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Just getting by....

It's a good thing that Matt Carroll and "The next Larry Bird" Adam Morrison couldn't make a wide open jump shot in the fourth quarter tonight because if they had, the Wizards would be getting on a plane wondering how in the world they lost to the lowly Bobcats.

It was midway throught the fourth quarter when yet another wide-open Carroll three-pointer bounced harmlessly off the back of the rim that I turned to my colleague from the Washington Times, John Mitchell, and said: "This team doesn't know how to win. The Wizards do."

Sure enough, Gilbert shakes off some misses he normally makes and drills the biggie: a three-pointer over D.C. native Bernard Robinson that give the Wiz a four-point lead with three minutes to go. "He pulls from Greensboro," said Charlotte's Gerald Wallace.

From that point on, there was no question that the Wizards would escape despite a Charles Barkley-like performance from Wallace (40 points, 14 rebounds, 6 steals and 4 blocks) and despite a disjointed third-quarter by the Wizards that conjured up early season losses at Memphis, New York and Dallas.

Here's the deal and I know that some of you faithful blog readers are going to poke more holes in this one than Bill Frist with a scalpel and political cause, but the Wiz did what good teams sometimes have to do: They went on the road on the back end of a back-to-back with an injury-shortened rotation, overcame a career performance from an opponent (Wallace) and got out of town with their four-game winning streak intact.

If there is such a thing a quiet 39, Gilbert scored it tonight, Caron Butler was his usual reliable self and Antawn shook off the abuse heaped on him by Wallace enough to hit a big bucket and drop a big assist down the stretch. We even saw some of the elusive Andray Blatche tonight.

Here's the bottom line: When the Wiz host Orlando Friday night, they will have a chance to reach first place in the Southeast Division standings. Know the last time a Washington team was in first place this late in a season? Try the end of the 1978-79 season. I was four years old and Gilbert was somewhere on planet Arenas hatching up motivational ways to take down the next star system. The Wiz have now won 12 of the last 15 games and are scoring like one of those old-school teams from the 1980's that actually made NBA basketball so fun to watch.

By Ivan Carter  |  December 27, 2006; 11:08 PM ET
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Next: Finally in first place


Blatche = 4 rebounds in 5 minutes

Play him at the four, that's where we need the most help anyway and those long snaky arms can snag rebounds quickly and block shots.

Posted by: Zonker | December 27, 2006 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I was impressed with Blatche's rebounding tonight in limited minutes; you have to figure that Eddie liked that effort on the boards. And it was also good to see Lang get a chance when Haywood got into foul trouble.

Jarvis's shot selection was so much better tonight than it has been recently, and it showed up in his field goal percentage.

A bit of a down game from Stevenson and Jamison, at least offensively, and the Wiz still pulled out the road victory. Playing with tons of confidence right now and it's helping them win these tight games.

Keep it up guys!!! Big game against Orlando on Friday.

Posted by: AC | December 28, 2006 12:08 AM | Report abuse

How bad were the officials in that game? I was literally jumping out of my chair and screaming at my TV and swearing at numerous missed fouls on the Wizards. Other than that though, I have to give Gerald Wallace some props in exploiting the Wizards' weak post presence and making a huge presence in the paint. The only time where he failed was when he attempted jump shots in which he missed, but it shows that the Wizards can still manage to win with a career high performance by an opponent.

I also liked the presence from our bench (Hayes and Blatche anyway), coming in the game and making a presence of their own and this is what we need out of our bench every game, to generate offense or grab that key rebound.

The upcoming back to back games with Orlando and Milwaukee will be crucial for Washington as the first place in the Southeast division will be up for grabs against the Magic, and having enough energy to outstand the Bucks at Milwaukee who are on a roll just like us getting over .500 and winning 6 straight. Hope to see the Wizards finish off 2006 strong.

Posted by: Will Mui | December 28, 2006 12:13 AM | Report abuse

""..and are scoring like one of those old-school teams from the 1980's that actually made NBA basketball so fun to watch.""

You know I was thinking about this today and some of the discussions we've had on here. One thing that really helped the NBA in my opinion is allowing teams to play zone defense instead of the "iso crap" man to man that they had to play for years.

If they were still playing just man to man I don't think the league would be as good as it is right now and as fun to watch. The Wiz fit the mold perfectly for the direction of the league is going.

No bad things from me after this one Ivan, they had a lot of heart in this win. Like I said in the blog before this one, they lose that game a month ago. Good teams find ways to win and thier experience won this one for them.

Just need to work on the bench rotations a little bit is all. Lang got some minutes, I was pretty happy about that. After Daniels they have no one at guard however. Seeing Caron go down, I thought for sure he had a broken nose and that worried me.

EG needs to make a move, even for a bench guy(or two).

I think the Bobcats have a pretty impressive young team with two guys in the middle that can clog everything up. They just need a "Jamison" type player like the Wiz got a couple years ago to help them along.

Please go vote for all the Wizards for the 2007 NBA All Star game NOW at:

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 28, 2006 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Seemed to me the refs were trying to give the game to the Bobcats....

Posted by: Lisa | December 28, 2006 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Hibachi cooking shrimp & chicken

Posted by: Mikey Fingers | December 28, 2006 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Lisa, I saw the same thing. Maybe it's my imagination, but it often seems to happen after a team that isn't considered "elite" (i.e., they aren't going to just get calls by default) has a really outstanding first quarter or half, almost like the refs start second-guessing whether they've been calling the game down the middle or not.

And then, they usually end up overcompensating and making that team "earn it" in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Same thing happens to the Terps whenever we play Duke and actually start beating them.

Anyway, those kinds of games are deadly and like Ray said, I think that's a game we lose in a heartbreaker a month or two ago. Winning the ugly ones is a great sign, IMO.

Posted by: Gack | December 28, 2006 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Nice gut check game for sure. I think I could play in the NBA if I had Jamison guarding me! lol So frustrating!!! I was begging Jamison to stand five feet away from Wallace and to his right. Make him drive left or take the jump shot. I could live with that result. Jamison consistently takes NOTHING away on defense. In fact, he often crowded him to his left. I give up! Has he not been taught anything about defensive basketball in his career? Not a Jamison hater. Lord knows he is part of the best Wiz team I have seen in my life. Just very constructive criticism.

Also, I've been posting about the bench for a while and tonight was more promising. Blatche played with 4 starters! I nearly had a heart attack. Guess what? He played well. I don't understand EJ's insistence on playing the 5 starters the entire first quarter and then trying mass subs in the second. It has not worked all year!!! Mix the young guys in with the starter more and let them gain some experience and confidence. If EJ does not do this, he will regret it later in the season. A bench sometimes has to be developed by the coach!!!!

Posted by: Rob P | December 28, 2006 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Ivan, do you hate Brendan Haywood? Or has Eddie Jordan told you that he won't give you interviews if you write a positive piece about B-Hay? Another stellar performance from B-Hay, 4 of 5 from the floor. He would've enjoyed another double-digit performance had the refs not called 2 ridiculous fouls on him. Wiz are now 7-1 since B-Hay entered the starting lineup. And not a peep about it from the Washington Post.

Posted by: Mike | December 28, 2006 12:46 AM | Report abuse

There's no such thing as conatinment for a player of his caliber

Posted by: Jibri Johnson | December 28, 2006 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Maybe someone who watched the game can tell me this: why was Wallace guarded by Jamison instead of Caron? Or even Jarvis? Or did they switch and nothing worked?

