New-look Washington tops Chicago for 3rd win in 4 games

February 23, 2010|By Gene Wang | The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — — The remade Washington Wizards might have a distance to go before the overhauled roster can be considered a hit, but in Monday night's 101-95 victory over the visiting Chicago Bulls, they continued their progress with a resolve that often was sorely lacking in the team's previous incarnation.

Forward Andray Blatche led the Wizards with a game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds, and newcomers Al Thornton, James Singleton and Quinton Ross were significant contributors in Washington's third win in four games since the team parted ways with many of its core players.

Josh Howard, another recent arrival, had to leave in the first quarter with what Wizards officials said was a sprained left knee, but even that bit of bad news couldn't completely temper the good feeling in the locker room after Washington (20-34) logged its first three-game home winning streak since April 2008.

"I say this, no matter what we've had from a team standpoint, we've played our best four games [of the season] our last four games," said coach Flip Saunders, who has endured a season with more drama off the court than on it. "As I tell the guys, I don't care what anything says as far as from a standpoint of what you're being paid, what your talent is. It's how you perform on the floor, and to our guys' credit, they are playing very well."

To the delight of much of the announced 14,113 at Verizon Center, the Wizards opened the third quarter with a 16-2 run to erase a 10-point halftime deficit and withstood a late rally that trimmed the lead to 96-95 with 1 minute, 55 seconds to play. From there, Thornton made a seven-foot turnaround jumper, Randy Foye followed with a 18-footer, and defense did the rest.

Thornton finished with 17 points and seven rebounds in nearly 30 minutes, considerably more playing time than he was used to with the Los Angeles Clippers, his previous team. Singleton added nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds, and Ross had eight points on 4-for-6 shooting.

"It's just guys out there competing," Ross said of the new players taking charge. "We're going out there every night trying to bring it, man."

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