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Step in the arena

Anyone want to venture a guess as to which hip hop legend dropped a rhyme with that title? (Happens to be my favorite act of all time).

Thing is, the Wizards did just that tonight when they stepped into American Airlines Arena and snapped a 10-game losing skid here in Miami. It's the third straight win for Eddie Jordan's crew and improved them to 12-10. Not bad considering that just about every so-called "expert" gave this team up for dead when Gilbert Arenas went down.

Here's what happened tonight: Brendan Haywood battled Shaq like I've never seen him battle the man, Caron Butler fought through a rough offensive night that saw him basically swarmed every time he touched the ball and still finished with a double double, DeShawn Stevenson couldn't feel his face, Antonio Daniels did his Antonio Daniels thing, Andray Blatche and Roger Mason came off the bench to chip in and Antawn "Double Double" Jamison did it again. Darius Songaila added four points and some good defense on Shaq before tweaking that left ankle again as he fell into the basket support after making a layup in the fourth.

Now Shaq isn't the same Shaq he was, Dwyane Wade is still getting his legs back (he looked very winded in the fourth quarter) and the rest of the Heat cast is, well, not very good. (although Chris Quinn hit some big shots - I like him).

Eddie Jordan, who wasn't giddy, just happy: "It's a terrific win. We are not over heads though. It was a great effort. This team is this team and the teams that lost before are different teams. This is a different team and this is about today. We played smart and again, we made winning plays coming down the stretch just like we did in New Jersey and Minnesota...."

Pat Riley felt a lot worse: "I'm beyond disappointed in our team. I'm really disgusted with the effort, the mental focus. I'm been talking about this since last year. We went through a whole year last year with it. It seems like we are back in it at home. I don't have any other explanation for it."

I can't quite describe what is going on with this team so I'll just try to put you in my shoes as a beat writer. Here's how it works: deadline is tight so when the game ends, I already have a good chunk of the story written as I head to towards the lockeroom to get Eddie and grab some quotes from players. We talked to Eddie. Then, I rolled into the lockeroom knowing I had about 20 minutes before deadline.

Now, in the past, I had to hit Gilbert because A) he usually was the leading scorer or had a big impact on the game and B) you never know what he's going to say so you have to be there. After that, I would hit Antawn, then Caron, who takes longer to get ready, and then whoever else.

Now, things are different. On a given night, I may be looking for Caron first, or Antawn, or DeShawn (like tonight), or Roger Mason Jr. or whoever. That's how this team is playing right now. It's a bunch of guys playing at a high level, the ball is moving and the chemistry is really, really good. If you're counting, that's four straight games where five different guys scored in double figures, they outrebounded Miami and they only had nine turnovers.

And Charles Barkley just summed it up this way in talking about Eddie Jordan: "That guy is a hell of a coach."

Not bad.

By Ivan Carter  |  December 14, 2007; 1:16 AM ET
 
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Next: Evening update

Comments

Well, if no one will answer the first question--that'd be Gangstarr. You know my steez.

Posted by: Keynote | December 14, 2007 1:37 AM | Report abuse

Ivan-

GangStarr - dope group

step up ste ste step up

Wi Zardz playing good team ball-

when Gil comes back move him to the 2

Posted by: One9 | December 14, 2007 3:02 AM | Report abuse

To me, this is the most important win of the season, including the Dallas win. It's no secret that Miami has owned us for the last three years, and getting a win in their arena with Shaq and Wade in the lineup was big. Wade is not Wade yet, granted. But we were missing our best player too.

Posted by: Kyle | December 14, 2007 5:24 AM | Report abuse

I guess I have more sense than any beat reporter because I said from the beginning that I wasn't sorry Arenas was gone. Arenas thinks he's larger than the game, and everyone stands around watching him try to prove it. That's not compelling basketball. I think the team will continue to flourish without him. We'll see what team really means. I hope he leaves next year. Just imagine what a few additions to this group might bring.

Posted by: LK | December 14, 2007 5:48 AM | Report abuse

E-F-F-E-C-T, a smooth operator operating correctly.

Posted by: Rakim | December 14, 2007 6:22 AM | Report abuse

LK, to some extent I agree. This team playing like it currently is with one or two quality additions would be SCARY. Although I love Gil, he can totally destroy the flow of a game when he jacks up 3 or 4 shots in a row. However, I'm hoping Gil can do what Eddie has done - trust people not named Gilbert Arenas. If he can, this team will go deep in the playoffs.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 6:50 AM | Report abuse

Miami is not a good team. The Wizards are an ok and maybe in reality a good team. Eddie is not a bad coach, he is ok and starting to get better. He still misses a ton of stuff and at times is slow to react. But at least he is getting out of his own way this year and doing what is best for the team on the floor and not in his head. I think he, like the players began to rely on GA to win the games for them and forgot about their own abilities. It is human nature, so I don't blame them. GA getting injured may ultimately end up being the best thing for this team. Its just that when GA comes back they all need to be aware of this and not regress. They can integrate GA into the team play, but Eddie needs make a point of doing this and all will be fine. They would then have the potential, imho, to move from good to great.

Posted by: oddjob | December 14, 2007 6:52 AM | Report abuse

Good posts and since Gilbert, despite his clowning ways, is an intelligent observer of the game, I'm sure he is noticing what's going on. And I expect the appropriate adjustments will be made by Gilbert when he gets back.

Just wanted to say that before the lame regulars come on board telling everyone how the team really depends on Gilbert to get anywhere.

Posted by: Mitch | December 14, 2007 7:35 AM | Report abuse

In the comments that EJ made during the game, he said that he would not dbl Shaq and leave guys wide open. This was a good move by EJ. It was 2 years late but at least he finally did it. A lot of people seemt to think our defense got better. Simply playing Blatche and starting Haywood is the reason for our defense being better. Allowing those two to defend the paint and not leave shooters wide open is the reason we're better in a nutshell. No one has drastically improved individually defensively (with the possible exception of Blatche who doesn't bite on every up fake anymore). We just have the right people in the game.
Finally, Mason is for real. He is a good defender, not just average. He's our version of raja Bell or Bruce Bowen. He may not be a shut down guy but he's a guy who plays solid D and hits open 3's.
What can I say about BTH? I said before the season started that he's a top 5 center in this league. It's proving to be true. Besides Howard, Yao Ming, Gasol and Stoudemire, I can't think of any big guys I'd rather have in the middle. Ilgauskas scores more because he takes more shots but isn't as good of a defender. BTH is better than Ben Wallace, Shaq, Alonzo, Okafor.
Lastly, I think it was reispace who first commented that AJ's shooting has been bad recently. We have to get him more rest if possible. His defensive rebounding is off the charts good but we're risking wearing him down unless we sub for him a little more. I don't care for Songaila all that much but as long as he's in at PF, I'm all for resting AJ.

Posted by: mark | December 14, 2007 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Isn't it interesting that we were only able to beat Miami when OUR best player was out? Even when their best player was out, we couldn't win. I think that's the problem with gifted players like Arenas: it's so easy to take the easy way out. Why work the offense when you can score from anywhere on the court? I hope Mitch is right and Arenas is watching and LEARNING. If he takes the right approach on his return, the Wizards can make some noise in the East. No longer will it be the Big 3 and nobody else.

Oh yeah, Brendan better continue to play well when Pecherov and Etan get back.

Posted by: Bart | December 14, 2007 7:45 AM | Report abuse

I'd sure like to know what brilliant coaching moves have people raving about him this year. Coaches are only as good as the players and we have very good players. If starting Haywood and playing Daniels lots of minutes and playing Blatche are signs of good coaching, then I agree. He's calling the shots while we're winning so he deserves credit but I don't think he's doing anything out of the ordinary or is he? Maybe I'm not seeing something that Barkley sees. I like the way we're playing but I think the credit should go to the vets on this team. AD, CB, BTH, RM and AJ are the reasons we're winning. Even DS is doing his part.

Posted by: mark | December 14, 2007 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Let's not forget Ayers' contributions to all of this.

Posted by: Sean | December 14, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

These are some accurate assessments here, along the same lines that I've been preaching forever. But, I think Gilby is busy strategizing in his head now how he can come back and take over the scene again, somehow:

"Isn't it interesting that we were only able to beat Miami when OUR best player was out? Even when their best player was out, we couldn't win. I think that's the problem with gifted players like Arenas: it's so easy to take the easy way out. Why work the offense when you can score from anywhere on the court? I hope Mitch is right and Arenas is watching and LEARNING. If he takes the right approach on his return, the Wizards can make some noise in the East. No longer will it be the Big 3 and nobody else.

Oh yeah, Brendan better continue to play well when Pecherov and Etan get back.

Posted by: Bart | December 14, 2007 07:45 AM

I guess I have more sense than any beat reporter because I said from the beginning that I wasn't sorry Arenas was gone. Arenas thinks he's larger than the game, and everyone stands around watching him try to prove it. That's not compelling basketball. I think the team will continue to flourish without him. We'll see what team really means. I hope he leaves next year. Just imagine what a few additions to this group might bring.

