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Big win, first place in East looming

I have friends who ask me: What is it like covering an NBA team? Well, I don't know what it's like covering a typical NBA team but I do know what it's like to cover these Wizards and let me tell you, it can be as entertaining as Da Ali G show.
Scenes from a winning lockeroom after the Wizards picked up their most comfortable road win of the season here in warm Orlando tonight:

-Me, trying to interview DeShawn Stevenson, who loved and I mean loved, beating his old team tonight. Me: "So, DeShawn...blah, blah, blah follwed by anwer. ( We're both interupted by Gilbert) Gilbert: "You just repeated yourself DeShawn. You just said the same thing in two sentences. That's not an interview." DeShawn: "Go put on your light green shirt and let me do this interview."
DeShawn then kept a straight face, knotted his tie, turned and said: "next question."

-Moments later it was Gilbert's turn. As he talked about the win, Caron Butler came over with a warning. "Be careful with that lotion DeShawn just gave you. It's going explode in your bag." Gilbert took this information in, turned to the pack of media folks and kept right on dropping Gilbertology.

-DeShawn was carrying a super bright silver bag that looked a little like a microwave. He assured me that this particular piece of luggage was "exclusive" and "exotic." Antonio Daniels: "DeShawn tells everyone he meets that he's exotic." Stevenson, spotting James Lang, instructed Lang to grab his bag and take it to the bus which Lang reluctantly did, maybe because the "bag" looked like something Paris Hilton would carry her dog around in.
"He tells everyone that' he's in the "lig" not the "league" DeShawn said of Lang. Lang's Alabama twang is a constant source of amusement thought I think James speaks pretty clearly. No matter.

-Caron, admiring himself and the answers he just fed the media: "I was rolling wasn't I? Now that's swag. You noticed how I was standing on this spot right here (he moves over a few inches) but then I slid over to this spot right here? (he moves back a few inches)? I was givin' it to 'em everywhere tonight."

Obviously, the fellas were feeling pretty good tonight and they should have been. They blew open a close game in the second half with great defense and with a total team effort. A season-low for turnovers, they outrebounded the Magic by a huge margin, killed them with their fastbreak and Gilbert played a great floor game. The big men did a good job on Dwight Howard and the bench contributed with some key plays and big shots. There was a point in the third quarter when the Magic had this look in their eyes that said: "We can't beat these guys."

That was a quality win and perhaps, a kill shot to the Magic. Orlando has lost four straight, got blasted on its home court by a rival and has this coming up: at New Jersey Saturday night, at Cleveland Monday night, Dallas at home Tuesday night. On top of that, Grant Hill dislocated a finger tonight. I know, it's early and there is a lot of ball to be played but this division will come down to a race between the Wizards and Heat, write it down.

One other thought: do you think that the Wizards won't snap the Suns' winning streak (again) Tuesday night at Verizon Center? It's going to happen. One more thought: as bad as this team is defensively and as reliant as it is on the Big 3, what team wants to play them in a playoff series?

Some of you asked about Carlos Arroyo. I wondered the same thing. One of the Orlando writers told me that Brian Hill has lost all confidence in Arroyo and he's buried in the rotation.

If the Cavaliers lose at Denver tonight (they're losing 58-39 as I write this) the Wizards will have the best record in the East. Amazing but true. One last thing: on my way to my hotel after the game (the marriott is right across the street from the arena) I spotted a dude in a t-shirt that had an image of Gilbert on the front. It was the pose Gilbert gave after that game-winner against Utah. On the back it read: Hibachi. Me: "Hey man, were did you get that t-shirt?"
Him: "I made it."
Me: "why?"
Him: "Cause I'm from DC and he's Hibachi baby! Cook 'em up!"

Gilbert is reaching the point where fans on the road are half cheering for him and half cheering against him, all at the same time. When he pulls up to shoot a 3, the joint gets quiet for a quick second, like the crowd is collectively saying: "uh oh" but secretly hoping it goes in so they can witness something special.

By Ivan Carter  |  January 19, 2007; 11:18 PM ET
 
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Next: The Key Player in the AI-Melo Marriage

Comments

thanks for the late post ivan. still geeked from a dominant wiz game. best team in the east?! amazing! not too long ago the was a joke used 2 games into the season. love to see ej coaching the all-start game. there will be no need to worry if tough juice will be in vegas or not.

great t-shirt. those things would sell like hotcakes at the phonebooth. alternate suggestion for a t-shirt...'my swag is phenomenal'

Posted by: TOM | January 20, 2007 12:02 AM | Report abuse

I'm as big a Wiz fan as there is, but I think you are getting carried away a little bit. I wouldn't be surprised if the Wiz have a big letdown tomorrow night and lost to the Celtics. They've already done this at least once this season, e.g., losing to Denver after a big win out West.

Before we go crowning the Wiz Eastern Conference monsters, let's see them show some consistency, beating the teams they're supposed to beat and occasionally beating the teams that perhaps they're not supposed to beat, the Suns being such a team. Until this happens, I'll still root for them like the fan that I am, but I won't let my being a fan cloud my judgment about how good they are. They're only seven games above
.500. Out West, that's not that good. And given that Shaq O'Neal hasn't played more than four games for the Heat and that they're only a few games behind the Wiz, I don't think the people who cover the Wiz can get too far ahead of themselves by thinking the Wiz can beat any Eastern conference team in a seven-game series. I hope they can, but I'm just not convinced of it yet.

Posted by: melwdc | January 20, 2007 1:06 AM | Report abuse

Wiz are in first place in the Eastern Conference!! - but like Zero said in his postgame interview - nobody wants to be the first seed if Miami is the eighth seed with a healthy Shaq. I want Miami out of the playoffs.

Tomorrow night's game vs. the Celtics should be a good barometer of their overconfidence or lack thereof. Tues night's game vs. Phoenix should be epic.

Posted by: Bullets Fan in L.A. | January 20, 2007 1:25 AM | Report abuse

Mel said: "They're only seven games above
.500. Out West, that's not that good."

Hey Mel they've beaten every West team except San Antonio on their first go around.

How'd you like that half fulled (op)?!

Posted by: Victor | January 20, 2007 2:02 AM | Report abuse

THE ROAD in perspective:
Look @ the east here:
http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/standings

Except for Detroit, no1is above .500 on the road. Every1 else is 3+ BELOW break even on the road.

& some of them have to play @ the phone booth in a series vs. the Wiz.

So I wouldn't go & call us "that weak" on the road just yet.

Posted by: Victor | January 20, 2007 2:08 AM | Report abuse

great post ivan. thanks for putting it in late night with a deadline on the article on the paper.

i called it long ago - wiz can with the east. do i think they will? probably not. but home court in first and maybe second round would be huge, and that they can do.

it was GREAT to see antwan play the way he did, especially the inside game. you could see him sizing up darko and knowing it was his to take.

the difference between this team and teams in the past is that this team knows is can win. you could see it tonight, even before the point that ivan mentions above - they were playing poorly middle of the second quarter and no one was sweating it. only guy pushing them was hill, and you just knew, knew!, that he was going to break down. and he did. and then the wizards went for the close and the kill.

go wiz.

Posted by: charles jones | January 20, 2007 2:23 AM | Report abuse

Observation: Late in the game, a Bullet was at the free throw line waiting to shoot, and lined up on the left side of the lane were Hedo Turkoglu and Jarvis Hayes. Jarvis was squatting down, probably stretching. Turkoglu noticed, and appeared to intentionally shuffle over a step or two to try and deliberately knock Jarvis over. Jarvis promptly stood back up.

So...what the hell? Is it standard operating procedure in the NBA to try to knock someone over if they're stretching out while the ball's not in play? Didn't seem at all like a good-natured move made in jest. Wondering if it's an anti-diplomatic extension of Turkish intransigence, akin to Turkey refusing the use of military bases to the U.S. some years ago.

Posted by: Basil Rathbone | January 20, 2007 2:26 AM | Report abuse

To add on to your point Victor about the Wizards road record. Since the 0-8 start the Wizards have gone 7-5 on the road. Maintain that pace and that means an 12-9 in their final 21 road games. A 19-22 road record isn't too bad.

Posted by: George Templeton | January 20, 2007 2:51 AM | Report abuse

. . . plenty of national appearances coming up for our Wiz (Bullets). BEST EC record - now that's fun, even if it only lasts for a few hours (they MUST beat the Celtics)! BEAT the Celts like they are the mid-90s Bullets (or mid-90s Celts, for that matter), which they are.

A road record of 19-22 would be great for this team, which makes me appreciate all the more my favorite Bullets squad - the '81-82 Bullets - the last Bullets/Wiz team to have a winning record on the road.

Ivan - I think you are lucky to cover this team. I see a Kornheiser/Wilbon-like book in your furture. You couldn't make this stuff up and be taken seriously. I'm trying to think of a clever title, but am coming up short, like a Rex Chapman jumper on an off night.

From the annals (that's annals, folks) of Mel Procter - GOT IT! Go Wiz!

Posted by: Shotgun | January 20, 2007 3:32 AM | Report abuse

Great game! Everyone stepped up and there was even some defense played out there. Does this mean there is real hope for the playoffs, not sure? Oh well, we'll have to wait and see.