Posted by: Neck of Eackles | December 28, 2006 1:31 AM | Report abuse

It's funny before i read ivan's post i was thinking 2 years ago, or last year this would have been a classic wizards loss. Get out to a big lead over denver or philadelphia and then fall asleep in the third quarter. Wake up just in time to make it close, and watch as eric snow, or boykins, or wallace has a career night. Now, if Morison hits open shots down the stretch maybe it's a different result... but I'll take the win. I think the veterans showed a lot of composure, and that is a good sign that these guys won't fold when things start to turn. Gilbert not talking to refs is a big part of that.

Regarding Haycould: Look, I'm as happy as anyone to see that he has been playing so much better. But I would be careful, he has always been streaky, and he has started before... I think some people here forget about that. The truth is his offensive efficiency isn't going to keep him in the game nearly as much as working the glass. He needs to keep pulling down 8-12 rebounds a game for me to be really happy with him. I just hope he doesn't start taking his kwame pills or get into a chat room with chucky 'che' atkins.

Lastly on Blatche: 4 boards in five minutes. He looked excited to play, and was going hard to the rebounds. I like! Here is the thing, and this is experience... he looked a bit rushed. He needs to slow things down, and he may get there, but right now he seems to be very green (duh). But i don't fault EJ for not making him a bigger part of his rotation yet. This was a good outing... he can build on. But this team doesn't need to spend too much of it's time bringing along the young guys. They have had a solid core for 2+ years. They need to build confidence and the young guys (and haywood) need to see that playing time is not handed out on good teams. I mean detroit won the championship with darko riding the pine. You think they lost any sleep about that?

Lastly if you don't have the Gotan project CD i feel bad for you.

Posted by: greg | December 28, 2006 2:29 AM | Report abuse

Last time a washington DC team was in first place this late in a season? Let's see, DC United had the best record in MLS way back in ... October 2006.

Not to mention having been to the championship game 5 times since 1996, and won 4 of those.

Posted by: Steve H | December 28, 2006 7:57 AM | Report abuse

"Lastly on Blatche: 4 boards in five minutes. He looked excited to play, and was going hard to the rebounds."

Greg and Rob P are on the money with this, but I think Blatche playing was more because of Haywood's foul trouble. Still nice to see him out there with the starters and being productive.

The starters are clearly set, now it's time for Jordan to work on the bench rotation.

Please go vote for all the Wizards for the 2007 NBA All Star game NOW at:

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 28, 2006 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Let's not get crazy here folks. Brendan has been solid lately, not stellar. Jarvis had a nice game last night, but has been, for the season below average. He could be playing in the Kaiser Soze league next year. The thing that worries me the most is that Antawn is one of the 5 worst defenders in the league. This run has been fun to watch, but let's have some perspective.

Posted by: Jason | December 28, 2006 8:09 AM | Report abuse

I thought the officiating was horrible for both teams, throughout the game. I hate games where the refs take over, and no flow or rhythm is developed, because they blow the whistle every nine seconds. And yes, Antawn was a joke out there. Someone asked why Caron or Jarvis wasn't on him? That's a good question. Also, Ivan, Eddie doesn't like to double team a hot player -- why not? It's not like they're shutting down the other players anyway...

Posted by: Keithinator | December 28, 2006 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Iam interested in obtaining a photo of Michael Jordan on Dec. 29, 2001. I would like the post's picture to frame for my son's PT office.
Please direct me
thank you

Posted by: | December 28, 2006 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Our game with the Magic should be telling.....with first place on the line.

I just have to say that I am very proud of our guys....especially after that slow start....

Posted by: Lisa | December 28, 2006 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Neck of Eackles (hee) - Not sure why they didn't put Caron on Wallace. Stevenson and Caron took turns gaurding Morrison, so it's not like Caron wasn't free to take some of the heat off of Jamison. Maybe EJ didn't want to wear out Caron, as he knew he would need Caron's offense? I don't know.

Either way, it's a good win for the Wizards. Greg is right, two years ago (heck, even last year at times), the Wizards would have totally lost this game. They are finding ways to win now, and that will be huge in the spring.

Posted by: EGTuna | December 28, 2006 9:23 AM | Report abuse

the suns run was over almost entirely bad teams, that's how good teams stay good - by beating the bad ones. so last night was big for the wiz. 3-1 on the west coast trip was huge though, has anyone from the east done that well out west this year?
blatche has to play. i know jordan is reluctant, but please, the kid only gets better by playing. suffer a bit now and reap the rewards later.
and i do have to give props to b-hay, he has played awfully well lately. i'm still not convinced he's grown up though and i want to see it continue when etan comes back and b-hay starts to feel the pressure

Posted by: cavemanneedbeer | December 28, 2006 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Even though Wallace did not have a career best (41), it seems that the Bullets/Wizards are repeatedly the victim of players' career bests. I would like to see a stat on this.

Haywood has had some really good games, but it is perplexing that a seven-footer can play an entire game and get 3 rebounds and have no blocks? It was an astounding display of ineptititude. Bobcats were killing the Wizards on the offensive boards and getting so many easy buckets. Sorry, but that's Haywood's territory. Oh, and I guess Antwan might want to consider boxing someone out or at least try to put one foot in the paint.
2. WIs there any

Posted by: Marc-G | December 28, 2006 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Greg, yes Haywood has started before, and they played better when he did. He's started the last 2 seasons and they finished with winning records both times. He's one of the better starting centers in a league devoid of good ones.

Posted by: Mike | December 28, 2006 9:47 AM | Report abuse

mike...ok, yes, i guess b-hay can be one of the better centers if there are no good ones, that still leaves us in really bad shape. he's a total head case who's somehow convinced himself he's a 20-10 guy and thus the idea of him being a role player is total anathema. they've won the last two years despite his poor play and locker room madness - the guy is the poster boy of a bad teammate who only looked good because we were appalled at how bad kwame brown was

Posted by: cavemanneedbeer | December 28, 2006 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Way to go guys. I ought to be a gambling man because I just said that we cannot go to Charlotte and let Gerald Wallace look like an all-star. What did he do - 40 points, 14 rebounds, 6 steals, etc. We have to do better as a team of collectively eliminating any one guy on the opposing team keeping his team in the game. I, like many other fans, cringe when the Wizards fall behind to a team like the Bobcats. Especially now that they are clicking offensively.

We have to get better at closing out on players as well as playing the pick and roll better. No more oops around the basket as every replay of Wallace was a thunderous dunk. He absolutely kills the Wizards just as Earl Boykins of the Nuggets does. If we can increase our defensive effort just a bit we should start to see the benefit of this when we actually blow teams out on the road. If we cant get much offense from our bench players certainly they should be able to give us some defense.

Good win. The true test of where we are should come at home against Orlando which is a team that is struggling to find their identity after early success. This game shouldnt even be close with a little more of a defensive effort.

Posted by: George | December 28, 2006 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Marc-G, Haywood was in foul trouble last night. Give the guy some break. He has been playing great, the guy been avg almost double double since he became a starter. 9.5pts, 9.6reb 1.38blks and shooting at 69.767 fg%. Bottomline is Haywood is the only real center we have right now and until we get Ethan back, there will prob be more nights like last night where we get out rebounded.

ps. Antawn had 11 rebounds last night so I guess we should give him some break also.

Posted by: klau | December 28, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

IC,just wondering, have you heard any updates on when Songalia will be able to play or whether or not we wasted a pick because he can't play any of the season. I thought that initially they said he would be able to come back in December. I have not heard a word out of the Wiz's organization in regards to his status. I wish we had known he was not healthy because maybe we could have chosen someone else. I would hate to think we have to pay someone who never suited up. We need help from the bench badly! What about Etan?