Posted by: LK | December 14, 2007 05:48 AM "

Posted by: DC Man88 | December 14, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I just looked at AJ's stats over the last dozen games and I see some interesting stuff. Just took a quick look at AJ's shooting over the last 9 games. 7-21, 7-22, 7-21, 7-21, 7-15, 11-18, 6-21, 4-15, 6-15.

Previous to these 9 games, he played in 3 games in 4 days where the team scored 114, 115 and 118 points. Perhaps not coincidentally, those were the three highest scoring games of the year for us. His shooting percentage was high in all three of those games and he scored 41, 30 and 27 (three of the 4 highest outputs this year for him).
Based on just these numbers, it appears to me that he wore himself out and his legs might be dead. The first thing to go when you're tired is your shot because you have no lift. EJ, please do something before it's too late. Cut back on his minutes or rest him during practice. Numbers don't always tell the story but this seems to be too much of a coincidence. Let's hope it is.

Posted by: mark | December 14, 2007 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Great win and another very good called game by EJ. I do not blame him at all for not playing NY or DMAC in this game. This was a huge game against a veteran team and EJ did not want to take any chances.

Another monkey is now off EJ's back by beating Miami at home. The other monkey was beating the Nets.

DS is starting to make me eat crow. I prefer chicken instead, but I can learn to like some of that crow. Hope he keeps it up.

No need to mention my boy Haywood. Everyone saw what the dude brought to the table again "with minutes". People, the dude is for real. He is the "X" factor this year.

Yo Eddie keep up the good work and keep calling games like this. I also noticed he called timely timeouts also. Good overall game called by maybe the "coach of the year".........!!! Yea, I said it, I know the folks won't believe me; but the truth is the truth.

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | December 14, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

"Based on just these numbers, it appears to me that he wore himself out and his legs might be dead. The first thing to go when you're tired is your shot because you have no lift. EJ, please do something before it's too late. Cut back on his minutes or rest him during practice. Numbers don't always tell the story but this seems to be too much of a coincidence. Let's hope it is.

Posted by: mark | December 14, 2007 08:19 AM "

Duh, how about AJ trying to pick up the slack on defense. I actually saw AJ get a nice block yesterday.

Also, if AJ sits during practice, how are they going to run a real practice? Get some help from the food court servers to make it 5 on 5. Oh wait, how about those red coat dudes who sweep the streets in chinatown? Maybe bring some of the Barry Farms brothas to get some run? VC has 10 ft. rims though.

Posted by: DC Man88 | December 14, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Funny, the Wizards crush a very poor Miami team and all Clewiston can do is make another Gilby reference. The guy is a psycho!

Anyway, that was a solid win last night.

Did anyone else notice how terrible the TNT announcers were and how pro-Miami Reggie Miller was? I also heard a "dagger" reference at the end of the game.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

While there is no doubt that the team's playing great without Arenas right now, let's not forget that around this time last year, with Arenas, the Wiz had the best record in the East. Then the injuries took over. In other words, I'm confident that Gil is not going to be a huge disruption when he comes back. The difference between this year and last is that the supporting cast has gotten better, and that will not change when Arenas returns.

Posted by: philofutbol | December 14, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Indeed it is surprising how this team is coming together sans Arena. The question around town should be, does that make Agent Zero expendable?

Posted by: Jeanjak | December 14, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

"While there is no doubt that the team's playing great without Arenas right now, let's not forget that around this time last year, with Arenas, the Wiz had the best record in the East. Then the injuries took over. In other words, I'm confident that Gil is not going to be a huge disruption when he comes back. The difference between this year and last is that the supporting cast has gotten better, and that will not change when Arenas returns.

Posted by: philofutbol | December 14, 2007 08:41 AM "

Let's not forget that the East was gawdawful last year, and being first in the East in the 1st half doesn't matter if you get swept in the first round of the playoffs.

Did Abe give the team a costco sheetcake and hoist up a banner for being first in the east at the all star break? Can't remember.

Posted by: DC Man88 | December 14, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

I don't know that Jamison is tired. All shooters have their streaks, and he's just in a mini-slump. He'll break out. In fact, Jamison has a flair for the dramatic - he'll break out just when we need him most; when Caron is having a bad night or some such. Meanwhile, he's more than doing his part on the boards. Sixteen rebounds!! Rodman-like!!

The Wiz are more disciplined, on both ends, without Gil. They have no choice. Gil's talent affords him the freedom/latitude to improvise. Like I've said before, he's really smart, and I'm confident he'll adjust his game to complement the team's other strengths. The Wiz are undoubtedly BETTER with Gil.

Having said that, it is valid to debate whether he's worth a max contract before anyone knows if he fully recovers his previous agility. I'm glad it's Ernie making that call. In Grunfield I trust...

Posted by: reispace | December 14, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Juan Carlos who?

Posted by: 2cents4wiz | December 14, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

"The Wiz are undoubtedly BETTER with Gil.

Having said that, it is valid to debate whether he's worth a max contract before anyone knows if he fully recovers his previous agility. I'm glad it's Ernie making that call. In Grunfield I trust...

Posted by: reispace | December 14, 2007 08:47 AM "

There's no doubt that Les BouleS are better with Gilby on the team. But of course, they'd be better with anyone else on the team who's worth 12 mil a year.

The point is, without Gilby, this team is actually playing like a team, on both ends of the court. They look loose, and they're not standing around watching a one man promo show. Gilby on the court can actually be a distraction.

Given that, if EG decides not to bid for Gilby's services, I'm sure he'll find a worthy, if not better, player to fill that 12 mil slot via a trade or free agency. Onward and forward.

Posted by: DC Man88 | December 14, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Brendan ( ok, i'll have to abandon the BTH label ) was a monster tonight.

I loved seeing Alonzo's team beat down like this. He has always acted like the Wizards are a D-League team. He's never had respect for the Wizards.

Let's do it again!!!

Posted by: 2cents4wiz | December 14, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

This team can continue to play team ball when Arenas comes back if he plays at the two and daniels keeps getting minutes. stevenson had a great night, but I'm not convinced he should be starting every night. Our defense is already much improved as a result of Blatche and Haywood, so that should stay the same.

Posted by: ngu | December 14, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Gangstarr----I know I am prolly late

good work Ivan, and good work Wiz

Posted by: LooseCannon | December 14, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Juan Carlos who?


Posted by: 2cents4wiz | December 14, 2007 08:49 AM

Don't worry 2cents, as soon as Stevenson goes 2 for 8, those JCN lovers will be back.

Posted by: Rook | December 14, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse


I'm really impressed with the win. Yes as Ivan said the team is old and Wade is trying to get his legs back (remeber the fastbreak play) even still it's a great win. With this upcoming schedule the team can go 5 games above .500 and this is with Gil out. If this team makes the playoffs Eddie should be considered Coach of the Year. Who, besides the player on the team would have thought this team would play so well, esp on defense. Not me and I a huge Wiz fan

I'm very proud of the teams performance and everyones effort. When looking at the boxsocres, everyone is contributing I see players getting into double figures, beside the regulars Caron and Jamison, players like AD, Deshawn, Mason, Young Blatche Songalia and Haywood all stepping up and playing well. I'm esp proud of the teams defense, their defensive effort has been excellent.

Posted by: Robert C. | December 14, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Ok so there is no doubt that the Wiz are executing much better on offense, and the defensive intensity is there. Both of these things seem to have improved in Gilbert's absence, but it is silly to think that this is a better team without Gilbert. There are a number of reasons we are playing well, foremost:

1) BTH is playing at much higher level than the BTH/Etan combo ever did;
2) Caron is really stepping up and owning the #1 spot on the team - one subtle point I noticed with Caron last night is when he is in a non-jump shot position to score, he makes his move immediately - no delay - it is very effective, and shows smarts given that he knows he will get doubled immediately
3) Each member of the team is much more intense - I think that the Wiz often get complacent with Gil on the floor, knowing that he will often take the shot whether right or wrong.
4) Defense and particularly rebounding have improved tremendously. How many times last year did you throw the remote as the other team got three or four offensive rebounds in one offensive set? It doesn't happen often this year, and that fact has little to do with talent and a lot to do with effort.

That all being said, the goal of any team in the NBA is to win the championship. W/o question we are much much thinner in terms of bench without Gilbert. We may in fact be MORE effective against bad teams without Gilbert b/c if the Wiz keep playing smart ball, our non-Gil talent level is still higher than a bad team's, and we don't get the inconsistencies in team play that seem to happen with Gil playing - and those inconsistencies make us vulnerable regardless of the respective talent levels.

However, I don't think anyone can rationally argue that we can beat the talent heavy well coached teams without Gilbert - the talent disparity is just too high. For good or bad, in reaching for the ring, this team needs Gilbert playing (and on the team).

A nice Honda Accord is much better for day to day driving that a Ferrari, but when you get to the track, you need the Ferrari to win.

cj

Posted by: charles jones | December 14, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, Brendan better continue to play well when Pecherov and Etan get back.