SOLID game by Jamison!!!!

NO LETDOWN!!!

Posted by: Rob P | January 20, 2007 7:30 AM | Report abuse

I've been a Wiz fan since 96-97 and I gotta say this is the most enjoyable team the Wiz (Bullets) have put on the floor in years. All the guys (except Etan and Brendan) seem to genuinely get along; DeShawn has fit right in; and there are no theatrics with this squad. I'm all in this season!
With that said, I still get the feeling that nationally, this team is not taken seriously. Critics point to the lack of defense [valid point], inconsisent rebounding [valid point], and the reliance on one main scorer [b.s.] as reasons why the Wiz won't make any noise in the playoffs. Bottom line is that we can score with anyone in the league and no one in the Eastern Conference can run with us (maybe with the exception of the Bulls and a healthy Bucks squad). Maybe I'm a little overconfident but the only team that really scares me in the League is San Antonio cuz they can play both half court and uptempo basketball, as well as defend. Hibachi!!

Posted by: Essex | January 20, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I agree everyone seems to get along except for Etan and Brendan. Check out when either Etan or Brendan make a good play most players on the bench jump up but I have noticed that neither of them root for the other. Grow up.

Posted by: PTP23 | January 20, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

ptp23 made me rethink my question from the game last nite. i originally thought that ej missed an opportunity in garbage time to get a 6-7 minute look at what our defense would do with etan and wood in at the same time. aren't we gonna need these 2 knuckleheads to realize that it's a team game?

Posted by: '64 bullets | January 20, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

'64 makes a good point. Because the Wizards rarely blow out people, Jordan does have much of an opportunity to experiment in game conditions.

Posted by: Sean | January 20, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Finally got to an NBA game last night, and it was a great one to see. My seats were good enough that when the PA announcer mispronounced Jamison's name for the fifth time and i screamed "IT'S AN-TWAN!" he actually got it right the next time.

Ivan, was that you on the floor seats behind the basket on the Magic's side of the floor?


After a night like that I'm a little more excited, and I'm letting my guard down just a little more.

Posted by: Jim | January 20, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Covering those guys must be a blast Ivan, I love those stories. :)

"That was a quality win and perhaps, a kill shot to the Magic."

I think so, it was definately a statement game by the Wiz. Also I agree about the Heat thing Ivan.

I think it's funny how Shaq is supposed to be "washed up" but no one wants him to come back. Just goes to show how good he is even with his skills deteriorating. He does so much more then just score.

Last night just goes to show the Wiz CAN play defense when they really want to, this is one of the reasons I've been frustrated watching them at times. I said it in the last blog, if the Wiz can just play a little more defense they will be very hard to beat. It's those nights where they just try and outscore people that really worry me.

Maybe we'll see a finished product by the time the playoffs come around, who knows.

Wiz win tonight also.

No Pierce = no win for Boston

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

http://www.nba.com/allstar2007/asb/eng/ballot.html?from=sweeps

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | January 20, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Scoop Jackson of Page 2 on espn.com has a lengthy piece on Zero worth checking out.

Posted by: Bullets Fan in L.A. | January 20, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Which return of the big man will have a bigger impact: Shaq or Songaila?

I think it will be close. Songaila may not shut anyone down on defense, but he's another big body and will be far and away the most skilled big body on the team.

The defense may stay the same, but the offense is going to be down right scary once Songaila returns. More importantly, I'd expect him to improve the half court offense, which means this team just might be that much stronger come playoff time when every possesion counts.

So who was it again that said this season would be a disaster? No Jeffries, no Hughes, etc, etc, etc.

Keep your calculators handy, cause 50 wins is in the book... maybe more?

Posted by: Wei | January 20, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

1st place is 1st place! No matter the record. Yeah, we're only 7 over .500, but if this was college football, the wiz have some "quality" wins under their belts. They've beaten every team that's in the playoffs (eastern) except Detroit and that fluke game against Jersey (where the ball got stuck and then fell in. Followed by Vince acting like it was the greatest shot in the history of basketball). Not to mention wins at Phoenix, at L.A., and a home win against the Mavs. If the BCS was involved, I like our chances of getting in that national title game.

Posted by: C.Bell | January 20, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Watched the Orlando local feed on NBA package and once Zero sat in the 4th, they ran an interview where he said Nobody can stop him 1 on 1, but said that is as much because the rules work against the defense. Coming back, either Magic commentator Matt Goukas or the other announcer said something along the lines of "You want the Magic to win, you want them to stop them on D, but there is a part of you that just has to root for Gilbert Arenas to do something special out there."

Much respect from the announcers. Here out, Zero's greatest achievement will be keeping levelheaded. If he can do that, DC will really have something to cheer about.

Posted by: Ledell Eackles Fan | January 20, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"Much respect from the announcers. Here out, Zero's greatest achievement will be keeping levelheaded. If he can do that, DC will really have something to cheer about."

This is why I like Ivan's pieces behind the scenes. It seems if anyone gets a "big head" on this team there's always someone to bring that person down to reality, Gil included.

This team has a wonderful "personality" and it's hard not to like and cheer for the players here, per what Lisa said in an earlier blog.

"Which return of the big man will have a bigger impact: Shaq or Songaila?"

Shaq by far, not even close.

"...where the ball got stuck and then fell in..."

The Wiz never seem to play the Nets well, or the Heat for that matter. I chalk that game up to just one of those things.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | January 20, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I also do not want to get too excited as the Wiz could get blown out by Boston tonight (seems they beat the good teams and lose to the bad ones) BUT the commmentators on the NBA Television were on Gil's bandwagon last night. Even said if the MVP vote was today he would be it.

Posted by: Lisa | January 20, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Man, I hope Arenas reads this article . . .

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=Akr9kof5htq.GiHyDlJZ2U68vLYF?slug=cnnsi-willhistimecome&prov=cnnsi&type=lgns

Choice quote:

"3. Name the franchises from the East that would qualify for the playoffs in the West.

ANSWER: Cleveland. Detroit. The end.

The Cavaliers and the Pistons would surely rise to the occasion, but would they overtake any of the top six in the West? Not based on what they've shown so far.

Any of the other contenders in the East -- the Wizards, Bulls and Magic -- would be trying to fight their way out of the lottery if they had the geographical misfortune of shifting to the superior conference this season. . . ."

No respect for a team that beat Utah, beat Dallas, and beat the Lakers and Suns on the road.

I will say a veteran, defensively minded team like the Spurs will always give the Wizards problems, but the Wizards are one of the few teams that can consistently beat the Suns at their own game.

Of course, the Wizards need to make sure that they continue to win games that they're supposed to like the one tonight at the Phone Booth.

Posted by: JP | January 20, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I agree they don't play the nets well, but if that was the leather ball, that shot doesn't go in and we'd be 18-2 at home

Posted by: C.Bell | January 20, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

All last year we heard how dominate the West was and so who wins the Championship- Miami in the EAST. I think the West records are overated. Never has been in defense played out West except for the Spurs and finally...Dallas.

Posted by: PTP23 | January 20, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"Never has been in defense played out West except for the Spurs and finally...Dallas."

The Spurs are no joke. It's funny how no one ever mentions them until they win the whole thing then everyone kisses thier butts.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | January 20, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

hahahaha, that part about the exploding lotions and mircowave bag was comedy gold.

Posted by: mikey 5 | January 20, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey, if we play like last night on D then we can make some noise in the playoffs. I like EJ asking the team at shoot around "how many times have we made the playoffs the last two year" - 2 "How many times have they made the playoffs the last two year?" - 0 "Let's make this a playoff game!" Good stuff!

Whomever said there is no team that wants to play us in the playoffs makes a good point. The irony is we are capable of losing to just about anyone in the first round as well. Don't get all the Cleveland love either? They are not that good. If I am not mistaken, thus far this year they have played one of the weakest schedules in the league. Whereas the Wiz have beaten Phoenix, Dallas, and the Lakers on the road, I imagine the only team to have accomplished this feat. The Wiz would probably have a better chance of making the West playoffs over Detroit and Cleveland.

Finally, I am sick of the whole Shaq story. I GUARANTEE Shaq never even makes it to the finals again unless somehow he ends up as the third best player on a team or worse.
He is a 33 year old behemoth weighing 325 with knee surgery who was already showing signs of slowing down. His size and quickness made him unstoppable. Now he is very stoppable although by shear size he can get 17 pts and 9 rbs. The Heat don't scare me and they shouldn't scare the Wizards.

Posted by: Rob P | January 20, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I saw Ivan's note about Ruffin's injury. Many people (me included) were ripping his play earlier this season, but wow, he must have really been injured to be out this long. And it's not as if he was injured in the last game he played this season. He had that injury the whole time. Hopefully he gets healthy and gets back to being the Ruffin of old. Still don't think he should have much of a role, but the guy knows how to play and will help from time to time.

Posted by: Joe | January 20, 2007 6:50 PM | Report abuse

"He is a 33 year old behemoth weighing 325 with knee surgery who was already showing signs of slowing down."

