- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 12, 2012

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Rashard Lewis wasn’t even sure he was going to play when the Washington Wizards faced the Detroit Pistons in game one of their five-game road trip, having missed three games with a sore left knee.

When the game was over, the Wizards had a 98-77 victory and Lewis was in the record books.

Lewis entered the game late in the third quarter and scored 10 points to go over the 15,000 point total for his career. Lewis joins Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd as the only players in NBA history with 15,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, and 1,500 three point shots.

“It feels good,” Lewis said.

“I’m most definitely happy and excited about it. I’ve been playing in the NBA for a long time and this just tells me I’ve had a pretty successful career. Not a lot of people can be on that list.”

Fans of a certain age will remember watching Lewis as he sat in the Green Room on draft night back in 1998, as he waited to hear his name called. And waited. Lewis had come straight out of high school, from Alief Elsik in Texas, and had expected to go in the first round. He didn’t.

Tears of surprise, frustration, and disappointment were clearly visible on Lewis‘ face. Lewis was eventually chosen by the Denver Nuggets in the second round, and his right were traded to the Seattle Supersonics. It’s a memory he hasn’t forgotten.

“I never took anything for granted,” Lewis said.

“And getting drafted in the second round, being able to play for 13 years … this my 14th year. It’s just definitely an honor and a blessing to still be in the NBA, after going in the second round,” Lewis repeated.

But Lewis was just as happy that the Wizards (6-22) pulled off the win over the Pistons (8-21), and will head to the west coast with a little extra spring in their step, and a little bit of much needed confidence.

“We’ve got some tough games coming up in front of us,” Lewis said. “At the same time, getting a win gives you confidence for the very next game.” The Wizards will face the Portland Trailblazers on Tuesday, the first of four west coast road games.

Also reaching a milestone of sorts was rookie Jan Vesely, who had the best game of his career, with 10 points and eight rebounds.

“We was helping each other,” Vesely said. “I think that was the key of the game. We took this game, like a playoff game. Detroit was in front of us. We try to play hard against them.”

John Wall, who had a dismal first half on offense (zero points and four turnovers), made up for it with solid defense and six assists. In the second half, Wall flipped a switch, and finished the game with nine points and 15 assists. Coach Randy Wittman couldn’t explain it.

“I don’t know, you have to ask him [Wall]. If he tells you, tell me, so I know where that switch is,” Wittman joked. “The thing I was proud of was that he didn’t take himself out of the game because of those mistakes. He played through it.”

Wall credits his teammates for his second half turnaround, when he helped spark a 20-2 run, which secured Washington’s victory.

“My teammates did a great job of just telling me to keep playing and stay focused,” Wall said.

“We always have a good game here, and they [the Pistons] always find a way to beat us, but [not] tonight. The win feels good.”

As the Wizards left the locker room with smiles on their faces, the biggest smile belonged to Lewis, who was holding the game ball. He plans to frame it, and send to his mom.

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