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Question of the Day
Drew Gooden scored his first points of the season and had his first double-digit game since April 2012. Andre Miller tallied his most assists since December. Al Harrington played his most minutes since November.
The Washington Wizards turned to the thirty-something brigade Wednesday night in their 104-91 win over the Utah Jazz. Thirty-two-year-old Gooden, 37-year-old Miller and 34-year-old Harrington — who’ve all been away from the game for long stretches until recently — were a strong supporting cast that padded a lead in the second quarter and helped hold onto it in the fourth.
“We had the AARP group in there,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said. “That was doing pretty good.”
Trevor Ariza scored 26 points, Bradley Beal added 22, John Wall had 14 points and 10 assists, and Marcin Gortat had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Wizards, who have won seven of eight.
But look further down the box score. Gooden was 6 for 7 from the field and finished with 12 points. Not bad for a player who had been idle since being amnestied last summer and is playing on a 10-day contract.
“Taking that much time off really tests your professionalism,” Gooden said. “Staying in shape, waking up every day on your own schedule.”
Now he’s getting his legs under him — and just in time. His 10-day deal expires Friday, but the fact that theWizards finally put his name above his locker on Tuesday gives him hope that they’ll ask him to stick around.
“I’ve got a nameplate,” he said, “so that gave me a little incentive that I might be here.”
When Gooden scored four quick baskets in the second quarter, three of the assists came from Miller. Miller was acquired in a trade deadline deal two weeks ago from the Denver Nuggets, who had benched him since New Year’s Day for getting into an argument with the coach.
Then there’s Harrington, who recently returned from a three-month layoff following surgery on his right knee. His driving dunk restored a double-digit lead early in the fourth quarter.
“They outsmart people,” the 28-year-old Ariza said. “They know they’re a little bit older, so they use their wisdom a little better than a lot of us do. I said ‘us’ because I’m still young compared to them.”
Alec Burks scored 19 points, and Trey Burke added 14 to lead the Jazz, who have dropped the first four games of their six-game road trip. Their 7-24 road record is the worst in the Western Conference.
“We can’t afford to think these last 21 games that we are going to just show up and make it happen, we’ve got to play to get better,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We’ve got to come with focus and energy every night. Tonight wasn’t our best focus game, but we still had opportunities.”
The Wizards led by as many as 15, but they never could put the Jazz away. Diante Garrett’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to five early in the fourth, and it wasn’t until Ariza made it 96-85 with a 3-pointer with 4:11 to play that the Wizards could start to feel somewhat comfortable.
The Wizards improved to 4-1 since Nene was sidelined with a knee injury. At 31 years old, the Brazilian would have fit right in Wednesday night.
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