Posted by: WizFanatic | December 28, 2006 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Klau is exactly right, Marc-G. Haywood was in foul trouble the whole night. You can't base a player's ability on one game. Since he's been starting, he's been very effective. They were hurt so much by Wallace because a) Antawn couldn't guard my 3-year-old son, and b) Haywood was on the bench with foul trouble. He's a good shot blocker, and alters more shots than he blocks. The lane wouldn't have been so wide open if he wasn't on the bench.

Posted by: Keithinator | December 28, 2006 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm really having fun watching the Wiz this year. Let Dray get more burn, keep doing you thing wood and lets go!

Posted by: Jumpy | December 28, 2006 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Look, I'm not trying to hate on haywood.

But I don't think you can look at the last 2 seasons and point out Brendan as the reason for their success. He has just dissappeared way too often. And I'm not talking about points. You could make the argument that he hasn't been included enough in the offense, but he has just as many chances at rebounds as anybody else on the court. That said, again I am super excited to see him pick up his play of late. But would I be surprised if it stops? not at all.

I think this current team needs the Etan Brendan tandem to play well to sustain their success. Both of those guys can be great role pllayers, but they need to realize that. Be professional if you are coming off the bench is all.

Side notes: Ruffin is my man, because I think he is a great veteran role model for the bigs. All hustle, no head trips. OK, and please never let him put the ball on the floor. But this team needs a guy like him, and when he is healthy I love to see him out there pestering the opponents and grabbing rebounds, but when he scores those ugly points? Well that's the best and it fires the bench up too. He gets 3-7 minutes in my book depending on the opponent.

For the last three seasons Etan and Haywood would get a pass deep into the paint and pump fake, or make a big slow sloppy dribble giving the defenders about 3 seconds to collapse on them taking away the shot. I think that was costing this team about 10 pts a game. Glad to see they are finally taking the pass and going right up with it.

Posted by: greg | December 28, 2006 10:47 AM | Report abuse

greg, agree, i do think both ethan and haywood should never dribble the ball. haha. they usually end up turning the ball over. I have to give props to haywood recent games. he had been handling the ball a lot more better. but still both ethan and haywood should not be allowed to take more than one dribble.

Posted by: klau | December 28, 2006 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Wow alot of posts! It was a very good win for us! That was the type of game I have seen us blow too many times. They came out on fire at the start and gutted it out at the end. Job well done!

Wallace was great for the Cats, he is just one of those players I have always wished we could get.

Glad to see Jarvis hit some buckets. And very glad to see Blatche get some run and do well. He was agressive and fighting for those boards! I think it's good that he came in to play center where he was down low, that is where we need him and where he needs to develop his game, instead of coming in at SF and handling the ball out on the perimeter.

Haywood continues to play well. Those fouls on him were a joke, and really put us at a disadvantage considering Etan and Ruffin are out. Okafor and Wallace among others were killing us inside when he had to sit. Gotta love the way he's playing!

Good game Wizards!

Posted by: Darnell | December 28, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse

happy for the squad, and like that they are winning! However, eventually they will have to play some defense! Not trying to be the sour apple or a hater, but defense will come into play at some point. Detroit is still out there and Miami will be a force when shaq returns. As Rob P states it is like Jamison never had any defensive technique taught to him. Granted their opponents are good and world class athletes, but so are the wizards. Is Wallace really a 40 a game guy. The Wiz force steals and create turnovers, and sign they play defense. They should be able to move their feet and position themselves to play better on the ball defense, particularly on the trips when it really counts.

Posted by: RobGreg | December 28, 2006 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who watched last night's game thinking that Wallace would be a perfect player for this Wizards team? Tough Defender, active rebounder, can get his points off garbage and seems like he would fit in perfectly here, and he is a FA I think at the end of year.

Plus, while last night was a career high for him, it was not a fluke, he had a statistically excellent year last year too.

Posted by: dc | December 28, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Haywood is "one of the better starting centers"? According to just about every useful measurement of big men, he appears to be right about dead in the middle of the pack, from what I can tell...

Posted by: Gack | December 28, 2006 11:12 AM | Report abuse

The Wizards are looking great at this point in the season (16-12).... They're on a nice win streak, are winning on the road and are atop the southeast division. But, there still lie many questions to the Wizards season and to the future of this franchise. Here is the answer. Behold
First, if you want to win (by winning: I mean NBA Title) you have to play defense and be able to keep up on the boards during playoff season. This has been the biggest obstacle for the Wizards the past two seasons... they can't rebound, block shots or intimidate anybody on the defensive end. The team is just too small... they have to get bigger.
Secondly, I applaud GM Ernie Grunfeld... on staying the course and maintaining the core of this franchise. Even though last seasons acquisition of Darius Songalia has been a bust... we must wait and see what the future holds for Darius in a Wizards uniform... if not this year, maybe next... patience. There are also some needs on the bench which must be addressed... the big guns are just playing too many minutes... they need some rest. Management must make smart decisions which continue improving the franchise.
These two key points lead me to a move that will transform the franchise into title contenders this year and into the future. Trade Antawn Jamison ($15.1 million, 2 years remaining), Etan Thomas ($5.9 million, 4 years remaining), a 2007 first round pick and a 2008 first round pick for Kevin Garnett ($21 million, 3 years remaining) and Mark Madsen ($2.2 million, 4 years remaining). This deal works salary cap wise and for various other reasons.
Wizards- Garnett (30) (PPG 22.3 | RPG 12.2 | BPG 1.8) - will greatly improve team defense and rebounding. The team tempo will slow some, but that is playoff basketball. Garnett will play his heart out with Arenas and Butler... could be amazing.
Madsen (30) (PPG 0.8 | RPG 1.3 | BPG 0.2) - added to deal mainly for trade to make sense for T-Wolves... but has big body to bang in playoffs if need be... and his intensity rubs off on other teammates.
Timberwolves- Jamison (30) (PPG 19.3 | RPG 8.2 | BPG 0.8)- great scorer and solid team player who would be T-Wolves top offensive threat... only has two years left in contract and would give team various options in the future.
Thomas (28) (PPG 7.1 | RPG 6.6 | BPG 1.8) - should be healthy again next week. Thomas, when healthy, is a solid, tough defender who would complement Mark Blount in the middle for next couple of years.
2007 and 2008 First Round Draft picks- Keys to the deal. Would give T-Wolves extra picks and added flexibility in up-coming drafts. This years draft should be knee-deep in talent.
There are certain times when teams must make important decisions to win BIG. This is such a time for the Wizards. It is time to gamble and live with the results. I can only see this as a win-win situation for the Wizards and even the Timberwolves. Tell me what you think... Let's make GM Ernie listen and take a chance on winning.


Posted by: DrDonDre | December 28, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

No trades - minnesota would not do that trade. period. I think this team has a shot at contending this year IF - they get people healthy (Etan, Ruffin - may Songalia) and continue to bring Blatche along in small steps, like last night, hopefully he has some success and gains then confidence to help them in the late/post season. Also, remember A. Daniels? the guy who scored off the bench for them the second half of last season? Maybe he'll show up again sometime this year.
Finally - on the defense: I actually think they play better defense this year. When necessary, they can d-up and get stops in a way that I haven't seen before. I guess the question is what they define as 'when necessary'

Posted by: disco steve colter | December 28, 2006 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Dudes, in his time in Washington (never forget how blessed we were that he came back), Michael Jordan explained how the regular season was like a round of golf. You win by making pars (aka beating all the bad teams) and occasional birdies (beating teams better than you). Teams that beat the bad teams get to the playoffs and, in years like this one, get a high seed.

