Day Game in Toronto

First of all, can there be any question about this global warming thing? It's January, I'm in Toronto and I had to rip my coat off on my short walk over to the arena for today's game because it's so warm outside. I hear folks back in DC were in shorts yesterday. Crazy. This is a great city by the way. If you ever get a chance to get up here, do it.

Rare early for the Wizards this afternoon and I'm loving it. For once, there will be no deadline stress. This what life must be like as a baseball writer. I checked in real quick about a half hour ago and the fellas all made it through Gilbert's bash the other night so that's a good sign. Word on the street is my man Jackie Miles kept any drama from going down with Gilbert and the other Wiz during the party. Who is Jackie Miles you may ask? Good question. People asked the same thing about James Bond.

In case you're wondering, I declined an opportunity to go. Not my kind of thing but I hear it was a blast. The whole black tie part threw me off. If you see me in a suit and tie it means that someone either died or got married. (Insert joke here)

This could be a tricky game for the Wizards today. Chris Bosh has been playing great ball since missing 12 games with a knee injury and Wizards fans don't need to be reminded of the success T.J. Ford has had against Gilbert in the recent past. I'll be looking to see how fresh the legs look and how energetic the starters are defensively in the early going. Big game looming Wednesday night against the Bulls, who waxed Detroit last night. It would be even better if the Wiz keep things rolling with a win today.

I wanted to check in with one quick Redskins related thought: Did you see that pathetic offensive performance by the Chiefs yesterday? No first downs in the first half, no running game with LJ going against the worst run defense in the league, no downfield passing game and one touchdown.

This his how it relates to the Skins: When Al Saunders was passed over as head coach of the Chiefs in favor of Herm Edwards, word started going around that without Saunders and his high-scoring "finesse" offense around, the Chiefs would be tougher, would run more between the tackles with LJ, would have longer drives and wouldn't put their defense in bad spots by scoring too quickly (Whatever that means. You mean you would really have 10-play drive result in a field goal rather than a four-play drive that results in seven points? Really?). The Chiefs didn't look too tough yesterday. LJ had nowhere to go because - shocker here - the Colts walked a safety up and dared the Chiefs to throw deep. Problem is, the offense lacks any imagination, Trent Green looks totally emasculated without downfield passing options and Tony Gonzalez was utterly absent. Herm Edwards baby. Martyball at its finest which is translation for: one and done in the playoffs.

All I know is this: with Saunders calling plays, I never saw an offensive performance that pathetic in KC and I covered all of those teams. In fact, they led the league in scoring for five seasons and ripped apart every defense they faced. Now, word is going around the Redskins that Saunders' offense is too "cute" that he put the defense in bad positions with quick drives and that he doesn't play a Joe Gibbs-style offense. Whatever. Give the man the pieces (like at least two decent offensive linemen and one more offseason and training camp with Jason Campbell and those receivers who are still learning his system), get out of his way and watch that offense pile up points like the Wizards. But they won't. That's why they are the Redskins.

Sorry for the long take on Saunders and the Skins' but I felt I had to get that off my chest.


By Ivan Carter |  January 7, 2007; 12:28 PM ET
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That is a strong stand Michael. I am just glad Campbell gets another year in the same offense. Now onto more important things like what about that slam by Bosh just a few minutes ago! Yikes!

Posted by: George Templeton | January 7, 2007 1:29 PM

What an embarressment (sp?)? This team is playing like it is hungover. Hmmmm...I wonder why. And the coaching by EJ is pathetic, horrible, atrocious....I can't stand him anymore. Who would matchup best with Bosh? Blatche perhaps! Call me stupid.
They are the exact same build. But no, play Booth and Jamison on him and go small when Toronto plays Bosh and Bargniani together so we can give up layups and get dominated on the boards. Jordan is an idiot!!!!!

Posted by: Rob P | January 7, 2007 3:25 PM

Small ball rares its ugly head again.Lucky we don't have Mugsy Bogues-he'd probably play power forward on this team.

Posted by: PTP23 | January 7, 2007 3:38 PM

AGREED: SMALL BALL != WORK!! BOO EJ

Posted by: Victor | January 7, 2007 3:42 PM

Raptors are at 100% full strength and we are not; however, it would be a lame excuse if any of the Wizards say this after the game. We definitely need to play big, not small. Raptors are a young team, small and quick don't work here; you need to be physical and score in the paint (we are missing Thomas and Songalia).

