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Relief Comes With a Win

That is how a team is supposed to play after a three-day rest and when it is facing an opponent that is A) lacking its starting center (Mehmet Okur) and B) is playing on the second straight night.

Washington's 95-87 win over the Utah Jazz last night may not solve everything that is wrong with Coach Eddie Jordan's team but it did allow everyone to catch their breath and feel better about life if only for a day or two.

The keys were much improved defense (the 87 points were by far the fewest allowed by the Wizards this season and Utah shot 43.4 percent from the field while turning it over 18 times), big efforts off the bench by JaVale McGee and Nick Young and a beautiful closing push that featured a 12-0 run.

It was strange watching a Jerry Sloan team turn it over eight times in the fourth quarter and fail to execute its basic pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop sets down the stretch. Give credit to the Wizards, who kept Carlos Boozer off his sweet spots (anything in the paint that allows him to get to his left hand) while also keeping Deron Williams out of the paint (where he is so dangerous). Down the stretch, Utah's shots went like this: missed 3 by Kyle Korver, missed jumper by Paul Millsap, missed (contested) 3 by Williams and missed 3 by Ronnie Brewer.

Sloan: "I thought the WIzards outplayed us. They seemed to want the game a little more than we did. They beat us off the dribble and on top of the basket. I thought the Wizards were a lot more aggressive on the boards than we were. We had way too many turnovers."

-I asked Jordan after the game about the possibility of starting McGee.

Jordan: "I still want to get as much as we can from our vets. Etan, Antonio -- I think they set the table for us. It might not seem that way to our fans and you guys but veteran reliability is something that we need. They may be a little slow, they may be a little small and not as exciting but veteran reliability is something that all coaches sort of put their hat on...for four or five minutes."

Jordan said that last part -- "for four or five minutes" -- with a little grin on his face, so read into that what you will. I do know this: A few players are not going to like the way this is going. I know for a fact that Antonio Daniels and Jordan spoke at length after the game. And Daniels, who played 12 minutes, 41 seconds and not at all in the fourth quarter, did not look pleased. Darius Songaila played only four minutes and it's clear that Thomas, though he plays hard as can be, is giving way to McGee.

The starting trio of Daniels, Thomas and DeShawn Stevenson produced nine points, four assists and three rebounds last night, though Stevenson's defense on Williams down the stretch was a huge key.

-One other thing jumped out to me last night: Nick Young shook off a bad night and made a huge play down the stretch -- that driving layup that gave the Wizards a 86-82 lead with 1:18 to go. Then, Young went in among the big boys and snatched a defensive rebound following that missed 3 by Brewer. He secured the ball, drew a foul and then basically put the game away by making two free throws. This on a night when he had been two-of-nine from the floor, had a bad turnover earlier in the fourth and also had Korver curl off screens in textbook fashion and drill a pair of fourth quarter jumpers in his face.
Last season, that would've put Young in the tank, but he hung in there and made plays. Huge sign of growth from where I sit.

Me to Jordan: "I don't know that he does that last year."

Jordan: "Probably not. He probably wouldn't have been in the game first of all but certainly, he has grown. As complicated as people talk about our offense being, he has really learned how to run the offense and how to execute and get his shot and he's become a good passer. We've always said; good ball players can run any offense if they are unselfish enough no matter what it is and he's a good ball player. He's unselfish, he's got great a instinct to score and he's getting better defensively. Right now he's one of our smartest players."

By Ivan Carter  |  November 13, 2008; 10:42 AM ET
 
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Next: Thursday Update: Daniels Might Rest

Comments

Well, McGuire said he has improved his midrange game and his overall game..6 gms into a season so far and he still isnt producing..probably not gonna last with the team that long lol

Posted by: forbid | November 13, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

it obviously sounds like EJ is just trying to give his vets the benefit of the doubt but is very aware that time is running out for them.

but he left JM on the floor for the fourth of a close game; actions speak louder than words...

Posted by: yukiwith2us | November 13, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I said it yesterday and I'll say it again today - put Stevenson on the other team's point guard and tell him that his number one priority is stopping penetration - just like he did last night with Deron Williams!! Any offense we get from him is a bonus. With Nick Young developing into an offensive threat, all we need from our other guards is better defense and this will be a playoff team once more.

Posted by: paulstutz14 | November 13, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Nice article, Ivan.

Posted by: Wittan | November 13, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Excellent analysis, yukiwith2us. (And not just because I agree with you.)

