(Photo by Joseph Silverman / Washington Times)
DeShawn Stevenson got out of Verizon Center in a hurry last night and wasn’t around for post-game interviews. But he no doubt was buzzing from his strong fourth quarter against LeBron James, which enabled the Wizards to turn a three-point third-quarter lead into a blowout victory ( 108-91) last night.
The Wizards were back on the practice court today, but afterwards, Stevenson was still feeling rather good about his stingy defense, which limited James to just six fourth quarter points on 3-for-7 shooting.
Stevenson at one point poked the ball away from James along the 3-point arc and forced the Cavs into a shot-clock violation. He forced James into tough shot after tough shot and kept him rather flustered down the stretch of the game. (The Wizards fans helped with this as well as James reportedly cussed out a few heckling court-side spectators late in the game).
Stevenson knows he’s not on the level of talent as James, but instead he used an extra weapon — his mind — to hold the reigning MVP in check.
“What I was trying to do was trying to make it a one-on-one thing so he’d forget about his teammates,” Stevenson said. “A good player, if he gets in that mode where he’s shooting every time, I know it’s going to be tough for them to win.”
James indeed took Stevenson’s bait, going at the guard every chance he got rather than passing the ball. After racking up nine assists in the first three quarters combined, James recorded not a one in the fourth quarter.
On one late play, James appeared on his way to a breakaway dunk, but Stevenson took off as well and stuffed James for what was ruled a block. James blew up believing he bad been fouled, but instead, he received a technical foul.
“It felt good to hear that whistle,” Stevenson said with a grin. “Usually he doesn’t get those calls, they go to his favor. But last night we did a good job on him and played him hard. It felt good.”
Flip Saunders last night said that he believed Stevenson came out so motivated idnt he fourth quarter because he watched the entire first half. But obviously Stevenson didn’t need extra motivation. It was LeBron and the Cavaliers, whose fans hate Stevenson for calling James over-rated in 2008.
“I always like playing Cleveland. Bring out the best in the whole team, and the win at home, it felt good,” said Stevenson, who was cheered mightily by the Wizards fans for his play on James.
But he didn’t hear it.
“I was in the zone,” Stevenson said. “It just felt good being out there and playing against a team we like playing against. I like playing against that team so I was ready no matter what the situation was.”