Posted by: Bart | December 14, 2007 07:45 AM

Bart, I agree. This is my biggest fear, EJ reverting back to decreasing BTH's minutes once one or both of them come back. Trust me, EJ's hand was forced to play Haywood this year because of these injuries to OPEC and Etan because he would not have ever given BTH these minutes no matter how hard he played.

I just hope EJ finally sees what he has in BTH and uses him accordingly the rest of the year (30 to 35 minutes a game), even if Etan and/or OPEC come back. No disrespect to Etan while he is injured because I had be saying this since last year before he had surgery.

I still believe that Etan is a 4 and EJ was playing him as a 5 (i.e. Songalia in smallball) and that is what I always had a problem with and not Etan's game overall. I hope Etan is doing well in his recovery.

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | December 14, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Guys,

Last night was impressive. When Miami got the lead down to single digits and they showed Eddie with that look of disgust on his face I thought we were going down the road of disaster and fall apart to a team who is not in a rhythm right now but we pulled it out. To follow up Barkley's comment on Eddie, the team is 12-5 since that disaster of an 0-5 start. Most of this run has been without Gilbert. If the keeps this up and can pick up the pace when Gilbert comes back, then Eddie might finally be a coach of the year candidate. Then again, we still have plenty of basketball left. We saw what happened in the second half last year.

Posted by: straub21 | December 14, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I am very proud of this team and the way they are playing right now. The young guys did not see much time and for good reason, we were playing the Heat, a team that we needed to beat!
My hat is off to Coach for letting Brendan play Shaq heads up with no double-team. That builds confidence in Brendan. This staring five is well...doing their thang!

Posted by: Sean | December 14, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

"A nice Honda Accord is much better for day to day driving that a Ferrari, but when you get to the track, you need the Ferrari to win.

cj

Posted by: charles jones | December 14, 2007 09:08 AM "

Ferrari is useless with a flat tire.

Posted by: DC Man88 | December 14, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

12-5 after the 0-5 start is just a silly pace to be on. What does the record need to be before folks start questioning whether this team really is better with Gilbert? Not on paper, but on the court.

Everyone notes the improved defensive focus, the team play, the mental toughness and yet act as if we are lucky to be treading water until Gil returns. Hard to be lucky in this league...

Posted by: Dr. Strangelove | December 14, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Eddie has to be given props this year for intergrating Randy Ayers into his staff and getting a maximum contribution out of all of his coaches and improve the team. Last year the "defensive" coach was a back bencher seldom seen in the huddle.

This team finally seems aware of and reacts to mismatches, and they're finally exploiting mismatches themselves within the flow of the offense. Instead of 4 guys standing around and clearing out they run the offense until the player with the mismatch can get the ball in position to exploit it.

Alot of great defensive stops last night, and the biggest improvement has been in securing the ball after a stop. One of the Wizards biggest problems in the past has been teams getting second and third shots.

This team is really working hard on the boards night in and night out. Could Jamison's legs be getting a little rubbery from all the board work? It's quite possible, and he's definetely working harder on defense as well.

Sometimes guys go through that deadleg period and play their way through it and get stronger. With Jamison's history of knee soreness it might bear close monitoring.

Hopefully Songaila didn't hurt that ankle too bad, that's one reason that I think Grunfeld has been holding on to that Veteran Min. Exception. Three weeks ago everybody was howling for another point guard right now he'd be camped out on the bench.

If Songaila would go down for long with Pecherov still out the Wiz could get real thin up front.

At any rate we're only about 30 days away from the Wiz being able to bring in guys on a 10 day deals my quess is that they may wait it out if they can. Some have been questioning how the Wizards are practicing this short handed, what ever they're doing the should do it all the time, it's working!

NBA Basketball history is full of guys that have suffered much worse knee injuries than Arenas has and that have come back much improved players. I'm not about to take advice from Gil concerning marriage or relationships, but the guy's a smart cookie concerning the game and he wants to win.

He really had a rep as a decent defender with a questionable offensive game when the Wiz signed him. He worked very hard to turn himself into one of the game's top offensive threats, he'll work just as hard to contribute to the winning when he gets back. The guy's a promoter, and he's smart enough to know winning sells.

Smart move to shorten the bench and not give Riley a chance to expoit the rookies last night. With the adjustments the Wiz made on offense and the way Stevenson and Mason have responded, Young's going to be back fighting for minutes.

The bench is short, but I'll take quality over quantity any day, not a bad problem to have, a couple of rookies on the bench pushing for for playing time and a spot in the rotation.

Posted by: GM | December 14, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Let me state that I believe Gilbert will blend in with this style the Wizards are playing now when he returns. But the interesting question for me is, what will happen if he doesn't.
Will EJ be willing to bench him since this team has proven that it can be pretty good without him? Would EG entertain trade offers in season?
I hope we don't have to find out.

Posted by: George Templeton | December 14, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Charles Jones wrote, "Ok so there is no doubt that the Wiz are executing much better on offense, and the defensive intensity is there. Both of these things seem to have improved in Gilbert's absence, but it is silly to think that this is a better team without Gilbert."

I knew someone would make this straw man argument, Charles. Who here has claimed that it's "a better team without Gilbert?" Why not address the real questions: should and can Gil adjust his game so that his presence doesn't cause the team to regress in terms of cohesion and execution? Do you think Gil needs to modify his game? Do you think he can? My answer to both questions is yet, but he first needs to get over his contempt for his teammates other than AJ and CB. I think that watching how well the guys are playing will assist him in having more respect for his teammates, so that (for example) the first time he passes the ball to a teammate who misses a shot, he won't start jacking up threes.

Posted by: Mitch | December 14, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Meant to say my answer to both questions is "yes."

Posted by: Mitch | December 14, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

As Henry stated yesterday, the Wizards are 2-6 against teams above .500 this year. That percentage suggests the Wizards could not win 4 of 7 against a team better than .500 in the playoffs.

If the Wizards are to become anything really good, they need Gilbert. The point is to add Gilbert's talent without subtracting the chemistry and team play we are seeing now.

Posted by: Sean | December 14, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I said Stevenson was the key to the game ahead of time...but I meant on the defensive end. My goodness. I couldn't feel my face, either. What a performance.

I love the ball movement. And, Caron and Jamison are true basketball stars. They let their teammates get theirs. Haywood gets his touches, typically in the first quarter. Last night, Stevenson did his thing.

When they can't get a good shot, it's up to Jamison to launch one (that's why his % has gone down, IMHO). And, Caron says - second half is mine.

I love this team.

Posted by: jj | December 14, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

btw, I found DCMan88's comment about Gil interesting. Almost any team would be better with another $12M guy, notwithstanding Ben Wallace.

I don't think we should do this, but what about Arenas and Etan (salary cap relief) for Jason Kidd? Do you think we could win the east with: Haywood/Jamison/Butler/Stevenson/Kidd?

Posted by: jj | December 14, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Mitch, I think it's unfair to place all the blame for how the team performs when Gilbert plays on Gilbert. Gilbert doesn't ask everybody to stand around and watch him. It just happens because he is that good. Without him on the floor, everyone needs to carry the load, and we've seen everyone's effort increase in his absence.
It's up to Gilbert when he comes back to encourage and make everyone stay involved, it's up to everyone else to stay involved and not become spectators, and it's up to the coaches to keep everyone moving in that direction.

Posted by: Sean | December 14, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Carles Jones, didn't get to read your post until after I posted mine. Well, said. Hustle and fundamentals and team play are the fastest why to go from the bottem to a playoff contender in this league.

That' why guys like Larry Brown, the Czar, and Hubie Brown made a living being instant turn around artists in this league.

But you ain't going deep into the playoffs based on "the old college try". You need one or more of the big guns to do that.

When you can find those big guns that can play within a team concept that maximizes the talents of the whole roster. That's when you get a Champion that can compete year in and year out like the Spurs, the old Celtics, even the 70's era Bullets.

There is no way in hell this is a better team without Arenas. But if Arenas isn't smart enough to see that he needs to intergrate his play into what the team has going now then a sign and trade might be best for the Wizards and Arenas.

I think he likes it here and is smart enough to see what's going on out on the court and will work his way into the flow of the team. And if that happens we're seeing the start of something special around here.

Posted by: GM | December 14, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I remember that last year when Gil scored 66 against the lakers he said that he was able to do it because other teams know that if they concentrate on him, Butler and Jamison would light them up. When he returns there'll be players coming off the bench who can also light up other teams. If Gil comes back healthy, I think it can only be icing on the cake.

Posted by: browneri | December 14, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Observation:

Looking at Blatche standing next to Shaq or Mourning is a scary proposition.

However, having Blatche front them on defense is ingenious. He doesn't give up much height, he is a good jumper, and has long arms. Hence, he is deceptive in his ability to guard while fronting. Although the announcer criticized Blatche when one pass got to a Miami big guy, you have to look at the relative ratios of success from fronting versus playing behing.

I was pleasantly surprised. Ivan, who came up with that idea? He deserves kudos.

