Mavericks 97, Wizards 86

It was a game until Dirk Nowitzki took over for a brief stretch of the fourth quarter and then handed off to Jason Kidd. The Wizards were outscored 27-18 in the fourth and Kidd did much of the damage with seven assists while picking apart the Wiz defense.

"He's the greatest point guard in the world," said Mavs guard Jason Terry, who scored 25.

Terry hit back-to-back threes to erase a Wiz lead at the end of the third and that was basically that.

-Caron Butler was visibily upset on the bench during a timeout with under 10 seconds to go. It's the first time I really saw a player blow up so far this season. It didn't appear to be directed anywhere specific and that was confirmed by people afterward, but to me it was the first sign that this thing is really sinking.

"Just want to win," Butler said when I saw him outside of the locker room. "That's all. I just want to win."

-Ed Tapscott continues to search for a mix that will work. I liked the lineup he went with a for a stretch of the second quarter, one that had Darius Songaila, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Mike James and Nick Young on the court together. Also liked to seeing Javaris Critteton getting some minutes - this team has to find out what he can and can't do before this season is over.

-Dominic McGuire had some solid minutes as well. During one stretch of the first half, he defended Terry, Josh Howard, Nowitzki and Devean George at different points.

-It got ugly late when Jason Kidd was basically just tossing up alley-oops for George and James Singleton. The Wizards looked utterly confused on defense throughout the fourth. They either switched into terrible matchups like the time Andray Blatche wound up on Jose Barea and had Barea make a three in his face and the time when Nick Young wound up on Nowitzki, who just turned and shot right over Young. Bad technical defense did them in tonight.

-Amazing statistic: Dallas has held every single opponent below 50 percent shooting so far this season. The Wiz shot 39.5 percent tonight. That's incredible.

-The 4-21 start officially matches the 66-67 Baltimore Bullets for the worst in franchise history. Those Bullets won their 26th game to reach 5-21. These Wizards will have to do the same Tuesday night at Charlotte to avoid making the wrong kind of history.

By Ivan Carter |  December 22, 2008; 12:50 AM ET
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I think Michael Adams and Tom Gugliotta could take this team.

Posted by: twigmuffin | December 22, 2008 2:45 AM

i don't understand it -- why have the wiz still not given up on this season and turned it over to the development of the youngs? to finish at .500, they'd have to go 37-20. it doesn't make any sense why butler, jamison, and james would play 40 minutes each while mcgee and youngplay 12 and 13 minutes. no one over 30 should play more than 30 minutes per game.

Posted by: dcgoblue | December 22, 2008 4:07 AM

I missed the last two games on vacation but I see the box scores and Songaila is still getting minutes while Pech still sits. Even a 5-5 day with 3 rebounds in 24 minutes from Songaila isn't enough to convince me that he should be taking minutes away from a young guy.

Memo to Tap: WE STINK.

If now isn't the time to start developing the young guys by giving them extended playing time, when is? You've got a built in excuse. USE IT !!
If you do this, by next year we should know for sure whether guys can play or not and we can tailor the roster accordingly.

Posted by: original_mark | December 22, 2008 7:23 AM

"it was the first sign that this thing is really sinking."

-Firing the head coach wasn't?
-Star point guard having another knee issue wasn't?
-Only center out for the year wasn't?
-'1-10' wasn't?
-Countless none competitive games wasn't?
-Hardly any fans showing up to games wasn't?
-Comcast choosing the show the caps games instead of the wiz wasn't?

Posted by: NFeKPo | December 22, 2008 7:40 AM

Quote: "I liked the lineup he went with a for a stretch of the second quarter, one that had Darius Songaila, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Mike James and Nick Young on the court together".

Why? How does this line-up fare when the opposition has two big men up front? Will this line-up ever be more than a B- squad in the NBA?

What is this team trying to accomplish by playing Butler 43 and AJ 40 minutes?

Posted by: Izman | December 22, 2008 7:43 AM

Seems like an appropriate time for a Michael Ray Richardson quote...

REPORTER: What do you think is happening to the team?

RICHARDSON: The ship be sinking.

REPORTER: How far can it sink?

RICHARDSON: Sky's the limit.

Posted by: original_mark | December 22, 2008 8:48 AM

I'll take that question, Izman. What he is trying to do is just get a win by any means necessary. Unfortunately, what's going to happen is that one or both of those guys WILL get hurt. When that happens, we won't have a choice but to play the young guys.
We'll wind up winning between 18 and 22 games but the young players will start to develop confidence and will show signs of improvement as the season winds down because Gil will be back in Feb. Actually he'll come back in Jan but he'll be overweight and relatively ineffective until Feb.
By next season when Gil and BTH come back at 100%, the young guys will be hardened vets and, with the addition of the 2nd pick in the NBA draft (Thabeet), we'll go on to challenge for a Eastern conference championship in 2009-2010.
That's the best case scenario.

Posted by: original_mark | December 22, 2008 8:54 AM

Now the reality..

I'm not sure that there's any player in this draft that will be able to help this team. In fact, the guy that could help this team comes around only once every few years. This is why...

