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AJ out, Kobe in town and all things Wiz

Keeping this one quick because I'm heading out the door to practice but I'll check back later with some stuff from Verizon. Of course, the big news is Antawn Jamison's knee injury and we're all about to find out how well this team can play without it's third leading scorer, captain and all-around leader. Props to Caron Butler for his All Star selection (I called it back in training camp, remember?) and props also to Eddie Jordan and his staff. Maybe Eddie will play LeBron, D-Wade and Shaq the whole way and wear 'em out.

Kobe's in town and you know he's going to have fire in his eyes for Agent Zero tommrow night. (By the way, I don't have tickets so don't bother asking). I watched the 60-point game again last night and let me tell you: Gilbert gave it to the Lakers. He was attacking the rim like a shark (poor Andrew Bynum, he didn't know what to do because Gil was coming at him all night) and his jumper was pure hibachi all night. By the way 'Twan had 25 and 13 in that game.

It will be interesting to see how aggressive Gilbert and Kobe are early on but we know who will be pulling in the fourth quarter. This is a big one for Butler as well. Remember, the Lakers traded him for Kwame Brown of all people so you know with that All Star spot locked up, Caron is going to come out looking to prove himself.

I heard yesterday that Darius Songaila could suit up and play some as early as tomorrow night. I'll try to confirm that today after practice. Also, my eyes are on Jarvis Hayes, Andray Blatche and C Booth. This team must play better defensively without 'Twan because I don't see it averaging 107 with him out. I know that sounds strange given 'Twan's defensive shortcomings but Booth and Blatche have the length and rebounding ability to pick up the slack at the defensive end. Offensively, Jarvis has to keep hitting his shots (he's made 6 of his last 7) and needs to attack the rim.

It would also be a good time for DeShawn Stevenson to earn that fat contract he's looking for. He's played well all season but hasn't been in a position where he's HAD to consistently make shots with the shot clock winding down but he's going to be in that spot more often now. He's a vet and he's comfortable with his teammates so I see him performing at a high level.

By Ivan Carter  |  February 2, 2007; 11:19 AM ET
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Next: Closer to Siding with Wade


I'm dubious about what Stevenson will do if asked to play a bigger role in the offense. So far he's been able to focus almost exclusively on shooting wide open shots. To his credit, he's been making a lot of those shots. However, when given a bigger offensive role in previous stops around the league, Stevenson has been one of the NBA's least efficient players. Hopefully he'll come through. We'll see though.

Posted by: TSW | February 2, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Considering how we got smashed by Toronto, the only thing we have going for us is that the Lakers will be playing their 4th game in 5 days on Saturday. Hopefully we can catch them on an off day. Although from seeing the highlights of Lakers-Celtic's the other night, Kobe looks PISSED - not good for the wiz.

The wizards beat the lakers in LA, but they are a different team with Odom. He could be the difference maker.

Tomorrow would be a good game for Gilbert to give away 20,000 jerseys like he was saying.

Posted by: Ray Chris. | February 2, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

The Wiz are a great underdog team, but now we get to find out if they can keep their focus while on top. They've probably surpassed their mid-season goals, what with going into the AS game on top, Gil a starter, Tuff Juice a reserve, and EJ coaching. I love this team, but they're still relatively young, and it wouldn't surprise me to see a loss of focus, particularly with the Jamison injury a convenient distraction, and the playoffs still months away.

Posted by: reispace | February 2, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

EJ eastern conference all star coach. I thought it would be a long time before I ever said those words. Congrats to him, he is the best thing to happen to dc basketball since well Dick Motta. Hope he sticks around for another 15 years or so.

Wiz roll the lakers by 12 to 15.

Posted by: dc | February 2, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Our Wizards will prove critics wrong all the while they continue to win without AJ. This is called PRIDE!!! Go Wizards, and let Kobe know that this is Gil's House and he is not welcome.

Posted by: aramey | February 2, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I.C., you said it right about Jarvis needing to attack the rim. I believe ALL the rest of them have to attack the rim AND pass as needed. They also have to move and not wait for Gil to come dribble closer to them cause that's not going to happen if Gil is double teamed.

Posted by: rickgonz | February 2, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, the only way Jarvis can attack the rim is if he gets the ball within about 3 feet of it. Any further than that and he's going to lose the ball on his second dribble.

I'm rooting for Jarvis to somehow work his way out of this funk, but he just looks like somone who has completely lost confidence in what he's doing. You can't survive in the NBA that way.

Posted by: burke | February 2, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

My impression is that AJ has been the locker room leader - I'm guessing that in his absence this responsibility now falls on AD's shoulders.

The Wiz have a favorable schedule headed into the All Star Break - I imagine the focus is on staying poised and working Songaila into the rotation.

The Wiz should still be on top of the SE division when AJ returns and when that happens its time to see us putting away middle of the pack teams like toronto.

Big ups to Caron on his first All-Star appearance - he truly deserves it and with EJ at the helm, it will be great to see him get some run (though I love the idea of wearing Wade Bron and Shaq into the ground).

Posted by: Joe Tip | February 2, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

mark my words.....Gil - 45pts....Butler - 34....

Posted by: dsk | February 2, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Sad to say this but I predict the Lakers will blow us out worse than the Suns did. Kobe may shoot 80 - he definitely wants to put up a great showing since Gil did it to him. Without Jamison our scoring is going to suffer and Gil has been double teamed and is not scoring as much.

This could be very embarrasing for the Wiz.

Posted by: Lisa | February 2, 2007 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Lisa, you are very correct. The Wiz are all smoke and mirrors. Time will tell.
Agent Zero put all this crap up front for his own personal notariety & his vendetta. EJ knows it. Thats why he keeps saying - Alright - the All Star voting is behind us - lets get focused - get into the business of playing team ball"

Zero needs to get back to the business of team ball not "Hey league look at me" ball. As his narcistic little mind goes - sadly so goe the Wizards. Jamison and Haywood have said as much. Thats what caused Jamison to kick his game up a notch. Somebody had to.

Posted by: d | February 5, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

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