Posted by: Izman | December 14, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

"I guess I have more sense than any beat reporter because I said from the beginning that I wasn't sorry Arenas was gone. Arenas thinks he's larger than the game, and everyone stands around watching him try to prove it. That's not compelling basketball. I think the team will continue to flourish without him. We'll see what team really means. I hope he leaves next year. Just imagine what a few additions to this group might bring."

Great Post LK. I love watching a team instead of a one man show! Sign and trade Gilby. Also everyone hating on JCN all of a sudden.....its 1 game

stevenson stats- PPG 8 | APG 2.5 | 3P% .351

navarro stats-PPG 10 | APG 2 | 3P% .411

and stevenson plays about 5 more mintues a game

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Also the reason the wizards are all of a sudden playing defense has nothing to do with Ayers. It's b/c GILBERT ARENAS isn't on the court.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

That 1st Quarter last night might have been the best team basketball the Wiz have played in several years. The ball-movement, play-calling, and execution on both ends was just outstanding. Riley had to be wondering, "who are these guys?"

It didn't hurt that Deshawn was on fire. I thought it was interesting, though, that things started to fall apart in the 3rd when Deshawn started pulling a Gilbert -- throwing up ill-advised heat-checks that yielded long rebounds and points by the opponent before the Wiz could get set on defense. It was also interesting that it happened when Riley went to the Heat's version of small-ball. Everyone's praising Eddie but that small-ball thing didn't get nipped in the bud until he brought Brendan back out on the court and started pounding those little guys.

I also thought Eddie's comment to Cheryl Miller at the half was interesting, when he praised the defensive play-calling as if it were being done by someone other than himself. I wonder how much control Eddie has ceded (or been forced to cede...) to Ayers on the defensive end? I know we didn't see the Wiz in a lot of zone defense last year whereas this year they're really mixing the zone in alot. Now if they could just defend the damn pick-and-roll...

And Barkley had some nice things to say about the Wiz and about Eddie. So there goes that myth.

Posted by: Prazak | December 14, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Izman, you're right about that. There were a couple possessions where Shaq was licking his chops to get the ball on the blocks against a kid as skinny as Blatche. The guards were doing their best to work the ball down there and Blatche did a fantastic job denying the entry pass, even swatting one away. Not sure he can get away with that with a more athletic center who can jump and field the alley-oop. But against Shaq it worked pretty well in stretches.

Posted by: Prazak | December 14, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

No matter how balanced a team is, the top teams always have that one player who at clutch time can, as that old song says, "take the load off Annie, put the load right on me." I think that Gil is that type of player.

Posted by: Browneri | December 14, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I see it like this....teams who play as teams win championships ie...the spurs. Teams with me players lose. Gilbert only cares about himself. Sign and trade him for another good team player or 2 and we are better without him.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

What is up with all the GA bashing? The Wizards had the best record in the East at the all-star break last year without a productive bench. The East stunk last year, but East stinks this year too. Had the Wizard eluded injury last year they could've won close to 50 games. I agree the Wizards are playing great ball right now, the offense looked great last night. There will be an adjustment period for the team when GA comes back, but the team will be better when he does. Lots to think about too in the off-season. Max for GA, re-sign AJ and dont forget RM is playing great and is under a 1yr contract for less than a 1M.

Posted by: JSchon | December 14, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Gone are the Stevenson and EJ haters and back in are the Gilbert haters. Oh so much hate on what was a really positive night. I wonder about some of you out there.

Posted by: pg posse | December 14, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I forgot... did anyone realize that on the ESPN College Football commercials with Fowler, Herbstreit and Corso that Corso was listening to Gangstarr "Just to Get a Rep" with his headphones on. Funny stuff.

Cause in the night you feel fright...
and at the sight of a 4 5th you just might...
do a dance a two...

When rap was great...

Posted by: JSchon | December 14, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"Mitch, I think it's unfair to place all the blame for how the team performs when Gilbert plays on Gilbert. Gilbert doesn't ask everybody to stand around and watch him. It just happens because he is that good. Without him on the floor, everyone needs to carry the load, and we've seen everyone's effort increase in his absence.
It's up to Gilbert when he comes back to encourage and make everyone stay involved, it's up to everyone else to stay involved and not become spectators, and it's up to the coaches to keep everyone moving in that direction.

Posted by: Sean | December 14, 2007 10:11 AM "

People are standing around watching b/c Gilby is hogging the ball. What happened in the game before Gilby left where there were 20 seconds on the clock and Gilby kept dribbling and dribbling and then lofted a prayer 3 that was blocked? Then you have EJ come on and say "I'd let Gilby do that every time."

This brilliant play was drawn after a timeout too, of all things!!!!

Posted by: DC Man88 | December 14, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

We're getting alot of wins against teams that won't be around come playoff time.
If the goal is to not be one and done then the team needs Gil and addition to everything they're doing now.

It's been discussed here that simply allowing Gil to walk as a FA doesn't free up 12m to spend on another FA. Since the Wiz are well over 12m over the cap it doesn't work that way. In order to be a player in the FA market the Wiz would have to let Jamison walk too.

Letting both Arenas and Jamison go along with applying for Thomas's injury exception, if he doesn't come back, would put the Wizards in position to be FA players. They would also have the MLE available.

The only way to move Jamison and Arenas and get near equal talent would sign and trades. But why break-up a talented team that's learning to play together unless there's a problem?

At this point I really don't see why Grunfeld would want to do a massive overhaul. He's always talking about the value of developing team chemistry and how it takes time. I beleive his take on the recent success would be that patience is paying off.

Posted by: GM | December 14, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

We're playing well, but not that great. We've got at most 4 good wins this year (Dallas, Toronto, Cleveland, Indiana) and even that's a stretch because Cleveland had injuries and Indiana only started turning it around after we beat them.

Miami and Jersey are teams we have no business losing to, even without Gilbert. Both teams are sucking this year, and yeah, while it's nice to break our losing streaks against them, I'm not sure those victories should be cause for celebration.

We're finally beating teams we're supposed to beat on a consistent basis, but there's no way we can consistently beat the better teams out there without Gilbert.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"The bench is short, but I'll take quality over quantity any day, not a bad problem to have, a couple of rookies on the bench pushing for for playing time and a spot in the rotation.

Posted by: GM | December 14, 2007 09:54 AM "

Yeah, that'll look brilliant if a starter (ie. AD) logging 40 min/game goes down and then you have to rely on a rookie who's had token minutes to come in and pick up the slack.

Les BouleS/EJ was quoted recently about not having Mason/Young combo on the court ever together, and he feels more comfortable with an AD combo with anyone. I don't see a backup plan right now in case AD goes down.

Oh yeah, they're waiting for January to sign a 10 day contract for a journey man PG who will do better than whomever they have on the roster right now. Brilliant strategy.

Posted by: DC Man88 | December 14, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"The only way to move Jamison and Arenas and get near equal talent would sign and trades. But why break-up a talented team that's learning to play together unless there's a problem?

At this point I really don't see why Grunfeld would want to do a massive overhaul. He's always talking about the value of developing team chemistry and how it takes time. I beleive his take on the recent success would be that patience is paying off.

Posted by: GM | December 14, 2007 10:56 AM "

Because 3 years in a row (ok, ignore last season), it was essentially the same cast of characters that haven't made it out of the 1st round of the playoffs.

Posted by: DC Man88 | December 14, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

"This is my biggest fear, EJ reverting back to decreasing BTH's minutes once one or both of them come back."

BF, I agree, but EJ seems to have learned his lesson. Remember Tuesday, when Mason was rolling, he didn't put NY in the game until late. Seems like he's started letting guys run more as long as they get the job done.

Yeah, I heard the announcers hating on the Wiz. Caron left Davis in his tracks on the baseline in the 3rd and dunked, and Reggie Miller thought he traveled. The Wiz withstood two Heat runs in the second half and the announcers behaved like they were baffled Miami wasn't keeping up. There was one possession in the 3rd where the guys were moving the rock all over the floor, in and out of the paint, on the perimeter, then Caron got that sweet reverse layup. If that was SA, Utah or Boston, the announcers would surely have gushed about all the ball movement, but this team -- nothing.

Even SportsCenter's highlights this morning were more about the Heat blowing layups than the Wiz locking them up and moving the ball.

F 'em. They still don't know the Wizards and are begrudgingly paying attention (though we've got a long history to overcome).

Oh, starting five in double figures, three guys with double-doubles, Hay bringing the 'wood to Shaq, Stevenson lighting it up like a cross at a Klan rally, and only nine turnovers. Share the rock, take care of the rock...

They're doing it. Keep it up. Gil, take note and bring your D when you get back.

Posted by: iceberg | December 14, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure we beat Chicago in 7 three years ago. And then we got hosed against Cleveland 2 years ago.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I have been critical of EJ before. But he has the team playing at this level without Gil, he must have done something right. Let's give him the credit that's due.

I love it when Haywood outscored and out rebounded Shaq and Zo combined! Granted, neither of them is their old selves. But hey, they are not getting any younger, so looks like the Heat's dominance over Wizards is a thing of the past (yeah, they still have Wade, so I'll keep my fingers crossed).

