On the road again

The Wizards are on a two-game winning streak going into tonight's game against the Bulls here at the United Center but this team really needs a road win to get the 0-7 road monkey off their backs. It's hard to believe with some of the lousy teams that have played in DC over the years that no squad in history has opened 0-8 on the road. However, it is interesting to note that the last team to open 0-7, the 86-87 squad, snapped its streak with a quality win at Boston on Dec. 2, 1986 against the defending world champs.

The Bulls aren't nearly as tough as those Celtics but they are on a three-game winning streak and seem to have found some sort of stride after a rough start. The good news for the Bulls is that tonight's game kicks off an eight-game homestand. In all, the Bulls get to play 12 of 17 December games at home.

Last night's win over Charlotte was impressive - on the offensive end. Defensively, it was disturbing to allow the Bobcats to shoot 52.5 percent while scoring a season-high 109 points. While watching the game from my perch above the player's tunnell, I remarked to my fellow sports hacks that anytime an opponent wants to get a quality shot against the Wizards, all it has to do is work the ball around with three or four passes. As long as they don't cough it up, some player will wind up with a wide open shot.

That could be a problem tonight against a Bulls team that loves to play the drive and kick game with guards Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon and Chris Duhon and forwards Andres Nocioni and Luol Deng. These guys will regularly pass on an OK shot for a great one and if they happen to be hitting that night as they were last night when they torched the Hornets' zone, you are in trouble.

A few notes to keep in mind before tonight's game: Gilbert Arenas averaged 32.5 points in four games against Chicago last season.....The Wizards have lost three straight regular season games at United Center.....The last regular season win here came on Oct. 29, 2003 and marked Eddie Jordan's first win as Wiz coach....The last win overall was a big one, a 112-110 victory in Game 5 of the 2005 Eastern Conference playoffs when Gilbert hit that memorable jumper over Hinrich and Tyson Chandler....Since he was moved from the starting lineup to the bench 10 games ago, Gordon is averaging 19.1 points in 30.6 minutes for the Bulls....Things haven't gone smoothly for Ben Wallace so far here in Chi-town but he is averaging a league-high 4.5 offensive rebounds per game. That could be a problem for a Wizards team that has been getting killed on the boards all season....Then again, Brendan Haywood did a pretty solid job on Ben when he was a Piston last season.

It's going to be a fun weekend for me. I'm sticking around tomorrow and going to the Bears/VIkings game with a group of friends, including my buddy who just got back from Afghanistan. It's going to be cold but it's also going to be a blast. Anyway, the two of us were sitting around today debating this scenerio (which may be more likely than I think): What if the Bulls were to offer the first round pick they get next summer from the Knicks, Luol Deng and Ben Gordon to the Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett? Would the Wolves do it? Should they? And, what would such a move mean to the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The thing is, the more I see Garnett this season, the more I'm becoming convinced that Kevin McHale has to move him if for not other reason than it would be good for the man's mental health to be on a contender. Trust me, Minnesota's going nowhere. Randy Foye is the future but every other player on that team is either average or well below. Add a couple of nice young pieces in Gordan and Deng plus a lottery pick and that's a pretty good package. Thoughts?

By Ivan Carter |  December 2, 2006; 6:15 PM ET
Previous: A win is a win but... | Next: Back on the road


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Well, this team is one of the worst teams in the NBA right now. Maybe Jared Jeffries was the glue guy afterall.

Posted by: Wizzy | December 2, 2006 11:57 PM

I never thought I would say it but...yeah, the T-Wolves need to get rid of KG and not because I want the T-Wolves to get better. It's annoying when sportswriters whine for trades because they believe the player "needs a championship" but KG needs to get the hell outta Minny. He's too good, too old school to not be granted an exit. Have fun this weekend and Go Northwestern, er, Vikings! By the way I hope you got my message about Bill Simmons name-dropping you in his exceedingly funny column (this one dead on about the horrible Eastern Conference). He claims you do an excellent job and it gives me two degrees of separation now from my favorite columnist (don't worry you will get there...if you are given a chance to get off the beat and onto your own thoughts). Bob Ryan says newspapers are dead. Online or bust, baby!