Actions indeed speak louder than words. McGee is the MAN. When he plays, a lot of pressure is taken off Butler and Jamison. He's flat scary when it comes to shot blocking, and he's got a lot of heart. Add Young's scoring ability and his energy, and this team starts to look pretty good.

Too bad Blatche isn't worth anything any more on the trade block.

Posted by: loulor | November 13, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Jordan did back up what he said about his vets: Let them start & set the tone ("for four or five minutes..."). He then turned to his best players down the stretch, as evidenced by keeping Young & McGee (who played the last 19 or so minutes without a blow) in for the 4th quarter. This does keep the attack balanced by having a 2nd team that contains solid players.

It was great seeing that Jordan didn't feel the need to re-insert Thomas or play Songalia his set minutes. Instead, he seemed to go with the flow, which hasn't been the case the last few seasons...

Posted by: -CN- | November 13, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Mike Wise said it pretty good in his article this morning: you can keep starting Etan, but for how much longer. Last night, the Wizards seemed to be rolling over and on their way to a blow out at the hands of the Utah Jazz. Then, McGee came in. There was an instant spark and the W suddenly seemed plausible again. I love Etan, but not as a starter. That is not what he is. He is a guy that can come in and provide some solid minutes against the opposing team's second unit. We should use him that way and let the kid start.

Posted by: johnny_blaze | November 13, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Who cares if Daniels, Thomas, Songaila et al. are pleased with their minutes? If they produced, they'd get more minutes. It's crystal clear that the young'uns have passed them by. Deal with it.

Posted by: keithward64 | November 13, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

"Jordan did back up what he said about his vets: Let them start & set the tone ("for four or five minutes..."). He then turned to his best players down the stretch, as evidenced by keeping Young & McGee (who played the last 19 or so minutes without a blow) in for the 4th quarter. This does keep the attack balanced by having a 2nd team that contains solid players."

Couldn't agree more, CN. The current setup makes sense, because it the starters do get off to a slow start, then the young guys off the bench can come in with a burst of energy. But if you start McGee and Young and they start off slowly (as will happen, inevitably, in some games) then they're sunk because they won't have anyone on the bench to come in and jumpstart things.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 13, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I know JM is becoming a difference maker, but I still like ET starting and picking up a couple of fouls against the other teams big(s). Keeps JM away from the early quick fouls and allows for his use later at crunch time.

Also loved the lineup of JM, AB, CB, NY, and JD - very athletic and able to create a mismatch, or cover for opponents mismatches. I know its not a starting lineup, but could be used often with Jamison in the mix and Stevenson for defensive pressure and guard minutes - pending the return of Gilbert.

I see no need for any major minutes from Songaila anytime soon. It was good to see him tied to the pine. Used on on a as need basis and not as part of the regular rotation.

Posted by: Buffalobull | November 13, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

That was a fun game to watch.

I typicallly agree with a lot of the computer chair coaches on this forum, but at 1-5 its a little early to be even suggesting playoffs.

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | November 13, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

johnny_blaze, huh?

What blow out? Seemed to me the game was only a few points either way the entire game.

Posted by: Lisa_R | November 13, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Anybody who's content with more of the same and who keeps harping about EJ's "success" in getting Les BouleS to the playoffs should take a look at what the Knicks are doing.

Granted the season is still young, but they have a new coach, new gm, and pretty much the same players on a team that was in the lottery last season.

Now, two of their most expensive players are getting zero playing time and what do they have to show for it?

They're 5-3 and did pretty well last night.

Who would have thunk it?

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=281112029

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 13, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Give Eddie credit that he's playing the best players after giving the vets ample chance to prove themselves....agree with earlier poster to let DSS focus on shutting down the other team's point guard when NY is playing SG. Juan Dixon should be starting at PG, regardless of AD feeling slighted. His knee makes him a liability on defense and he can't penetrate to get to the line...

ET should only be playing 12-15 a night off the bench...I don't agree with Eddie giving Etan and AD some minutes to start the game and 2nd half. A team sets a tone at the beginning of each half and that's when you want J. McGee playing on the defensive end. The kids seems to be able to handle about 30 minutes a night and ET & AB can fight for the rest.

AB continues to disappoint with his horrible shot selection and poor floor play. I thought having him play at the 4 next to McGee might make him more confident, but his stats last night don't support it. I'd still try to trade him if he has any value at this point.

