The Washington Times - March 20, 2011, 12:13PM

The college kids have come and gone, it’s the first official day of spring, and the Wizards have returned to claim their home court at Verizon Center as they face the New Jersey Nets for a 1pm tip off.

The Wizards (16-51) may not have been able to pick up a road win in their short two game odyssey to Chicago and Toronto, but there is a silver lining in the dark cloud of injuries that have plagued the Wizards lately, and that is the play of their rookies.


Guard Jordan Crawford and forward Trevor Booker continue to impress, with Booker posting a career high in points (26) and 13 rebounds in his last game against Toronto. His 13 rebounds tied the career high he set against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Crawford scored his career high of 27 points in Chicago and posted a career-high five assists against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Wizards coach Flip Saunders said he’s most impressed by Crawford and Booker’s competitiveness.

“They’re both very competitive in how they go about things. They accept the challenge, they play hard, and they’re not intimidated by the situation, or by individuals. That’s the most impressive thing I’ve seen out of them. When you’re like that, good things will happen,” Saunders said.

Crawford’s ability to score has also been a pleasant surprise.

“We knew he’d be able to score but we didn’t know he’d be able to get his shot off, even when he’s put at a disadvantage, because we’re so undermanned and offensively challenged, and he looks on the floor and feels he has to score,” Saunders said.

Swingman Cartier Martin is back, but Rashard Lewis, Nick Young, Andray Blatche and Josh Howard will all be sidelined for today’s game. Lewis remains doubtful for the remainder of the season.

The Wizards and Nets are tied at 1-1 in the season series; the Nets took game one 97-89 in December, while the Wizards came out on top in game two, 97-77 in January. Both meetings were before the Nets made the huge trade that netted them point guard Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz last month, although Williams will be out for today’s game with a wrist injury.

The rare 1pm start is a bit of a disruption to the Wizards normal schedule, but Saunders found a bright spot in that as well.

“We have a lot of college (age) guys, a lot of young guys and they’re used to playing 1’oclock  games, especially at this time of the year with the NCAA’s.”