Posted by: EChuck | December 3, 2006 3:50 AM

Ivan...Agree with your take on KG. Would be a trip to see him somewhere else but I doubt it will happen. Have fun with your boys at the Bears/Vikings game. What is your take on the high productivity by E.Thomas and Haywood?...Never would have prodicted they play that well...

Posted by: Fitz | December 3, 2006 8:44 AM

""Trust me, Minnesota's going nowhere.""

Neither are the Wiz.

I stopped watching the game last night against Chicago out of complete and utter disgust. It's just too painful.

To expand on Wizzy's comment, both losses of Jeffries and Hughes are proving to be very big since they've replaced them with no one.

Jordan's rotation still sucks and Jamison is stinking the joint up on both sides.

So much for contunuity, this teams needs fixed badly. Bring Garnett here, why send him to Chicago?

God knows the Wiz need him.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 3, 2006 10:18 AM

Instead of the slogan: "Go-all-in", what about a new slogan of "Lott-er-y"! I, like Ray, stopped watching the game at half time out of sheer disgust. I'm no longer planning my evenings around this pathetic team. I hate to say it but it starts at the top with EJ. If he can't fire up this team, who can?

Posted by: cj baltimore | December 3, 2006 11:05 AM

Agree on KG too. And he seems too nice, too much of a genuine team guy, to demand that for himself.
Hey what is up with Arenas' shooting percentage away v home? Is it the ball (home teams get to pick which ball to use now right?)? is it his oxygen tent? is it flat out psychological? Is he too pumped, or exhausting himself on D? What would you put forward Ivan as to that... Am a big fan, just got my Wiz ballcap, waiting for them to turn it around. Love your work too my friend

Posted by: Brooklyn | December 3, 2006 12:29 PM

A week ago, to spur some discussion I proposed that after the 15th game (the Charlotte game) posters offer their thoughts on these questions:
1. Team grade so far.
2. What is wrong and what is right with the team.
3. What the team should do to improve itself over the remainder of the year.

Here are my thoughts:
1. D. Winless on the road, losses to NY and Memphis. They just aren't a good team right now.
2. What is right:
Caron Butler -- solid in just about every way.
Etan Thomas -- I was a Haywood guy before the season, and even though Haywood has been playing perhaps better than he ever has, Thomas has been very good. He leads the team in +/- when he is on the court.
Stevenson -- Solid albeit unspectacular player. See my comment about Gilbert and Jerry Sloan below, and see how Stevenson's decision-making is always unselfish and fundamentally sound.
Jarvis Hayes's health -- good to see him back. His shot selection is another matter.
The end of smallball -- after the Dallas game, when the team outscored Dallas by 4 when either Haywood or Thomas was in the game, and was outscored by Dallas 31 for the remainder of the game, Jordan has played Thomas and Haywood at least a combined 44 minutes in every game since other than the Chicago blowout. Jeffries's length and ability to protect the rim I think made smallball work at times last season. Without him, it doesn't, and I think (hope?) Jordan has realized that.

What is wrong:
Gilbert. His commitment to defense still isn't there, and his shot selection is horrible. A great part of that is coaching. I sometimes wonder how different a player Gilbert would be if Jerry Sloan were his coach. He would be pulled after a horrible shot or if he didn't get the team into the offense, and benched if he wasn't willing to focus better on defense. Eventually, Gilbert would learn and change. Under Jordan, there is no penalty for wild shots and weak defense. Gilbert won't become the player he can become under Jordan.
Jamison: Too streaky, too weak on defense. His unwillingness to work close to the basket on offense is stunning. Jamison has played more than twice as many minutes as Haywood, has taken four times as many shots as Haywood, and the Wizards offense is geared toward getting Jamison, Arenas and Butler the ball, not Haywood. Yet both Haywood and Jamison have shot 47 free throws this season.
The coaches: This requires a full and separate discussion, so in short: Jordan's offensive approach is all about "open looks." As Ivan noted in his entry above, other teams like Chicago will regularly pass on an OK shot for a great one," i.e., they work for a high percentage shot, not just an "open look," and they don't blame the "basketball gods" when players miss those open looks. And Jordan's commitment to defense is sad. This summer Grunfeld and Pollin had to push him to hire a defensive coach. And did he hire a real defensive expert, an independent thinker, to handle the defense? No, he hired a Wizards scout. Wow, what a great search. I guess the team's athletic trainer turned the job down.