Someone made the incredible point that this game last night, would have been a classic Wizards loss. I still think that this team will give away a few games like this the rest of the year because we will almost always let a team back in the game via 2nd chance points, a cold shooting streak (happens to all primarily jump-shooting teams) etc. It's great that we aren't lamenting a terrible loss to one of the league's worst but it's telling that we could be. Were it not for my godson (gilbert) bailing us out in the end, we'd be dissecting why we can't play well on back-to-backs and such.

I think people are starting to come around to what I have been saying about Jamison since before the season began. He's a nice player who is really smart. He's going to enxtend his career by a few years by making himself into a shooter. That said, he isn't a power forward as he cannot really defend low post guys and he isn't a 3 as athletic guys like Wallace eat him up. He's a tweener. It's just so hard to play good team defense when 1 guy just flat out cannot guard his man. It's going to be hard for us to be really elite asking Jamison to do what we are.

Posted by: Bernard King | December 28, 2006 11:51 AM | Report abuse

DonDre, only way that deal gets done is if you break into McHale's house and have him call EG at gunpoint Jack Bauer style...

Posted by: Bernard King | December 28, 2006 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Alotta Haywood bashing. I am just enjoying the fact that he is playing so well right now. Yes, he has had moments and streaks in the past, but I think we are going on about 7/8 games now where he has played really well. With Shaq and Yao out, how many centers in the league are playing better than Haywood right now? Very few if any I say.

Gilbert and Caron are also playing the best ball of their careers at the moment. It's fun to watch!!!

Just work on the bench EJ!

Posted by: Rob P | December 28, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Haywood is a good player. EJ hates him, but EJ has really strange attitudes towards players sometimes. Don't let EJ's attitude towards Haywood fool you though -- he's much better than Etan, and when playing with aggression is better than average among starting centers, which is all the Zards need.

Posted by: Zonker | December 28, 2006 12:08 PM | Report abuse

"Our game with the Magic should be telling.....with first place on the line."

The Wiz will win that one Lisa, it's the game against the Bucks on Saturday that will test them. If they can win out this week.....I can only say "wow!"

Funny how winning brings everyone out, isn't it? ;)

"Look, I'm not trying to hate on haywood."

Yeah you are. :)

Haywood was in foul trouble last night, you have to look past that game. Since he's been starting he's been playing the best ball of his career and people are noticing. When he was on the bench at the beginning of the season the Wiz were losing. His play right now is definately one reason they are winning, no doubt. He should be getting at least 30-35 minutes a game. The refs were horrid last night.

I would disagree with what you say about Ruffin. "Smallball" kills the Wiz every time and was the reason why they were losing at the beginning of the season. He's a "good guy" but I honestly I dread it when he comes back.

They definately need Etan the bench.

I would say right now Haywood is one of the better starting centers in the EAST, at least he's playing that way. Maybe not the NBA.

"It's not like they're shutting down the other players anyway..."

All this negativity man!!! ;)

The win last night was impressive on several levels. Most of which was about "heart." They could have stopped playing and complained to the refs all night but they didn't. This was as big a win as either the Suns or Lakers games in my book. They are playing VERY well right now.

Please go vote for all the Wizards for the 2007 NBA All Star game NOW at:

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 28, 2006 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"Yao out, how many centers in the league are playing better than Haywood right now?"


Oh, one more for Haywood.

If he doesn't get hurt in the Houston game a few weeks back, they win that one. Yao had a hard time with him and the Wiz were up by 5 points when he left the game. After that no one could defend Yao and they won...barely.

Just because of his reach he changes people's shots.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 28, 2006 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"He's going to enxtend his career by a few years by making himself into a shooter."

BK, think Glen Rice. Jamison is the same player.

And I 100% agree with you, but for now they have no one better.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 28, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

i don't think songaila will play this year.

remember mark price and lorenzo williams?

Posted by: poptart | December 28, 2006 12:42 PM | Report abuse

One step at a time. 50 wins and a competitive 2nd round of the playoffs would be great this season.

Let Ernie worry about NBA titles and the 3 year plan and developing Blatche and potential trades.

Enjoy the season for what it is: a really solid basketball team and the best team this franchise has had in decades.

Remember when the season started and there was alot of debate on this blog as to whether 50 wins was attainable, and how the Wizards miss Larry Hughes, and how the team was going backwards? You know who you are. Ancient histroy now, huh?

Posted by: Wei | December 28, 2006 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Ivan, I love this blog. Thanks for the analysis. Keep it up!

Posted by: The Shah | December 28, 2006 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Don't tell me i'm hating on haywood. ;)
I'm just loving Ruffin.

1. Do you think haywood was the reason for the last 2 years success? Reaaaaallly?

2. If he comes off the bench and gets the same minutes as Etan and the team is winning who cares. I will agree that Haywoods improved play has been a major boon to the team, but he had to improve to keep playing at all.

3. I think Etan was one of the few bright spots from the early part of the season. And if you look at their stats Etan is right there with brendan, even a slight bit ahead of him, with less minutes per game.

4. The reason they have turned it around is not because Haywood is starting, but because Gilbert got his head together. Right now gilbert is raising the play of the guys around him, which is a critical development for this team.

5. Facts can't hate. And I'm not talking about last night, I know he was in foul trouble last night, weak officiating happens. I want him to be good, but he shouldn't have to start to produce! I think that is a lame excuse.

6. I know Ruffin would move down the bench if we had any depth. That's not my point, I just think having motivated veterans on your bench who know what it means to be professional is a good thing for a team that has in it's history probably lost more games to immaturity than most. I see him more as a coach.

7. I don't think we need to be trading 2 first round picks for KG. Period.

8. I normally don't post a lot here, but just for my creds. I have loved this team since the days of big Gheorge. When this team was sooo bad... but I loved em.

Posted by: greg | December 28, 2006 1:22 PM | Report abuse

"Ancient histroy now, huh?"

That's because they looked so disfunctional and we all knew they had too much talent to be that way.

I honestly think injuries helped the rotaions more then Jordan did. We'll see when they get some healthy bodies if he goes back to "smallball" or not.

- Ray :)

Posted by: Ray | December 28, 2006 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Greg, Gilbert is a genuine MVP candidate and that's why they are winning. Let's be honest. I just said Haywood's play is "one" reason they are winning. The whole team has improved dramtically in the last month or so.

As "Wei" pointed out a lot of us were upset at them not very long ago, I was one of them. But that's because I expect them to win. It's a long season so we'll see.

Again, I'm still not sold on Jordan as coach so I might just get mad again. ;)

It's good you like Ruffin, I think he's a class guy. But the facts are they have a losing record this year when he plays any kind of minutes at center, hense the term "smallball." He shouldn't even be playing any minutes at center.

It's crazy to think the Wiz *might* actually have someone that will lead the league in scoring. I never thought I would see it, they have had a lot of bad teams.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 28, 2006 1:33 PM | Report abuse


Have to disagree with you that Rice and Jamison are the same player. First of all, their names are different and they look different. ;-)

Secondly, Rice never touched Antawn's productivity. Glen had some good years, but had no inside game. Antawn's collection of flips and off-balance floaters is pretty much unique in my memory. He can definitely score inside, and is much better in transition.

Additionally, Rice was a poor rebounder, whereas Antawn is a very good rebounder. Rice was a straight spot-up shooter his whole career; Antawn is drifting that direction, but he can still play inside, as he showed last night (which was nice to see, by the way. He didn't settle for Js all night). Now, they play the same kind of defense, but I don't see them as similar at all.

