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On to Atlanta

I'm slacking by taking a night off but Mike Lee will be in the ATL for tonight's game against the team he used to chronicle, the Hawks. Outside of a few cheap shots (directed at one another, not me. you've been good to us), you folks are doing a great job with this blog and I've enjoyed scrolling down and reading your takes before, during and after games. Keep it up and don't be afraid to keep the comments and opinions coming. You probably don't realize it but reading through the posts helps create story ideas and formulate questions for Eddie and the players.

That was a very solid win over a good Toronto team last night - maybe the team's most complete effort of the season. The ball moved, guys made shots, the defensive rotations and rebounding were excellent and it was good to Antonio Daniels find a groove coming off the bench. Remember how he struggled early last season but came up so huge in the final 20 to 25 games? This team needs him coming into those second quarters and contributing, even if it isn't like last night when he was a scoring machine in the second quarter.

The Wiz are 4-10 in the second game back-to-back set this season so tonight's game won't be easy. The Hawks walked out of Verizon Center feeling that they had done enough to get a win on Friday and will come at the fellas hard tonight. Enjoy the game and drop in with your takes.

By Ivan Carter  |  March 7, 2007; 4:29 PM ET
 
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Comments

I was loving the big rotation last night. Did anyone else feel like EJ stuck with some of the subs a little too long?

Also, Caron Butler still doesn't seem right to me. He doesn't have that same 'swag'...really since the ALl-Star game. I feel like he's lost confidence in that mid-range jumper. Do we think it's a back thing?

Posted by: Bernard King | March 7, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I would say it's a back thing, combined with a little rust. If you've ever been unlucky enough to have back spasms, it can really mess with your head, and you have to rest -- can't exercise or rehab as much as AJ did after his bruised knee.

That said, he's been back for three games after missing, what, four? He's gonna get it back & if others are playing well he can work it out gradually over this stretch & not risk overdoing it.

Sorry 'bout that suspension, Kobe. Guess you better get a new "natural shooting motion" soon :)

Posted by: iceberg | March 7, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I was surprised to see the Raptors are a bad rebounding team - 25 and 1(!) for Bosh? Clearly, their bigs like to shoot and WATCH rather than crash into people. Still, I'm happy for that team (great fans).

What is the Hawks ownership situation these days? I know it was bad over the Johnson deal - that dust hasn't settled yet, has it?

Posted by: Shotgun | March 7, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Ivan you're such a slacker. ;)

"Keep it up and don't be afraid to keep the comments and opinions coming."

Do the "respect" article man. The Wiz are finally getting it from refs/players and such. It sure as heck took long enough.

There were some lean years here in DC. :(

"Either that, or he just hates getting his shot blocked by some white guys (Ginobili, Jaric, ???) J/K. ;)"

I had to pull this from the previous blog, it made me laugh. :)

"If you've ever been unlucky enough to have back spasms, it can really mess with your head..."

It's crippling, literally. I get them a couple times a year with my post herniated disk surgery and all. It takes me a few days for them to go away so I can only imagine with a professional sports player and such. Caron didn't take many shots last night but he had a good % and he said he was feeling better so we'll see.

Give it a few games.

Guys/girls, this is Atlanta the Wiz are playing tonight. I don't care if the Wiz played last night or not, it's going to be a blowout. Atlanta is not a very good team.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | March 7, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

I think the team should use this game as a "high speed" practice game. EJ work on your combinations. Gil work on that 35 ft. 3-ball, Caron work on that jab step jumper from 15 ft. Brenda? Brenda? Get off of Etan!!!

Posted by: DMAN | March 7, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Ray, I feel you on the back spasms. Had some about 15 years ago that made life miserable for a while.

I also agree that ATL is not a very good team...

...but we've only beaten them by 1 the last two meetings (last Friday & in November) and we were on the verge of suffering last-second T. Lue heroics after his game-winner up in Jersey the previous Sunday.