The BigE

Posted by: The BigE | January 7, 2007 4:57 PM

Blanche minutes the last 2 games: 7 and 3. This after playing 21 minutes in Milwaukee game. This is where Phil Jackson excells. He gives his bench players playing time during the year so that they are comfortable when needed at the end of the year. They are one of the top teams this year with a starting line-up that includes Walton, Bynum, Cook and somebody named Smush. I bet Blache could play for Phil.

Posted by: PTP23 | January 7, 2007 6:47 PM

15 out of the last 20 isn't good enough for you? After enduring 20 years of frustration with the Bullets/Wizards I'm not going to let one loss to a good Raptors team annoy me too much.

Posted by: juandixonformvp | January 7, 2007 7:29 PM

Good Raptors team at 15 and 19? I have no problem with the loss-just commenting on the development of Blanche.

Posted by: PTP23 | January 7, 2007 8:30 PM

"Rare early for the Wizards this afternoon and I'm loving it."

Like I mentioned in your other blog Ivan the Wiz NEVER, I repeat NEVER win Sunday afternoon games. This goes back a long time. Seriously, ask them about it.

I don't know how many more they play on Sunday after noon's but you might as well make those games losses as well. It's just one of those things.

No excuse for Jordan's rotations today though...not good at all. And it's not like they play tomorrow either. Where you at BK??????? ;)

"Sorry for the long take on Saunders and the Skins' but I felt I had to get that off my chest."

It's NOT Al Saunders Ivan, but I understand your relationship with him. If he was smart he would give Gibbs his resignation and go somewhere else(like the Ravens), but I'm sure pride isn't letting him do that. As long as Daniel Snyder owns the Skins they will continue to lose and he will continue to meddle. Management there is atrocious and your finally seeing why we all have so upset with them over the years. Talk to Jason LaCanfora, he'll tell you the real scoop over there and what he's had to deal with this year. They keep saying what he's printing are lies.

What a crock!

It's like the Redskins think we're all stupid or something and we don't know what we're talking about. That organization is such a joke right now. Next year they will be saying the same thing and on the outside looking in. I'm starting to hate an organization I used to love so much. :(

My 2 cents on the Skins.

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 7, 2007 9:09 PM

Ivan...hope you had fun in my city today. The weather is crazy. If you need any recomendations on where to go when you are back here in a couple of weeks...just ask.

I was at the game too. The wiz were sluggish and the rotation did not help. Intrestingly though, Mason got some good min in the 4th, brought some good energy with 2 back to back 3 pointers. I wonder if he just got played because he used to play for the Raptors?

Ivan...have you found out why Mason gets random PT and what surgery did Songalia have?

BTW, I saw the piece on Gilbert and his history with the Wiz and your interview about him. Good stuff!

Posted by: Oz | January 7, 2007 9:38 PM

Man, I feel bad for Ray...

...just kidding, you'll be alright.

I don't know how much to make of this game, sometimes a team comes out flat. I kept thinking they were going to wake up too late, and in the end that was the case. Toronto is definitely a talented team, but they are young, and you could see that they were shaken down the stretch. Reminded me of the Wizards 2 years ago.

As far as the rotations were concerned, I guess you can say Blatche is a better match up for Bosh... in 2-3 years maybe that will be true. Bosh's put back dunk was unreal. He jumps out of the camera frame to get that ball. But in the end it was using the full court small ball that seemed to spark the Wizards in the fourth. If they would have ignited another 2 minutes earlier I think we win that game.

IMO. The mistake I think a lot of people here make when they wonder why we don't try to match up against other bigs is that we just really don't have the players for that. At the end of the day if you can't beat them at their own game you try to make them play yours.

Bosh, Nesterovic, Graham, and Bargnani == tall.

Do you really think we win that game if we go with Haywood, Blatche, and Jamison? Haywood still seems slowed. Jamison, just isn't a consistent inside defender, and Blatche is inconsistent. I thought he would get pulled after he attempted the 3. I give toronto the edge big time in that matchup.

Things I was happy to see:

Hayes hitting 5 of 5.
Hayes not getting injured (scary fall).
Roger Mason knocking down back to back 3s.
Taylor and Mason getting late minutes as they closed the gap.
Gilbert nailing the 3 at the buzzer again (always fun).
Jamison taking his game inside late in the second half (offensively).
Daniels getting extended minutes.

As bad a game as it was at times, this team is still fun for me to watch. I think we show up strong against Chicago.

