a great job of corralling rebounds and handing out assists while possessing a complete lack of ability to score. Plus JaVale McGee is a good energy player with some nice potential. (I also still think Javaris Crittenton could turn into a nice player, but good luck getting me to admit it in public. Ah, dang it.)
From the Nuggets perspective, look for Carmelo Anthony to be licking his chops at another shot at the Wizards. The last time Washington was in town Melo hung 49 on the Wizards and by the end of the game Antawn Jamison was on one side and another Wizard player (Andray Blatche? I do not remember who it was) was on the other and they basically bear hugged him in order to prevent him from getting another shot off and potentially scoring 50.
The Wizards also have no one capable of hanging with Nene in the paint or with J.R. on the perimeter. Heck, the Wiz even gave up Dahntay Jones’ season high of 18 points just a few weeks ago.
Look for Kenyon Martin to play once again and to probably test his back again in the second half.
In more disturbing news Stumbleweed pointed out that George Karl has said that Linas Kleiza deserves more minutes. Kleia has had roughly 65 games to get out of his months long slump. If we lose Renaldo Balkman to Karl wanting to give Kleiza an even greater opportunity than he already has I may have to quit blogging. I realize Kleiza has been a good weapon off the bench in the past, but the team is bigger than Kleiza’s search for his wayward shot. Anyway you look at it empirically or statistically Balkman is the superior player. I would go on, but I do not want to get too bent out of shape over something that has not even happened yet.
The only thing that concerns me (other than Kleiza supplanting Balkman in the rotation) is the potential for the Nuggets to be looking forward to the huge three game roadie coming up following tonight’s game. The chance that they might overlook Washington is there although the dog fight they experienced in Memphis should help remind them of the importance of focusing on every opponent from here on out.
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