Posted by: Sagaliba | December 14, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

They were on their way to close to 50 wins last year, and if they were full strength against the Cavs they wouldve made it really interesting and then who knows. The worst thing would be for EG to blow up the core of the team. Chemistry is everything, just look at the team this year as your example. This is the year for the big 3, after this year one of the 3 will be gone. Max Arenas, let AJ go and re-signed RM and sign a vet at the MLE. AB takes the PF position.

Posted by: JSchon | December 14, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

This team is playing good basketball right now. I'm not gonna spend my days wondering what they'll look like in March when Gilbert comes back. Its an insult to them.

What I'm impressed by is that they are winning 102-90 and not 110-108.

Worth noting that they aren't exactly beating elite teams. But isn't 'beating the teams you should beat' part of the process? Not only that but these teams weren't expected to be "teams we should beat" without one of our All Stars. They are now. Another small step in a long, long season.

As for AJ's shooting, subtract his 3 point shooting from his totals and his 2-pt percentage is near last season's average. As long as he keeps getting to the line you can live with those numbers.

Posted by: Monte | December 14, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

TEAM (Total Effort by All Members)

Wizards style of play.

Man-Up!

Posted by: aFan | December 14, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I can definitely live with Jamison's consistent double-doubles. I'd love the extra 6-9 points from his threes dropping.

Posted by: reispace | December 14, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

GM,
I am confused when you say that we are already 12 mil over the salary cap. I thought the whole reason we were not signing anyone else is because we are under the cap and do not wish to go over.

Is this projected salary for next year? If we do not resign Gil, and instead were to let him sign with someone else as a free agent would we not reduce our payroll significantly? Please help me to understand. Thanks.

Posted by: Dr. Strangelove | December 14, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Wow...this team is fun to watch for sure! Nice win last night.

I know Ivan mentioned in his NBA chat this week that the EJ haters had to give him some props right now for sure. Well, I have been recently and will again now. BUT, I also think that some things forced his hand like Brendan having to play more minutes without Etan and him having to rely on/develop his bench more bc of injuries. His game management has been much improved overall though!!! I actually understand most substitutions and match ups now.

Antonio Daniels is going to give me a heart attack with all those statue of liberty lay up attempts and subsequent hard falls. If he goes down, we're done!

By the way, he is a MAJOR reason the D is much improved. With Arenas, EVERYONE got by him to further break down the D. AD keeps the penetration to a minimum although given his age etc the small quicker guards give him some trouble (like everyone else). Also, with Arenas, we had a habit of turning into a quick jack-up-a-jumper offense that leads to poor defensive positioning on the breakout.

Yeah, even Jamison is playing better D. I swear I saw him jump, extend and block a shot last night. Really? Most blocks I've seen him get before have been of the "cheaper" variety.

Posted by: Rob P | December 14, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Great Post LK. I love watching a team instead of a one man show! Sign and trade Gilby. Also everyone hating on JCN all of a sudden.....its 1 game

stevenson stats- PPG 8 | APG 2.5 | 3P% .351

navarro stats-PPG 10 | APG 2 | 3P% .411

and stevenson plays about 5 more mintues a game

Posted by: | December 14, 2007 10:22 AM

D. Wade's Stats: 40 minutes, 5-11 (45%), 0-1 3point, 17 points.

Against Navarro, Wade would have had 50 !!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

The team is playing fine ball now, and they will play even better when Gilbert is back. Gilbert is not a fool even though he enjoys playing at being one. He is an intelligent and driven athlete, one of the top 15 players in the NBA, and I think he is watching closely and sensing the chemistry that seems to be developing here. He is not going to risk the money he has sitting on the table by disrupting the flow the team has developed, especially so after the two knee injuries.

Do we need an insurance player? Probably yes. Does it need to be a classic point guard? Not necessarily, especially with the way Mason and Stevenson have stepped up and the option of slipping Caron back to the two guard in selected situations.

Going with the same theory that drives draft choices after the Lottery picks and through the second round ("Pick the best player available regardless of position), the Clippers have just cut Ruben Patterson loose and it is rare that you can find a player that good just hanging around out there.

Oh, and to the poster who put up the comparative offensive numbers for DeShawn and JCN, do you honestly think that JCN could have had the overall impact on a game that DeShawn had last night? JCN would need a sidearm to stop DWade, even with Wade at about 80%.

Posted by: khrabb | December 14, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Looking forward, I think we are in a really good stretch of the schedule... Sac might be tough... but they seem to be a bit down. same with chicago... and the next really difficult game looks like it might be Jan 2 - Detroit.

I'm hoping this team keeps their head down, and really makes a string push to end the year. They are looking good right now, and if they pile-up some wins right now it will be a big help for getting to the playoffs for a fourth year!

Seriously, getting Gilbert back should only make this team better. I think his ability to take over a game at the end can be pretty important in the NBA. I love how Caron is playing, so happy about that. Antawn I have always been a fan of, his professional approach have been huge in the locker room and on the court. Keep it up guys!

I don't even wince right now when DS puts his shot up, I mean, I have been pulling for him and mason all along, so it is nice to see him getting his game together.

Posted by: greg | December 14, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I see we come from the same era. Gangstarr had some Hip Hop classics. This one had a tight beat...

GangStarr Soliloquy of Chaos Lyrics
5 carloads deep, time to go do a show
Got a massive crew and we're ready to roll
So I grab my gear hop in the whip and ride
Premier he's got the fly dope system inside
But my sh_t cranks too and we've got mad tapes
Of all the underground groups with the lyrics and bass
Off into the new york night we go
Dre large got the camera biggest, gord's got three rolls of film
So we can take the macked out photos
Tommy hill, the damaja and my man gunsmoke
Corey and smurf and lil dap's got a forty
My man gary and shiz and the nutcracker shorty
Mike rhone, chillin' like capone
Robinhood, known as mel with the clientelle
Mo, jt, mega, can't forget black
They're rockin' sincere, yes the posse's fat
Out loud pulls up plus there's sid and oc
Big mel from strong island h.l. the one and only
O. delicious, ely, bazz and eon
And the aroma of the blunts has me thinking beyond
And to the rest of the crew you know the bond is strong
And you know who's who, so let me not prolong
For this was a night to remember
I had on the beige tims with the two tone leather
So we get to the jam, the gig, the venue
Then we circled around and then drove in through
The front the place was packed the line was long

Posted by: G$ | December 14, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Agreed Anon - There's more to basketball than ppg stats...

Stevenson fits in with this team, where most of the scoring comes from the Forwards. - The Guards are supposed to hit open shots, distribute the ball, not turn it over, and play defense on the perimeter.....

The only thing JCN can do is hit open shots.

Posted by: Rook | December 14, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I know the JCN thing was never going to happen, so this is a bit moot... but he certainly hasn't separated from Deshawn like some people thought he would... I mean even Roger Mason with more minutes is looking about like a JCN situation...

I've said all along, I wish that he had wanted to play here and made it happen 2 years ago, but right now I don't think we are the worse for letting him walk.

BTW: someone said something about Sir Charles 'seeing' something that they couldn't... yeah, that is probably pretty astute of you. Charles for all his hot air and strange behavior is a pretty good student of the game, I bet he knows a few things about it that fans don't. People think coaching is about X-and-Os but it is about people too, I think one thing EJ doesn't get a lot of credit for is how he works with these guys. Someday when this is a veteran team, we might have to say... yeah... EJ did a pretty good job... he brought Andray along, and didn't feed him to the wolves.

Posted by: greg | December 14, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

That's Gang Starr, as I'm sure a lot of people have mentioned already. But give me Moment of Truth over Step in the Arena, although I do like the latter.

Barkley was right about EJ this year. I've been critical of him the past. But this year, I've recanted a number of times because I think he's doing a helluva job with this team. Not much to complain about in regards to the job he's doing.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I posted the comment about EJ above.

Posted by: Colin | December 14, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

People are standing around watching b/c Gilby is hogging the ball. What happened in the game before Gilby left where there were 20 seconds on the clock and Gilby kept dribbling and dribbling and then lofted a prayer 3 that was blocked? Then you have EJ come on and say "I'd let Gilby do that every time."

This brilliant play was drawn after a timeout too, of all things!!!!

Come on DC88man, how many times has he score those shots? Be real

Posted by: browneri | December 14, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Don't even go there browneri. DC guy can't be objective or logical where GA is concerned.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

When Gil returns he needs to adjust to the way the team is playing and the guys he is playing with and not vice-versa...Gil can get his anytime he wants and he'll have the ball in his hands in crucial situations and still will be looked at as the closer but as the guys on tnt said he needs to trust his teammates in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarters...i think Gil is taking notes and will be a better baller when he returns.

Posted by: jake | December 14, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

What I think people are forgetting is that he was that player before he went out again. Remember they were on a 3 game winning streak before he reinjured his knee. The 0-5 start should be attributed to everyone, including Caron (who couldn't stop turning the ball over), Deshawn (who couldn't buy a basket), and Blatche (who looked completed overwhelmed). The guys are doing great and I'm hoping they can get some seperation and establish themselves in this conference before the schedule starts ramping up.