Posted by: greg | January 7, 2007 10:28 PM

Ivan, I think the fans are owed an explanation as to why Brendan was pulled with 6 minutes to go in the third quarter and never put back in. At that point he had 10 points,4 rebs, 3 assists and 2 blocks -- what else does the coach want from him? He only played 21 minutes against a team with 2 seven footers up front. Moreover, it comes on the heels of a strong performance against the Clippers. Does Eddie dislike him so much that he is willing to sacrifice victories in order to satisfy a personal grudge? There certainly is no observable on court explanation for his treatment of Haywood.

Further, did anyone in the post game ask Jordan why Blatche didn't get a chance to defend Bosh? Jamison was offering absolutely no resistance on defense, so what does Eddie do? Put him at center. Brilliant.

Jordan's best moves over the last 2 years have been the result of injuries -- until Hayes got hurt last season we rarely saw Butler on the floor with the starters. Hayes gets hurt, he has no choice but to start Butler and the season is saved. Ruffin and Thomas get hurt this year and he's forced to start Brendan. The team is 10 and 2 with him as a starter, but even now, Eddie finds excuses to keep him on the bench. Is it just a coincidence that during this streak the game in which Haywood doesn't play the wiz lose (@ Milwaukee) and the game in which he plays only 21 minutes they lose as well?

If no one is going to offer any critical analysis of Jordan now, can we at least expect it when Thomas comes back, Haywood starts getting 23 minutes a game and the team goes back to .500?


Posted by: charlie | January 7, 2007 11:10 PM

Jordan's rotations are ridiculous! Greg, in 2/3 years Blatche may be a better matchup for Bosh? Are you kidding me? He would not be a tougher defender than Jamison right now? I say at least give it a try! It would be no worse than Jamison I guarantee. EJ's rotations and bench management, I am sorry to say, are just horrible. It's like trying to find the logic in the Redskins organization.

Do we have banged up big men, yes. Do we still have Haywood and Blatche and to a lesser extent Lang, yes. Utilize them!!!
Or, if you do go small go all the way like we did late in the fourth and press as well. That makes sense. We lost the game when we went small in the third, did not press, and the game got out of hand. I think we could all see that one coming. Our scoring ability can overcome only so much. Poor bench management, poor defensive coaching, poor matchup decisions will cost this team now and later.

By the way, whoever said Toronto is a good team is wrong. They are 4/5 games under .500 in the East and in the Atlantic Conference. They are below average, but I will grant you that do have some good young talent. The elite teams do not lose this game and it's my opinion that EJ's coaching had a lot to do with this lose and, just maybe, a little B-day party hangover!!!!

Posted by: Rob P | January 8, 2007 12:22 AM

Ivan, your right the one positive was Hayes. It would be nice to see him find his stroke. It just seems he gets a lot of rope to do so unlike 99% of the rest of the bench. I like what I saw from Mason again, but he does not get those same opportunities.

By the way, kudos to Haywood for outplaying Kaman on Friday night. The 60 million dollar center. Haywood may not be an elite center, but he is doing pretty well for 25 million. Kudos to EG!!!

Posted by: Rob P | January 8, 2007 12:41 AM

I just read the game summary article and Gilbert mentions not playing well when the team plays at 1 O'clock. Well, I guess the teams they are playing are in a different time zone. Lame!

Posted by: Rob P | January 8, 2007 1:55 AM

Bosh destroys Blatche with prolonged minutes, guaranteed, and blatche doesn't bring the same scoring ability as jamison. Not saying Blatche shouldn't get any minutes, he can bring energy off the bench, but when he starts to drift outside for 3pt shots I think that is a bad thing.

Look at Jamison's numbers today and this season. He grabbed 14 rebounds and score i think 18. His shot wasn't droppping from the outside so he adjusted and worked inside more. Fighting for offensive put backs.

I don't have a problem with Haywood today or this season, but he came out without a lot of energy. When he was in he was rarely able to keep rebounds alive. Again, I think Haywood has been doing very well, but watching him recently he looks slower and I think he is nursing that ankle a bit.

Posted by: greg | January 8, 2007 3:49 AM

Yeah I do think the Raptors are a good team, and not the same old Raptors of years past. If you've been paying any attention they have a whole new attitude this year and have 2 new additions in T.J. Ford and Bargnani and Bosh continues to improve to All-star status.

I think people think just because they're the Raptors we should blow them off the court, but this is the NBA you've got to bring it every night, and they had a huge advantage of being all rested up while we had to travel for a 1pm game.

In my opinion this wasn't a bad loss, and it happens over the course of an 82 game season.