Posted by: Keithinator | December 28, 2006 1:34 PM | Report abuse

why can't i post? is 50 the max??

Posted by: poptart | December 28, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Greg, I like Ruff too, but he plays way too much! That guy is a POWER FORWARD and that is where he should play. At 6-8 he has no business playing center and Eddie Jordan LOVES to play him there for some unknowable reason! He loves to put him in there and watch Brendan mope on the bench. It is as if he is trying to invoke the ultimate slap in your face insult to Haywood. It's like, "hey go sit on your butt and watch the game go by, and watch your career waste away while this small nonplayin bigheaded scrub gets all your minutes".

I got no problem at all when Ruffin comes in to replace Antawn "right this way, let me carry your bags for you" Jamison at PF when we need some D and physical play there. Believe me I welcome it with open arms!

But when he comes in at center, the other team immediately starts attacking the basket, getting layups and dunks, rebound after rebound, putbacks and 2nd and 3rd chance points! He doesn't intimidate anyone, he doesn't alter or block shots, and at 6-8 he simply is outsized and cannot stop anyone there. He is out of position, as simple as that. And he got NO BUSINESS being in there at the end of the game!! He can't dribble or shoot at all, and those horrible flat bricks he throws up there when he's at the free throw line are enough to make me want to stick me head in a garbage disposal! He makes Shaq look smooth!! The way he shoots free throws he got not business in at the end of the game!!

It's not Ruffin, it's the way Eddie uses him! He insists on playing him at center, and he insists on putting him in there at the end to close out!! It makes no sense and I'd really like someone to explain to me why he does that!!

Posted by: Darnell | December 28, 2006 2:59 PM | Report abuse

i heard juan dixon wants out of portland.

we badly need a scorer off the bench. he knows the team and offense already.

Posted by: poptart | December 28, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I don't think EJ spends a lot of time ruining peoples lives... maybe you hang out with Kwame too much. ;-)

I think he wants to win, and he makes his decisions based on that principle. I would say this year it looks like the team has finally learned how to manage the game better, and I think that is a big part of where Jordan is trying to improve this team. I don't think we are going to win a lot of games with small ball, but I do think that it is a bit like pitching. You need to have some different looks, some off speed, a curve, etc. If you try throwing your fastball all the time people are going to figure you out. Just because one line-up isn't as good as another doesn't mean that it won't serve a purpose down the line.

Posted by: greg | December 28, 2006 3:20 PM | Report abuse

For the record, I'm not hating on Haywood, but my feeling on him and Etan was summarized by another poster in another thread a few days back: neither are world-beaters.

IMO, arguing over who is better between Brendan and Etan is a lot like arguing whether a Ford Taurus is better than a Dodge Stratus. Both are functional and can get the job done, but neither is a Lamborghini.

And people really need to walk away from the bong, if they think there is any trade that gets Garnett here that doesn't cost us our soul.

Posted by: Gack | December 28, 2006 3:22 PM | Report abuse

The Wizards are in first place, by any standard. They are percentage points ahead of Orlando. Any time two teams over .500 are tied in terms of games over .500, the one who has played the fewer games has a higher win percentage. Don't know why the Post keeps saying that they can be in first. They are in first.

Posted by: truke | December 28, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse

agreed for sure about the trade for k.g. issue. ernie g. has done a phenomenal job of building this team and is not about to blow it up to get one aging superstar.
think about this:
deshawn stevenson for jeffries (at about 1/10,000th of the price - i'd argue that regardless of contract, stevenson is better for this team)
and maybe the ultimate payback for all the crap trades the bullets/wiz have been on the wrong end of: kwame for caron butler.
i now trust ernie completely.

Posted by: disco steve colter | December 28, 2006 3:27 PM | Report abuse

the main thing i miss about living in d.c. is my wiz season tickets ,but they are coming to my town this saturday and i scored some seats very close so everyone look for the guy with a beer in each hand acting like the old school heckler at the cap center . go wiz

Posted by: honest abe | December 28, 2006 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Agree, Disco. Grunfeld's a great GM. He's done something with the Wiz very interesting: saturation bombing for big men. By drafting Blatche last year, then Pecherov/Veeremeenko (or however you spell his name) this year, he's gotten three bigs with potential. If one pans out, he's really helped this team. If two or more pan out, the Wiz will be serious championship contenders in maybe three years. Ernie knows that bigs don't often pan out, so he's playing percentages that at least one will. And I'm glad the Wiz have an owner that will keep him in place (you listening, Mr. Snyder?)

Posted by: Keithinator | December 28, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and by the way:

"how many centers in the league are playing better than Haywood right now?"

Well, it's not that hard to list them, because has excellent stats sorting. Looking at the past 5 games, if you use the Efficiency Rankings (projected to 48 mins of play), it goes like this:

1. Camby (16.0 ppg / 11.4 rpg / 3.6 apg / 4.4 bpg)
2. Yao (25.0 ppg / 8.6 rpg / 2.2 apg / 3.2 bpg)
3. Mohammed (14.2 ppg / 9.0 rpg / 0 apg / 1.0 bpg)
4. Bynum (7.6 ppg / 5.4 rpg / 1.8 rpg / 2.0 bpg) ** 16.6 min per game
5. Bogut (15.2 ppg / 8.8 rpg / 4.6 apg / 1.4 bpg)
6. Okur (22.4 ppg / 9.0 rpg / 2.8 apg / 0.6 bpg)
7. Miller (14.8 ppg / 7.8 rpg / 3.6 apg / 0.6 bpg)
8. Duncan (18.4 ppg / 9.0 rpg / 2.4 apg / 2.2 bpg)
9. Dalembert (11.4 ppg / 8.8 rpg / 0.8 apg / 2.4 bpg)
10. Dampier (9.8 ppg / 9.6 rpg / 0.6 apg / 0.8 bpg)
11. Ilgauskas (16.2 ppg / 9.0 rpg / 1.2 apg / 1.0 bpg)
12. Pachulia (15.8 ppg / 7.8 rpg / 1.8 apg / 0.4 bpg)
13. Kaman (11.0 ppg / 7.8 rpg / 2.2 apg / 2.0 bpg)
14. Haywood (10.4 ppg / 8.8 rpg / 1.2 apg / 1.0 bpg)
15 & 16, Barron and Voskuhl, projected from 17. Mourning (8.6 ppg / 5.4 rpg / 0.2 apg / 3.4 bpg)

etc. Others in the immediate neighborhood but below Brendan include Frye, Blount, and Nesterovic.

Posted by: Gack | December 28, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

"4. The reason they have turned it around is not because Haywood is starting, but because Gilbert got his head together." amen to that poster's point.

That had me very worried early on as it seemed Gil was depressed. I think it was just Gil being Gil, which means, it could happen again.

A bench player who is a scorer (not just a shot taker, as another posted pointed out on another blog entry) is exactly what this team needs. This bench reminds me of the very few good teams the Bullets/Wiz have had over the last 25 years - hard working starters but no bench (think Ruland/Mahorn years or even late 80s).

Great points made by the fans in this blog. It is a daily read for sure (when something is posted, that is, WP guys).

Posted by: Shotgun | December 28, 2006 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Ivan and the Rest of the Blog Readers,

Feeling very good about my 10k bet on the over 39.5 wins on the season for the Wizards. I really wish I had taken the equity out of my house and went out to vegas and layed 100k spread out over numerous books. Unless a significant injury happends to one of the big three, this bet is as good as gold!