3. I have no great ideas here other than (a) make a real commitment to defense. Pull guys who don't defend. It will hurt the team's record in the short run, but help in the long run; (b) change the offensive philosophy from "open looks" to working for a high percentage shot. Taking an 18 footer 10 seconds into the shot clock is not better than a layup 8 seconds later; and (c) get Blatche, Lang and Taylor some playing time, not because they are the answer, but because they have some potential and this might be a lottery year.
What I don't advocate is a trade to try to "fix" this season. This team isn't built for this year, but for the future. If a trade is made, I hope it is to set things up for the future, not for a quick fix.

Posted by: Henry | December 3, 2006 2:12 PM

Ivan, I don't see why Chicago or Minnesota wouldn't do that deal (although if I'm Minnesota, I might want Tyrus Thomas rather than Deng). Having a guy like Garnett is great, but Minnesota has no real way in the next four or so years to get enough talent to build a contender with him on board. Their cap situation is horrible (check the team salary listing on www.hoopshype.com. People in DC say that Etan's deal is a killer. How many of the salaries on Minnesota would you rather have?). Perhaps McHale should only trade Garnett if he can get rid of some of those bad contracts in the process.

Posted by: Red | December 3, 2006 5:20 PM

Man I have seriously had it! Who gives a flying funk about what the Bulls or sorry TWolves might do?! Why don't you quit daydreaming in fantasy land and pay attention to your own team? I wanna know what THIS team is gonna do! This season is going fast down the commode, and we better do something about it! What kind of stinky month old salami you been chewin on?!

I will tell you what this team's problem is! We are weak up front, and specifically I mean Jamison! I don't care about Arenas, he will be fine, and is as good as the opposition even on his bad nights. The problem is we are overmatched in the front court athletically every night! The centers are ok, and Caron plays his heart out. Caron doesn't have the height or length as people he's matched up against alot of nights, but he makes up for it with hustle and toughness. He can give us inside scoring, but as a small SF how much can we rely on that, and how much pounding can he take?

Jamison is overmatched physically everynight (not his fault), but does not make up for it except for by hitting 3s, which he does but not consistant enough! It is a streaky thing to rely on, and it is why this team has been streaky (playing great when AJ is on), but mainly playing poorly especially on the road (when he is off). As Ray pointed out, this team has up and down depending on Jamison's play.

We rely too much on jumpshots, which is a direct result of inconsistant play, and poor road results. When we are relying on our PF as a jumpshooter and 3pt specialist, which is what Jamison has become, it is impossible to win consistantly. I don't blame Jamison so much, because I think he should be at SF or 6th man, but is starting PF out of necessity. But it is a SERIOUS flaw in the makeup of our team! It has been overcome the past 2 yrs because of Jeffries (and lesser extent Kwame) in the frontcourt to pair Jamison with height/athleticism.

It is bad enough that we have a PF at a disadvantage as far as height (6-9) and athleticism (ups, quickness, strength, etc), but he kills us with his inability to defend and his reluctance to bang. You would think a veteran ALLSTAR with his experience would of learned some defensive skills by now, or some wiley tricks to remain effective down low.

We don't have the athletic slasher, inside scorer, or defensive presence we need at PF to compete. Our frontcourt is simply too small. Teams can focus on our perimeter defensively because we have no inside threat. It is allowing them to focus on Gil, if they stop his penetration we are purely a jumpshooting/3pt shooting team. Our only real threat for scoring in the paint is Gil, if they cut him off it is an uphill battle for us. Unless Jamison hits 7-10 from 3.

Posted by: Darnell | December 4, 2006 12:51 PM

Jamison 7 for 10 from 3, how often is that gonna happen?! I wanna know how many games we gotta get outrebounded, how many 2nd chance and 3rd chance points we gotta give up, how many layups and dunks, how many season high fg% games for the opposition we gotta have before somebody wakes up and realizes something is WRONG?!!

Let me ask you, have we scored ONE basket this year on an alley-oop??

Posted by: Darnell | December 4, 2006 1:04 PM

I'm not sure the team's starting PF can dunk let alone finish an alley-oop.