Posted by: wizfan89 | November 13, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I see DC_MAN88 is right on time with the negativity. Sure the Knicks are 5-3 but let's see how long they keep that up. Jacking 3s all night will win you a few games but nothing else.

Am glad AD is not pleased with his minutes. Perhaps he still have a little left in the tank. Let's hope yesterday's game sends a message to Etan and AD: produce or be benched!

Posted by: tundey | November 13, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure he should start let him come off the bench for now, i think EJ has seen the light McGee is going to get plenty of minutes but let him observe how Etan is playing the opposing center.Have the staff get him up to speed on the strategy when he enters the game so he can be effective, as the season develops his minutes will increase and his level of play will help the team and he needs to work on his free throws.

Posted by: dargregmag | November 13, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

First Daniels needs to sit down somewhere and let his knee heal and stop complaining about his playing time. He is a vet and should set a good example on how to deal with a benching.

It is clear his knee is not right, so why is he forcing the issue to play because this is not making sense to me? We are not missing anything from him in his present state with his knee.

As for the remark from Eddie about "5 to 6 minutes" for the vet's, I can agree and disagree. Kal and BuffaloBill make valid points about giving Etan, Stevenson and Daniels short leashes. It does make since to let them start and "loosen up" the starting five of the other team and then bring in the "youngsta's".

Lastly, I do not agree with all of the posts out here putting Songalia in that group with Etan, Daniels, and Stevenson. I think he should get his minutes at the 4 spot (AJ's spot). Eddie still plays AJ way to many minutes even when he is not producing.

Songalia can have some of those minutes from AJ. It looks like everyone is judging Songaila on his play as a "5" and not a "4". The dude's game deserves to be in the regular rotation, because Songalia has a nice game that you could use if you use it correctly.

Again, he should be getting some of AJ's minutes, bottom line. Why is AJ playing the whole 3rd and 4th quarters of games? Is Eddie confusing him for LaBron or something?????

***Nothing against AJ or Eddie, I support them both; however this is the last of the tweaking Eddie needs to do with his rotational calls during games......... (Give Songalia some of the minutes at the "4" from AJ)

Posted by: BulletsFever | November 13, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't agree with Wise on starting McGee just yet. We are seeing that McGee & Young are embracing their roles as sparks off the bench. Who knows how they'll react if they enter the starting line up. Being that they're young guys, they may not handle the pressure as well. The first drastic change that was needed (in order to turn things around) was to throw in the young guys to play through their lumps, by cutting back on the struggling vets minutes: Accomplished. If the team continues to struggle, then Step 2: Jordan should seriously consider juggling the starting line-up.

Let's see how far this current fix takes us, but hopefully the team will hold the fort until some guys come back...

Posted by: -CN- | November 13, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

"I see DC_MAN88 is right on time with the negativity. Sure the Knicks are 5-3 but let's see how long they keep that up. Jacking 3s all night will win you a few games but nothing else.

Am glad AD is not pleased with his minutes. Perhaps he still have a little left in the tank. Let's hope yesterday's game sends a message to Etan and AD: produce or be benched!

Posted by: tundey | November 13, 2008 12:25 PM "

Yeah, you're right.

Abe should have fed the team costco cake after last night's glorious win.

Call it a season. Quit while the going is good right now!

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 13, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

DCMAN88: You're kidding right the Knicks?come on your basketball acumen which i respect(although i think your out of left field sometime) i'm sure Spike will appreciate the love,but the Knicks now i like the fact that at least so far they are competitive and D'Antoni has them playing hard but lets see how they stack up against the Celts,Sixers and Raptors as the season progresses.By the way nice game from JaTravel as you like to call him1

Posted by: dargregmag | November 13, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

The reason two of the Knicks most expensive players are getting zero minutes is because one is a notorious head case and locker room cancer who is roundly disliked by his teammates and the other is a fat load who routinely shows up for camp so out of shape that he couldn't jump over an Amish phone book if you gave him a running start.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 13, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I worry about reading too much into DSS' defense on Deron Williams last night. Let's not forget that the dude was coming back from injury. Nevertheless, can't argue with the results.

I just don't understand Eddie Jordan. He's treating DSS, AD, and Etan like they're Wes, Elvin, and Gus. Dude, they ain't even Ledell, Calbert, and Juwan. They've played their heart out for the team, but their jerseys aren't going in the rafters. If it hurts their feelings that they're not playing more minutes, maybe they should step their game up.