Posted by: The Owl Wizard | December 14, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"how many times has he score those shots? Be real"

Yes, but how predictable did we become at the end of every quarter, half and game with the exact same play? How hard is it to send out a double team knowing full well he is not going to give it up?

Most here seem to think Gil will adapt his game upon return but I am not convinced. He has a fragile ego, self admitted, and I just do not see him telling EJ to use him as a decoy in the closing seconds of a game. I would like to be wrong and will be thrilled to be if this turns out to be the case.

Interested to know if folks here believe that Gil has come to the understanding that he is not going to get max money at the end of this year. Business is business and EG knows that...Does Gil? Is there a chance Gil believes that based upon the player he was EG will back up the truck with no assurance of long term durability?

Or will Gil ride out the reaminder of his contract to get another year to prove he still has it? Thoughts?

Posted by: Dr. Strangelove | December 14, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Haywood is demonstrating that he is clearly deserving of +/-30 mpg at center. I trust that EJ has seen the progress Haywood has made and that he doesn't return Haywood to the 20mpg that upsets Haywood and throws off his rhythm so much.

Posted by: Emmet | December 14, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I have been the biggest Stevenson basher, nothing against him I was just upset about the JCN thing. I hope that Stevenson is coming into his own in the absence of Gil. He seems to be gaining confidence and assertiveness.

Daniels needs a bigger role on this team, even when Gil comes back. It hurt the Wizards last year when EJ cut AD's playing time from 28.5 mpg in 05-06 to 22 mpg in 06-07. He is unquestionably the best ballhandler on the team.

Posted by: Emmet | December 14, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse


Blatche needs a personal mentor, ie how the Lakers had Kareem come in and work with Bynum. He doesn't have the mental side of basketball down. He misses assignments and sometimes seems Kwame Brown esque disoriented and out of rhythm with the rest of the team, although he does hustle which counts for a lot.


Posted by: Emmet | December 14, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Have the Wizards considered signing Earl Boykins to a one-year deal? We need another ballhandler until Gil gets back. When AD is off the court, the offense suffers because neither Stevenson nor Mason are good ball distributors.

Posted by: Bob the Hobo | December 14, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

WHERE IS NICK YOUNG??????? UPDATE PLEASE????

Posted by: WHEREISNICKYOUNG.COM | December 14, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Emmet,
Andray is what...20 yrs old? Also, getting his first consistent minutes. He could not be farther from being Kwame like. Andray actually wants to get better and will continue to get better. Kwame had no heart and no work ethic. Ivan has reported on Anray's excellent work eithic this year. Patience...

Posted by: Dr. Strangelove | December 14, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Maybe I am a little late to say this -
but great game last night.

That was a lot of fun to watch, even if DWade was still injured - the Wizards kicked butt out there!!

BTW Ivan, how old are you - if Gang Starr is your favorite group? I will have to give him a listen sometime:)

Posted by: s | December 14, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Never fails, no matter what the topic is, Gil bashers are everywhere on this posts. Why is it that everyone, from baskeball analysts, EG,EJ, the team, other teams, all know that once Gil is healthy and back on the court the Wizards will be even better than they are now. Hell, he pretty much carried the team last year because the bench did not step up. And now that he is injured and the Wizards are winning against bottom feed teams, you all have the temerity to suggest the team is better with out him. What kind of crap is this? I am glad that now the team has the confidence and can win without him. But just imagine how much more of a force to be reckoned with the Wiz will be when he returns. Hell, the other teams won't know who to guard because anyone one of our players can go off on any give night. And may no mistake about it. He or his pops are reading these posts and he likes nothing better than to prove detractors wrong. So keep your negative posts against Gil going if you must. You are just the fuel for his desire to succeed.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

that was a fluke game for DS. He's still very inconsistent. I wonder why coach elected to sit NY. I'm happy for the win, but coach is risking wearing some of those guys down. Caron was exhausted, and so was AJ towards the end of the 4th. We can't afford any more injuries.

Posted by: Costa | December 14, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I think Arenas was beginning to distribute the ball more before he went down again. In his last 2 games he was scoring, average 28.5 points on 49% shooting from the field (38% from 3-points) and 88% FT. But he also averaged 9.5 assists and 5 rebounds.

Posted by: thebigc_1982 | December 14, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

correction: towards the end of the 3rd quarter

Posted by: costa | December 14, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Ivan - Can you please ask Eddie to give you a more detailed answer on why he does not like the NY/Mason backcourt as his 2nd string backcourt?

This is still bothering me and I am just not understanding it. What is the difference between NY being able to play with Stevenson but not Mason?

Now that EJ has gone to this three guard rotation, I am afraid NY will lose any kind of steam he has already developed because he will not be getting any minutes anymore.

As I noted before, NY is a lot like Haywood where they both strike me like very sensitive (this is not a knock on them) players who wear their emotions on their sleeves and in their faces. I did not disagree with EJ not playing NY and DMAC in the Heat game, the Wiz needed that one and the Heat are a veteran laden team. However, I hope EJ finds NY some run in Saturday's game.

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | December 14, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Gilbert is and, unless we bring somebody else, is the closest thing to a superstar on the team. Replace him with what? Y'all keep saying replace him but have not named a realistic scenario. Be careful what you wish for. Also, The improvement on the team is because of individual improvement, not Gilbert's injury. Haywood know looks like he can make shots, and is not shooting with his eyes closed like in the past. Blatche has improved and is a finisher around the rim and has court awareness, passing well, and plays d. D.Song has a nice shot and court awareness. Mason is shooting well and contributing in other areas. Nick Young is doing well for a rookie. With Gil in the past, you had Jeffries blowing layups, Etan and Brendan praying that shots go in, neither of whom have any peripheral vision or court awareness. Yet, it is Gilbert that is the problem. Please. WE LOVE GILBERT!

Posted by: G-Man | December 14, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

thebigc_1982,
Good catch...Gil was sharing the ball and getting his in those games.

Posted by: Dr. Strangelove | December 14, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Stevenson 3 rpg, Navarro 1.8 rpg.

Remember how good the Suns were playing without Amare? A lot of people thought his return would hurt that team. Be real folks. For all his quirks, Gil is one of those top-nothced players thats hard to come by. No need to let him go.

This team is getting better without him, finding an identity, and fortifying the bench. By the time Gil comes back, we will have the makings of a championship caliber team, where everyone contributes.

There's only one thing I wish Gil would do ... hire an agent so that he only has to concentrate on basketball.

Posted by: 2cents4wiz | December 14, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

"What is the difference between NY being able to play with Stevenson but not Mason?"

A NY/Mason combo would face a lot of full court pressure which they might not be able to handle well, don't you think?

Seems to me like NY is only going to get serious minutes when our schedule is heavy (3 games in 5 days, back to backs, that sort of thing).

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"A NY/Mason combo would face a lot of full court pressure which they might not be able to handle well, don't you think?"

Annon. Good point, however it looked to me like Mason has gotten a whole lot better at handling the point, including full court. But I could be wrong. Maybe EJ sees something in practice that he does not like.

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | December 14, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Thank you the bigc, I have been saying the exact same thing for the longest. This team concept of moving the ball and trying to play defense started this summer. And the more they play, the better they will become. With Gilbert.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

DCMann88 drinks his own pee.

Posted by: Consor | December 14, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

now why'd you have to go and do that consor???

Posted by: jones-y | December 14, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I think Arenas was beginning to distribute the ball more before he went down again. In his last 2 games he was scoring, average 28.5 points on 49% shooting from the field (38% from 3-points) and 88% FT. But he also averaged 9.5 assists and 5 rebounds.

Good point! The Wiz were beginning to win before Gil went down. Something the Gil bashers seem to forget.

Posted by: browneri | December 14, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

that was a great win for several reasons, and i'm happy with the wizards on the whole, but it's hard to say they played a complete game. the heat looked really bad last night. i imagine if the wiz were playing a better team the outcome might have been different.

still, its a good thing when the wiz doesn't play its best game and still gets a very important win. i hope for continued improvement from this squad as the year goes on (and for aj to get his shot back soon).

Posted by: DarrellWalkerFan | December 14, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

HAYWOOD for MVP

Posted by: 22207 | December 14, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

For those worried Haywood's minutes will drop when Pech 'returns' - not likely. Pech will struggle to get meaningful PT this season.

Dr. Strangelove: I'm not convinced Gil will opt out unless he's convinced he can get a max contract - or damn near. Not sure how that will affect re-signing Jamison. GM suggested Gil opting out and re-signing Jamison were somehow linked, but I can't remember what the scenario was.

Posted by: reispace | December 14, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I think maybe EJ kept NY and Dmac on the bench last night because he really wanted his vets to take out miami...

I know everyone says, it's just one game, but I think this one was an important game mentally speaking. Miami, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit... those are the teams we will see in the playoffs and I think the wiz are still mentally developing. By the end of the season NY will get in these games, but for now I think EJ really wanted the vets to make a statement.

No one is in the dog house, it is one game don't worry...