It's not just about "points."

Your talking about a 325 lb mountain that can set picks and defend the rim also.

The only thing that will probably affect Shaq is that the refs are giving more "ticky-tak" fouls this year then in years past.

If he gets 17/10 AND a couple blocks a game then he's effective, especially for D-Wade.

Case in point, Brendan Haywood. He doesn't always get a block or a rebound but just having him on the floor changes the way people attack the basket.

Watch, the Heat are going to pop off like 10 in a row or something when Shaq gets back. Ivan knows this, and so does everyone in basketball.

That's why I agree with Ivan's assessment. The Heat will be in the playoffs, it's silly to think they won't be with the East so bad.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | January 20, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Ray, I did not say they won't make the playoffs in the East. In the West, they would not. So, is that a team everyone should be so afraid of? I think not. Shaq is getting fouls called bc he can no longer move and just bulls people, which he has always done to a certain degree. I agree that Shaq has always been one of the hardest players to ref, but he used to get the benefit of those calls way more often than not. NOT ANYMORE!!!! Besides, it's going to take him 10 games or more to get in shape. Shaq has always been on the lazy side.

By the way, what the hell is Hollinger smoking on espn.com. His rankings still have us behind Chicago and Orlando??? I know those "power rankings" are just mindless in season fun. But, Hollinger is taking mindless to a whole new level. If a team has a worse overall record and just lost to the team behind them in the rankings by 20 at home, something is not quite right with those rankings. His "expert" card should be revoked. Plus, they have lost 4 in a row so it's not like the Wiz game was an aberration in the middle of a hot streak. Dumb Dumb Dumb

Posted by: Rob P | January 20, 2007 7:50 PM | Report abuse

"So, is that a team everyone should be so afraid of?"

They are just coming off a championship if I'm not mistaken. Who's to say they won't get hot and do it again?

Look at Seattle in the NFL. People wrote them off, they got healthy and almost pulled it out.

The Heat is not a good match up for the Wizards. It's good the Wiz beat them the last time they played but until they do it with Shaq and D-Wade in the lineup I'm not convinced.

Not liking Shaq is one thing, but I wouldn't write them off just yet.

Espn journalists are all biased towards thier home teams, I rarely ever pay attention to what they have to say.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | January 20, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree. Heat are not a good match up for wiz. Cleveland's a better match up against the Heat. I think Lebron average like 40 against them last year.

Watching tonight's game. Wiz just lost a 21 point lead down to 1 in like 7 minutes. EJ playing small ball again.

Posted by: PTP23 | January 20, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

EJ strikes again!!! 5:45 left in third 16 point lead and smallball strikes again!!! Lead quickly dwindled to 8. Hmmmm...genius. Anybody who wants to defend this coaching I'm not sure what to say to you! This lineup has NEVER worked all season. Boston is a bunch of scrubs. This game should be over. Make that a 5 point lead, but Etan is back in now after we surrendered the momentum to Boston.
3..now. If we lose, this is a coaching lose.

Also, the starters were pulled to start the 2nd. It was about a 10/12 point lead with starters in throughout. No starters -lead swelled to 20. Then with 4 mins left in half subs were pulled. Why? Lead dwindled again before half.

Posted by: Rob P | January 20, 2007 9:55 PM | Report abuse

rob p, couldn't agree more. i'm following online, and when i see the lead shrinking more and more, i notice that haywood isn't in....i mean, come on!!! get your best defensive presence in the game already! so many of those points were layups, apparently. i'm sure haywood woulda had something to say about that.

Posted by: k-man | January 20, 2007 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Gil looking ordinary tonight. Hope he snaps out of it as they are in dnager of blowing this game.

Posted by: PTP23 | January 20, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

4 point lead for beantown...goodness, what the hell happened?

Posted by: k-man | January 20, 2007 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Question: If the starters are struggling this bad and the bench played that well, why not make some substitutions. Mason played well, Blatche was hustling on D, Taylor played well. I just don't understand the crap ass coaching!

Posted by: Rob P | January 20, 2007 10:08 PM | Report abuse

ryan gomes ?!?!?! 30+ points...goodness.

Posted by: k-man | January 20, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

68% free throw shooting, while beantown is at 91%. hmmmmm...

Posted by: k-man | January 20, 2007 10:22 PM | Report abuse

gilbert MISSES at the buzzer?!?!?! goodness. what has the world come to?

Posted by: k-man | January 20, 2007 10:25 PM | Report abuse

a win is a win. still #1 seed if the season ended today. next up: end the Suns streak (again) on Tuesday night!

Posted by: k-man | January 20, 2007 10:44 PM | Report abuse

This is what I meant when I said the other day that Gil's swag is looking decidely un-extraordinary these days. You have to wonder if fatigue isn't an issue, it certainly would explain why the Big Three went stone cold in the third -- they just didn't have their legs under their shots.

We stole one tonight for sure. If this had been a better team we'd be lamenting the "L".

Taylor and Mason looked damn good though, and AD earned his paycheck and then some. Looks like Arvis is back to his old ways again, though...

Posted by: Gack | January 20, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I will say the defense looked good in the 4th and OT, which is about the most improbable thing you could possibly say about this squad -- we just got victimized by some really fluky plays and calls at the end that should have gone our way and any one of which probably would have been TANTOU!! time.

Still, there's absolutely no excuse for not stepping on this team's neck out of the gate in the 3rd and putting this game to bed early.

Games like this are what convince me that our seeding probably isn't going to matter that much because we seem to find a way to make EVERY game come down to the wire.

That's the reason I'm a Bullets fan!

Posted by: Gack | January 20, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

When Gil's not on we resemble the Hawks..down right ugly. Glad they pulled it out. Going to the Phoenix game. I know they want to pay us back for breaking their last streak. Glad Antawn was okay after going down.

Posted by: PTP23 | January 20, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

EJ just stated in his press conference that he made a bad move going to the small line-up in the third quarter which allowed them to catch up. Maybe he once and for all stop this nonsense!

Posted by: PTP23 | January 20, 2007 11:07 PM | Report abuse

IMO the single biggest reason the lead got away from us, the biggest difference between last night and tonight was rebounding. I'm sorry, you can't convince me that the scrubby Celtics and Al Jefferson are in the same league as Dwight Howard, and we're getting waxed on the glass by these clowns?

That's just total effort and stamina, because last night when we went cold from the outside, we were getting boards and put-backs. Tonight we just got spanked. Further evidence? Two missed opportunities on the jump ball.

The part that's a concern is that it's frankly too early in the season for guys' legs to be tired! Even on the back end of the back-to-back game, we shouldn't be this out of it.

Posted by: Gack | January 20, 2007 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Gotta admit, when Brendan came back in at the end, they regained their composure just enough. He really should be playing lots more minutes. Is there bad blood between him and EJ?

Posted by: reispace | January 20, 2007 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Here is a better question? Instead of going to small ball why not give Lang a couple of minutes if Etan and Brendan need a breather?

Posted by: George Templeton | January 20, 2007 11:47 PM | Report abuse


The small ball lineup may have played a role in the poor rebounding, but it seemed to me that Boston just started making their shots.

And frankly, this Wizards team is never going to be a top defensive team - we all know that. What nearly killed them tonight was bad offense. Particularly from Gilbert. That was one of his worst games of the year. I thought for a second that EJ was going to bench him at the beginning of overtime.

Take a look at the number of points the Wizards scored after they amassed their 21 point lead early in the 3rd. With 9:00 left in the 3rd, the Wizards had 75 points. They only scored 27 points from then until the end of the game (about a 62 points per game pace). Their defense was fine. It was the offense that was awful (both by Wizards standards).

I hope they spend some time over the next couple of days watching the tape of the 2nd half repeatedly. Lots of bad shots and overconfident, lazy possessions.

But I have to give this team credit for battling back after squandering the big lead. If they continue to play with such poise at the end of games, they have a good chance of making some noise in the playoffs.

Posted by: AC | January 21, 2007 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Rebounding disadvantage = smallball. Boston didn't start making shots they started making layups and then the Wiz get sooooo concerned about underneath mathups they sag into the lane giving up wide open outside shots. Boston is young and prone to mistakes, but they are still professionals and you have to force them into them like the second unit did in the second quarter and we did in the end. The second unit played hustle D and Boston was lost, which is why the lead swelled to 20 in the second. Let the second unit close the half!!!! It's not like the momentum had changed.

I'm glad EJ admitted it and that kind of vindicates the bloggers in here who have gotten some flack for being overly critical of EJ. "He's the best coach we've had since..." "He's taken us to the playoffs for two straight years" etc.
Who cares! Bad coaching decisions are bad coaching decisions. The man just admitted it apparently. Good!!! Let's not see it again.

Posted by: Rob P | January 21, 2007 2:12 AM | Report abuse

Whew, that was close Sat. nite. I was watching it too when EJ pull the small ball crap in the 3rd. & why not play the subs more in the 3rd to spell the starters on back2backs?

Geesh EJ. The guys looked tired from midway 3rd to 3 minutes left in the 4th & OT.