I'm just curious (because I honestly don't know the answer)- what do Caron and Antawn think about the situation? They're classy guys, and not the type to take cheapshots at their teammates. But judging from the way they react to the young guys, I gotta believe our All-Stars want the kids on the floor as much as possible, loyalty be damned.

Posted by: bryc3 | November 13, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

DC MAN 88 actually makes a very good point. I wouldn't call it negativity. The Knicks brought in new leadership, and a coach who actually has the balls to sit Marbury and Curry on the bench. Those 2 are "proven" veterans if you will, who are overpaid and overrated. I do support EJ, and I think he's starting to see the light, but he should take notes at what is going on in New York. You have to do what is best for the team to win. Etan is probably the most overpaid player in the league, (yes, more so than marbury). We signed him to a 38 million dollar deal to give us 6pts and 4rebs. I don't care about his "leadership", or his "contract", he is GARBAGE. He honestly doesn't belong in the NBA. He should be getting 0 minutes, behind Javale, AB, and even Song.

Did you guys see that play last night where he grabbed the rebound emphatically, swung his arms, screamed, then promptly threw the ball to the Jazz? HAHA, I HATE HIM!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: cj658 | November 13, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Kal--LOL--an Amish phone book, eh?

I saw or heard somewhere that putting NY in the starting line up might be a bad idea, because it'll be too much adjustment for him when Gil gets back. I think that's true. Giving him the start now and then putting him back on the bench may mess with his head a little too much.

Posted by: lindaloulubbock | November 13, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Kaloroma, here's some facts for you:

Marbury Carrer: 19.7pts, 7.9ast.
Curry Career: 13.5pts, 5.4rbs

Daniels Career: 7.9pts, 3.5ast.
Thomas Career: 6.2pts, 5.1rbs

If Dantoni has the balls to bench those kind of #'s, then I sure as hell hope EJ has the balls to bench the pathetic #'s by his guys. HAHA

Posted by: cj658 | November 13, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Once people put their agenda colored glasses on, it's like they're glued to their faces.

In the last 3 games Etan played 13, 13 and 17 minutes. Daniels played 13 in the last one and 20 against the Knicks (didn't play at all in the last one because of injury). Songaila's played a TOTAL of 10 minutes in the last 3 games.

During that same period, McGee played 27, 17, and 30, Young played 30, 31, and 30 and Dixon played 28 and 19 (not counting the 23 he played in place of Daniels when he was out). Blatche played 13, 26, and 21.

So, as usual, all of the bashing of Jordan about what he's supposedly not doing (playing the bench more) has no factual relation to what he's actually been doing (playing the bench more).

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 13, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Blatche was + 7 last night.

Jamison +2.

Blatche has a lot of value around the league. But anybody that the Wiz would get in return would put them over the salary cap.

The dog house routine for Blatche turned out to be counterproductive. Anyway, the Wiz don't have enough prime-time ready players to give up on Blatche. He needs to be developed - between the ears.

p.s. Ivan, let's know if the fans don't start showing up for 4 to 5 minutes into the game.

Posted by: Izman | November 13, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

And, as usual, (A) Numbers don't tell the whole truth and (B) there's a big difference between what's a fact and what's true. The fact Curry and Marbury up big numbers doesn't alter the truth that they're not winning players or that almost every team Marbury has played for has actually gotten better after he left.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 13, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

What matters is not who starts, but who finihes. Last night Eddie trusted McGee and Young in the 4th. He also seems to be trusting Juan Dixon more and more every game.

Stevenson did an excellent job negating Williams and messing with Utah's pick and roll game when paired with Young. And McGee is a potential monster driving the guard away from the basket. When you're 6' something and you look up and realize there's a quick guy with 7'6" of arms flailing in your passing lanes it's got to get your attention.

Blatche stats weren't great last night, but when he was paired with McGee and playing the 4 he looked better then he has so far this year. Except for that ugly behind the back pass in the lane. Looked like something he saw Chris Webber do.

Eddie needs to pick his spots to use Songaila, he's slow, steady, but solid. I'd agree the Wizards need to curtail Jamison's minutes some, but they really needed a win, so heavy minutes last night were unavoidable.

Daniels is trying to help the team, but even he should be able to see that he's not quick enough to stay with Williams right now. He's always started slow, but he's never looked this, well, SLOW! His struggles were with his shot most years.

