Wizards 104, Thunder 95

Simply put, this was one the Wizards had to win even with Caron Butler out with a left ankle sprain (didn't talk to him but the word from the locker room is that he'll likely play Monday at Houston).

-The key stat: Washington finished with 31 assists against only 11 turnovers.

-Antawn Jamison was a total mismatch for Jeff Green. Jamison scored 29 and forced double teams.

-Andray Blathce and Dominic McGuire played their best games of the season. The more I see McGuire, the more he reminds of Ruben Patterson (on the court) except that he's a better passer.

-The Thunder is terrible. I watched the second half from courtside while doing some radio and couldn't believe the body language I was seeing. If ever a team could break that 72-73 Sixers record for futility (nine wins), this is it.

-Good to see solid contributions from Etan Thomas and Juan Dixon tonight. Before the game, Tapscott said he planned on shaking up the rotation a little bit with the idea of giving those guys some chances and it worked. Funny how a coach looks smart when guys go in and peform.

By Ivan Carter |  December 27, 2008; 10:25 PM ET
Previous: Wizards and Thunder, Butler out (ankle) | Next: Monday Morning Point Guard


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Whew! (Wipes forehead with back of hand.)

Posted by: charley42 | December 27, 2008 10:44 PM

31 minutes, 3 points. Nice contribution, DS.

No matter how you slice it, Tap...DS sux and needs to get his playing time eliminated.

Posted by: original_mark | December 27, 2008 10:50 PM

Speaking of giving guys a chance and shaking up the lineup, where's Pech?


Posted by: original_mark | December 27, 2008 10:50 PM


Where is JC? Is he that bad that he can't even get in against the worse team in history? the man has had a few practices and it seems like he is working hard to get PT but what is the problem? Is he dumb, stupid, or just not liked by ED? DS gets waaaaaaaay too much PT! We need playmaking guards to be a successful team and DS is not making plays AT ALL!

Posted by: antoniologan | December 27, 2008 11:00 PM

"The more I see McGuire, the more he reminds of Ruben Patterson (on the court) except that he's a better passer."

Ruben Patterson the ex-Sonic, ex-Buck, ex-Laker, ex-Blazer, ex-Clip? Geez, I hope not. A good defender but a stone alky. How about he reminds you of Joe Smith? We like Joe Smith.

"Funny how a coach looks smart when guys go in and perform."

Yeah, every once in a while they do that, just to see if we're paying attention.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 27, 2008 11:26 PM

31 minutes for DeBrick? C'mon Tap! Can Critt dog get a sniff? How about shaving black beard's minutes down to like 3 (kinda like Javale) bump JC up to like 12 and let Nick notch 30+.
Other than that it looked like the perfect box score to me.
Good job by all. Go Wiz!

Posted by: elfreako | December 27, 2008 11:30 PM

okay we are not as bad as the OKC Thunder! But we are so bad that the idea of making the playoffs are over. All we can hope for is ABE will resign EDt and let him take us to the promise land. NO NO NO NO Not that promise land I meant the draft lotterty.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 27, 2008 11:51 PM

Darn, now we can't even get the most Ping-Pong balls in lottery!

Posted by: sagaliba | December 28, 2008 12:03 AM

Good to see McGee getting minutes... oh wait. Can someone explain what it is he did wrong that Tapscott prefers him on the bench? And where in the world is JC? If we lose this game, in the grand scheme, WHO CARES?

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | December 28, 2008 12:50 AM

Minor quibble: Blatche was definitely NOT better tonight than he was in the Golden State game a month ago. So, at best, this was his second best game of the season.

Posted by: goaway41 | December 28, 2008 12:57 AM

Juan shouldve never been benched anyway. He's played awesome all year off the bench but some how they keep giving him the DNP's? He's not a starter but off the bench he's been very good.

I also dont think anyone hates Etan. They just hate seeing him take minutes from the young guys. Tonight he took them away from Darius and thats fine with me but he should never take them away from Blatche or McGuire. McGee isnt playing but Ive said all along that Id rather not see him play at all if he's only going to play 5min. That makes no sense. However, when Gil gets back then he should be on the floor because I think all the young guys will look alot better with Gil

Posted by: dlts20 | December 28, 2008 2:03 AM

Well a positive to come from the current situation is to see the emergence of Dominic McGuire, as well as Blatche. I McGuire is studying film of guys like Bowen, Artest and Rodman, because he has definately found a role (and I hope the Wizards make that available to him and encourage it).

You gotta think that these two are developing because they're getting the PT. We gotta start making the same opportunities available to guys like NY, Crittenton, McGee and Pecherov.

Well two recent moves appear to be paying off ... it is looking like James is an upgrade from AD, and McGuire is looking like an improvement for us in the starting lineup over DeShawn.