I hope they lock in on the Hawks tonight like they did last night & when they ran the Magic out of their own gym back on Jan. 19.

Posted by: iceberg | March 7, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Benard King, Yes I thought he stayed with the bench pretty long last night in the second. I think Daniels was so blistering hot and they were on the first night of a back to back so he wanted to steal as much rest for his starters as he could. I think the big three all were 30 min. or less. I think they need to get closer to 35 on avereage than the 40 or more they've been logging.
Useally if you've experienced back spasms that are bad enough to lay you up for a couple of days, they tend to recurr to a lesser extent for a couple of weeks. They tend to keep tightening up and limiting you range of motion for a while. Caron could still be experiencing recurring problems.
Also because they tend to recurr after physical activity he may have to limit his shooting and only apply heat and stretch before the game instead of participating in shoot arounds in the afternoon.
The damn things can really limit you for awhile and generally you have to take treatment and try to limit activity. I wouldn't be shocked if he could even have trouble on the second night of a back to back like tonight.

Posted by: GM | March 7, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Ivan,

You kind of covered this a few days ago. I understand, and agree, that Eddie needs to broaden out the rotation and get guys in a groove and the starters some rest. But at the same time, come playoff time, he has to shorten it back up. So when does that happen? Would he wait until the playoffs actually begin? Does he start shortening it up as things heat up and teams are positioning for home court? And who would be in that shorter rotation?

In my mind Songaila is always in the rotation. And if AD plays like yesterday, you've got to include him just for his playoff experience and toughness. But after that I don't know:

1. How can you play Hayes? He still hasn't proven he can shoot. He's plays good defense and is physical, but is that enough? Doesn't Mason play good defense as well? And he's shown he can shoot. Neither player has proven anything, so my vote goes to Mason. Or, more likely, neither.
2. Blatche should sit on the bench simply because of his inexperience. He's emergency only. I know he's the future and all, and I love his game...but...he's next year.
3. Etan has experience. So does Booth. But I think Booth has played smarter and better. And he can pop that mid range jump shot. How valuable is that? In my mind, very. And unlike Etan, Booth doesn't let himself get out of position to block a shot. I know Eddie loves the "Etan shake" when he grabs that rebound and twists his body around in angry contortions. It sure looks fierce. But I prefer the normal rebound and quick outlet pass from Booth to a streaking Arenas. I would think that would be much more productive.
4. I love Ruffin. But he shouldn't be playing above anyone on the team. He's emergency only. Keep him in the 12, but don't play him unless you really, really have to. And let's hope Eddie either gives up small ball, or plays Songaila in the middle instead of Ruffin. BTW, I love Songaila's passing from the top of the key. He's got to be one of the better passers on the team.

So here's my rotation. We all know who the starters are.

off the bench and in the rotation:

AD
Songaila
Booth


spot duty:

Etan
Mason/Hayes

in the 12 but glued to the bench:

Ruffin....he's less likely to make the defensive mental mistake that Blatche would make

inactive:

Blatche
Taylor
Hall


That's my playoff/playoff push rotation for now.

Oh, and I could see us going to a 7 man rotation as well. Particularly against smaller teams. Then I'd drop Booth to spot duty and relieve Haywood with Songaila.

-sting

Posted by: sting | March 7, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

If the back spasms are as bad as you say (and I don't doubt it, but I don't know), maybe this is the time to sit Butler down for a week or two since everyone is back and healthy (finally!).

