- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 30, 2008

SEEN AND HEARD at Verizon Center

Washington sixth-year forward Darius Songaila isn’t the most fleet of foot or the most vertically gifted player, but he became an unlikely contributor in the Wizards’ loss Thursday to the Orlando Magic.

The 6-foot-9, 248-pound forward was coach Ed Tapscott’s last option against Dwight Howard, but he was the most solid. Tapscott first threw JaVale McGee at Howard and then Andray Blatche, but both got into foul trouble. Then came Etan Thomas, but he too struggled to avoid taking fouls against the powerful Howard. Then came Songaila, who managed to frustrate Howard while notching 12 points and three rebounds.

It was the second time in three games that Songaila scored in double digits; Tapscott said he will continue give Songaila minutes as long as his production and the matchups warrant it.

“Our most effective defender of the night on Dwight was Darius,” Tapscott said Saturday. “That’s an X-factor. That’s not something I would have normally thought, just based upon matchups and physically and what we’ve seen before. So all of a sudden Darius is in the game, taking shots from Dwight Howard and giving them right back. He played very hard, and then he delivered a few nice midrange jumpers.

“So as you learn your team, and you learn the possibility of this X-factor coming in and playing, you try to program that into your game plan. That was a nice surprise - but trust me, Darius will be coming off the bench early [Saturday].”

Songaila had 16 points and four rebounds in 24 minutes against Atlanta.

Mike Jones

BY THE NUMBERS

8 Times this season the Wizards have lost after leading or being tied in the fourth quarter.

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