- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 6, 2011

The moment the ball dropped through the net, John Wall jumped in the air and pumped his fist in exuberance. Wall’s shot with just 39 seconds left in the game sealed the 103-96 win for the Washington Wizards over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night at the Verizon Center, and put an end to the team’s seven-game losing streak.

There have been far too few moments like this for Wall and his teammates, but with a 16-45 record, the hard-fought victories bring about just enough fist-pumping joy to get the team through another day.

“The main thing is that we played great, we played hard. We knew it was going to be tough stopping Kevin Love on the boards. It was a tough game but we finished it out. He’s [Love‘s] so great at getting rebounds. We told whoever was guarding him to box him out and let everybody else try to get the rebounds. Tonight I keyed in on rebounds and tried to help out the bigs,” Wall said.

Minnesota forward Kevin Love was the story going into game, with his gaudy record of 49 straight doubles, including 10 games with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds, both of which he extended tonight, but the Wizards win was the story by game’s end.

Wall came close to recording a triple double on the night, scoring 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Also providing a spark off the bench was Trevor Booker, who had two put-back hoops that help fueled the team’s fourth quarter energy in the win.

“Book always gives a lot of energy when he comes in. We knew it was tough for him to play today because he was sick, but those plays really helped us out,” Wall said.

The Wizards outscored the Timberwolves 35-24 in the fourth quarter, after scoring on 17 points in the third quarter.

“We did a great job of just being patient, running the clock down and just finding the right people,” Wall said.

Andray Blatche also turned in a strong performance, scoring 20 points, and adding seven rebounds and seven assists.

“It was great to snap the streak. Tonight was all about effort. We came out we worked hard, we played hard and we played well together. We distributed the ball and we defended. Everything now is just about going hard and getting the win. We’ve been working hard. As long as we come with the same kind of emotion and attitude, we will win a lot more games,” Blatche said.

Wizards coach Flip Saunders, coaching a day after the death of his mother, agreed with Blatche that effort was the watchword of the evening.

“I thought Dray gave sustained effort. Effort wise, that’s probably as good as he’s done all year. I was extremely happy with the energy our guys played with overall,” said Saunders, who called it a good win.

“One of the guys said ‘your mom’s probably got her Wizards pom poms up there and she’s cheering. When the game starts, you pretty much forget about everything, you get entrenched. That’s why I said before the game, it’s somewhat of an outlet,” Saunders said.

Saunders was also pleased with JaVale McGee’s efforts, resulting in a 14 point, seven rebound performance.

“JaVale had some good moments tonight. He played well in spurts,” Saunders said.

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