Tuesday January 18, 2011 12:14 p.m
By Frank Hanrahan
The Wizards know fully well that until they get a road win they will not be taken seriously by anyone in the NBA. That 0-19 away record shows everyone that you have some serious work to do. But after picking up four straight wins at home, including an impressive 108-101 win over Utah on Monday, the Wizards have yet another chance to show that they are an ever improving team by picking up a win in Milwaukee Wednesday night. Can they step up, shake off whatever ails them on the road and produce a rare victory outside of Verizon Center?
"We got to learn how to translate this to road," Wizards' guard John Wall said after the Utah game in which he scored 19 points and handed out a career high 15 assists. "If the game is close we got to learn how to close them out."
To the Wizards credit, they have found the ingredients late to hold on and close out home victories at home, where their record is a respectable 12-8. In recent tight games versus Utah and Toronto, the Wizards looked more assured on the offensive end, getting the ball to their scorers like Nick Young and Andray Blatche who came through with clutch buckets. Again, though, this happened at home.
In stark contrast, the Wizards have failed miserably to close out close games on the road. At Minnesota last week, they failed to score a field goal for almost 6 minutes allowing the Timberwolves to pull away for the win. The last three road games for that matter have been eerily familiar with the Wizards being in the game until when it really counts -- the late stages of the final period.
The crowd (is the difference). At home you know you feel more excited, you have the crowd behind you," Wizards guard John Wall said. Obviously there won't be many Wizards fans in Milwaukee so the Wizards will have to find another way to get the focus that lacks especially in the fourth quarter.
Wizards veteran forward Rashard Lewis is not used to losing, playing several seasons in Orlando before coming over in a trade. "Since I have been here we have been a team that doesn't finish games in the fourth quarter," Lewis said. "I thought we have been in every game but somehow we don't finish on the road. We turn the ball over don't play together on the offensive end, we just make a ton of mistakes. But after the Utah win, Lewis seemed more confident that first one may be coming soon.
"It starts with one, if we can just get one win on the road start building that confidence then a string of wins can come on the road," Lewis said.
Milwaukee has struggled this season with a 14-24 record and just 8-9 at home and have lost 3 straight so they are ripe for the picking for the Wizards.
"We have been working hard, playing hard. We are starting to get it a little bit. We are starting to feel the chemistry," Wizards leading scorer Nick Young said. "Hopefully it will continue to grow.
Forward Andray Blatche played perhaps his best all over game in the win over Utah, scoring 21 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and a career high 4 blocks, but he knows the Wizards will be judged on how they do in enemy territory. We take care of home and now we just need to find a way to get wins out on the road.