MIAMI — Nick Young, defensive stopper???
You could never say that before, but since “sitting in the box” or “being on the shelf” as he likes to put it when it comes to his five DNP’s and one inactive, Nick Young has been balling, not only on the offensive end, but defensive end as well.
First on Tuesday he limited Andre Iguodala, who averages 18.2 points a game to 12 points on 2-for-10 shooting. Then he had an even stiffer task in limiting the production of Dwyane Wade, who had scored 40 and 41 points in his first two meetings with the Wizards.
Young said, “My goal was to hold him under 40.”
Well, Nick, you definitely did that. Try 18. Wade was 6-for-19 from the field today and only 5-7 from the foul line after getting to the line 13 times apiece in his first two games against Washington.
“Just going out there with courage,” said Young, who also scored a season-high 22 points and handed out five assists. “I knew I had a big, big assignment tonight. I knew it was going to be a challenge for me, but I was ready. Those days without playing kind of hurt me, so I had a big chip on my shoulder.”
The first key to slowing Wade was going right at him. The Wizards figured rather than let Wade simply concentrate his efforts on the offensive end of the court, make him play some defense as well and wear him down.
Another key was Nick’s length. He’s three inches taller than Wade, which helps, but the kid’s also got a 7-foot wingspan! Those long arms made it difficult for Wade to get comfortable looks at the basket. And Young didn’t even have to foul often to limit his counterpart.
Another bright spot of the night was Lil Earl. Boykins had 10 points and nine assists on the night. And it was with him on the court that the Wizards took what was a one-point late-third quarter lead into a 10-point victory. Boykins entered the game with just under two minutes left in the third quarter and never came back out.
It’s the second victory Washington has posted with Arenas watching from the bench in the fourth quarter. I asked Boykins if he was turning into the Wizards’ closer, and he laughed.
“I don’t know about all that. I just try to go out there and play the game, and tonight, guys made shots,” he said.
Saunders said he told his players before the game that people might have to make some sacrifices if some of their teammates were going, and tonight, Gilbert Arenas was one of those giving up playing time late.
Arenas had no problem with that, however. He was jumping up from the bench and cheering Boykins every play he made.
“It’s funny to me, to see that little midget running around out there on the floor,” Arenas said with a laugh. “I tell him the best thing for me is when he scores. It just seems unreal to me. Even though I’ve played with him before, it’s still unreal to me.”
The Wizards have their first two-game winning streak since Feb. 20, which was the only time all last season that they won consecutive games.
Tomorrow they will try to make it three in a row when they host the Charlotte Bobcats.