That's where AB, CB, RM & the acrobat DT(!!) could have helped out. I hope this doesn't hurt us vs. the Suns. Fatigue.

Posted by: Victor | January 21, 2007 2:19 AM | Report abuse

Is any 1 else getting that Justin Timeberlake ad on every freekin page on the site??!!

Argghhh.. Sorry bad mood from a game where the starters should have been able to sit the entire 4th!

Posted by: Victor | January 21, 2007 2:22 AM | Report abuse

In the third, the lineup with Jamison playing center was -7 over about 4 minutes. Jordan then switched to a lineup with Etan at center, but Hayes at power forward, which went -8 over the next 6 minutes or so. Minus 15 with a small lineup. Jordan admits as much in press conference. No mention in Ivan's article.
If I'm not mistaken, Ivan has not mentioned the ineffectiveness of Jordan's smallball lineup all season. Why is that, Ivan? You don't agree that smallball is ineffective despite the numbers? It's not your place as a beat writer? Reluctant to criticize Jordan? Don't think the smallball approach is a much of a story, despite the fact that the team has been outscored by 112 points this season when Jordan doesn't have Haywood, Thomas or Lang on the court, and has lost many more points when Jordan has Hayes playing power forward?
If I had to list the top 5 storylines of the season so far, the smallball situation would make my top 5, led of course by Gilbert's emergence and last game heroics, Butler's play, etc. You don't seem to think this smallball approach is a story. You've written more about Stevenson luggage (haha)! I'm curious why, and would be interested in your perspective.

Posted by: Henry | January 21, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

reispace,

Brendan says that he and EJ have a good relationship now...it is 100 degrees better than last season.

Seems the Wiz always get beat (or almost get beat) by losing teams with lot of hurt players (ala the Hornets). That being said, the Lakers lost last night to the Hornets as well. Phil Jackson was asked after the game "why does your team always seem to lose to losing teams?" - reminded me of the Wiz.

Posted by: Lisa | January 21, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

"Maybe he once and for all stop this nonsense!"

Yeah right. :)

Wait until he coaches the All-Star game and every dude over 6'7" sits the bench the whole time. That'll be too funny. ;)

Gil should have drove to hole I thought on that last shot, he had a lot of time left. It doesn't have to be a 70 footer at the buzzer every time and he was gasping for air. :P

The Wiz had "dead legs" last night, especially late in the 4th and OT. Case in point Caron missing that dunk, he never got elevated enough. Wanting to play a "playoff" type game Friday caused that I bet. This is why "back to back" games are so hard and they rarely do it in the playoffs(only when they need ratings actually).

Posted by: Ray | January 21, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Nothing personal Henry, but I must have missed the part where Ivan and Michael are taking their editorial direction from us.

Posted by: Gack | January 21, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Agreed Gack, BUT you lose journalistic integrity if you don't ask the tough questions. You then are viewed as just a team groupie sucking up.

Stats are Stats & they don't lie.
We are positive when Haywood is in there.

Posted by: Victor | January 21, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"Nothing personal Henry, but I must have missed the part where Ivan and Michael are taking their editorial direction from us."

Actually, I've noticed that every time we all have some kind of deep discussion on here that there's a column by Ivan on the same topic that very week.

Coinsidence I ask??????? ;)

The "smallball" thing is annoying to the point announcers on all networks have mentioned something when covering the Wiz. Maybe if Jordan is asked enough he'll finally stop....but I doubt it.

He would have to change the question a little bit so he doesn't make Jordan angry. After all he's with the team a lot.

But I wish someone would ask him, and show him some stats or something to prove a point.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | January 21, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Victor, while I agree on principal, when a team is winning games and generally viewed as being successful, you don't tend to see lots of reporting about all the things they did wrong or got lucky with.

That's just the way it is, and always has been with sports reporting. I don't see anything wrong with that. The problem is that most of us here are so used to the inevitable Lez Bullez season derailment, that we are now basically cynics and can't stand prosperity.

I say, let it go people, and enjoy the ride. If Kobe has a bad game, the Lakers lose, even to teams like the Hornets. Gil's had several bad games in a row, and we've found a way to win 4 straight. Glass half full would say it's the sign we're a scrappy team who finds ways to win tough games.

Posted by: Gack | January 21, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

"Stats are Stats & they don't lie."

Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Right now the only stat that matters to me is 24-16, tied for first in the Eastern Conference.

Does anyone really think the Wizards are that much better than 24-16? Would we 30-10 with "big ball" instead of "small ball"?

Posted by: burke | January 21, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Do not be mistaken...Those of us who consistently point to the problems of small ball are greatly enjoying the Wizards this year. We are in first place in the conference. That says it all! But we are simply wondering why something so obvious to us who are not paid to analyze the team seems to be missed by the coaching staff. We are winning despite this strategy and in May if it continues it will keep us from going further than the players deserve. The irony is that Gilbert could pull some miracles and we still could get to the finals. But that doesn't minimize the fact that in our opinion Coach Jordan is totally wrong in being in love with this strategy. I also wonder how he would use an all star roster if he gets to coach in Vegas.

Also, it is sure glad to finally see Jamison down low on the block offensively. His flip shots down there open up his long shots. But he is not a 5; he is a 3 1/2. Defensively they have to realize that and match him up accordingly.

Tuesdays game should be a great one. What a season!

Posted by: BmoreRev | January 21, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Burke, it's not that we are better than our record it's how this coaching will effect this team later. Smallball kills us - will we see it in the playoffs??? Total lack of trust and minutes from the bench even though I feel the bench has shown a lot of positives over the last few weeks - i.e. what is the this team particularly the Big Three going to have left in the tank at the end of the year.

Last night the second unit expanded the lead against Boston in the second and totally outplayed them. No second unit in the second half even though it was obvious the starters were dragging - No Taylor, Blatche, Mason. WHY????? That is a question Ivan should ask EJ. Mason is actually playing better this year in almost no minutes than Jarvis Hayes. However, I think EJ should keep him nailed to the bench? Don't you? He pulled Blatche last night even though he drew one charge almost a second, was battling on the boards, and hustling on D. He got 2 fouls in like 3/4 minutes and was pulled. Why? Worried about his foul situation bc he might foul out? LOL EJ is ridiculous with his bench. PERIOD!!!!

Posted by: Rob P | January 21, 2007 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I am not a big fan of Eddie's coaching, but for all you critics, relax. The record speaks for itself.

Hiring Eddie was a necessity, because its not like coaches were lining up to take the Wizards coaching job when Doug Collins left. Remember, Larry Brown and Jeff Van Gundy both turned down Pollin, realizing the the Wizards were a pretty sad organization, starting from the very top.

Now that the Wizards are back on the NBA map, Ernie will have more options to hire a top flight coach in the future.

For now, any "damage" he's causing is limited. So sit back and enjoy the ride.

Note: The three year contract extension includes a team option on the third year. Meaning the Wizards are only on the hook to pay him for two more seasons after this one. ESSENTIALLY, if the Wizards wanted to replace him, the most likely timing for that would be after next season, possibly during the season next season if things turn South.

I'm not saying he should be fired, because he's a great guy and doing something right this season, but the team has flexibility if they aren't happy.

Posted by: Wei | January 21, 2007 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Wei, if that were the case, you might as well award the Super Bowl to the team with the best regular season record or the Miami Heat with a losing record would not be talked about as one of the most dangerous teams in the East (although I don't necessarily agree with Miami being that dangerous anymore). There is ALWAYS a lot more going on than just record. Our problem is Arenas and Butler both being in the top 5 in minutes played, playing smallball, and no consistent bench usage/rotations or not one that makes any sense.

IMO, last night the 2nd unit should have closed the half (the lead was growing). And there should have been some infusion of energy off the bench with about 5/6 minutes left in the third and maybe 1/2 minutes into the fourth. If EJ had done this, I GUARANTEE the game would not have been in doubt and we would have won in regulation. EJ almost lost the game.

Posted by: Rob P | January 21, 2007 8:33 PM | Report abuse

My point is don't worry, you'll only have to suffer for another season after this one. And its not like this is a championship team here, so if Eddie is really as bad as you think he is, what is he costing this team, 3 games a season? 2nd round exit instead of ECF?

Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, just start dreaming about the next coach, cause he's coming and he'll be the best coach the Wizards will have ever had the chance to hire.

Posted by: Wei | January 21, 2007 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Come on, Rob. While I think we'd all agree that we'd like to see the starters get a little more breathing room in the 2nd half and the 2nd unit get a little more PT and confidence, you're completely discounting the other team entirely by saying "I guarantee the game would not have been in doubt".

The Celtics are not a good team, for sure. But they are scrappy, and there is a reason desperate teams have a tendency to play better: they have nothing to lose, and leave it all on the floor every night. I think it's quite reasonable to expect that the 2nd unit could have squandered the lead just like the starters did.

We don't have the patent on this kind of thing, you know. Anybody catch the Heat-Mavs game today? Obviously the Celts aren't the Heat, but Dallas is really, really good, and they blew a big lead and had to fight to the last shot as well.

