- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 12, 2011

Frustration was evident on Trevor Booker’s face as he went up for a block on Blake Griffin, and got his third foul of the game late in the second quarter. It was the story of the evening as the Wizards big men got in foul trouble early and often, as the Clippers defeated the Wizards 122-101 on Saturday night at Verizon Center. The loss drops the Wizards to 16-48.

The Wizards, faced with the tough enough task of guarding the all-star forward, were called for 13 fouls in the first period, and had 16 by the end of the first half. Already shorthanded in the front court without Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis, Wizards coach Flip Saunders started out using Trevor Booker, then Yi Jianlian, then Kevin Seraphin on Griffin, all to no avail as Griffin scored 26 points in the first half.

Despite being down 64-55 at the half, the Wizards made a game of it in the third quarter, getting as close as a three-point deficit (68-65) before the Clippers pulled out to a 91-73 lead by the end of the third quarter, holding Griffin scoreless. But by the start of the fourth, the rout was on, which allowed Griffin to spend the entire period on the bench in his warm-ups.

John Wall led the way for Wizards, scoring 25 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Jordan Crawford added 16 and Nick Young, who was still questionable an hour before tipoff but started the game, added 15, but admitted that his knee was hurting badly.

“I just went out there to show my teammates I’m not quitting. I’m going to play through injuries, I’m going to play tough and I’m going to try my best to play hard,” said Young, who hopes to be available for Monday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I was dragging, but I know they needed me, so I was trying my best to just try and be out there, to try and make something happen” Young said.

Wall’s 25 points came on 9 of 23 from the floor, and seven of 10 from the line.

“I just came out and tried to be aggressive. They gave me driving lanes in the first half and I found my way to the basket and got fouls. In the second half, they did a great job of adjusting,” said Wall, who scored 19 in the first half, but only six in the second half.

“We started the third quarter strong, and then they just started making shots in transition. They had 35, 38 points, maybe more by the time the game was over. They did a good job running - that’s what they want to do. They want to get highlights, and once they start getting dunks, we all dropped our heads, and they just took our heart away from us,” Wall said.

Coach Flip Saunders called the loss “disappointing.”

“We were concerned about their ability. They are one of the best teams in the league in transition. We just ran out of bodies. We didn’t have enough bodies to throw at them. We really struggled. We came back in the third quarter played a lot of zone, but then we couldn’t make shots. We’re not as good as them right now,” Saunders said.

Trevor Booker, who started the game guarding Griffin, scored 13, but all of them were in the fourth quarter. Center JaVale McGee added 12 points and eight rebounds. But the worst line of the night belonged to Yi - zero points, four rebounds and five fouls. Seraphin had three fouls and no points.

Josh Howard, still troubled by soreness in his knee, started the game and played close to 22 minutes, adding nine points. Howard, a seven year veteran who played for the Dallas Mavericks before coming to the Wizards last season in the Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Brendan Haywood trade, said he’s never experienced anything quite like being a part of a losing franchise that is clearly in the early stages of a rebuild.

“It’s tough. I’ve got to keep my head up and let these guys know that I can’t walk around here sad because of the situation. I’m going to keep trucking, keep trying to motivate these guys as best I can,” Howard said.

“Pretty soon there will be a turnaround.”

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