Washington, D.C. - A winning locker room is a happy locker room. Before the Wizards 93-78 victory vs. the Raptors on Wednesday night, Rashard Lewis -- fresh off an incident where he either got into an argument with assistant Sam Cassell or forgot his sports coat depending on who you ask -- called winning the "medicine" that Washington needed to turn around its season or at least shift the environment of negativity.
But how much will one win -- the first win -- mean to the Wizards? On Tuesday night, a lot. With a tough schedule coming up (next five: @ CHI, @PHI, PHI, HOU, OKC), we'll see.
Washington, which opened the season with a franchise-record eight consecutive losses, is too-familiar with the yoke of a losing streak that won't die. Last season the Wizards failed to win in their first 25 road games -- a streak that grew weightier with each additional loss. It (the losing) makes it hard to just play basketball.
"When you ain't winning, you get fans booing you, just everything is in your head. 'Man, we gotta try and get something going,'" guard Nick Young said. "Then once you get that first victory, things should just get back to normal."
Perhaps the best image from Tuesday night was John Wall with a big old smile after JaVale McGee rose above him to put down an alley-oop in transition, one of the many exclamation points the Wizards put on their first win of the season.
"I thought it was for me, but you know I never get one of those," Wall joked after the game.
But that was about the only thing left to be desired from a much-needed win. Of course, the good feelings won't last long if the Wizards go.
"You feel good about yourself," Lewis said. "Especially going into the game [Wednesday vs. the Bulls] and knowing if we play the right way we can win, even if though it's a Toronto Raptor team or we playing up against a much better team [Wednesday], but anything can happen."
The Wizards shuffled the rotation on Tuesday, starting forwards Chris Singleton and Trevor Booker and bringing team captain Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis off the bench. It had something to do with a sore shoulder for Blatche and sore knees for Lewis, but head coach Flip Saunders revealed the Wizards worked with those rotations in practice on Monday, too.
He seemed OK with the switch after the game.
"Even if it costs the job of me coming off the bench, if this is how it is all season long, as long as we playing like that I don't have no problem doing that role. It's all winning and making steps," Blatche said. ... "In that situation we won, and I like it that way, you know? As long as we got a win column on the list off a situation like that, why change it?"
Blatche's roll wasn't terribly different coming off the bench -- he still took as many shots as anyone not named John Wall or Nick Young. Saunders said he told Blatche he wanted stability and reliable scoring on the second unit.
"Come off the bench, there's not that many scorers on the floor so I'm one of the main guys that have to be aggressive for us." Blatche said. "It's fine to me, as long as we winning. If we're not winning, then that's when everything change."
The Jan Vesely era -- which of course began with an air-balled free throw -- got significantly better on Tuesday night. The Dunking Ninja recorded five steals in 16 minutes, using his length to disrupt the Raptors passing lanes. After the game, he even got his hair rubbed by a female fan while signing autographs.
"That's the new fan favorite right there, I said," according to Nick Young. "He took my spot. He played great. So I was proud of him out there."
Young referred to Vesely's "Overseas Swag," which some Internet enterprise should be bringing to a T-Shirt near you, soon.
Until Tuesday, Wizards fans had little to cheer about this season. Against the Raptors, Washington played in front of a sparse crowd, many of whom paid very little for their tickets. But the Wizards put on a good show and the Verizon Center felt like a crowd should feel when their team wins a basketball game for the first time in nine months. (I wrote at the time: "A couple of dunks and a strange feeling comes over the Verizon crowd ... 'It's called happiness,' someone will later explain.")
"It feel like we won a championship or a playoff game," Nick Young said after the game. Boy, it's good to get a win.