Posted by: Gack | January 21, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

What is up with you guys? The Wiz are 24-16 and you're talking about who's gonna replace EJ when he's fired after next year? While you're looking into that crystal ball, why not pull out some lottery numbers for the rest of us?

This team is a lot of fun to watch, so just chill on the EJ bashing for a bit - we're in the middle of a 4 game winning streak!

Please don't turn this into the Skins board...

Posted by: Aaron | January 21, 2007 10:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you, Aaron. This EJ bashing gets really, really OLD. We are winning...the players like him....he's a nice man....and all everyone wants to do is complain about a little "small ball." After all we went through before EJ got here, you would think people would be happy we are winning...but no, all we hear are complaints, complaints, complaints.

Posted by: Lisa | January 21, 2007 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Ivan, I like your column and especially the part where Jordan admits that using "smallball" was a bad idea in the Boston win.

But in thier defense, I'm going to stick my theory of the second leg of a "back to backer" and simply running out of gas in the 4th and OT.

They didn't have any legs and that concerns me some for the end of the season. Again the good thing is how the NBA schedules the playoffs.

Also Ivan, how is Jamison's knee? I was genuinely worried when he went down. Can't play a lick of D but if the Wiz are going to go anywhere they are going to need him in the line-up.

Any swelling? Any problems like he had two years ago?

"Please don't turn this into the Skins board..."

It's not Aaron, this is a very good blog and unlike the Skins board we don't attack each other here.

It's great the Wiz are in first place, but oddly enough I think many on here feel the Wiz still have room for improvement(myself included). We've been talking about Jordan's rotations for a long time now, and Saturday night was a good example of how the Wiz are able to win despite his small lineups aka "smallball."

He hasn't learned his lesson yet and it drives us bonkers. If he plays that lineup in the playoffs the Wiz will lose for sure and we don't want to see that. It concerns us is all.

We love the Wiz, no worries. :)

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

http://www.nba.com/allstar2007/asb/eng/ballot.html?from=sweeps

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | January 21, 2007 10:54 PM | Report abuse

I know Ray, we all love our Wiz :)

And yeah, I about had a heart attack when Jamison went down...

Posted by: Aaron | January 21, 2007 11:09 PM | Report abuse

I just don't get why EJ risks Jamison's sprained knee and play him again when you got so much lead already?! I mean get someone from the bench! This team is not going far in the playoffs if the coach does not make good decisions.

Posted by: bdunkadunk | January 21, 2007 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Playing the bench more is a drum that all the Wizards fans need to keep beating because maybe just maybe it will somehow get through to coach Jordan.
The points about not wearing out the big 3 and doing better on these second night of back-to-backs. These things are important because amazingly the Wizards have a shot at a top seed in the East and making it to the Finals, and they need to do everything to take advantage of this opportunity!

Posted by: George Templeton | January 22, 2007 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Gack, the Celts were never threatening til smallball showed up and gave them momentum - 4 layups in 5 possessions! The Celtics are horrible man! Your talking Ryan Gomes, Allen Ray, and Al Jefferson. Most of their players never even played college ball. Arenas even admitted they got lackadaisical when they got the lead. Hmmm...sounds like a time to sub to me.

How do I know the subs would not have lost the lead? Obviously I don't know for sure, but the starters were just going through the motions and shots were coming up short. Plus, the second unit EXPANDED the lead in the second quarter til they started getting subbed out with 4 mins left in the half. So TRY bringing in a spark of the bench at the end of the 3rd!

The Suns game on Tuesday should be fun!!!

Posted by: Rob P | January 22, 2007 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Right on Aaron.

It's hard to complain with what EJ has done for this team and organization. On balance he's been a very good coach. Just as importantly his team continues to show signs of improvement.

Posted by: JP | January 22, 2007 1:06 AM | Report abuse

George T: "Playing the bench more is a drum that all the Wizards fans need to keep beating because maybe just maybe it will somehow get through to coach Jordan."

YES! The bench needs to play. Some ppl here are talking ala the Skins off season championship ie winning the first half championship means nothing if we don't have enough gas to move forward when teams turn on the playoff chase mode after Vegas.

Every1 who is banging the drum to EJ, is just thinking long term.

No1 cares about the first half championship once May/Jun rolls around.

Posted by: Victor | January 22, 2007 1:51 AM | Report abuse

Gack said: "Nothing personal Henry, but I must have missed the part where Ivan and Michael are taking their editorial direction from us."

I agree completely. Both guys, and Ivan especially, know the Wizards much better than all of us because he covers them for a living. So the point of my posting was to ask if he has a different view of the smallball issue, to get his perspective.

Posted by: Henry | January 22, 2007 7:35 AM | Report abuse

15-4 with Haywood starting. On Saturday, the Wizards were up 21 when Haywood was inexplicably benched early in the 3rd quarter despite an awesome first half. Instantly, the team fell apart, and blew a huge lead to an awful team. The team had no defense and no fire. Haywood came back in when they were down 6. Instantly the Wizards get fire, play defense, turn it around, and send the game into OT. In OT they win by 5. That was a 25+6+5=36 point swing, all caused entirely by whether or not Brendan Haywood was on the floor. Ivan, how about some love for B-Hay's plus-minus ratio on Saturday in tomorrow's paper?

Posted by: Mike | January 22, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

15-4 with Haywood starting. On Saturday, the Wizards were up 21 when Haywood was inexplicably benched early in the 3rd quarter despite an awesome first half. Instantly, the team fell apart, and blew a huge lead to an awful team. The team had no defense and no fire. Haywood came back in when they were down 6. Instantly the Wizards get fire, play defense, turn it around, and send the game into OT. In OT they win by 5. That was a 25+6+5=36 point swing, all caused entirely by whether or not Brendan Haywood was on the floor. Ivan, how about some love for B-Hay's plus-minus ratio on Saturday in tomorrow's paper?

And to Gack and Henry, don't think Ivan doesn't read this blog and factor the comments into his articles. He first wrote that the Wiz were 8-1 with B-Hay starting after I pointed it out a couple times. Ivan does listen to the readers.

Posted by: Mike | January 22, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

oops, 21+6+5=31, that's what I meant.

Posted by: Mike | January 22, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Individual plus/minus numbers are just gibberish without context. Brendan's out there with the starters for the most of his minutes, and if you play most of your time with 3 guys that are putting up 70 points a game, you're going to tend to have pretty good plus/minus stats.

Posted by: burke | January 22, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Burke, that's true. But Haywood's numbers were pretty good when he was coming off the bench at the beginning of the season, too. They've just improved now that he's playing more with the starters.

Posted by: Sean | January 22, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Mike,

Of course they read the blog, and it's great if they incorporate some points that we make into their reports. I just don't think it's fair to get angry at them when they deign not to address our pet beefs with EJ.

Posted by: Gack | January 22, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Burke, I agree with you up to a point, but if you look at the 5 man combo which includes Haywood, the Wiz have the 4th best unit in the league with a point differential of 103+.

The only teams that are better are Dallas and Pheonix with 150+ numbers, and Houston which has a 5 man unit that is marginally better at 108+.

San Antonio's top unit is at 63+; although, unlike a lot of teams they have a number of other 5 man units that are also on the plus side.

Most starting rotations for .500 or better teams are in the 30+ to 40+ range.

I still think the Wizards costs themselves the game against the Hornets last week by not getting Haywood in during the final minutes of the 4th quarter.

Haywood obviously isn't a top tier center, but as far as the Wiz are concerned he meshes very well with the starting rotation.

http://www.82games.com/0607/0607WAS2.HTM

Posted by: JP | January 22, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Burke, the Big 3 was on the floor for the majority of the 27-point collapse. The collapse began THE SECOND Haywood was benched. The comeback began THE SECOND Haywood returned. Anyone who doesn't acknowledge Haywood's impact on Saturday's win either didn't watch the game or is simply a Haywood-hater (which there are plenty of on this blog for some weird reason), because any objective fan who watched the 2nd half knows he was the deciding factor.

JP, excellent statistics, thanks for the info.

Posted by: Mike | January 22, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

No problem Mike. I'm glad to see that someone is keeping track of these numbers--these tell you a lot more than just raw stats.

Point differentials can puts things in perspective real quick.

Posted by: JP | January 22, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I really think everyone is missing that main point of Ivan's blog posting above: Stevenson and Arenas share lotion. Remember earlier in the season when certain players were sharing deodorant? What else do they share? Clothes? Toothbrushes? When exactly did the Wizards become sorority sisters?

Posted by: Sean | January 22, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Mike,

I'm not a Haywood-hater. I just disagree with the idea that you can evaluate a player's worth with simplistic stats like plus/minus. There are just too many variables.

Also, look at Brandan's career stats: 23 MPG. This year, he's at 23.5. Do we really know that he has the stamina to play significantly more minutes? I doubt that he does, and given that, he's going be out of the game half of the time.

Brandan played 31 minutes Saturday. If we want to play the 20/20 hindsight game, I'll argue that EJ played Brandan exactly right, and got the maximum production out of his 31 minutes.

Do you really think if he'd played, say 40 minutes, that those extra 9 minutes would have been productive? Instead, everyone would be complaining, "how can you leave your big man out there for 40 minutes? Couldn't you see how he was dragging at the end of the game? That's why we lost!"