Posted by: George Templeton | March 7, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully the Wiz saw a way that they can overcome their poor defense in their win over Toronto last night...the Raptors actually shot 51.9%, good enough to win on most nights. The Wizards won because they had far more possessions than Toronto did because of the huge rebounding advantage. Eddie should forget about emphasizing defense, which clearly has not worked and has aggravated Gilbert, and instead have Haywood, Blatche, Hayes, Caron, Thomas, Ruffin and Booth dedicate themselves to crushing the offensive glass like they did on Monday.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 7, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

wait wait wait guys, this is exactly what happens to the wiz all the time: win a big game, then fall to an inferior opponent on the back half of a back-to-back. This game is so indicative of what still seperates the wiz from the upper echelon teams, consistency, the drive to bang out wins night after night after night regardless of who they're playing. so i'll be crossing my fingers while i watch the computer screen refresh and keep sayingi'll believe it when i see it (and what was with all the baby stuff today, i thought i was on the wrong chat)

Posted by: numero tres | March 7, 2007 7:04 PM | Report abuse

sting - i think you gotta have blatche in there, i know he's inexperienced but he brings some good energy and gives them some real options. he did well when caron was out (relatively), and young, inexperienced 6-11 guys can still do a lot of positive things for a small team in 6-10 mins a night.
i'm at the point with Hayes that i'd drop him down unless he really gets his shot going - dude loves to fire it up like he's lil' gilbert and it kills them all the time

Posted by: numero tres | March 7, 2007 7:10 PM | Report abuse

cotd@mn! espn gamecast is slow on the updates... aarrggh. damn you sportstalk980.com!!!!

;p

Posted by: hmmmmm | March 7, 2007 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Wiz 52-44 @ half. Good performance in spots but not encouraging -- too many TOs, no killer instinct yet. Especially bad since ATL has three starters out.

Sign Zaza Pachulia up for the Ladell Eackles no-name all-stars with his first-half performance tonight.

Maybe the second half will be better for the good guys.

Posted by: iceberg | March 7, 2007 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Any excuse for the Wizards losing to a short-handed Hawks team? Any excuse for the Wizards to lose to a Hawks team, in general? Their play tonight is, sadly, indicative of this team that last couple of years. When they get leads against lesser teams, they back off, stop being aggressive and start heaving up long jumpers. Because of that, the bad teams get back into games and sometimes steal them from the Wizards, which might happen tonight. And with the Heat winning against Chicago right now, this loss could be doubly embarrassing. Miami has gained ground on the Wizards without Wade. That's pretty sad.

Tonight's game is not finished by any stretch. But you can't be pleased with how they've played.

Posted by: Colin | March 7, 2007 9:00 PM | Report abuse

This team is so frustrating to watch. Lets be honest here, we will be lucky to win a playoff series this year.

Posted by: Zack | March 7, 2007 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Zack, I agree. I've never been so up on this team that I thought they were a legit contender. They've done this for years. They just don't put long win streaks together, which says a lot about their focus and attention, which can be attributed partly to the players and partly to the coach. The Hawks are playing without Joe Johnson so this win should have been had early. The Wizards are not a legit contending team. Now, if they catch fire offensively, they're tough to beat. But all you have to do is wait them out because they never play 48 minutes of aggressive, focused and sound basketball. It's mostly because EJ seems to allow a "win-is-a-win" mentality to trickle down through the organization. Until they value wins and value ball games and understand how to play a full 48 minutes, no matter how cliche it sounds, they won't be a legit contender.

Last year, Gilbert said the wanted the playoff series with the Cavs to go seven games. That's not the talk of a winner or of someone who's confidant enough to lead a team to at least a conference finals. A mental overhaul has to happen for this team to perform at a high level every right. This team always seems too loose, so games like tonight's slip away.

Posted by: Colin | March 7, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

live by the jumpshot die by the jumpshot. you could see it in the last game against chicago - they hit a few early, think they'll always hit them and stick with it. gilbert needs to get back to taking the ball to the rim and getting to the line.

i couldn't agree more about the mentality on the team, and it does go to the coaching, though i love eddie and don't want him to go, and to gilbert, who needs to watch some film of d-wade (sacreligious as that may be)

Posted by: numero tres | March 7, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

just totally ridiculous

Posted by: numero tres | March 7, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Just a disgraceful defeat. Just like most of Feb. a lot of 1-on-1, no movement, no passing, just awful in every sense. Why did you abandon what works. Oh yes and we got another f'in dose of small ball, which is why Pachulia went off. Zaza Pachulia! That is ridiculous.

