The Washington Times - March 19, 2011, 10:03AM

With March Madness games taking place at Verizon Center, the Wizards set out on a two game road swing to Chicago and Toronto, and return home 0-2 for their efforts, bringing their losing streak to six games. The Raptors 116-106 win over the Wizards Friday night drops the Wizards to a league-worst 1-31 on the road, and 16-51 overall.

Throughout this difficult spate of injuries that has Rashard Lewis, Josh Howard, Andray Blatche, Cartier Martin and now Nick Young sidelined, several of the team’s rookies are putting up significant minutes, and both Trevor Booker and Jordan Crawford are making an impression on Wizards coach Flip Saunders.


“I don’t know the last time we had three rookies score 20.  Booker, there’s a guy that’s had an opportunity and taken advantage of the opportunity, both him and Jordan (Crawford) have.  We competed.  I think the biggest thing, we’ve had a tendency in the year when we get behind, we have a tendency to really hang our heads and almost just think it’s not going to happen,” Saunders said.  

Booker scored 26 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, Crawford scored 25 points, and John Wall added 21 points along with seven assists.

“With our young guys playing, what they’ve been doing, even though we’ve fallen behind they keep on fighting, make a couple of plays and put ourselves in position.  We cut it to two and had chances. What you hope is some of your veterans would come in and play with the same sense of urgency at times,” Saunders said.

Booker likes the confidence his coach is showing in him and his fellow rookies, and is making the most of his increased playing time.

“I just tried to take what the defense was giving me. I saw some opportunities to drive so I tried to take that. If my teammates were open I got the ball to them. It is a good experience for us [the rookies]. We are learning still but at the same time we are getting better every time we step on the court. I am looking forward to the next game,” Booker said.

It will be a short wait.

The next game will be Sunday March 20 at Verizon Center, at 1pm, where the Wizards will host the New Jersey Nets. The Nets are 22-45, but only 4-28 on the road. The new-look New Jersey squad made headlines with recent acquisition of point guard Deron Williams, who was acquired in a trade with the Utah Jazz in February.  Williams averages 20 points and 10 assists per games, and is one of the NBA’s top point guards. The Wall-Williams matchup could prove to be a good one.

(Post-game quotes courtesy of the Toronto Raptors Media Relations Department.)