Posted by: sean | December 4, 2006 2:08 PM

i have hoped we would sign a athletic pf the past 2 offseasons but ernie grunfeld has not done so. darius songaila was good, but not sure how much he'll help because he is similar player as jamison. he bangs more, but lacks height and leaping ability and gets physically overmatched by better players. he bangs more, but is not a great rebounder and is not a good defender. he is slower than jamison. and also his strong point is his jumpshot and 3pt shooting, and passing. i mean i don't know how much he'll help, when he comes in the game it will be like having a fatter and slower jamison with better passing skill. i like that guy on bulls tyrus thomas.

Posted by: poptart | December 4, 2006 2:27 PM

also i am very disapointed in blatche! i thought he was coming this year, but what a disapointment. when he plays he seems to think he is a guard, he dribbles alot, and takes long shots. he turns it over and is not very good.

also i wonder about the draft pick of pecherove. he seems same type player, too skinny and shoots long shots and 3 pointers. i think if he goes inside vs nba he could get hurt.

Posted by: poptart | December 4, 2006 2:38 PM

Sundays Post had huge #13 w/a note stating Jamison pulled down "13" offensive rebounds during the Chicago loss?

At least thats something -he's doing something.As Ray stated it flows from the top. E.J.

Arenas is not a floor/team anything leader.
Foolishness and self exaltation, P.R. & notarity maybe but thats it.
A true leader thinks of his team & team mates 1st then himself when it comes to P.R & notarity.

Say what we will but Kobe & the Lakers suffered a huge loss - losing Shaq. They looked lost & miserable. BUT somehow they appear to be pulling themselves together up & along with 2 young rookies front & center wreckin havoc in the mix.
Thats team work.
As far as KG to Chicago..its not bad if KG wants to go. BUT!!Chicago isn't the easiet place to play - take a look at
Ben Wallace issues. Can't say but I do think S. Francis should consider LA.

I agree with Ray and others - EJ is a poor coach. I've said as much previously.

Posted by: Pete | December 4, 2006 3:03 PM

Darnell cracks me up with his hating on Jamison. :)

""1. Team grade so far.""

"D" they stink, but they CAN play better. Makes me wonder if they really believe in Jordan anymore.

""2. What is wrong and what is right with the team.""

Jordan & lack of defense. They don't even try and play it or hide that fact. Hire a coach will make them do that.

Our PF likes to stay at the 3pt line and shoot bricks and can't guard my mother.

""3. What the team should do to improve itself over the remainder of the year.""

Barring any personel changes, go back to fundementals. This "smallball" BS and lack of D has gotta go. The Bulls outclassed them the other night and anytime the Wiz play a team with a decent big-man they are going to lose. Period.



- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 4, 2006 3:08 PM

Darnell is now saying what I said about Jamison since before game 1 of this season. AJ is a great guy, but you cannot win in the NBA with him doing what we are asking him to do. Think about the nasty power forwards in the NBA. Now think about how many 3's they take (Brand, Garnett, Howard (Dwight not Juwan thanks) etc.) We get killed on both ends. I don't blame Jamison one bit. He's trying to extend his career. He knows that he'll get hurt going down there and banging with the big boys.

I'd probably do the same thing. That said, I'd probably be playing for a team that lied and tricked its fans into thinking that we could win 50 games without improving any area.

Also, Stevenson stinks. His 'umper (no j) is busted, his offensive game is almost as limited as 'ared 'effries was, and his defensive rep is undeserved. As one scout put it: "If he's starting for you, you're not real good".

Posted by: Bernard King | December 4, 2006 3:45 PM

what do you guys think of this trade?

i tried it in espn trade machine and they say it works salary-wise!

hornets get haywood, hayes, blatche

wizards get chandler

we can play chandler at pf/c depending on matchups. he is good rebounder.

hornets get starting center in haywood, young sf blatche, and outside shooter they need with hayes. they can lose chandler cause they drafted cedric simmons and hilton armstrong.

Posted by: poptart | December 4, 2006 4:05 PM

First off, IC, I agree with you on trading KG. I commented on it a few blogs back that Foye is the future. Just read a snippet off espn.com where Philly was considering trading AI just to move up and draft him. But like I said, still don't think Mchale has what it takes to pull the trigger. As for the Wiz, how about trading Jamison and a pick/cash for Zach Randolph? I'd kill to get him in a gold and black jersey(sarcasm all over that statement). Please Ernie, make this trade happen. If the contracts don't match, I say we start a Jamison Trade Fund and add however much Ernie needs to make a trade possible.