Posted by: George Templeton | March 7, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Right on Colin!

Loose is being kind.

They follow up a great team effort with a terrible team effort.

They lose bc:

1. Horrible shooting
2. Horrible ball movement - what happened to it from just last night???
3. = one on one pathetic basketball game
4. Horrible coaching - why did the starters play 95% of the 2nd half? - they weren't playing well at all. Is the bench all sick or something?
5. Stevenson got a LOT of minutes particularly in the 2nd half and played horribly - he was a turnover machine and could not hit layups even - Why EJ???? Sub Mason/ do something!
6. This game begged for a spark off the bench yet they did not even get an opportunity in the 2nd half.
7. Horrible defense! 100 pts to Hawks minus THREE starters???????????????????
7. Bad bad bad....this is why I agree that I'll be surprised if they get to the second round
8. I believe inconsistency is one of the biggest indicators of poor coaching. I can't wait til we get a championship caliber coach.

Posted by: Rob P | March 7, 2007 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Well, that was gruesome.

I don't even have the heart to mock Ray for his pre-game prediction after that.

Posted by: burke | March 7, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Formula:

Can't stop a guy name Zaza +
21 turnovers +
too much individual play +
getting outhustled by a shorthanded team

Result:

Buckhantz, "Backbreaker" & "....the wiz drop one in stunning fashion...."

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 7, 2007 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Unlike Ray, I'm not surprised we lost. The Hawks always play well against us.

Still, it was very frustrating and the road just gets tougher.

Posted by: Lisa | March 7, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't matter how well the Hawks might play against the Wizards, there's no excuse for this loss. None. If this is the team we thought it was, we should all be surprised by this outcome. Sadly, this performance, not last night's, is more indicative of this team and its mentality. I blame EJ first and then start working my way down the line. The stupid turnovers and one-on-one offensive nonsense has to stop, and it never seems to end. Does EJ have control over his team? It would seem not. There's a reason essentially the same team backed into the playoffs last year, and that reason (or those reasons) are beginning to manifest right now. We all know how good this team can be, but we also all know all that ails this team. I'm not so sure the Wizards win the SE division this season.

Posted by: Colin | March 7, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

i don't think the players pay much attention to EJ and i think EJ knows it, he doesn't have the cred to run roughshod over his players and bench them when they don't do what he wants - but this is true of at least half the teams in the league. until a coach really wins the star players are content to tune him out, well, even when he does win they tune him out re:kobe. so what are we left with? second round and out at best. and yes, i'm a sucker, i'd take that and be happy.

Posted by: numero tres | March 7, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I think EJ should have put Songaila on Pachulia tonight since Etan was MIA again. Zaza was a friggin' monster, grabbing boards, making tough shots, and drawing fouls. He pretty much more than doubled his season averages in both points and boards tonight. I think Brendan backed down from him b/c Brendan ended up with only 2 personal fouls.

Anthony Johnson became Vinnie Johnson. Childress, who couldn't hit anything and was too thin to play any D ended up with 13 rebounds.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 7, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

"I don't even have the heart to mock Ray for his pre-game prediction after that."

Hey they should have won, but don't stop yourselves for letting me have it. :)

They should never have let an 11 point lead go away like that. The one thing the Wiz lack and have all season is a "killer" instinct to put teams away when they are down.

Thier defense was utterly horrible tonight, but Atlanta IS 3rd in the NBA in blocked shots. I didn't know that until Steve B said something.

They need to take those teams seriously, they played a little flat to me.

This happend earlier in the season and they got it worked out. They remind me right now just before they went on that run in December.

Also, dudes are still coming back from being hurt so I'm sure stamina played a HUGE part. Remember this WAS a back to backer, but it's still a game they should have won.

"i don't think the players pay much attention to EJ and i think EJ knows it"

I agree, and I think you can add to this that Jordan tries to be thier "buddy" too much and not thier coach. They don't "fear" him enough.