Also glad to see Etan and Dixon get some run tonight. I'd rather see Etan in at 5 instead of Darius anytime! He brought the energy and inside force we've been missing from him. I've always liked him off the bench as a contrast to our other bigs like Haywood, Blatche and now McGee who have more length but not the power game Etan brings. Dixon is a solid guy off the bench, and should be brought in every game to get some run and make some things happen for us.

Posted by: Darnell1 | December 28, 2008 3:19 AM

On a scale of 1-100, I see the potential of the young Wiz players down-the-road as:

McGee = 90
Blatche = 85
Young = 80
McGuire = 75
Crit = unknown
Pech - 60

where 75 is average for the NBA and 85 is an all-star rating.

I wonder what the organization thinks about this.

Certainly, the minutes under Taps for AB and DM have improved their confidence and performance. But the opposite is true for JM and NY.

It sounds like Taps is more concerned about not hurting the feelings of the veterans, then developing the youngsters.
He's got to get over that if the organization is going to move up a notch next year.

Posted by: Izman | December 28, 2008 7:09 AM

The more I see of McGuire, the more I like him. He's a very good on-ball defender and a tremendous rebounder at both ends. His offensive skills are still fairly raw--he's got to protect the ball better on drives, for example--but he seems to learn from his mistakes and he gets better with each game.

Posted by: pjkiger1 | December 28, 2008 8:56 AM


If the Wizzies lost this one they would know that they are the worst team in the NBA.

Now they ain't so sure.

Posted by: VBFan | December 28, 2008 9:54 AM

Let's face it.

This was a win over a very BAD team that scored 95.
Nice D.

Who wasn't holding their breath going into the 4th Q waiting for the Wizzie collapse.
Surprise ---there is a team we can beat.

Posted by: VBFan | December 28, 2008 9:58 AM

31 minutes for DeBrick? C'mon Tap! Can Critt dog get a sniff? How about shaving black beard's minutes down to like 3 (kinda like Javale) bump JC up to like 12 and let Nick notch 30+.
Other than that it looked like the perfect box score to me.
Good job by all. Go Wiz!

Posted by: elfreako | December 27, 2008 11:30 PM

Elfreako - That is too much like right. I have said it before and I will say it again, I do not know what it is Stevenson has over Tapscott and had over Jordan. It will always be a mystery unless somebody like Ivan can maybe find out.

For Stevenson to get 31 minutes and Crittenton to not see any is just plain crazy. Also seeing that Tapscott is in his "next 7" span of games McGee looks like he will now be the odd man out of the rotatioin. Go figure....??

Etan is going to get those minutes and it will also be less minutes for Juan because once CB comes back Tapscott likes to keep him or AJ on the court at all times. Thus, that reduces minutes to guys like Juan and McGee.

Maybe Etan will start taking more of Songailia's minutes at the 5. It is the lesser of two evils in my mind since McGee can't get those minutes.

Songailia and Stevenson get WAY too many minutes at the expense of McGee, Juan Dixon and Crittenton. It is a shame Stevenson is allowed to get all of the minutes when he is not producing.

Tapscott's reasoning for keeping him in all of those minutes yesterday will be he liked the way he was playing defense on Mason.........???? Note I did not say Green or Durant.

Just like Tapscott makes up excuses to always give Stevenson playing time, he makes up excuses to not give McGee playing time. Veteran or no veteran, that stuff is just not fair if that vet. is not producing.......

Posted by: BulletsFever | December 28, 2008 10:44 AM

Did not see the game, but I know Etaps must be happy the Wizs did not lose to the Thunder.

Hey Ivan. What about this.

The Wizards beat the Thunder and go on a roll, a 10 game roll.

Sorry Ivan, I embellish, but, they can do it.

Oh, I forgot, the whole doggone coaching philosophy might have to change. DagGumIt.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 28, 2008 11:21 AM

I think the substitutions make more sense. It seems skill sets compliment each other better now. The PG position is settling down and hopefully turnovers will come down as CB, DS , stop trying to be something there not. are the wins just for moral or do they still have a realistic chance to make it to the playoffs.

Posted by: Rvf0509 | December 28, 2008 11:32 AM

Brendan Heywood's cast was to come off Last Monday. Did I miss the story about results and expectations?

Posted by: joe2chase | December 28, 2008 11:33 AM

The reason why DeBrick as some of you call him gets so many minutes is:

Its the same reasoning why EJ gave minutes to ET over BH...the same reasoning why DSon gets minutes, and why we kept playing AD even though he was not effective because he was hurt.

They hustle, they scrap, they are experienced, they play defense, they give it their all. etc.

This philosophy sounds good, but it becomes nothing more than an excuse, a fatal flaw, when you have players on the bench that are more effective and that should be given a chance to show if they can produce on the floor.