He needs to play some until Gil gets healthy, then if this knee is nagging him like this he needs to consider shutting it down for awhile, or getting another opinion. He's not a lot of help playing on a gimpy leg.

Posted by: flohrtv | November 13, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm well aware of that. I hope your not one of those guys who thinks "character" wins championships. That is ludacris. talent wins championships. And with talent comes #'s and production.

Now about EJ, my whole point is Etan should be getting 0 MINS. Not 15, not 10, not 14, but 0. He is garbage.

Posted by: cj658 | November 13, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Dispute all of their "talent" "numbers" and "production" guys like Marbury and Curry, (and Ricky Davis, Darius Miles, etc). haven't come anywhere near a championship. Winning organizations want guys with talent AND character. And if given a choice between a guy with only one, they'll take character and look elsewhere for the talent

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 13, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

EDIT:

That should be: Despite all of their "talent" ...

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 13, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"I just don't understand Eddie Jordan. He's treating DSS, AD, and Etan like they're Wes, Elvin, and Gus."

Actually I think quite the opposite. I think he's finally seeing what they really are and playing the kids more minutes because they give him the best chance to win.

I hope EG is smart enough to realize these guys can't possibly help them win a championship and finally dump them.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | November 13, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"Blatche has a lot of value around the league. But anybody that the Wiz would get in return would put them over the salary cap."

Wrong on multiple fronts.

(A) They're already way over the salary cap.

(B) By NBA CBA rule, the total salaries of players in a trade must match within 15% on both sides, so the suggestion that the Wizards would have to take on a salary much larger than Blatche's if they traded him is false. They could, conceivably, take on a salary 15% smaller than Blatche's.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 13, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Kalo roma, good points, but I beg to differ. Rasheed Wallace, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, not exactly "high character guys", but where would there teams be with out them? All played a KEY role in their teams respective championships.

Etan and AD are SUPER high character guys, but what will that get the Wiz? Lack of production and losing seasons. Point is I'd take Marbury and Curry ANY day of the week over those two guys. Believe me, talent wins championships, not character, winning GM's could careless about character. It's a rare breed when you find a combo of the two.

Posted by: cj658 | November 13, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Jordan has destroyed Blatche's confidence as he has done in the past with Haywood. Now Jordan must find a way to restore it. If not for Ayers and Grunfield, Haywood would be gone. Most folks want to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to bashing a player. Most you did not even want McGee on the active roster before the season started, banishing him to the developmental league for 2 yrs was the majority choice. Now you can't wait until he gets into the game. Blatche has shown in previous years that he has the skills/talent to be a good player for this team, but I believe he is pressing and not playing with much confidence. Jamison's minutes need to be reduced to help him make it to the end of the year relatively injury free. Give some of those minutes to Blatche and help restore what we know he can do. We're going to need him down the stretch

Posted by: garrybrown | November 13, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

In terms of trades and salaries, Blatche's salary is much less than Kwame Brown's to put this into perspective.

The point is that it's hard to find much value in a trade at Blatche's salary level. Said another way so that Kalorama can understand it, a trade ain't going to happen with AB as bait.

Posted by: Izman | November 13, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Nice game last night! Just watched it today on DVR. Probably one of the better coached games by EJ I've seen. I believe he's seen the light on who is playing winning basketball and getting us leads and who is not. I think he was a game or two too slow in putting a lineup like JaVal, NY, AJ, CB, and DS to play the important minutes in the 4th.

Kalorama, as you pointed out the likes of Etan and AD's minutes have been dwindling for a few games, but they were still getting the prime time minutes. NOT last night!

I usually bash EJ, but not for last night. I also don't mind if Etan and AD play the first few minutes. If they are producing then stick with'em, but have the short leash we saw last night. I'm actually happy to hear AD is hobbled bc I was beginning to think he was just done as a player. Hopefully with some rest, he will return as the very solid pro he is!

JaVal is great! Whomever the NBA pundit is that has him as the 18th ranked rookie thus far is an idiot. He is top 5 easily. Besides the nice numbers last night, he completely changed the game by his "presence" alone. I lost count of the number of "scared" shots he caused just by being around. Amazing for only his 6th pro game! EG strikes again!

Posted by: rphilli721 | November 13, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

"Winning organizations want guys with talent AND character. And if given a choice between a guy with only one, they'll take character and look elsewhere for the talent

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 13, 2008 2:56 PM "

Really?

Is that why Dallas stuck with Josh Howard?

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 13, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

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