Have faith, to say they won't win a playoff series based on one night is premature. Remember the Bullets/Wiz of old won 20 games a year and beat a few good teams in the process. I'm sure some of those fans were saying the same thing. :)

Kinda makes up for the Golden State game.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | March 7, 2007 10:41 PM | Report abuse

This team has never had a killer instinct. Never. Not since EJ got here. Not before EJ when the teams were really bad. But now, this team is good enough to win a bunch of ball games, so a lack of killer instinct is even more pronounced. When you're just awful, you can't have a killer instinct because you rarely beat anyone anyway. EJ needs to take control of these guys. I've been saying since last year that he needs to get angry and start holding some of these clowns accountable. This lax behavior and attitude just won't cut it.

Posted by: Colin | March 7, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Ray -- man, I'd hoped all day that you were right and I was wrong. But they showed up in the twilight zone especially in the second half.

So all those folks who kept complaining about the end to the GS game on Sunday: they just gave that one back by playing badly AND losing.

Happy now?

Now starting at center for the no-name, All-World, unstoppable vs. Wiz, High Lord of the Extraterrestrial, flowin' like water, funky like Magic Shaving Powder team: Zaza Pachoulia.

Posted by: iceberg | March 7, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Joe Johnson - 25 pts., 4.2 rebs, 4.4 assists
Marvin Williams - 12.5 pts., 4.7 rebs
Speedy Claxton - 5.3 pts, 4.4 assists

That's what the Hawks were missing tonight, regardless if Les Boules had players coming back from being hurt or not. Jamison sure didn't look like he missed a beat against the Raptors where Les Boules scored 129 pts., and I thought Agent Gilby got his mojo back after his clavicle was put back into position. The starters got plenty of rest against the Raptors b/c of the blowout, so back to back is a nonissue.

Jamison is their silent leader, but at some point in time, he needs to assert himself on the court and get these guys going. One thing that was quite obvious is Les Boules is seriously lacking in athleticism. All the guys can dunk, but they can't play consistently above the rim, which results in layups that get blocked (10 blocks by the Hawks) or boards taken from them. Jamison ended up with 4 boards.

Blatche played 6 minutes and laid an egg. AD pretty much did nothing either with 18 minutes. Jarvis played 10 minutes. Roger Mason played 6 also. Mason, Blatche, and Jarvis didn't get enough PT to get into a rhythm.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 7, 2007 11:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm highly discouraged. The Wiz show flashes of greatness and then flashes of...nothing.

They do not play well on the road - or in back to backs - and according to Ray, they do not play well on Sunday.

Well, we play back to back games this weekend....one of them on the road and on Sunday...and guess who we play? Our old nemesis Miami.

After watching the end of the Detroit-Cavs game tonight, I'm even more frustrated. Both those teams were in playoff mode.

Posted by: Lisa | March 7, 2007 11:40 PM | Report abuse

DC Man88 -
I don't know about the PT rhythm thing. If those guys want PT, then when they get on the floor they have to show they deserve it and fast. That means make plays on defense, get rebounds, and hustle. That's how bench players get time.

and i'm totally with you on jamison, he has to be more vocal, but i'll add, at some point agent zero (love him as i do) has to step up and be a leader. he's the best player on the team, he has to literally will them to victory, throw them on his back, yell at his teammates to hustle and make them win. It'd be nice if jamison did that, but it's gil's team wether he wants it to be his responsibility or not. and EJ and Grunfeld should make that clear to him. if he wants to be in d-wade and lebron land (and there's room to pass lebron for sure this year) then he has to do it.

Posted by: numero tres | March 8, 2007 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Up here in Baltimore I have missed a few of the games because we don't get CN8 or CSN plus. My schedule has caused me to miss a few games also. But looking at box scores and taped replays I have been trying to step back and see where we are as the stretch begins. Will we have the heart to hold off the Heat and win the division? Will we win "winnable games" without the big 3 playing 42 minutes each? Will the bench rotation get set and ready for the second season? Will we go out west and win some winnable games or just coast and party our way to mediocrity? To me that is what the rest of the season is all about. Obviously staying away from injury is a given.

