Seen and heard at American Airlines Arena
MIAMI - After getting banished to the bench for a five-game stretch following a lack of consistent effort and energy, Wizards second-year center JaVale McGee appears to be earning the trust of coach Flip Saunders.
McGee - who in five games from Nov. 8 to 20 watched three of them and combined for four minutes in the other two - returned to Saunders’ good graces after showing improved effort in practice last week. He was back on the court Saturday at San Antonio and then again Tuesday vs. Philadelphia.
Against the Spurs, McGee had seven points, three rebounds and three blocks in 14 minutes. The Wizards got blown out, but his play impressed Saunders.
“He played very well in San Antonio,” Saunders said. “He’s gotten it the last couple weeks. He’s played with energy and played under control.”
Saunders again went to McGee for 14 minutes Tuesday, and this time he recorded a career-high six blocks in addition to four rebounds and four points.
“He’s a play-changer,” Saunders said. “There’s not a lot of guys in this league that have that ability that you can put them in and they can change plays. He’s young yet, but I think you keep on nurturing and developing. He can be a play-changer because he can erase mistakes around the basket that guys make defensively, and he can do a lot of things to control the paint.”
McGee made his first appearance in Friday night’s game with just under three minutes left in the first quarter and promptly recorded a block on Miami’s Jermaine O’Neal. He finished with two points, three rebounds and two blocks in 15 minutes.
- Mike Jones
“Tonight is a two-game swing because, if you don’t win the game, you’re going to lose any type of tiebreaker down the road for home. You’d like to be 1-1 coming down here, but we’re not.”
- Wizards coach Flip Saunders before Friday’s game, discussing the Wizards’ 0-2 start vs. Southeast Division opponent Miami
BY THE NUMBERS
1-19 Career record for Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas against Miami’s Dwyane Wade (1-15 in the regular season and 0-4 in the playoffs).