Posted by: juandixonformvp | January 8, 2007 7:36 AM

I watched Chicago beat Detroit on Saturday. That is a tall, quick team that can do almost everything. The only thing they don't do well is jumpers. So watch Chicago bully the Wizards in the paint. And the Wiz will keep doing jumpshots like they did at Toronto. Is EJ's answer going to be small ball again, or is he finally going to try a tall team with Arenas the only guard?

Posted by: rgz | January 8, 2007 7:48 AM

What time did Gil's party end and what time did the team flight leave?

Posted by: dc | January 8, 2007 8:21 AM

A tall guy (Blatche) would have been nice to have 6 minutes into the 4th quarter. Bosh had several offensive rebounds that quarter and got points off it. At least have a big guy stay beside Bosh and make him work on some rebounds, who knows the wiz might end up getting some balls. If the reason for the small ball is to put up points, Gil, Caron, Jamison gets most of the balls anyways! I just don't get it. What is up with the wiz letting dribble penetrations?

Posted by: bdunkkadunk | January 8, 2007 10:15 AM

Perimeter defense has been a weakness for this team all season, and Toronto is good on the perimeter. I think that pretty much sums up the loss.

Posted by: Henry | January 8, 2007 11:00 AM

Good big ppl will beat good little ppl - Ken Beatrice.

Posted by: Victor | January 8, 2007 11:13 AM

I was glad to see Jarvis hit some shots. Mason came in and dropped a couple buckets, I still don't understand why he never plays. Blatche was doing ok I thought, he had a nice block, but then took a 3 and missed and got pulled. He should of been assigned to stick to Bosh like glue, "go where he goes and do what he does". But I really don't understand why Haywood came out and stayed out. He was having a pretty nice game.

Eddie had to break out his smallball! The killer was when he 1st went to it we went on a misleading run which encouraged Eddie to go with his natural instinct. So he stuck with smallball and gave the Raptors tons of putbacks and offensive boards and before you know it we're down by 20. Going small might give you an offensive burst for a 10 pt run, but then you gotta stop, you don't let that ride cause it will come back and bite you! We had Jamison and center and Hayes at PF with 3 guards! Against a team with all 6-10 and up frontcourt, what do you think is going to happen!?

I think we should of given them a Haywood, Blatche, Jamison, Caron and Gil look. Unfortunately the Wizards sluggish play and falling behind gave Eddie the green light to go to his "secret weapon". Smallball! If Eddie was GM we'd be trading Haywood for Boykins! Why doesn't he go to a gumball machine to satisfy his smallball cravings? He needs to get himself some canned spaghetti with mini-meatballs cause his new name is gonna be Chef Boy-R-Dee!

Posted by: Darnell | January 8, 2007 11:26 AM

Can we all agree that Victor's post above will be the first AND LAST mention of Ken Beatrice on this blog?
Thank you.

Posted by: Henry | January 8, 2007 12:04 PM

At least we didn't give up any second chance points...except for the 60 we gave up.

Posted by: Bernard King | January 8, 2007 12:32 PM

hey i have some things i want to say and i have a message for ray and for all wizards fans!

1st i want to ask if anyone else noticed that right when wizards game ended sunday at 3:30 on nbatv at 3:30 started telecast of the dakota wizards game? did anyone watch that? a player on that team we gotta sign is justin williams! did anyone see that guy, 6-10 pf who can jump and block shots and rebound and has some nice offense down low too! i hope you all watched it!

and ray you know that link you give us for the allstars? you know if you go there and vote and leave and then delete your cookies you can go back and vote again, and you can keep doing that and vote again and again and again and again and again. i voted for gil and caron 20 times today and i am going to do it some more! you all should do it!

laron profit is playing on 30 day contract in europe, i can't believe we don't want him.

what do you all think about signing cweb if he is bought out and made a free agent as speculated?

and have we had enough of the gold uniforms yet? have we satisfied susan omalley's ego yet? she likes to dress the wizards like she is dressing her dolls when she was a little girl. can we stop now? i thought they were good luck but after yesterday they are not so can we stop now? they look like disco dancers.

Posted by: poptart | January 8, 2007 12:38 PM

Ivan:

AMAZING point about Saunders, the Skins and the Chiefs. There are always new excuses. I can't believe this nonsense about "scoring too quickly." WHAT??? Are we on the same planet? Saunders is the tightness. It is obvious. Gregg Williams is a has-been.

Also, I'm glad we D-ed up Bosh so well. This is exactly what will happen to us in the playoffs. However, I am ecstatic that the Wizards are playing so well, even beyond my expectations.

Posted by: The Governor | January 8, 2007 12:51 PM

Justin Williams was brought in by Grunfeld for a workout prior to the draft. So he at least had interest in him back then.

