Con­tri­bu­tions come from young guns

Booker, Seraphin giv­ing team a spark

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports - BY CARLA PEAY

SAN AN­TO­NIO | For the Washington Wiz­ards, try­ing to put to­gether a few wins starts with small steps.

And they’re com­ing from two of the younger play­ers — for­wards Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin.

Booker, re­garded as a de­fen­sive spe­cial­ist, has added of­fen­sive punch, and Seraphin ap­pears to have turned a corner in his un­der­stand­ing of fun­da­men­tals.

Seraphin played his best game of the sea­son last week against the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers, and Booker played one of his best games as well, scor­ing 18 points and not hes­i­tat­ing to help guard a cou­ple of 7-foot­ers in Pau Ga­sol and An­drew Bynum.

“Kevin, it’s his best game that he’s had since he’s been here,” Wiz­ards coach Randy Wittman said. “He was un­der con­trol. He re­bounded, he made shots. He took shots un­der con­trol, no quick­ness to it. He de­fended. He banged Bynum. As for [Booker], I couldn’t take him out in the sec­ond half.”

It’s the kind of break­through that man­age­ment has been look­ing for in its man­date to de­velop young play­ers.

The Wiz­ards likely will strug­gle to put up wins dur­ing their 10-day road trip, which be­gan Mon­day night in San An­to­nio.

On Tues­day, the Wiz­ards face Dal­las. Washington will play five games in seven nights and six games in 10 nights, in­clud­ing two sets of back-to-backs. New Or­leans (Thurs­day) and New Jer­sey (March 21) are the only teams with los­ing records they will face.

In the mean­time, veteran guards Roger Ma­son Jr. and Mau­rice Evans have seen more play­ing time and in­creased the ma­tu­rity level on the court.

The Wiz­ards have proved that they can beat good — even elite — teams with the proper fo­cus and prepa­ra­tion, as ev­i­denced by wins over Ok­la­homa City and the Lak­ers.

But to build upon those vic­to­ries, they have to avoid the bad habits of play­ing one-on-one bas­ket­ball when they get down by large mar­gins and los­ing fo­cus on the de­fen­sive end.

“It’s all about at­ten­tion to de­tail,” Wittman said dur­ing a pregame shootaround be­fore the team left Ver­i­zon Cen­ter. “Our at­ten­tion to de­tail [against the Lak­ers] was fab­u­lous. If we can keep that up, im­prove our prepa­ra­tion, that’s what, hope­fully, can go a long way for us in terms of that men­tal­ity, of stay­ing in the game.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wiz­ards for­ward Kevin Seraphin, dunk­ing against Golden State on March 5, played per­haps his best game of the sea­son in Washington’s 106-101 win over the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers two days later.

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