12/31/2010 - 14:39
Josh Points Wizards Toward a Win
by Devon Jeffreys

The Washington Wizards picked up a much-needed win on Wednesday night and Josh Howard did whatever he could to help.

That included playing the role of point guard for several minutes while John Wall took a breather. With Kirk Hinrich out for the second half with a thigh contusion, it was on Josh to lead the team. He did just that as the Wizards beat the Pacers 104-90 at the Verizon Center.

"We had some weird things happen tonight," Wizards assistant coach Randy Wittman told the Washington Post. "Kirk goes out at halftime. John goes out with cramps. I asked Josh (Howard) to play the point. Cartier (Martin) hadn't played at all. He comes in and plays as big as you can play without playing leading up to that time Those are the kind of things that add up to victory. To win 104-90, shooting 39 percent that says something to our defense."

That defense was once again led by No. 5, who helped the Wizards stifle a Pacers team, which averages 97 points per game, to just 90. The key was slowing scoring forward Danny Granger, who had just 15 points on 18 shots. Wittman, who coached the team in the absence of head coach Flip Saunders (family emergency) pointed to Josh as a premier defender.

"Defensively, as we move forward, he will be one of our best lock-down defenders," Wittman told Wizards blog Bullets Forever. "If we need someone to guard a Granger or if we need to guard someone on the perimeter, we're gonna probably put Josh on them. And that's why we've gotten better defensively."

So despite a tough night offensively, The Show contributed in other ways. He led the way with three steals, grabbed two rebounds and blocked a pair of shots. His extra effort on defense forced Dave Johnson of CSN Washington to take notice. He wrote:

Howard only had 4 points on 2 of 9 shooting from the field, but in his 24 minutes in the game he was active on defense and a true unsung hero. Howard helped Young steal the ball from the Pacers T.J. Ford at the foul line and then scooped up the loose ball and fed a streaking Young who finished with a fast break dunk to expand the Wizards lead to 83-69.

Indiana would pull back within eight, but the Wizards closed in a way they'd struggled to before, finishing the game on a 12-6 run to cruise to a double-digit win.

NEXT UP
Washington now heads to Indiana, where they'll be looking for the home and home sweep of the Pacers in a New Year's Eve matinee.

Today's tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. EST and the game can be seen on CSN Washington.

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