The Washington Wizards looked like the three-point shooting Phoenix Suns of old Saturday in a 127-105 victory over the visiting western franchise. Small forward Martell Webster led the Wizards with 7 of Washington's 14 made three-pointers on the night, as he achieved a career-high and team season-high 34 points against the Suns.
"Martell had one of those nights where he could've thrown it off the roof and it would've gone in tonight," joked Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman postgame. "It really is one of those unbelievable feelings. I have been in that position before, having that feeling, so I drew up every play I could for him because you want to take advantage of that feeling. But he's been playing solid. He's been really, really solid for us. All those technical free throws must have got him going I think," joked Wittman.
Phoenix committed four technical fouls Saturday all in the second quarter, which had to be some kind of NBA record for most technicals by one team in one quarter of play. Webster would have achieved a career-high 30 points if not for those four technical free throws (previous high 28) and had scored 11 of his 34 points by the time the Suns committed their first of four strikes.
"My teammates kept finding me," said Webster after the game. "I definitely tip my hat to my teammates. They were encouraging me to keep shooting the ball. When you have that backing, it's easy to shoot. You could put anybody in my position and they'd knock down those shots. Anybody. Garrett (Temple), Tier (Cartier Martin), Riz (Ariza), Brad (Beal). Anybody. Fortunately it was me tonight, but it was a great team win and it was fun to be out there playing with these guys."
Webster played about the first five minutes of the fourth quarter after recording 29 points through three quarters of play. He sank a three-pointer--his final bucket of the night--with 11:35 left in the fourth, which gave the Wizards a 105-84 lead over the visiting Suns. Webster, in response to the make, did a little shrug, channeling Michael Jordan. The difference? Jordan, a career .327 shooter from deep, was seldom thought of as a three-point shooter, much like Kobe Bryant is thought of as "clutch" rather than a guy who is going to let it rain from downtown on his way to 81.
"I really couldn't (believe it), I was living in the moment," said Webster, regarding the shrug. "I definitely don't study Michael Jordan, though" joked Webster after a slight pause. The question which prompted the response followed an interview with Wall in which Wall told the media Webster "studies and wants to be Michael Jordan," but Webster, the comedian, went a different path. "Just going to throw me under the bus right there, is that because we're going there tomorrow, is that why?" joked Webster, regarding Washington's Monday night meeting with the Michael Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats (7:00 p.m. ET, CSN).
Webster--who is shooting .453 this season--is much more of a purist than Jordan or Bryant. The dude shoots the long ball well, and he's been doing it his whole career. "I would love to be here next year," said Webster, "but this is a business and we'll see what happens. I'm having an extraordinary time. The city is great, the fans are great, teammates are awesome." Webster did make sure to note he will always root for the Seattle Seahawks, as he's a Washington (state) born guy who will always be tied to the west coast. Washington will need to do their best to keep Webster in the east next season, and Wall and company are thinking about that 2013 free agency situation.
"I already talked to Ted about that one," said Wall prior to the Webster inteview, regarding Webster, who will be a free agent after this season. "That's an easy, hands down question about trying to get him back here. Him being a free agent, a lot of people are going to come after him. Especially after the season he had this year. I think coming here he didn't know if he was gonna play right away, or how many minutes he's gonna get. And with a couple injuries he came out and he's starting to have a big night just about every night."
One of those injured players, Bradley Beal, returned Saturday after a five-game absence (ankle). He finished with 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting and grabbed 6 rebounds off the bench. "It feels good," said Beal. "To be able to come back, get back in the feel of things. To play that many minutes. It's great to just be out there with the team again." Beal also admitted he wanted to play more than Coach Wittman's 20 minute allotment, which is a great sign--especially heading out on the road, where Wittman will need a larger bench.
Washington will embark on a four-game road trip starting with those Jordan-owned 'Cats (Monday, 7:00 p.m. ET, CSN), a second and final meeting with the Suns (Wednesday, 10:00 p.m. ET, CSN), the Bryant-led Lakers (Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET, CSN), and finally the Warriors (10:30 p.m. ET, CSN).