Posted by: burke | January 22, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Burke:
There is NO evidence to suggest that Haywood and Etan can't last a combined 48 minutes per game.

Posted by: Joe | January 22, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't like seeing what happens during smallball either, but there are a couple of things I think we need to keep in mind. First is that EJ sees a lot of things happen in practice that we don't see. The deep bench players get more or less playing time based on how they're doing in practice.

Second is that it's not like EJ is underutilizing a bench of tough vets and future stars. Can someone please explain to me why Donnell Taylor is still playing pro ball? Every time he handles the ball, I wince. The Wizards aren't a deep team, and a little extra playing time here and there isn't going to make them one. That's going to be a problem in the playoffs, no doubt, but it isn't a coaching issue. The Western Conference powerhouses have spent years developing deep rosters -- each team has needed to just to keep up with the others. The Eastern Conference has some real star players, but no teams that are that fully developed.

I say EJ has turned the Wiz into a team with a trademark offense that is a threat on any given night. I don't think another coach could have done a better job with this cast of characters.

Posted by: Dave | January 22, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Joe,

I didn't say anything about Eton. He and Brandon are combining for 44 minutes over the season, and once Eton gets back into game condition, they probably WILL be playing 48.

Posted by: burke | January 22, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Just check out lenovo +/- stats from nba.com
http://www.nba.com/statistics/lenovo/lenovo_sort.jsp?pcomb=4&season=22006&split=9&team=

Haywood with any three of the other four starters has a better plus points than the other four without him!

Haywood, Arenas, Butler, Jamison: +181
Haywood, Arenas, Butler, Stevenson: +123
Haywood, Arenas, Jamison, Stevenson: +97
Haywood, Jamison, Butler, Stevenson: +94

Even the last one, without Arenas is better than Arenas, Jamison, Butler, and Stevenson, which is +93!

Small ball does not work, it does score more points (the last combination scores 2,119 points, the highest among all Wizards combinations), but it gives up more points as well (2,026, the highest as well).

Stats won't lie, and does not have personal feeling either!

Posted by: sagaliba | January 22, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Look, I'm tired to talking about EJ's smallball, but it's warranted when leads of 15-20 evaporate because we can't protect the basket.

I record every game the Wiz play on the DVR and watch the game quite carefully, especially when I want to see all the action (what each player is doing, rotations, etc...) I rewind often when I don't catch things the very first time around.

So, watching that Orlando game, EJ only went to a small lineup for about 1 minute and the Wiz won comfortably w/o blowing a lead vs. one of the better teams in the East. Then vs. one of the worst teams in the East, he plays smallball for close to 5 minutes esp. w/ Jamison at the 5 and the Wiz blow the 16 point lead. This is what I mean by frustrating, EJ makes many games that much closer than they need to be and it's risky to say that the Wiz will pull it out at the end EVERY TIME. This is why some of us posters, myself included, complain about EJ strategy. Doesn't mean we don't like what the Wiz are doing as a whole, we just want it to be better esp. for the long run into the playoffs.

Granted, I do think a lot of what happens in games like Boston's had to do w/ the team being lackadaisical vs. the level of talent they were playing. Gil ALWAYS gets up more for games vs. better teams.

Posted by: Going G.A.G.A. over Gilbert | January 22, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Look, I'm tired to talking about EJ's smallball, but it's warranted when leads of 15-20 evaporate because we can't protect the basket.

I record every game the Wiz play on the DVR and watch the game quite carefully, especially when I want to see all the action (what each player is doing, rotations, etc...) I rewind often when I don't catch things the very first time around.

So, watching that Orlando game, EJ only went to a small lineup for about 1 minute and the Wiz won comfortably w/o blowing a lead vs. one of the better teams in the East. Then vs. one of the worst teams in the East, he plays smallball for close to 5 minutes esp. w/ Jamison at the 5 and the Wiz blow the 16 point lead. This is what I mean by frustrating, EJ makes many games that much closer than they need to be and it's risky to say that the Wiz will pull it out at the end EVERY TIME. This is why some of us posters, myself included, complain about EJ strategy. Doesn't mean we don't like what the Wiz are doing as a whole, we just want it to be better esp. for the long run into the playoffs.

Granted, I do think a lot of what happens in games like Boston's had to do w/ the team being lackadaisical vs. the level of talent they were playing. Gil ALWAYS gets up more for games vs. better teams.

Posted by: Going G.A.G.A. over Gilbert | January 22, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Look, I'm tired to talking about EJ's smallball, but it's warranted when leads of 15-20 evaporate because we can't protect the basket.

I record every game the Wiz play on the DVR and watch the game quite carefully, especially when I want to see all the action (what each player is doing, rotations, etc...) I rewind often when I don't catch things the very first time around.

So, watching that Orlando game, EJ only went to a small lineup for about 1 minute and the Wiz won comfortably w/o blowing a lead vs. one of the better teams in the East. Then vs. one of the worst teams in the East, he plays smallball for close to 5 minutes esp. w/ Jamison at the 5 and the Wiz blow the 16 point lead. This is what I mean by frustrating, EJ makes many games that much closer than they need to be and it's risky to say that the Wiz will pull it out at the end EVERY TIME. This is why some of us posters, myself included, complain about EJ strategy. Doesn't mean we don't like what the Wiz are doing as a whole, we just want it to be better esp. for the long run into the playoffs.

Granted, I do think a lot of what happens in games like Boston's had to do w/ the team being lackadaisical vs. the level of talent they were playing. Gil ALWAYS gets up more for games vs. better teams.

Posted by: Going G.A.G.A. over Gilbert | January 22, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Look, I'm tired to talking about EJ's smallball, but it's warranted when leads of 15-20 evaporate because we can't protect the basket.

I record every game the Wiz play on the DVR and watch the game quite carefully, especially when I want to see all the action (what each player is doing, rotations, etc...) I rewind often when I don't catch things the very first time around.

So, watching that Orlando game, EJ only went to a small lineup for about 1 minute and the Wiz won comfortably w/o blowing a lead vs. one of the better teams in the East. Then vs. one of the worst teams in the East, he plays smallball for close to 5 minutes esp. w/ Jamison at the 5 and the Wiz blow the 16 point lead. This is what I mean by frustrating, EJ makes many games that much closer than they need to be and it's risky to say that the Wiz will pull it out at the end EVERY TIME. This is why some of us posters, myself included, complain about EJ strategy. Doesn't mean we don't like what the Wiz are doing as a whole, we just want it to be better esp. for the long run into the playoffs.

Granted, I do think a lot of what happens in games like Boston's had to do w/ the team being lackadaisical vs. the level of talent they were playing. Gil ALWAYS gets up more for games vs. better teams.

Posted by: Going G.A.G.A. over Gilbert | January 22, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Sorry about the repost, bad network connection.

Posted by: Going G.A.G.A. over Gilbert | January 22, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Anyone noticed here that Caron has a couple missed dunks already? He is a really good/tough player, I think he needs to work on getting more lift when leaping. Maybe loose more lbs. and improve stamina?

Posted by: bdunkadunk | January 22, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Sagaliba,

Stats give an incomplete picture at best, and frequently a misleading one. I'm sure that stats would say to play your starters 48 minutes a game, but common sense tells you otherwise. That's why you have to evaluate stats in the light of common sense.

I don't see any reason to expect that Brandon could play significantly more productive minutes than he already is. Given that, and until Eton is back full strength, the cards Eddie's been dealt are "small ball" cards.

If you really want "big ball", let's look at the Booth, Blache, Lang stats. Not so pretty, yah?

Posted by: burke | January 22, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Booth and Lang have much better plus/minus numbers than Jamison does as a center.

Posted by: Statgeek | January 22, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Stats give an incomplete picture. But people also give (or get) incomplete and often biased pictures. At least, stats are not biased.

Of course, I am not saying Haywood can do it alone. Far from it, as demonstrated by the stats that it is Arenas who has the most plus point in "one player" category (i.e., Arenas can be playing without Haywood and still be effective). But Haywood with any two of the big 3 on the court is probably better than the big3 without him (not by scoring more points, but by surrendering less points). This is my own "incomplete picture" from watching the games (I watched all but one game this season), which happens to be backed up by the stats.

In addition, I do not think EJ plays small ball solely because of Etan's injury. Even before Etan's injury, EJ was playing "small ball" already. (I remember one fan joked that Etan and Brendon must have looked at each other and thought, "What? This is what we were fighting for?" and I thought that was a good one.)

I think EJ has from the start wanted to experiment with "small ball," I just hoped that he has concluded his experiment.

Posted by: sagaliba | January 22, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse


could you post those haywood +/- stats over the past month or so? or since he has been a starter? i wonder if we aren't partially seeing the effect of the team as a whole playing better since the 4-9 start. basically, we're trying to determine whether the numbers already posted show causation or whether they are simply random noise.

if the team as a whole has played better since those first 13 games, and haywood has played more with the starters since that time, then haywood's numbers with the starters would be artificially inflated. we could test that by looking at haywood's +/- and the numbers with various combinations of starters only during the 20-7 period that followed the poor start to the year.