Will anyone from the Blog be attending Gilbert's Birthday Party at Love? I talked to my buddies that run Love and all the invitations were sent out yesterday/today. Gil threw down a cold million to rent it out. TRUE STORY!

Posted by: D-Bonics | December 28, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Why do I feel ike we're writing Ivan's next column? ;) ;)

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 28, 2006 5:24 PM | Report abuse

The reason Jordan sits Haywood so much the past 3 years is because A. lack of aggresiveness B. Lack of rebounding C. he a turnover machine when ever he get a touch. If Brendon touchs the ball during a offensive set either one on three things is going to happen. 1. Shot 2. A horrible pass 3. he dribbles and a guard pinching down takes it.

It seems the benching at the beginning of the season has renewed Haywoods focus as he is much more aggressive in the paint/ boards and in general and has been playing good ball. That seems to be the only thing that has work he entire Wizards career to motivate him. Good job by Eddie. It will be interesting to see what happens when Etan returns. Compition for playing time is a great thing.

Jamison Defence,

errrrrrrrr man it painful to watch.

Posted by: dc | December 28, 2006 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Lots of comments about Ruffin, and some people complaining about Ruffin always playing the 5 when he should be playing the 4.

I know EJ wants to run and gun like this team is the Suns, but sometimes I want to see them go big - Etan is a tweener 4/5, so maybe play ET and Ruffin together, or Haywood and Ruffin. Not sure if Haywood and ET would work together....

Just a thought.

Posted by: the cheat | December 28, 2006 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Gack, nice list bud! I won't break down that list except to say that Duncan is a power forward playing center, Yao is out, and Okur is a three point shooting "center". Haywood is playing exactly the way the Wiz need him to right now and there on not many others left on that list I take over Haywood this second.

Go Wiz!!!

Posted by: Rob P | December 28, 2006 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Check out Steve Kerr's "Three Points" commentary at Finally some MVP love for Gilbert and national recognition for the Wiz...

Posted by: pk1 | December 28, 2006 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Rob, I'd take Ilgauskas or Camby over either of our guys any night of the week, if only because they are more offensive-minded, IMO.

That said, it's true there are a lot of fairly unspectacular big men out there right now, and Hay is contributing every night, so there's not much else we can ask for...

Posted by: Gack | December 28, 2006 8:47 PM | Report abuse

"The reason Jordan sits Haywood so much the past 3 years is because..."

You forgot to add #4: Jordan didn't like Haywood and had a personal thing with him. It's been well documented.

Jordan has always favored Etan over Haywood because of this. Supposedly they patched things up this past summer.

Even when Etan comes back Haywood should be getting 30+ minutes a game. If Jordan splits time equally when Etan comes back then that's gonna hurt the team.

To me it's not "good job Eddie" because Haywood should have been starting from the beginning. Jordan loves "smallball" and I cringe at the thought of seeing it again. I sure hope BK is right about Jordan "seeing the light" on that subject.

Things happen for a reason in my mind and this is Haywood's opportunity to win or lose that spot.

Injuries forced Jordan's hand to play Haywood more. As previously said Haywood is "one" reason they have improved, but it's silly not to think Gilbert getting his head together is the real reason they are winning.

Now if they can only get Jamison to play defense. ;)

Please go vote for all the Wizards for the 2007 NBA All Star game NOW at:

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 28, 2006 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Wizards bloggers... these discussions are great. I haven't chimed in for a few weeks but it is a daiy read! It is so refreshing to have a good team to follow in town rather than Dan Snyder's frustrating crew.

Regarding Jamison and Haywood ...what you see is what you get. Haywood is effective with his length on defense but is usually an offensive liability. Jamison is the worst defender on the team, and that is saying a lot on a team with Gilbert.

EJ said he would emphasize defense this year. But only injuries forced him to stop the small ball. And his attitude towards Haywood over Etan is a sign that he still puts the priority on offense. Etan has nice post moves and grabs offensive boards. Haywood clogs the middle better. On a team with lots of servicable parts we see the coach's priorities by how and when he puts the pieces together on the court. As a long time Zards fanatic I see a first place finish, in our poor conference because Shaq will not be able to a catch us when he returns. But I don't see us in the eastern final yet. WE STILL DO NOT MAKE DEFENSE THE PRIORITY.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 28, 2006 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Not usre why this has never been brought up or recently brought up:

Why not ET @ power & BH @ center & move back AJ to the small fwd spot? (As much as I luv DS @ the off-guard)

We lose some depth in length but then we don't have a strong bench anyhoo.

Posted by: Victor | December 28, 2006 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Victor wrote:

--"Not usre why this has never been brought up or recently brought up:

Why not ET @ power & BH @ center & move back AJ to the small fwd spot? "--

Here's why Vic. The offense that has the Wiz clicking like Savion Glover on meth only works with proper spacing. And neither Haywood nor Etan can hit a face-up jumper to save their lives.

So yeah, you get bigger, but you sacrifice the strengths of our best players: Gil to drive the lane, and Caron to riccochet around down low. Plus Antawn is nowhere near the paint to rebound.

Instead you lean heavily on the possibility that Haywood and Etan will be able to catch a ball. Either as a pass or as a rebound.

So ask yourself: you really want to make either of these guys the focal point?

Or would you rather put the opportunity to win or lose in the hands of the hot-as-plasma Agent Zero.

That said, if we can develop a high-post option at center (Pech perhaps) or substitute power forward (in theory: Andray Blatche) then yeah, going big becomes a real option.

But we're still a year or two away from that probability.


Posted by: doclinkin wiz forum | December 28, 2006 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Great posts by many here today, especially Ray and Darnell. Ray, you are totally on point re: Michael Ruffin. He kills the team and when he comes back we will be worse off for it. You are also correct on the main reason EJ started Etan over B-Hay, the personal vendetta he has against him.

EJ not starting B-Hay to begin this season is very reminiscent of EJ not starting Caron Butler at the beginning of last season. I remember when Wilbon said "what a genius Eddie Jordan is" for inserting Butler into the starting lineup after last year's slow start, which totally turned them around. Hogwash, he was the only idiot who would have had Butler on the bench in the first place! Likewise with B-Hay.

Wilbon also called EJ a "genius" for that game (I think it was in the playoffs, or near the end of the season) when EJ decided to not coach in the second half, and the Wizards went on a tear for a come-from-behind victory. According to Wilbon, EJ was brilliant for not coaching and letting the team play. In actuality, it proved how bad a coach he is, he's worse than having no coach at all. That is sad.

Posted by: Mike | December 28, 2006 11:59 PM | Report abuse

I am suspect of EJ's coaching as other's have posted in one way or another, and think EG was probably forced to extend him. If this was the NHL, I think he'd be gone (good coaches get fired there left and right).

I like EJ - he took on the Bullets/Wiz for (somethings) sake! I know it's his home town, but come on! He deserves more than a break. Maybe only for this year though and no more. Still, I'm rooting for my team, and EJ. I hope we get 2 rounds of victories, at least.

I liked Wilbon's column on Gil - but clearly, Wilbon arrived after 1980 in DC. He didn't mention Bobby D (praise to the great announcer Marv Brooks) when mentioning the last great Bullets team. Bob Dandridge, along with a number of other great NBA team-players, is too often forgotten. I'm afraid Caron is heading that way too - too humble and solid night in and out to be highlighted, but still great.

Caron was taken 1 spot before Jared Jeffries in the draft - I was crushed. And to realize this team STILL got him - fate has changed for this team.

EJ, Ernie, Antawn, Gil and Caron - what a great fate!