Posted by: greg | December 14, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the WIZ-ARDS are playing at a high level. However, its still a long season to go. Im curious how this team will play after the ALL STAR break. That is trully when the season matters. We also need to get our revenge on the Celtics, Spurs, and win in Phoenix..

Posted by: DC SPORTS FAN | December 14, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

The offense that is being taught here in Washington is the Princeton Offense. The PO doesnt call for 1 player to run the show and dish out 10 dimes a game, it calls for all players to be able to move without the ball and distribute while on the move looking for open jumpshots and clear lanes to the hoop. Look at last nights boxscore, it was the best this offense has looked in recent history. CB 5a, AJ 3a, DS 3a, AD 5a and RM 3a. That is how this offense works. GA doesnt need to be the "pure" John Stockton type PG. This is the perfect offense for him and this team, when its performed right you should have equal distribution in dimes. I can't believe all of the GA haters here, you guys are out of your minds to think we are better team w/o him.

Posted by: JSchon | December 14, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

The "haters" and "bashers" are people who can't tolerate differing opinions, not those who raise legitimate questions. According to the thought police here, it's not legitimate to question why the offense has been functioning well without Gilbert. I respectfully disagree that the subject is out of bounds. Why should it be any more out of bounds than the interminable discussions about Haywood's PT or what EJ said/meant to say/should have said differently about BH?

Posted by: Mitch | December 14, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

"Why should it be any more out of bounds than the interminable discussions about Haywood's PT or what EJ said/meant to say/should have said differently about BH?"

While I would personally love to see an end to both topics, I can't really argue with the logic behind the question.

Posted by: kalorama | December 14, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I don't care if the Heat have a lousy record--that was a quality win last night, if only because it demonstrated that the Wizards have gotten over their fear of Miami, the team that has crushed them so many times over the past few years.

I think BTH was the real star of the game. Shaq obviously doesn't have the quickness and agility that he once did, so now he relies upon punishing opposing centers with his sheer bulk. BTH, despite giving up 60-70 pounds, didn't back down one bit on low-post D and outhustled Shaq on the boards. He even tried going at Shaq on offense, though that didn't work too well because the refs let Shaq body him on those jump hooks. I have to say that there aren't many players who've suddenly shown such a dramatic improvement after seven seasons in the league.

I think what we're seeing with the Wizards is that out of necessity, they're relying more heavily upon the Princeton and trying to run the patterns with more precision. They've got to, because as good as Caron is, he can't bail them out on broken plays by making a low-percentage shot the way that Gilbert can. Instead, guys are always making one more pass to get the best possible shot on a given possession. Instead of contested jumpers, they're getting scores in the paint.

Some people seem to think that this progress means the Wizards are better without GA, or that he's expendible because of it. I think that it's going to allow GA to become an even better player once he's healthy. When the other guys are more productive on offense, that will allow him to pick his spots. A GA who averages 24 or 25 points a game is going to be an even more dangerous go-to scorer in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter, because he's going to have more left in the tank. And the way that they're executing now, he's going to get a lot more wide-open threes.

I think the big question about Gil, aside from whether he can come back successfully from this injury, is whether he'll improve as a face-up, on-ball defender, which is his one real weakness. I think playing with Hughes got him into the bad habit of going for the steal all the time. He'd be better off emulating AD, who is much better than Gil (or Hughes, for that matter) at simply staying in front of the other team's point and preventing dribble-penetration.

Posted by: John Brisker | December 14, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm not poo-pooing anyones opinion, I'm only stating mine. My opinion is that people are crazy for thinking that GA is a negative factor on this team. It is my opinion that people are crazy for wanting him out of Washington. It is my opinion that a Wizards team with GA is one better w/o him. This is a great forum for discussion. I state my opinion, you state yours. You disagree with mine, I disagree with yours. Without debate and disagreement things would be kinda boring.

Posted by: JSchon | December 14, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Strangelove -

NBA salary-cap rules (probably not surprisingly) are fairly complicated. The first thing you need to know is that the "salary cap" ($55.63 million for 2007-2008) is a "soft cap", meaning that there are several exceptions to it that each team can use, mostly for re-signing their own players.

The "luxury tax", on the other hand, doesn't have exceptions the way the salary cap does, and requires each team to pay a "tax" to the league (from which most of the money is returned to the teams that are under the tax level at the end of the year) if they exceed that amount of total salaries. For 2007-2008, the luxury tax triggers at $67.865 million.

In the current NBA, almost all teams spend more than the salary cap. Few spend more than the luxury tax. But most do spend almost up to the luxury-tax level, including the Wizards, who according to most reports are only about $100,000 below the tax level right now. That means they're spending something like $67.7 million on salaries at the moment, while the salary cap is about $55.6 million. So, taking a $12 million salary off the books would only get them down to $55.7 million right now, not even getting them under the cap.

Of course, in theory they could use one or more of the exceptions - depending on which ones they have available to use - to re-exceed the salary cap. But it wouldn't be as simple as "let one player walk away, sign any free agent you want to the salary that player was getting."

There's a guy with a very informative webpage on the NBA salary-cap restrictions at http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm, if you're interested in reading more on the subject. He goes into a whole lot more detail than I did.

Posted by: Josh | December 14, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

you really do have to wonder what's going through gilbert's head right now. is he secretly pissed off and bitter? is he taking it all in and thinking about his game and how it fits in with what's going on now? he's clearly smart and driven, but i get the feeling that for all of his being a gym rat, it's working on individual skills, not passing or learning the offense.

Posted by: steve colter | December 14, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

JSchon your last post sounds very enlightened. You have your opinion, others have their opinions. But you're being disingenuous. You have been calling people who disagree with you "crazy" and Gilbert-"haters" or "bashers." So you're not simply expressing an opinion, you're calling people who disagree with you names. Be honest, dude.

Posted by: Mitch | December 14, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

'Interested to know if folks here believe that Gil has come to the understanding that he is not going to get max money at the end of this year. Business is business and EG knows that...Does Gil? Is there a chance Gil believes that based upon the player he was EG will back up the truck with no assurance of long term durability?"

No player in any pro sport comes with an "assurance of long-term durability." Any player's career can end at any moment. The players know that and so do the people signing the checks.

If Arenas comes back as scheduled and, by season's end and on into the playoffs, performs at the same level he was last season, the knee won't even be an issue come negotiation time. If he struggles, that's another issue. But we won't know that until it happens.

Posted by: kalorama | December 14, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Josh,
Thank you very much for the salary cap overview. Very helpful and makes GM's points clear.

Also, appreciate the general comments that we are all expressing opinions and can do so without being confrontational.

On that note, I would like to apologize to Kal for the petty engagement yesterday.

Posted by: Dr. Strangelove | December 14, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry if you're offended by my use of the word crazy. I didnt know that was such a bad word. I am calling their opinions on GA crazy, I'm not calling them crazy and if people misunderstood that, then I apologize. Mitch, dont be so sensitive. I'm just a passionate Wizards fan with an opinion. I'm not here to offend people. Just the thought of getting rid of one of the best players in the league because we are beating the dregs of the NBA without him is shortsighted IMO. You Crazy People!

Posted by: JSchon | December 14, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Are we going to pick up Ruben Patterson? I would love to have that guy. Ivan, Michael?

Posted by: The Governor | December 14, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

We are really Bipolaresque in our reaction and analysis to each game. Some of us vacillate way too much on the team from game to game (but that's what makes us Wiz Nation).

Heat-- same old, on the downside, mildly decrepit team, beat the Suns in Phoenix the other day. It happens, it's the NBA. This game was more important for us. Statement game for us. Just as that game was more important for the Heat.

Wiz are progressing and have momentum. Record aside I do think we're better than Orlando (even before the streak-personnel and bench composition). I think we'll be in the mix with Toronto and Detroit for the runner up prize in the East.

Other observations:

"What can I say about BTH? I said before the season started that he's a top 5 center in this league. It's proving to be true. Besides Howard, Yao Ming, Gasol and Stoudemire, I can't think of any big guys I'd rather have in the middle. Ilgauskas scores more because he takes more shots but isn't as good of a defender. BTH is better than Ben Wallace, Shaq, Alonzo, Okafor.
Lastly, I think it was reispace who first commented that AJ's shooting has been bad recently. We have to get him more rest if possible. His defensive rebounding is off the charts good but we're risking wearing him down unless we sub for him a little more. I don't care for Songaila all that much but as long as he's in at PF, I'm all for resting AJ."
Posted by: mark | December 14, 2007 07:44 AM

I love BTH play and passion this year but I'd add Marcus Camby to this list.

Posted by: Janitor | December 14, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't mind Ruben Patterson, but given that the Wiz are only 160,000 or so under the salary cap, and he'd immediately cost the Wiz virtually double (because of the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax for going over the cap), Pollin and EG won't be pulling the trigger anytime soon.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the flight... it's going to be interesting with 9-10 bodies the rest of the year.

Posted by: iceberg | December 14, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Last night's win does not deserve an asterisk. I guess if the Heat had won everyone would be talking about how the Wiz caught a hot team on mini roll with two straight road wins, including one over the Suns. Wade came into the game with three straight games in which he had 30+ points and a combined FG percentage of 55. The Wiz put a stop to the Heat's momentum.