Posted by: AC | January 22, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Statgeek,

I would agree that Booth is probably a better center than Jamison (although I do not have stats to back it up), but I am not sure Lang is. Lang is a defensive liability because he does not move his feet well. He picked up 14 fouls in 55 minutes. That's less than 4 minutes a foul! At this rate, he won't even last for 20 minutes!

I will try Blatche at center before I go to Lang. (Yeah, I know Blatche is not a center, but I believe he is better than Jamison at center, if EJ insists on having a quicker lineup.)

I think as long as Blatche can play within himself (i.e., not turn the ball over or taking ill-advised shot), his energy, rebounding, quickness and his length can help this team. But he does need the play time to learn.

Posted by: sagaliba | January 22, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

AC,

The stats I gave above are for all 38 games he has played (or all games he has played in certain combinations). They do not have separate stats for when he is a starter.

Of course Haywood probably played more minutes as a starter, during which time, the team play very well. This fact may affect his stats. But then we will be going into a chicken and egg argument, i.e., is the team playing well because Haywood started, or Haywood benefited from other players playing well?

Rather than going into the infinite argument of which is the cause and which is the result, I think it is better to just say, the team played well with Haywood in the line up (or in the combination).

Posted by: sagaliba | January 22, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

This is a little off topic, but it looks like Butler was just named player of the week.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=Ak2Fqv3GxKhJjB.ocUkW6xyR0bYF?slug=nbaplayersoftheweek&prov=st&type=lgns

Posted by: JP | January 22, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Haywood should have been named Player of the Week -- his plus/minus numbers were better.
Just kidding.

Posted by: Sean | January 22, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

sagaliba,

i guess it's not possible to easily obtain the stats i was seeking, but my point was that it would be a more meaningful and impressive stat if haywood's presence continued to be a big net positive during the wizards much more successful last 27 games. on the other hand, if it hasn't, and much of the touted 100+ point differential actually comes from those first 13 games, then it looks more like just a coincidence.

keep in mind that haywood is still only averaging about, what, 24 minutes per game? that still leaves plenty of time for the other starters to play without him over a 27 game period, so there should be plenty of data to compare. my instinct is that whatever differential there is would be far from statistically meaningful (if one did a regression analysis for example).

out of curiosity, does anyone, ivan, michael or other posters, know if the wizards or other nba teams are employing statistical experts to analyze lineups and situations? it seems like there'd be a lot of value there.

Posted by: AC | January 22, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

To go off topic from the off topic comment, when I looked at the article re: Caron being player of the week, I saw a link to an article about the upcoming Wiz/Suns game. There is a hilarious quote from D'Antoni about Gilbert's "revenge tour" and I thought this forum could use a little humor. Here's the quote and the link:

After hearing all this, D'Antoni did the only thing he could -- he cracked an Arenas-worthy joke.

"I can't wait to see what he does against Duke," D'Antoni said. "He's gonna KILL Duke."

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=ap-arenasvssuns&prov=ap&type=lgns

Posted by: La Souza | January 22, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Burke, it is well-documented that EJ and B-Hay do not get along. His average of 24 minutes has nothing to do with endurance.

AC, you are wondering if Haywood is having an impact on the team's success or if he's just putting up good numbers because of other players? Well, here's your evidence, the Wiz record with B-Hay in the starting lineup:

Brendan Haywood starting: 15-4
Brendan Haywood not starting: 9-12

You mentioned that the team started poorly. Excellent observation. The end of that poor start corresponded precisely with B-Hay's insertion into the starting lineup. Haywood's clogging of the middle, forceful picks, and 60% field goal shooting has propelled this team from a pathetic start to the best team in the Eastern Conference. I am absolutely flabbergasted that this blog is still filled with people who give him no respect.

Sagaliba, thank you for the excellent stats you provided, and great analysis.

Posted by: Mike | January 22, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse


Mike,

i too have tons of respect for haywood (although i wish he and etan could get along) and i'm willing to look at objective evidence of him being the reason for the wizards success.

frankly, no one has posted such evidence. you can't tell, from comparing the record when he is a starter and when he is not, whether he is the _cause_ of the success or whether it is simply a coincidence. i watch all the games too. some games haywood makes a bunch of great plays that clearly make a difference. other games, he doesn't. i personally feel like the difference between the 4-9 start and the 20-7 since then has a lot more to do with the play of arenas, butler and jamison during those time periods than with haywood starting/not starting. i'm willing to be convinced otherwise with statistics and i've already indicated what those statistics would be.

i just don't think gilbert's woes on the road early in the season had much to do with haywood's playing time. and i think the wizards record would have been a lot better than 4-9 if gilbert had been his usual self in some of those early road games.

what i absolutely do not get about EJ's end of the game rotations is why he doesn't do more offense/defense substitutions. if he likes the offensive matchups with guys like hayes and daniels on the court with arenas, jamison and butler, then why not use them on offense and put haywood and possibly blatche and/or stevenson in the game on defense in place of jamison and one or two others?

Posted by: AC | January 22, 2007 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Mike,

Brendan stated on the Post Game show a few weeks ago that he and Eddie get along just fine now. He said their relationship is 100% better.

Posted by: Lisa | January 22, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Mike,

I'll see your flabbergastation and raise you that I'm flabbergasted that you continue to make the leap from "Haywood has earned his starting job back and is playing better ball than Etan" to "Haywood is the reason the Wiz are leading the East."

We've had this argument before, there's tons of ways you can slice numbers to make 'em fit your argument, and AC is dead-on. Certainly there's a positive correlation between strong play from Haywood and winning games. There's also a positive correlation between Gil scoring 30+ points and winning games.

Unfortunately for your argument, Brendan's primary contribution (by your own admissions over numerous posts) is "playing tall", "clogging the paint" and "altering shots", and it's simply difficult to make a good statistical case using those activities. They just don't measure well.

(Yes, I know what 82games.com and the Lenovo stats say, I also know that, collectively, our center position is 3 points less productive than the league average for centers, according to PER -- see how easy it is to find those helpful stats???)

Posted by: Gack | January 22, 2007 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Just 2 more points. Look at 82games' Wiz Top 5-Man Floor Units:

http://www.82games.com/0607/0607WAS2.HTM

Of course the current starting lineup provides a 70% win percentage. But look at the third highest win percentage, at 64.7% -- Arenas, Daniels, Hayes, Jamison, Haywood.

Now, I know "stats don't lie" but in this case, you'd be out of your mind to send Caron and DeShawn packing because we've got it made with AD and Arvis. Point? Sample size matters, and statistics don't LIE but it's real easy to use them to imply causation where only (very weak) correlation exists.

Point #2: Without any context, that same chart appears to show clearly that Haywood in the lineup is good for an instant 20% bump in win percentage. But hold on a second. As we all know, the Wiz went red-hot (12-4) during the month of December, and during that month, Etan played a total of 6 minutes, while Brendan played 400 minutes. But at the same time, Gilbert averaged 9 points per game more, and the team averaged 17.1 points per game more.

So you could make the argument that Etan's disappearing made the team better, that Gilbert woke up from a bad slump, or that Brendan's 47% increase in playing time made the team win 7 more games in December.

You may say, the reason the Wiz WENT so red-hot was because of Haywood! Problem with that argument is that nearly every other measurable team stat that could be attributed to increased play by Haywood stayed fairly constant. Rebounding went from 40.9 to 41.3, blocks went from 4.3 to 5.3, and FG% jumped 5%, but the real difference is the 18 point jump in PPG scored.

You can also see this by comparing the PER of the other starters between November and December. Haywood's doubles from around 7 to 14 (not surprising, as his PT increased by 40%), but the rest of the team all increase pretty substantially as well - Gil +7, Caron +6, Antawn +5.5, DeShawn +2 (total +20.5).

I don't know that it makes sense to claim that Haywood made the other starting four that much better.

Posted by: Gack | January 22, 2007 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Gack, Haywood is shooting 59%. Are you kidding me criticizing his offense?

Posted by: Mike | January 22, 2007 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Another stat that sounds great but out of context is meaningless. According to the team's stats page, Brendan is shooting 58%, not 59%. You must be confused with Etan, who's shooting 60%.

Anyway, that all sounds great, but we're talking about 7ppg here, not Dwight Howard numbers. A high shooting percentage doesn't help the team win that much if you only take 4.5 shots a game.

I am really starting to think you ARE Haywood, Mike. Nothing else explains the infatuation. And no, I'm not a Haywood hater, I've said a gazillion times he's playing the best ball of his career (though not statistically) and is helping this team win games.

I guess I just can't subscribe to this idea that we're sitting on "The Secret Weapon II" who is, unbeknownst to the hapless Eddie Jordan, a dominating game-breaker that could deliver us an NBA title, if only we'd let him play 48 minutes a game.

Posted by: Gack | January 23, 2007 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Agreed Gack. Haywood might be shooting 58%, but that stat says nothing about the fact that he turns the ball over (travel, charge, stripped) every other posession as well.