Tap and EJ are of the same mindset. They prefer to play veterans even at the expense of the future of this team. If we were to have gotten the first pick in last year's draft, do you really think Beasley would have gotten the start over AJ? Nope. Same with Blake Griffin. (Incidentally, Griffin is getting 1 block per game this year and he has more turnovers than asisst in his college career.) While bpg are not the definitive sign of good defense, it's a pretty good indicator of defensive aggressiveness. Do we really need another scorer at the pf position? He's doing a good job on the boards in college but so is AJ at 10 rebounds per game. The only guys in a NBA draft who could force their way into a lineup are 'franchise' guys. As long as AJ is putting up 20 and 10, the coaches can argue that he's not the problem and should not be benched. Never mind the fact that his (lack of) size as well as Caron's determine the core direction and style of this team. We will be average at best on defense as long as those are our starting forwards. Notice I'm leaving Gil out and it's not because I'm just a Arenas fan. The truth is that good team starts on the inside. Tony Parker is a sieve on defense but he has guys behind him and beside him to help out. Most point guards are unable to stop other pg's because that position is one that's almost too quick to guard via conventional man to man defense. Teammates collapse and rotate to help against pg's.

So what's the solution? How do we get good defense on this Wizards team? It seems to me that the answer is relatively obvious. Which approach we take is debatable but..

It's either gonna take a new philosophy (coaches) or new players (new starters). It's cheaper to replace coaches particularly when you have long term guaranteed player contracts. The problem is that we already did that last year with Ayers. The only reasonable solution is to change the lineup. I'm not gonna get into who should be starting or whatever. We've all done that now a million times. I WILL make this final point, however:

With Aj and Cb starting at their current forward positions, we will never ever ever ever be a good defensive team no matter who we put around them. Maybe CB at the 2 and AJ at the 3 works...probably not. That puts us at a footspeed disadvantage that might be worse than the weight/height disadvantage that we have now. Those 2 guys are tweeners. Good players but not ones you want anchoring your team if you intend to play good defense.

The only way we win games is to try to do what we did a few years back and score lots of points. Barring that or a major trade involving AJ and/or CB, we're always going to be below average defensively.

Posted by: original_mark | December 22, 2008 9:28 AM

Yesterday was not the first time that Caron was visibly upset during a timeout. I sat a couple rows behind the Wiz bench at the Portland game. During one timeout -- I believe it was after JM shot an ill-advised 18-20 air ball with 5 or 6 seconds left on the shot clock -- Caron came back to the bench and was fuming. He seems like a very proud guy, and this must be very difficult for him to endure.

Posted by: dzl1 | December 22, 2008 9:33 AM

Paging Mr. Pollin..... your team STINKS!!!! Your stupid GM gave an insanely huge contract to a perennial gimp, and now this franchise is TOAST for the foreseeable future. Mark my words, The Gimp will come back in Feb and then reinjure himself (or pretend to reinjure himself because he doesn't want to waste his precious time playing for a bottom feeder).

For god's sake, Pollin.... sell the team to Leonsis and let him begin the process of building a REAL contender, like the Capitals. It doesn't happen overnight, so meanwhile Wizards fans, I recommend that you abandon geezer Pollin and his sideshow Gimp and start learning to appreciate hockey. GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: chombie13 | December 22, 2008 10:02 AM


Posted by: prescrunk | December 22, 2008 10:14 AM

Take your time.
Why come back to play on a team destined to lose 6 out of 7 games. You might help them to make it 5 out of 7 so why bother. Get ready for next season. Maybe we'll have more help for you by then.
Take the time to heal & get stronger.
Come back with about 10 or 15 games left just to get back to playing.
Why would you come back in Jan. or Feb. ????
Look at the other teams players. Notice anything different???
They all are better than ours.
CB & AJ are the exception but they and you can't win in this league anymore.
Help is needed and it doesn't look like it's coming.

Posted by: VBFan | December 22, 2008 10:30 AM

It's going to take more than a lineup change to fix the Wizards. They need to rebuild the roster in some major ways. Of course, any kind of major rebuilding will put the team into a several year rebuilding process with multiple lottery appearances, which is fine with me (and what I suggested before last season even ended, with regard to keeping Jamison and Arenas). But I'm sure that if they go that route, some of the same people demanding change will still be screaming bloody murder.

At this point the watch is on to see how deep the hole gets before the Wiz brass (or the players' agents) decide that it's not worth the risk of re-injury to bring Arenas and Haywood back for a lost season.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 22, 2008 10:32 AM

Might as well give Etan Thomas another chance this year. It's true, he hasn't played well. But at least he can block shots and dish out some hard fouls, and he has improved his FT shooting since his heart surgery. One would hope that as a veteran, he has been doing what's necessary to be ready to play.

Posted by: PostSubscriber | December 22, 2008 10:53 AM

Kalo_rama, thank you for a constructive post. Did you think that this organization is capable of developing the young players that they would get from multiple lottery picks? Is so, that makes sense.

If not, then maybe they should just trade the picks for veterans?

The current strategy seems to be a lose-lose.

Posted by: Izman | December 22, 2008 10:57 AM

Change this thing to run and gun. You got young guys, might as well make them run up and down the floor for baskets if they're not playing defense.

Everyone on the floor looks clueless. Understand your personnel and know their strengths. And it's time to admit defense isn't. And fire EG and Tap.

Posted by: t-train | December 22, 2008 11:03 AM

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