GURU was an OK rapper but the success of Gangstarr IMO rests principally on the shoulders of DJ Premier. His beats were/are incredible.

Posted by: LH | December 14, 2007 5:21 PM | Report abuse

The GA debate rages on...I think it is clear that this team plays more team oriented basketball without him, the ball usually moves more on offense, and our defense is generally less porous, which is a combo of bad/quick shot selection by him or others when he is in the game and his own personal defensive deficiencies. Are we a less talented team without him? Of course! I do remember him running the offense and picking his spots better just before he got reinjured. His defense had not changed though, which just makes everybody look bad. Do the Spurs have any dominate Ben Wallace type of D players? No...Duncan is good, but not great. They play TEAM defense! It's hard to do that with GA taking breaks and getting broken down all the time on D.

Daniels, Stevenson, and Mason have really played some nice perimeter defense lately. Seems to me Mason may actually be a better perimeter defender than Stevenson.

Posted by: Rob P | December 14, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Josh, Thanks for answering Dr. Strangelove's question. The point is that the Wiz can't just let Arenas and than have 12m to spend on a FA.

To refresh reispace's memory about Gil's getting max money and Jamison's contract expiring being kind of linked: Jamison is in the last year of his contract and is by far the highest paid Wizard at nearly 17m.
Gil is currently making a little under 12m.

If Gil opts out Max money for his number of year's in the league is about 16m. The Wiz should be able to Max out Arenas and have up to somewhere around 12m for Jamison and still stay under the Luxury Tax Threshold.

The Wiz would also have all of their other players under contract and still have the Veteran's Mid level Exception available next year which is about 5.2m. If the Wiz are able to sign Jamison or Arenas for less dollars they would have money left over to sign an additional player and still stay under the LT level.

The only way to let Arenas walk and have enough money to dip into the FA pool would be to let Arenas and Jamison both go. Then most of Jamison's money would be available for a FA and the Wizards would have up to 5.2 m to offer a second FA using the MLE.

A third factor would be 1/2 of Thomas's salary which could be used if the Wizards are granted a salary exception if Thomas has to retire. I think exceptions can be combined, so the Wiz could have as much as 9m to offer a second player. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.

But my question to those that are clamoring to get rid of Gil or let him walk is, Why? As others have pointed out here in length today the Wiz now have players developing around the Big Three with an upside.

Caron Butler is stepping his game up to perennial Allstar status, the guy's becoming an absulute beast on the court there are times that he refuses to let the Wiz lose.

thebigc_1982 pointed out Gil's stat lines the last two games he played which got this team started winning. When you look at that along with his steady improvement EVERY year he's been in the league.

This isn't the same Wizards team that Cleveland beat on their way to the finals last year. There is a bench with alot of potential and Haywood finally seems to be consistantly doing what he's flashed the ability to do since the Carolina days.

Blatche has grown up and is starting to flash real ability, he gets a little out of control sometimes. But remember he'd be a college JUNIOR this year. Compare him to Cory Brewer, Horford, and project where he'd go in this coming year's draft. Young and DMac have a world of talent, and remember Grunfeld really likes Pecherov. So when he gets healthy,which could be awhile with a stress fracture, he could really be a nice fit in this offense.

We could be seeing the beginning of something special here, Grunfeld has this team on the right track. I'm not seeing the logic of the line of thinking that he should blow it up and start over with two of the big three else where.

Not when they're playing like this. Not on the day after the handled the Heat. As they say out here in the country,"That Dog Won't Hunt"!

Posted by: GM | December 14, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Agreed that the Wiz have a nice mix of ingredients in the pot, how good the stew will be is intriguing and open to speculation.
The scenario for hanging on to Jamison and Arenas is interesting but if I understand the fine points of MLE (which I don't) why would Jamison sign on at 12 m after current great season at 17m?
The Gilbert exclusion theory; that is that the Wiz may be better off without Hisbachiness is based on the supposition that Gil's extraordinary talent is accompanied by a lone gunmen style of play that may not fit in with the team chemistry currently being assembled.
Call me crazy but I like Daniels at the point.
Is it possible or plausible to sign and then trade Gil? Creeping further out on the limb I suggest it could even be for draft choices or a role player.

Posted by: myshkin | December 14, 2007 5:58 PM | Report abuse

People need to realize that as great as Les BouleS have played since Gilby got hurt, and as much hope as some have that Gilby is going to come back and do good things here, the hard cold truth is that even if Les BouleS move forward to keep Gilby and AJ, this resulting team is not good enough to go deep into the playoffs, nevermind the eastern championship game and especially not the finals.

Why lock in long term contracts with players that are not elite enough to take this team to that level?

Posted by: DC Man88 | December 14, 2007 6:01 PM | Report abuse

"Do the Spurs have any dominate Ben Wallace type of D players? No...Duncan is good, but not great. "

The fact the he's been named to the NBA's all-defensive First team 7 times (and the Second team twice) suggests otherwise. Bowen is likewise a regular fixture on the all defensive teams and was defensive player of the year runner up a couple of times. Yes the Spurs have a great defensive scheme, but they've also got some great individual defenders on board. Comparing the Wiz's defense to the Spurs, even speculatively, is very premature. As for Gilbert being the odd man out ... well, we won't really know that until he gets back, will we?

People seem to be jumping to the conclusion that Gilbert being gone is the reason why the ball movement and defense have improved. If that's the case, how come it didn't improve any in years past when Gilbert was out? In the past when Gilbert was out the team took a quick swan dive into the tank. The fact that it hasn't happened this year has to do with a lot of factors, none of which is a direct result of Arenas' absence.

First and foremost, the team has better players up and down the roster than they had last year. Songaila is healthy, Blatche is contributing, Mason is playing with confidence, Haywood is stepping up, etc. Second, after years of lip service, the team is actually buying what Jordan has been selling about playing defense. Third, let's face it, they've been beating up on a bunch of bottom-feeders, end even most of those games haven't been easy. They have exactly two wins against above 500 teams.

Concluding that the team is better off without Gilbert because they're playing well with him out is a wild intuitive leap with no foundation in fact.

Attributing this supposed sea change in the team's fortunes is like

Posted by: kalorama | December 14, 2007 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Kalorama, the point about GA and ball movement has already been adequately explained. If you choose not to see it or recognize it, that's your business. Good luck.

Posted by: Mitch | December 14, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Mitch, if you want to start some crap, go find someone else to start it with.

Posted by: kalorama | December 14, 2007 6:38 PM | Report abuse

GA is not one of the best players in the league. Have you seen him in the All-Star games? Embarrassing!!! How about on the National squad? Anyone hurt an abdominal muscle lately?

GA is a very gifted athlete who puts himself on a pedestal. Did we win a championship with him? No, so what makes you think we will with him again? I just don't think he's right for this team. I'm not saying he's not right for any team because obviously he's a real talent!! I do think there are others who could come in and complement what we have and even take us to the next level. GA hasn't done it, if anything, he disappears in the playoffs. No one person is bigger than the game, and he needs to be in a market where "big" headed players are cherished. There are teams with so many super stars that he would be just another one. He might flourish in that environment. Here, he just tries to be "the" show.

Posted by: LK | December 14, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

LK, I can't disagree with anything you wrote. In fact, you hit the nail on the head.

Posted by: DC Man88 | December 14, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

"People seem to be jumping to the conclusion that Gilbert being gone is the reason why the ball movement and defense have improved. If that's the case, how come it didn't improve any in years past when Gilbert was out? In the past when Gilbert was out the team took a quick swan dive into the tank. The fact that it hasn't happened this year has to do with a lot of factors, none of which is a direct result of Arenas' absence."

I think there are multiple reasons why Les BouleS are better on D.

* Gilby's gone and AD is a better defender and doesn't focus only on his offensive game like Gilby.

* Les BouleS hired Ayers. They now realize that in order to beat other teams, they must stop them from scoring, not just outscore them.

* Team looks inspired because many of the players are playing a bigger role on the offensive end, which directly translates to them wanting to play D also. They are taking ownership of the added responsibility of picking up the slack left by Gilby.

* This is a huge point that no one has mentioned yet: THE TEAM WANTS TO PROVE THAT THEY CAN HAVE SUCCESS WITHOUT GILBY. THESE ARE PLAYERS WITH A CHIP ON THEIR SHOULDER, AND CONFIDENCE IN THEIR ABILITIES. THEY DON'T WANT TO USE THE GILBY CRUTCH AND COAST THE SEASON.

Hurray to all the healthy guys on this team who are making DC proud!!!

Posted by: DC Man88 | December 14, 2007 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Now if the Village Idiot (we all know who that is) would just LEAVE town, we would truly be happy.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2007 10:44 PM | Report abuse

I luv Gilby!

Posted by: DC Sashay88 | December 14, 2007 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Hurray to all the healthy guys on this team who are making DC proud!!!

Posted by: DC Man88 | December 15, 2007 1:57 AM | Report abuse

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