Jan 19, 2012

Christmas in Chinatown

The Wizards beat the Thunder last night. The Washington Wizards, the team with the worst record in basketball, beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team with the best record in basketball. Kevin Durant played. Russell Westbrook played. James Harden played. The Wizards won. Just enjoy that for a moment.

Headed into the game, it is safe to say no one believed (ZardsALards! shamefully included). Most looked at the 11 points Vegas was giving the Wizards and concluded the oddsmakers had made a grave error.

At the end of the first, with the Thunder up 22-18, no one believed. In fact, the crowd almost seemed to be rooting for failure. These fans came angry. With the Verizon Center as full as it will get all season, they relished every chance to voice their displeasure . Every turnover, every ugly offensive set, every easy Thunder bucket was met with a howling chorus of boos. Never has a home team been jeered so maliciously for calling a timeout down 8-5.

By the end of the second, down 51-46, contempt had given way to grudging (very grudging) appreciation. Crawford subbed in for a struggling Nick Young and finally displayed the form that made the District swoon last spring, knocking down shots, slashing to the rim, and finding open teammates. Jan appeared and did his Czech thing, deflecting passes, trying hard to commit over the back fouls, and jamming whenever possible. The crowd even came to its feet when Crawford dove for a steal and poked it to Wall, who threw it ahead to Rashard Lewis for a thunderous dunk (yup, Rashard Lewis).

In the third the Thunder started hot and swiftly pushed the lead to 12. When our boys declined this invitation to fold, the more optimistic Zards fans began to wonder. 32 minutes in, after missing his first seven shots, Nick hit a triple, then quickly landed two more. The Wiz slowly chipped away, and when Andray buried a three at the buzzer (which, if missed, would have probably forced him enter witness protection) the score was 76-72. For the first time, it started seeming real. For the first time, it felt okay to root for a win.

From there, things get wonderfully, deliriously blurry. Nick hits another three. John Wall throws down one of the craziest alley oop dunks you can imagine, swings on the rim, and angrily slaps the ball away even as it goes through the net. Nick hits a jumper. Wall finds McGee on the break and he cocks it back, holds it, holds it, holds it longer than you think is possible, then hammers it home. Jan keeps running around making people smile. The refs make good calls, the refs make bad calls, the refs make no calls.  Nick hits ANOTHER three, with Durant draped all over him. With a minute and a half to go, up five, the entire stadium rises as one and roars its approval. The ground shakes and church bells ring and it's impossible but it's true. We are going to win. We will win. We do win. Savor the flavor.


  1. Reading this makes me feel like I was there. Thank you, ZA!

  2. I thought it must be dream...this post confirms it was real!