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Game 29 Game Thread: Washington Wizards (7-23) @ Utah Jazz (14-14)

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The Washington Wizards are a few seasons removed from being a playoff team. They were, years ago back when LeBron James was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. That team of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, and DeShawn Stevenson (among others) ended up losing to the Cavs three years in a row in the playoffs. And then their team was scuttled, and right now rebuilding with a heavy emphasis on youth – particularly John Wall (duh), guards Jordan Crawford and Nick Young (both have USG% of 25.0% or greater), and gangly big JaVale McGee. They aren’t winning many games, barely more than the New Orleans Hornets who beat us; but they are committed to a future led by their youth. Tonight will be about their present – as they face off against a team that has taken a different path, but have very similar results.

It seems like yesterday that we were a consistent playoff team that lost to Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers three playoffs in a row. Things kinda blew up, and the Jazz crashed down to earth in a more violent way than the Wizards did. (The Wizards, well, they did things differently back then.) Now we’re also a lotto team – but we’re still playing for the present, and not for the future. Clark did a great job exploring this a few minutes ago. You should read it if you did not yet.

It’s not like the Jazz are bereft of guys they could start a youth movement with – we have a ton of younger guys who are exciting, put butts in the seats, and try and play hard every night. Part of the reason why we fondly look back at that 42-40 team in the first year after John and Karl departed is because they played hard, were young, and did not know better. They were so inexperienced they didn’t know that they were supposed to lose games. Right now we’re a team head lined by Devin Harris, a former Net; and Al Jefferson, a former Timberwolves player. Both of those guys are used to losing, and know a lot about it. Perhaps we shouldn’t hitch or wagons to them?

Anyway . . . I just hope tonight goes better than that road game we played on MLK day last season where these Wizards just killed us. Rashard Lewis earned all of his money for the season in that game. Hopefully there’s no repeat.

Starting Lineups:

Wizards @ Jazz
John Wall Devin Harris
Nick Young Raja Bell
JaVale McGee Al Jefferson
Trevor Booker Paul Millsap
Chris Singleton Gordon Hayward

Injuries: Andray Blatche is out for the Wizards. So is Ronny Turiaf. The Jazz have no reported injuries.

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