I am kind of getting tired of the daily ups and downs of this team. They are so inconsistent it is ridiculous. We are not a mentally tough team as we saw tonight. I am not sure that will change when the pressure gets turned up. But I am not going to digest the ridiculous Hawks loss. The seedings and match-ups are what I want to look at.

I think we know what we are and what we are not. We also know who we will do well against and we know with whom we have trouble competing. To me clearly the team to be feared is still this Heat team with Shaq and a fragile, but fresh Flash Wade that will be trying to repeat. They still really have our number. We have no answer at the 5. None at all. They have Shaq and Zo. It would be ugly again. That Heat bench is also going to get better this month. And Riley can still coach. I could honestly see them sweeping us again. Bulls, Pistons, Cavs, Nets: these matchups would end up being long, tough series' that we could either win or lose. Despite all our well-known woes, we could actually avoid the Heat and get to the finals. I'd take that right now!

The big question is how will Ernie G evaluate the season? Will he tinker with the core? Will he stand pat? Will he ponder a better coach? I wonder if his mind is already made up on these things or if he is waiting to see how things play out.

As much as I have doubts about Jordans ability to do more with this team, I would not be in favor of a knee jerk reaction to get rid of him. He has done a good job of managing a hard to manage team. Unless a better potential coach surfaces, let's hope Jordan can grow right along with the players, by becoming a better bench coach and tougher disciplinarian.

Posted by: BmoreRev | March 8, 2007 1:11 AM | Report abuse

What a sad, sad disapointing performance. Please stop making excuses. These are professionals, being pampered by the press, doctors, trainers and the community. Paid outrageous salaries w/lots of benies and being asked to - listen, watch tapes, learn and play ball." The teams with guts kick it up a notch when they've got players missing abd want to get past the first round. Not the Wiz. They whine, moan and make excuses and so do we the fans. We need to stop accepting and making excuses for these ridiculous games. 21 turnovers! ok who's gonna say its the ball?

We saw more teeth & gums before the all star break - sure I was happy for Caron. He's a journeyman, worked hard for his spot and still does. But how many millions has Arenas hauled in promoting his Rodney Dangerfield impersonation: "I get no respect' His face is more popular than George Washington: yet the wiz are still cofused and inconsistent.

If your franchise player does not bring it everynight what's happening here? Check out Shaq's performance for a guy 35. Hawks down 3 starters,Garnett brings it everynite. Sonics @ bottom but still take us to the limit..no guts no glory.
I'm not hate'n - this stuff shouldn't be happenin - this isn't a rookie team.

Posted by: shots | March 8, 2007 2:18 AM | Report abuse

Numero Tres,

I totally agree with you that Agent Gilby needs to step it up. The problem is this guy's personality shows that he's a loner type, so guys with his type of personality don't make great leaders. In order to win championships, your leader needs to set the tone with defense. Neither Gilby nor Jamison play that.

shots,

I agree with you also, but didn't want to be that harsh. :D

BmoreRev,

"To me clearly the team to be feared is still this Heat team with Shaq and a fragile, but fresh Flash Wade that will be trying to repeat. They still really have our number. "

That's got to be the understatement of the year. I think the Heat is 13 for 14 against us since their streak started, and our only win was early this season when BOTH Dwade and Shaq were out.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 8, 2007 7:00 AM | Report abuse

i would trade wins against dallas and phoenix if we could just consistently beat teams like the hawks.

as others are I too am getting sick of the ups and downs of this team.

to the poster that wants blatche to be inactive:

If the did do that what makes you think they would suddenly start to play him next year? I dont think this team is going to be any better next year without him playing this year.

Posted by: riskus | March 8, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

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