Posted by: Shotgun | December 29, 2006 5:23 AM | Report abuse

But to all those who bash our boy Eddie:

Get off it. Seriously. You want the guy to make defense a priority, fine, but realize the personnel he has to work with.

Recognize the fact that every offseason for the past few years the Wiz have lost their most effective/versatile defenders (Jared this year; L-boogie and the KFB before that-- for all Kwame's faults he was a lockdown defender on players like Duncan and Dirk).

And instead we've added smaller/less athletic players to take their place in the line-up.

We lose L-Smoove, a 1st team all-defense 2-guard, swift as a striking cobra in the passing lanes. And quicker running backwards or sideways than most people are at a dead-on sprint. One of the top rebounding guards in the L.

We replace him with Caron, who is tough as they come, and has a good eye for a steal-- but be fair, he ain't quick enough to guard Shooters and Quick forwards, and is undersized against most wing/post players he's got to match outside or down low. He's an old-school prototype SF, in a new school era with 7 foot three point specialists.

There's a reason Caron's been traded twice despite his talent. He's a 'tweener': too small for his best position. (But with the _heart_ of a God of War; and the talent to be traded for _two_ number one overall picks; so I ain't complaining).

To keep his talent on court we had to patch holes with the offensively inept Ared Effries (got no 'J'). Who is long enough, savvy enough to compensate for mismatches at 2, 3, 4, and occasionally 5. But can't be everywhere at once.

Same year we lose a 7 foot defensive specimen with Number One overall athleticism and the _body_ of a god of war (but the heart of a sickly opossum), and instead have to play finesse forward Jamison 40 minutes per night at the strong forward spot.

(Antawn Jamison-- who by himself has improved the defense of every team he has ever left...)

Then this year we drop the six-foot-twelve Jeffries and insert the 6'5" D.Steve. Who may be tough but is undersized at One position, never mind all five. And may be a bargain basement steal, but his defense is, eh, well it's better than average, but that's about it.

Then we lose defensive specialist chemical engineer Ruffin. And our sometimey back-up center/poet (who is undersized at the spot anyway, even on years when he ain't injured for most of the season).

And all the time consider the fact that our absolute best player --and in the 'All-time' echelon of best Bullards/Wizzets-- our best player out there for 40+ minute per game is a guy who doesn't really have the instincts for great defense. You can't work on your defense at 3AM in a gym by yourself.

Look. Get over it. Defense is a skill; defense may be schemed, all true-- But defense is also a talent. You got to have the size, speed, skill, and instincts to make it work. In Brendan, we've got exactly _one_ player who is a quality defensive player, the rest are _at best_ undersized overacheivers. And Big 'Wood is occasionally an oversized underacheiver, he only plays well when he's [ticked] off about something. So, heck, credit Eddie for getting him ticked off..

Eddie may have shortfalls in in-game match-ups and substitutions. Okay, he's no Larry Brown (for my money, best ever at in-game micro-managing).

But sometimes that's a good thing. Eddie's got a squad that will kill themselves to win for him. Who never complain and blame each other when the squad is down. Who has consistently high-octane offenses. Who this year has a historically efficient Offensive attack.

Enjoy the fact that we've got a squad out there that's actually fun to watch. And you know, either shut up or cheer for your squad.

I'm done.


Posted by: doclinkin | December 29, 2006 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I like Eddie. After those seasons with Leonard Hamilton and Gar Heard, I got no problem with Eddie. Those guys were terrible. I remember hoping we'd get a big time coach, and Abe came up with Gar Heard who "blew him away" at his interview. Wes Unseld, Jim Lynam, and we've had an interim coach here and there too but can't remember their names. Bickerstaff was alright, and I liked Doug Collins ok. Overall I think Eddie is ok, he runs good practices, I love his offensive system, and generally like the things he says. He may not be the best coach in the league, his player rotations drive me bonkers, and sometimes I think he mismanages the end of games. But the guys seem to play hard for him, we play hard and have a don't give up attitude which I like. Considering where we've been with our past coaches, we could definately be worse.

Posted by: Darnell | December 29, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Gack, I was not implying there are not guys you take over Haywood. Just that after the first tier Haywood is very serviceable now.

Posted by: Rob P | December 29, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Good thoughts Doc,
But as one who "bashed EJ as you put it by stating that WE STILL DO NOT MAKE DEFENSE THE PRIORITY let me chime in again. All of your comments are correct about our personnel and the fact that we have lots of tweeners and folk who are not defensive stoppers. So in light of that reality we do not want to fool ourselves into thinking that what we see now in December, and trust me we are really enjoying what we see now, will materialize into our making it to the eastern finals. That is our concern. I think we are where Dallas and Phoenix were several years ago: fun to watch, but set up for a disappointing May. I just wish that the coaches were emphasizing more that they understand this reality. Maybe privately they are. I hope so. A few of EJ's comments in this morning's Post article seem like he is trying to get the point across again. But his insistence on using small ball as is default mode in crisis, rather than insisting that they get more physical and make stops...well, it is going to haunt us.

Whenever I tune in late to a game the first thing I check is who has been playing center. If it is Jamison, it means we are in trouble and EJ is seeking to shoot our way out of a hole. Yes the league rules are different now, but foot speed and desire can go a long way. I just think he can get more out of them. They will never see the need unless they have it pounded home to them.

Also, for the record, I like EJ and think the players play hard for him and that he seems to get them to play as a team most times. That's why this is so frustrating. The east is there for the taking and we need to realize that a little better D and we could be in the finals.

Tonight's game will tell us a lot about the team and the coach. We are at home, it is a big game for first place. We need to come out and dominate. It should be fun to watch. Go Zards

Posted by: BmoreRev | December 29, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand the EJ bashing. Have people forgotten how bad our coaching has been for so many years. This is one of the first times in recent memory where I don't feel like I have to worry about who will be coaching the Wiz next. We just need to worry about having the right players on this team.

I think people are really going to praise EG next year. People complain now but think about what we have stockpiled on the shelf and then think about next year.
Pecherov showed me in the summer he can play. Songalia should be back at full strength also. That's 2 Bigs who can shoot and rebound right there. Add in Blatche will have another year under his belt and I think we'll have plenty of size and versatility next year.

I think the question will be who will get dropped and lose minutes to make rooom for these guys next year.

Oh and I know Gilbert has problems staying in front of his man but c'mon people he could be a lot worse. He still gets a lot of steals and gets in passing lanes. At least he does that much.

Posted by: KD | December 29, 2006 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Another important thing about Eddie Jordan....perhaps the most important: Gilbert likes him. Remember in the offseason when Gil stated that he might not want to stay here if they did not re-sign Eddie?

After all those years of losing with other coaches, I say give the man a break....we've been to the playoffs the past two years which has been something I thought I would never see.

Posted by: Lisa | December 29, 2006 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"...he was the only idiot who would have had Butler on the bench in the first place!"

Believe me I was screaming "START CARON!" the entire first part of last year. The put him in and they start winning. Amazing.

Gilbert is a very, very, special player. Jordan owes his job to him in my honest opinion. I think they are winning now despite his coaching.

I just have this feeling "smallball" is going to come back soon and I dread it.

I am enjoying watching them a lot right now, but I would watch them even if they were losing......and then come here to complain about it. ;)

Wiz win tonight, but I'm worried about tomorrow night against the Bucks. Redd always KILLS the Wiz and they have a center that can rebound and play D.

Please go vote for all the Wizards for the 2007 NBA All Star game NOW at:

- Ray

PS - Props to Wilbon FINALLY writing on Gilbert.....about time.