Dom, Juan, McGee, JC, AB, and even Pech, all have not been given fair chances to prove that they can produce. I still include AB, becuase he has not been given his chance at Power Forward. And look at what Dom's doing now. As I made the case for Haywood over ET, Dom would have been doing this all along.

One final crucial, critical, point. ETaps 7-Man rotation philosophy is flawed for this Team, I repeat 'Flawed For This Team' and it will never allow the Team to flourish. i.e. (DNPs) This team of talent if coached properly is at least 10 deep.

You cannot coach a team on what you consider to be strong NBA qualities, you must coach a team on the strong abilities that they possess. When you do that, you grow, you achieve. you accomplish, because YOU ARE COACHING YOUR PLAYERS AND NOT SOME NBA IDEAL YOU WOULD LIKE THEM TO BE!!!

You have to coach your players first, fit the philosophy to the players and not the other way around. ETaps philosophy is backwards, this is not a proven team. 7-Man rotations are for proven Teams.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 28, 2008 12:23 PM

I got in my car during halftime and caught Ivan on the radio broadcast. You sounded real good Ivan; very natural. I also liked you calling out that ref as being the worst in the league. If the newspaper industry folds like you joked about, you have a future in broadcast.

Also glad to see McGuire playing well. I have been a fan of his since his first summer league game. I thought his hustle, defense, and rebounding were exactly what this team needed and never understood why Jordan never gave him any time (although I don't know what happened to the sweet spin move Dom used to get to the bucket that entire first summer league). My friends all thought I was crazy because I have been saying he was a better player than Nick Young since the begining but now they are starting to see what I see (primarily if Young's shots not falling he doesn't contribute anything else).

Posted by: detox04 | December 28, 2008 12:41 PM

i liked ivan on theradio too, happend to catch him in my car....i think ivan should pursue tv, perhaps the courtside reporter work, the guy comcast has now is just straight goofy looking and terrible...

on the wizards, it was a ust win, but to me the defense was still woeful...sadly stevenson continutes to get a ton of minutes at the expense of others...although i will give him credit hes not at least hurting the team as much jacking up a ton of shots like he used to. he's cut down the number of shots he takes and he is getting minutes. still no way he should come off the bench and be given more minutes than NY. I would give him 10 minutes a game and spread those minutes btwn NY and JCRit.

Posted by: insanity999 | December 28, 2008 12:59 PM

Ivan, re this:
However, interim coach Ed Tapscott and the organization as a whole -- including owner Abe Pollin and president Ernie Grunfeld -- are still approaching each game with the idea of winning.

Curious: Did you talk to either Pollin or Grunfeld about this? The direction of the team for this year?

Did you get any sense from Tapscott as to period when they'll re-evaluate this plan?

Obviously, among other reasons (David Stern anyone?) they can't come out and say the season is lost. I wonder how much of this is due to concerns from the league office about writing a year off this early?

Posted by: SteveMG | December 28, 2008 9:35 PM

However, interim coach Ed Tapscott and the organization as a whole -- including owner Abe Pollin and president Ernie Grunfeld -- are still approaching each game with the idea of winning.

That's stupid, short-sighted thinking. The idea is to win a championship, not win as many games as you can right now. The Wiz are not going to the playoffs -- that's a lead-pipe cinch. Winning games right now by playing vets too many minutes harms the team by not giving Ernie a chance to see who can play and who can't, who he needs to keep and who he should trade.

Crittenton needs to get significant PG minutes; McGee needs significant C minutes. Young needs big minutes.

This ain't particle physics, guys -- the youth movement must begin now. Anything else is a true waste of the season -- not trying to scratch out another meaningless W here and there.

Posted by: keithward64 | December 29, 2008 9:01 AM

I was at the game and the Thunder are REALLY bad so the win didn't mean a whole lot to me, but I saw some interesting things that seem new to me. McGuire is definitely improving and gaining a little swagger. He knows now that he's an above average defender and seems to be taking on that challenge. It's obvious when you watch him on the court. He's also clearly raw on offense, but thankfully, not completely timid.

Blatche plays better with more minutes. This is the same as Haywood. I'm not sure why this is the case or how a coach can fix it, but right now he needs heavy minutes to find his groove it seems.

I noticed that DSong made several bad plays which may have contributed to his bench time. Etan, despite his decent stat line didn't really appear to have a huge impact on the game. But perhaps his presence inside was a factor that I just wasn't picking up on. He just doesn't seem to be part of the offensive flow when he's on the court.

Posted by: jon_quest | December 29, 2008 10:33 AM

Going completely young without any vets on the court that know how to play can result in a never improving mess.

But, Tapps and Ernie do need to sit down with some of the vets to get everybody on the same page. The goal now is to improve the roster so this team isn't one and done in the playoffs year after year.