Posted by: C.Bell | December 4, 2006 4:11 PM

That's a little too much to give up just for Tyson Chandler, poptart. Run that back through the Trade Machine and see if we can squeeze somebody else in there along with him.

Posted by: C.Bell | December 4, 2006 4:18 PM

BK, you are on the money! I don't mean to hate on 'Twan. I like him as player, and when he was on GS I used to wish we could get him! Great character, and I'm glad he's with us, I am sorry about the negativeness. But I like him at SF where he's got good size, adds rebounding, and has good inside/outside game offensively. Or as 6th man would be ideal.

It's just we have a very small frontcourt. And 'Twan frustrates me the most because of his staying outside. We may as well have 4 guards out there. We get killed on 2nd chance points!

It is a defect in the makeup of our team. The hole at PF makes it difficult to compete with the better teams in the league. We are at a disadvantage physically every night.

We can overcome it and look great when we get hot shooting nights, but more often than not we will come up SHORT!

Posted by: Darnell | December 4, 2006 4:22 PM

im calling it. tonight is the night that sets the tone for the season. we are tough at home and desperate. we pull this one out and the next three are winnable. we don't win 3 out of the next 4 we are dead with the upcoming roadtrip.

beat the mavs, you can beat anyone.

Posted by: charles jones | December 4, 2006 5:45 PM

that being said, how can the wiz possible only be 4 point dogs tonight in vegas?

Posted by: charles jones | December 4, 2006 5:47 PM

winner winner chicken dinner

Posted by: charles jones | December 4, 2006 9:32 PM

First off I'm happy the Wiz won tonight.

That 4th quarter they shot dreadful however. At half time they were shooting 64% and finished the game at just under 50%.

It wasn't so much Dallas's defense either, it was that run and gun stuff they have done several times this year that nearly cost them.

They actually ran plays the first half, and in the second they just ran down and just threw the ball up from where ever.

Saying this tonight proved to me they can get it done, but they really need a better coach. When Dallas cut it to 9 I was hoping Jordan would call a TO but that didn't happen until it was almost too late. He should have pulled them aside and told them to do a layup drill to finish.

Very poor shot selection nearly cost them and Arenas saved the Wiz at the end there(thank God).

Oh, and in case you all were wondering Jamison was 9 for 12 in the first half with 18 points and finished 9 for 18 with 20 points. He had 12 rebounds.

The Wiz are so frustrating to watch.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 4, 2006 11:24 PM

I know folks are gonna jump on the fact that they let the Mavs back in. But truth be told, the Mavs,Suns, and the Wiz are the only teams in the league that can come from behind like that. When their offense gets in rythm, its nothing no team can do defensively to stop it. I remember 2 years ago when the Mavs had the Wiz by like 30 at home and the Wiz put up 80 in the 2nd half and still lost. The best thing we could do was hold on for dear life. In the first half, they couldn't make anything. It was only a matter of time that they would get it going. The one thing I would criticize is that Jordan played the bench a little too much when Avery kept his starters in. Once Dirk and the crew got hot, they couldn't miss. But the Big 3 was on the bench and it took awhile for them to warm up. But who cares, a win is a win. I would like to see the Wiz look at it as a revenge tour. Beat all the teams that have beat us this year. Next up, NY!

Posted by: C.Bell | December 5, 2006 12:30 AM

Sorrry, can't get excited about the win. Horrible on the road but can primarily win most games "at home?" I'll take a wait & see attitude til they can consecively win at home and on the road.

Posted by: jake | December 5, 2006 4:06 AM

Ok, that was a great game. Everyone played good. The centers did good and battled inside. Really everyone did a good job moving the ball and attacking the hoop, and rebounding. Even Jamison, it was his best game this season. Must of eaten his Wheaties! Please keep proving me wrong.

This is the way to play, even if you don't get the win it's great to see them play the right way. This is it, nice game. Thank you!

Posted by: Darnell | December 5, 2006 9:57 AM

Out rebounded Mavs 53 to 39

91 shots, only 12 attempted 3s

24 assists

Posted by: Darnell | December 5, 2006 12:20 PM

I agree Darnell, but I'm still down on Jordan right now.

CB made a good obsevation, should have let the starters played into the 4th beofre pulling them and having to "warm them back up" again.

- Ray

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