Posted by: Ray | December 29, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully, this isn't a jinx, but if we manage to beat Orlando and Milwaukee, we'd have the longest winning streak in the East AND would be able to claim another StreakBuster notch for our belts, since the Bucks have won 6 straight.

The Mavs have the league's longest streak going right now at 8. Nobody else has won more than 2 in a row. How's that for parity?

Posted by: Gack | December 29, 2006 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gack - run those Haywood stats for just December, or even just the last 10 games, and you'll see that Haywood moves up. Run it for just the Eastern Conference over the last 10 games - and he's ranked as the second best center by efficiency (behind Andrew Bogut??)..

You can slice and dice stats any way you want.

Point is, Brendan is playing much better since he became a starter. We don't need any scoring from him - just the rebounding and defense.


Posted by: Anonymous | December 29, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Rook, I ran those using the last 5 games, since everyone has universally claimed that Haywood has been playing "some of the best ball of his career" during them.

As you said, stats can be sliced and diced any way you want. I've said that a number of times, myself. Especially in reference to the "The Wiz are 7-2 since Haywood became a starter!" talk.

I really don't understand the Haymania, but you know what, we're winning, in the driver's seat, and we should be enjoying the season, not ripping it to pieces. That's what we do over on the Redskins Insider ;)

So what the hell. Haymania 4 Life!

Posted by: Gack | December 29, 2006 3:12 PM | Report abuse

A few points I like to make:

1. Ruffin has a role to play, however small but very important in certain areas that the team lacks (toughness, rebounding, and other intangibles not shown on any stat sheet). Other teams may have multiple guys w/ these characteristics, but the Wizards do not. The Wizards are mostly a very skilled but finesse team that at certain times need that toughness. That is why EJ keeps him around and that is why Etan is liked by EJ so much. It was even worse before we got Caron, because Hughes didn't possess that toughness that Tough Juice brings. It wasn't just numbers that Caron replaced in Hughes, it was the way his game meshes w/ Gil and Antawn's since those two are so offensive minded but mostly finesse guys (Antawn more so).

2. A bench w/ so many young guys w/o a ton of experience will not get any playing time on a team trying to move into the elite status. Bottom dweller teams are struggling but are they are trying to find out what they have will USUALLY have more playing time for young guys starting or off the bench. The Wizards need to find a good mix of veteran guys for immediate help and a couple of young guys to develop a growing core. To a certain extent they do have a mix, but IMO they have too many young guys vs. veterans on the bench. Blatche, Lang, and Mason should get their attention for development. Donnell Taylor needs to go. He has some skills but he's neither a good shooter or finisher for SG nor does he have the skills to play PG (like EJ is trying to make him into). He's also just average on defense. So really, he's average in almost every way. Again as someone already mentioned, Mason should get all his minutes off the bench because he plays tough defense (sometimes way too obvious armchecking though) and good shooting skills.

3. Hayes is really struggling mostly because of his lack of confidence. He's not as bad as he's showing now, but he's certainly not doing himself any favors jacking shots up instead of AT LEAST trying to take it to the rack a few times to gain some of that lost confidence. If he doesn't do anything else except shoot those jumpers, he'll have to sit and regain those minutes by earning them in practice, etc... One thing he does do well is play decent positional defense on SFs.

4. Stevenson, on the flip side of Hayes, is playing w/ great confidence and it's showing. He was never a very good shooter, but he's doing a good job now because of that confidence and the role he plays on this team. He has not put undue stress on himself by trying to do too much except to play defense as best as possible (it's pretty good) and takes his shots when he's WIDE OPEN. Being a longtime veteran has allowed him to see where he fits in this league and team.

5. Way too many are criticizing EJ for not starting Haywood at the beginning of the season. But if you think about it, it worked didn't it? That has brought motivation into his game that EJ wanted from him. When has Haywood play this well night in night out during his time in Washington? Haywood can be a very serviceable starting center when he wants to, just too often in the past he didn't show he wanted to. That's what is so frustrating when we watch him. Etan plays hungrier, but is not as big or quite as good on defense as Brendan. In either case, it really doesn't matter who starts because they play similar minutes anyway. EJ should just start and play bigger minutes whoever is playing better and/or who they matchup better w/. If they both play well the way they have been during this season, their combined averages should be at least 15+ pts and 15+ rbs per game. What team wouldn't want that out of a full time starting center? The Wizards will just have two guys combine for that.

Sorry for the SUPER LONG rant, hope y'all made it to the end of


Posted by: Going G.A.G.A. over Gilbert | December 29, 2006 3:28 PM | Report abuse


I have to say the Bucks actually have 2 centers that can rebound and play D: Bogut and Gadzuric. And if my recollection is any good, I think Gadzuric has had some very decent nights vs. our Wizards.

Go Wizards!!!

Posted by: Going G.A.G.A. over Gilbert | December 29, 2006 3:37 PM | Report abuse

If you count on Michael Ruffin, count on not going to far. That dude should NEVER play more than a 3-5 minute stretch in a meaningful game. You cannot go 4-5 on offense. The dude is a practice player that makes guys go hard and should provide occasional energy when we are dragging.

Other teams have 'Ruffins', and they can hit a 10 footer/layup/free throw. He's a good guy and a great guy to have on your team for the reasons mentioned but if you need him, welcome to mediocre. Enjoy your middle first round draft pick.

Posted by: Bernard King | December 29, 2006 3:42 PM | Report abuse

"If they both play well the way they have been during this season, their combined averages should be at least 15+ pts and 15+ rbs per game."

That's easy to say and they weren't averaging that even when Etan was healthy.

I don't have it, but someone posted in a blog right before this winning spree how the oppositions shooting % was less with Haywood in the line up then with Etan.

Henry or poptart did I thought.....

Etan has always played smaller then his size. He's 6-10 but you'd never know it. Let's be honest, Etan would still be starting if he hadn't gotten hurt. I don't know if you can credit that to Jordan.

For the record I also like Ruffin, just not at center.

Again speaking for my own observations, the team plays better with Haywood. His play is only "one" reason they are doing well right now, not the only. I've been saying for years they only need 10/10 and solid D out of thier center and that's what they are getting with Haywood(if not better).

One thing Haywood brings to the table is his size. He's 7 foot tall and when he puts his arms up he's a giant. Can't dribble the ball for crap and I would love to punch him in the head when he turns the ball over, but that's another story. ;)

Earlier in the season people were hating on Jamison. Darnell was killing him weren't you bud? ;)

I think BK's observations were 100% correct on Jamison. The thing is it's hard to replace 20/10 offensively, but your PF shouldn't be hanging out by the three point line most of the game.

However wins cure everything. As long as they win that's all that matters. It's not "hating" it's just ways that we see that they can improve. As long as Gilbert keeps firing up 30-40 a game they shouldn't lose.

In my mind the best game they played this year was that Bobcats win this week. They showed a lot of heart in the way they won. They would have lost that a month ago easily.

Please go vote for all the Wizards for the 2007 NBA All Star game NOW at:

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 29, 2006 3:52 PM | Report abuse

"I have to say the Bucks actually have 2 centers that can rebound and play D: Bogut and Gadzuric."

Thanks! :)

I have a bad feeling about Saturday nights game.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 29, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Just heard Michael Jordan is really getting a divorce this time.....

Posted by: Lisa | December 29, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Just heard Michael Jordan is really getting a divorce this time.....

Posted by: Lisa | December 29, 2006 05:02 PM

OK. And you still don't have a shot.

Posted by: Matchmaker | December 29, 2006 7:52 PM | Report abuse

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