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Suns Fall To Wizards' Spell
By: Brad G. Faye, Suns.comWASHINGTON D.C. - With a different theme to Saturday’s contest at the Verizon Center, the Suns were hoping the game would yield a different result. Despite an extremely energetic opening to the contest, that did not prove to be the case as the Suns fell to the Wizards, 127-105.
Whereas the first two contests of Phoenix’s three-game trip found it matched up against opponents that had recently lost at US Airways Center, Saturday’s affair against the Wizards was a different story altogether. With less than 20 games to go in the 2012-13 campaign, Saturday’s matchup marked the first meeting for the Suns and Wizards this season, and the two teams will meet again on Wednesday.
This time around, center Jermaine O’Neal scored 12 points and pulled down eight rebounds for the Suns in a game that marked his second start in as many nights. Goran Dragic also poured in a solid effort by contributing a double-double with 12 points and 11 assists.
The efforts weren’t enough to combat those from the Wizards, however, who were led by Martell Webster’s 34 points, as well as their young point guard John Wall – who finished the game with 17 points and 11 assists.
“He’s really explosive and constantly puts the pressure on defenses,” Dragic said of his counterpart. “He does such a good job of taking the ball to the basket and when he’s not able to find anything himself, he’s good at finding his teammates. He’s a huge factor for them and they’ve been a different team since getting him back into the lineup.”
With Wall battling a preseason knee injury that kept him sidelined until January, he returned to a ballclub with a 5-28 record. Since his return, however, the Wizards have now posted 18 wins in 32 performances.
MARSHALL GOES BACK TO WASHINGTON
Among the most notable seating sections of the Verizon Center was one that eventually came to be known as “Kendall’s Section” before the end of the Saturday’s game. That’s because several of Kenall Marshall’s friends and family were sitting there and definitely were pumped to see the Virginia native in action. Among those in attendance were Marshall’s grandmother, and self-proclaimed number-one fan, Gigi Spearman.
“We’re local here but are a very close-knit and supportive family, so we have made trips to see him whenever possible,” Spearman said. “We’ve been very happy not just with the basketball player he’s becoming but, more importantly, the person.”
Ventures to watch the rookie play have even included an Opening Night trip to Phoenix, but, as Spearman said on Saturday, this experience was a little different.
“Well, this was his first time coming to the area as an NBA player and the first time we’ve had the chance to see him since he’s been in the rotation,” Spearman explained. “He obviously wasn’t playing much earlier on, but through this entire season he’s remained positive and resilient.”
According to Spearman, a big part of the rookie point guard’s attitude comes courtesy of those he grew up with.
“He has a foundation because our family has been grounded for so long,” Spearman said. “We’re proud of him for making it to the NBA and think it’s great, but we know that no matter what industry he was in that he would be a grounded, responsible person. That’s what’s most important to us.”
BABBY BACK IN D.C.
Saturday’s contest at Washington was also a homecoming of sorts for Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. A native of New York, Babby spent a large portion of his professional career in the nation’s capital.
“This is the place where I spent my whole adult life, raised my family and it was my home for 35 years,” Babby recalled. “It’s very familiar and very comfortable to me, although the weather is still lousy.”
Asked what some of the “must see” sights are in the area, Babby explained he only has one when he travels back to D.C.
“There’s only one thing I absolutely have to do when I come into this town and that’s see my grandson,” Babby said. “But for somebody maybe seeing the city for the first time, I would make sure they see as many of the sites as possible. “You’ve obviously got the various parts of the Smithsonian, all of the monuments, the capitol, the White House. It’s an exciting and wonderful place. You get a little jaded by living here because your local news is your national news, but all of those places help make this place very special.”
THIRD TIME FAILS TO BE THE CHARM
For the third time in three games during this trip, the Suns were donning different uniforms on Saturday against the Wizards. As Suns equipment manager Jay Gaspar explained to Suns.com, that definitely made for a unique experience.
“We had a Hardwood Classics night in Houston, which meant we were wearing black. Then Atlanta had its Hardwood Classics night, and since that is a dark color I had to have the white, home uniform. And then for tonight, I had to have a normal color which is why I went with purple.”
Gaspar, who has been with the team for 10 seasons, said it’s by far been the most complicated three-game trip he’s come across.
“It’s definitely the most packing I’ve ever had to do for this short of a trip,” Gaspar said. “We also have to account for backups as well for each of the players, so we’ve got two jerseys for each player in three different colors.”