It was a very physical game against the Heat on Wednesday night, but the Wizards came out swinging. Literally.
While guarding Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the second quarter, the usually subdued John Wall took two elbows to the head. The first one he was able to shrug off, but the second got to him, so he retaliated by taking a swing and landing a body shot on Ilgauskas. That started a scuffle.
As JaVale McGee came to break it up, Juwan Howard shoved him, setting off a second scuffle and forcing the coaches to clear the benches to separate the teams.
As both teams retreated, Wizards assistant coach Sam Cassell provided a moment of levity when he pretended to pick a fight with former teammate Eddie House.
That levity was brief. After a 10-minute official review, John Wall, Ilgauskas, and Howard were all ejected and McGee was assessed a technical but allowed to stay in the game.
"Got hit by the elbow and reacted to it. Disappointed in the way I reacted. I let my teammates down, let the organization down," Wall explained after the game. "It was two elbows. I got hit with the first one; I stopped and waited. And the second one, I got hit, and I just reacted."
JaVale described it a little less diplomatically.
“I went over there to break it up and Juwan wanted to blindside push me or whatever. I don’t know. I guess he wants to be a tough guy,” McGee told the Washington Post. “It was definitely getting ugly for everybody.”
While the loss of Wall was a painful one, it opened the door for Jordan Crawford to step in and have the game of his career, scoring 39 points. He was the game’s highest scorer on both sides of the ball, besting LeBron James by 4 points.
While we don’t condone senseless fighting, it was great to see some emotion on the court. We don’t fault Wall for sticking up for himself and as he left the court, he did so to a standing ovation. The fans had a bit of swagger after that, and stayed loud until the very end.
The Wizards stood up to the school yard bullies. And it was great.
In other news, LeBron earned everyone in attendance a free Chick-Fil-A sandwich for missing two free throws in a row. That is going to be one sweet tasting sandwich.