Posted by: Sean | January 8, 2007 1:01 PM

Nice post Darnell, we're on the same page as far as smallball and the kind of lineup we would like to see at least TRIED.

Greg, if you think that Blatche would not at least give Bosh a harder time on D and definitely on the boards, I don't know what else to say. I am not claiming he would be a Bosh stopper. Bosh can/did shoot and rebound over Jamison and back him down and drive by him. Jamison stops nothing! I saw drool out of the side of Bosh's mouth. That would not be the same case with Blatche at least with the shooting over and rebounding. It also does not mean Jamison can't play the 3 spot with say Butler at 2 and Arenas. However you wanna mix it. You just don't go small with a team as tall as the Raptors and let an almost all-star caliber player go one on one with a guy that much smaller than him. It's stupid and in my opinion a major reason why we lost the game. Is EJ going to play Jamison against Shaq when he gets healthy??? lol...well, it's almost as preposperous as what we've seen lately.

Posted by: Rob P | January 8, 2007 2:33 PM

Nice Post Darnell! We are in sync as to what we would like to see in a lineup.

Greg, I don't know what to tell you if you think Blatche would not cause more problems for Bosh defensively. I saw drool coming out of the side of Bosh's mouth when he saw Jamison covering him. He can shoot over, offensive rebound over, back down, and drive by Jamison. I think that about covers it. Blatche's height and quickness (i.e. same build) would almost have to cause Bosh greater concern. Hey, try it and if he gets toasted well what have you lost. I am not claiming Blatche would lock him or anybody down. We're just talking about making things a little more difficult than a layup drill, unimpeded 10 ft bankers, or ridiculously easy putbacks.

Posted by: Rob P | January 8, 2007 2:41 PM

Thanks Rob. I agree with The Governor that this is what we're gonna see in the playoffs I'm afraid.

Teams know if they throw a big lineup and zone defense at us, we're gonna counter with smallball and jumpshots.

Posted by: Darnell | January 8, 2007 2:44 PM

"Man, I feel bad for Ray..."

Lol, thanks greg. :)

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | January 8, 2007 5:03 PM

"and ray you know that link you give us for the allstars?"

Yeah poptart, been doing it. :)

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 8, 2007 5:17 PM

Just getting to this but thanks for the Saunders backing. The system works, it just looked horrible with Brunell leading it. It looked a lot better with JC throwing for more than 3 yard dinks and dunks too. The defense sucked period. Time of possession and ball control is part of Gibbs game. Gibbs does not hike the ball without using up the playclock anyway. That's all part of the Gibbs ball control game. You will never see a fast paced offense here.

Posted by: RobGreg | January 8, 2007 5:17 PM

I wish someone would question EJ about his rotations! Why didnt Haywood return to play vs TO? Why didnt Blatche play more minutes? Why DOESN'T Mason play more minutes on regular basis? Why DOES Jarvis Hays plays so many minutes with such consistent low productivity?

Thank God Etan is back for the Chicago game, at least we have more depth in our front court.

I agree that EJ will be the downfall of this team.

Posted by: WizKid | January 8, 2007 5:18 PM

WizKid, you must be skipping my posts...lol. I see EJ's coaching as average at best and comment on it all the time. He has installed a decent offense and that's about it. I don't like his in game coaching (i.e. matchups, rotations, bench development) at all and his defensive coaching can't be super either.

Posted by: Rob P | January 8, 2007 7:45 PM

I don't want a consistent first or second round playoff loser from this team. I want a championship and we definitely have the core to get there, but I don't know if EJ is your guy to take you all the way. I hope I am wrong!

Posted by: Rob P | January 8, 2007 7:51 PM

Blatche should have played more. Other than that I couldn't really complain. I don't know why Blatche wasn't on the floor. He should be playing 20 minutes a game until Etan or Ruff comes back.

No more freaking small ball for more than 4-5 minutes. It is NOT meant as a 20-30 minute endeaver.

People need to give EJ credit though... you guys are way too harsh, he has coaxed more career years out of guys... and is young for a coach.

Posted by: Jumpy | January 8, 2007 11:47 PM

Ray,

You are wrong about the Wiz NEVER winning on Sunday afternoons. They played Sacramento at home last season and won. I remember this game well because for some freaking reason it was not televised and I had to listen to it on the radio.

Speaking of Toronto, Ivan, I was arriving there right when the game ended - returned home today. It is a lovely city.

Posted by: Lisa | January 9, 2007 7:02 PM

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