Not trying to hate on Haywood, he's really been bringing a lot to the team this year, but I gotta agree that he's not some secret force to be reckoned with.

Posted by: Aaron | January 23, 2007 1:41 AM | Report abuse

I disagree Aaron and Gack. The point differential is what counts. If a player steps on the floor and the team makes more points than it gives up, that's all that matters.

Gack, I'd also say that the aggregate numbers (e.g. rebounding per game, blocks per game, ppg) are a little misleading. A team could be outrebounding its opponent at one point of the game, then a key rebounder could leave and the number would go down. The aggregate number doesn't differentiate between the production of either of these players, even though the net production from one is better than the other.

The stat that jumps out is the 5-man line up. Now if 70 of those 102+ came in one game; you might say, OK, the data is skewed--it doesn't reflect what normally happens to this team. But during that stretch in December most of the W margins were in single digits. I don't think there's any question that Haywood is a quality starter when he wants to play.

The argument for Etan is that Stevenson didn't really start meshing with the starting rotation until early December. But I think there is something to be said for the Wiz's record since Haywood got into the starting line up. I don't think this is a complete fluke.

Of course, time will tell, and past performance is no guarantee of future success.

Posted by: JP | January 23, 2007 3:38 AM | Report abuse

Anyway you slice it, Haywood isn't that much better than Etan but he is a much better team defender in the paint, covering up for a lot of the team's defensive deficiencies. When two of the top three defensive positions on the team are occupied by the offensive minded Arenas and Jamison, Haywood has the size and blocking skills to help hide some of the team's weaknesses.

PG defense is very important b/c the opposing player sets the table for the entire offense, slowing him down cuts out at least half of the offensive execution a team can successfully run. That's a big reason why Kidd gives Gilbert fits, he's such a strong and smart player on defense when he really challenges himself. He makes it that harder for Gil to run the offense, disrupting the flow and then pushing it on the other end to make Gil work as well.

The PF and C positions are also crucial for team defense b/c they are your last line of defense, protecting the paint from easy layups and rebounding. It is crucial that your big men rotate to take charges or block shots once a perimeter player beats a team mate. This is why Tim Duncan adds such an unbelievable value to his team, providing great team and individual defense as well as his 20+ppg offense.

Gil and Antawn allow so much penetration into the lane on defense that a helping big man that can intimidate and block shots like Haywood can help a team hide Gil and Antawn's weaknesses.

Posted by: Going G.A.G.A. over Gilbert | January 23, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Gaga's points above are right on.

Posted by: Steve | January 23, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Interview in Daytona Beach News:

ONE ON ONE: DeShawn Stevenson, Wizards guard

When you were playing against Gilbert Arenas instead of with him, what was your strategy in trying to guard him?

Limit his catches. It's hard to guard him because he's a point guard. A lot of scorers are (shooting) guards who don't have the ball in their hands. But he's talented enough to have the ball in his hands and do a lot of things with it.

Do you sometimes find yourself stepping back in awe over the things he has done this season?

Yeah. He's had some games where he's hit 60 (points), 50s, 40s. And sometimes you've got to sit back and watch him do his thing.

It's only halfway through the NBA season, but can you make a case for not voting for Arenas as MVP?

That's hard. He changed this whole team around to where we're the team to beat in the East, and he's playing great. And the reason why he's playing great is because of his ability to bring everybody up. So I think it's between him and Steve Nash.

What's it like for you being in Washington?

It's different. But it's a great situation for me because we have a players' coach (in Eddie Jordan). I had a players' coach here too (in Brian Hill), but (Jordan's) really a players' coach.

Anyplace there of historic significance that you've checked out?

The (schedule) is so crazy and we've had a lot of road games. So I haven't really had the chance. But this summer, I'm going to do all that.

You signed a one-year contract with the Wizards. Have you given much thought to where you'll be next season?

I haven't given it much thought. But no matter what, I want to be a Wizard. That's all I'm worried about.

What was your reaction when you first saw the Wizards' combination of gold uniforms with black shorts?

I like them. I like different things, so I like that whole look.

Posted by: Jim | January 23, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Well said, JP.

PPG is what it is, points per game. Higher PPG means higher scoring. But a team does not win by simply scoring more; it wins by scoring more than its opponents. (That's how a "win" is defined, isn't it?) Otherwise, Golden State, as the 4th highest scoring team in the league would have a much better record than it really is; unfortunately, it has a negative differential, and hence, a sub .500 record.

If you look at stats, differential (i.e., +/-) has a much higher correlations with wining. Currently, all 12 teams with positive differential have winning records, but 5 out of 12 top scoring teams have loosing record!

I also agree that there may be other factors that attribute to the correlation between Haywood's performance and the team's success. All in all, I believe Haywood and Etan are very similar players. (I do not wish to argue that Haywood is much better than Etan.) They are both good shot blockers, but I think Etan relies more on well-timed jumps while Haywood relies more on his length and long arms. Don't know if Haywood's "visible deterrence" may have alter more shots that did not record as bpg, or Etan may have done as well during this stretch. Regardless, why tinker with success?

I think Haywood has learned his lesson, you win fan's support by your play on the court, not by (having your agent) running the mouth.

Posted by: sagaliba | January 23, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Aaron,

You are right about Haywood is not a secret weapon, I am sure Ben Wallace can do well for the Wizards too. :) The point I am trying to make is not that how great Haywood is, but that a team like Wizards need a center that can defend around the basket, and Haywood seems to fit that bill. Of course there are others that may do as well or even better. But no, the "small ball," giving the current Wizards roster, won't cut it. GAGA made a good point on that.

Posted by: sagaliba | January 23, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Very interesting and if I wasn't a biased Wiz fan, fair table rankings (at bottom)of possible MVP candidates:

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/basketball/nba/2007-01-22-scorers-table_x.htm

Posted by: Going G.A.G.A. over Gilbert | January 23, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

There are two different arguments going on here. One is whether Brendan is the best big man we have, the other is whether Brendan is responsible for more of the team's success than is being reported.

I'm fine agreeing with #1, that right now, he's playing much better ball than he was last year, and deserves to have the starting job. But I haven't seen anything that convinces me that #2 is true.

JP, I'm not discounting point differential, but recall that first- and third-quarter leads are the largest predictor of a team's winning percentage. I'm simply saying that Gilbert (and to a lesser degree, the surrounding cast) contributes more to the point differential by scoring, than Brendan does to preventing scoring.

Posted by: Gack | January 23, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Gack, I agree with your points concerning Haywood.

Right now, I'm comfortable saying he's our best center. I think he meshes well with the players that the Wiz have.

As far as #2 goes, success has a thousand fathers as the saying goes. You could point to Stevenson--who I think has been a better fit for the starting rotation than Jeffries; the fact that the Wizards players have had the benefit of playing together now for a few years; etc, etc, etc. I think Haywood is definitely one part of the equation, but definitely not THE reason.

As far as first and third quarter leads go, my best guess on that one is that those leads tell you whether the first unit of one team is beating the first unit of the other team. If your first unit is continually getting outplayed it would show up in both the 5 man point differential and in those first and third quarter leads.

Posted by: JP | January 23, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Gack, did you see the game on Saturday? The team, including the Big 3, couldn't score at all after Haywood was benched in the 3rd quarter. They couldn't score in the 4th quarter either until he came back in, when, immediately, they started scoring again. I'm pretty sure that Gilbert did not make a single field goal when Haywood was on the bench.

So no, it's not a question of Haywood's defense vs. Gilbert's offense. Haywood positively impacts both. That's why the point differential with Haywood on the floor is enormously better than when he's on the bench.

And before you say, "Saturday is just one game, that doesn't mean anything," I agree. But 19 games does mean something. 15-4 with Haywood starting. 9-12 with Haywood on the bench.

Now it would be fair if you asked me, "what does Haywood do on offense that makes everyone better." Well, easy answer. Go to a game and just focus on Haywood when they're on offense (you can't really see this on TV). For almost the entire 24 seconds, Haywood is setting picks. It's constant. He sets a pick, somebody passes, he sets another pick. This helps the whole team, immensely, and obviously (just look at the numbers

Posted by: Mike | January 23, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

One other thing. Everyone blames the Wizards' terrible start on Gilbert playing badly, never mentioning that Haywood was on the bench. It goes along with what I just said. Haywood sets pick well, Etan doesn't. Just like on Saturday, when Gilbert couldn't do anything right with Haywood on the bench, that's why Gilbert stunk to start the season, and why his amazing run of frequent 50-point games started coming as soon as Haywood entered the starting lineup. The rabid, unsubstantiated insistence that Haywood's insertion into the starting lineup and Gilbert's instantly improved play was somehow a "coincidence" is proof that most people here are just Haywood-haters. Why is everyone here so hard-pressed to refuse to acknowledge Haywood's impact? It's clear, it's present, it's obvious, and it's good for the team. I don't understand it and I don't think I ever will. Throwing it up to "coincidence" is a feeble way of saying "I have no argument, I just don't like Haywood and you will never convince me that he can do anything positive." If a 15-4 record with him starting doesn't indicate something to you, then nothing will, period.

Posted by: Mike | January 23, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

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