Five available ways to do that. One, player development of the young players on the roster. That means a plan to get court time for the young guys. Pecherov and Crittenton can't improve while continuing to get DNP's coach's decision.

The vets need to understand that the team needs to give these youngsters court time. It's not tanking, it's evauluating the roster for next season.

Two: get Arenas healthy, Tapps and Ernie need to sit down and develop a plan of action to logically monitor his minutes once he's gone through a period of practice. none of this I'm the savior that's going to play 40, put up 40 and sneak the Wiz into the playoffs.

Getting Gil to shake off the rust and slowly get himself healthy season end should be the goal.

Three:The Draft, teams can get lucky and find a diamond in the rough late in the first round or sometimes even in the second. But chances are that if you want a player to build around it's going to take a top 5 pick. Not many teams will trade one of those.

For those of you that weren't paying attention that's how the Caps got their talent that's making them a playoff contender now. 1-10 put the Wiz out of the playoff hunt. Yes, the vets still want to win games and play hard, you don't want them quiting on you if you're in Tapp's position.

Four:Trades and Free agency, the wiz have a load of expiring contracts on their books after next season. the closer to the end of next year it gets the more those contract increase in value. I would expect that ernie's not done dealing.

Five: Hire a new coach now and start incorporating his system during this season so the team can hit the ground running next year. It might even make things worse for awhile trying to change systems during the year.

But it might change the player's prespective having to start fresh with a new guy with a new system. I noticed that the czar seemed to be doing an on the air interview during the Cleveland game. He's only one of several crediable coaching canidiates that are out there now.

A new coach at the Allstar break could be a wise move....

Posted by: flohrtv | December 29, 2008 12:37 PM

If we're truly trying to get this team to be a championship caliber team and not just entertaining, there are a couple of absolutes...

AB can play effectively at C against some guys but he's better off at PF. Sure, he can dominate Chris Wilcox and Robert Swift but against big strong guys, his effectiveness is nullified a bit because he gets muscled. He oughtta get major minutes because he has the most tools of any player on this team...including a healthy Gilbert. They may not be as refined yet but no other guy on the roster has the potential to be good at O, D, rebounding, shotblocking and passing. No one.

Etan is effective against smallish centers, as well. He made his presence felt and did exactly what he used to do to earn that outlandish contract he signed years ago. He was a force in limited minutes.

Caron cannot be our starting sf if we are to play well defensively. McGuire is a much better fit as far as on the court chemistry goes. We need a guy who specializes in defense and rebounding yet can also be a glue guy who hustles and passes well. McGuire IS that guy.

MY should never be the primary ballhandler. He consistently misses open teammates. He's a guy that should play off the ball and shoot when open.

DS and DS should be minor players on this team. Neither Songail nor Stevenson can be factors if we are expecting to do anything.

Juan should get some minutes and shold have the same directive as NY. Shoot when open.

Mike James should continue to try to play the 'Gil' role til Gil gets back. Having a 3 point threat on the court who will shoot when open makes all the difference.

Player development shouldn't stop just because we have experienced a little bit of success. JM should get at least 10 minutes per game. He can even play some pf occasionally to give teams a different look.

No other player besides the ones mentioned should get any time. I like the idea of giving Pech a shot but we need to solidify our rotation and we already have enough guys right now.

NO one should get geeked about a win over the worst team in the league but we also gave the Cavs all they could handle. Tap is on his way to figuring out what a lot of us here have known...AB and Mcguire need minutes and that alone makes our defense better.

Posted by: original_mark | December 29, 2008 1:35 PM

So what does Tapscott say to frustrated fans who believe he should give heavy minutes to players like rookie center JaVale McGee and second-year guards Nick Young and Javaris Crittenton, even if that means sacrificing games now?

"I would say to them that there is some logic to that," Tapscott said before the game. "However, that logic doesn't consider the other side of the coin, which is what do you do with your veterans? The veterans generally establish the culture of your team and if they're not participating, how do they take that leadership role? Certainly, we are going to give those young players an opportunity to secure some minutes, to get some experience but you have to take a balanced approach."

"That also smacks of throwing in the towel on the season. I expect for us to get to winning some games and I need both my veterans and my young players to do that. I'm not conceding anything with regards to this season. Our job is to get to winning."

Ivan - Thanks for asking him that question.

Now my question to you and Tapscott is how is that sacrificing games now if they young players are better then two of the veterans everyone is talking about?

Noboday is talking about sitting down AJ or CB. That is when you are then sacrificing games. We are talking about Stevenson and Song. playing way to many minutes, thus taking away time from Crittenton, NY and McGee.

The other side of the coin Tapscott is talking about where the veterans not being able to participate effects their leadership duties.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME...??? Coaches don't play and participate in the game, but they are the leaders; right?

If Tapscott is referring his statement to Stevenson, well then there in lies the whole problem. How can you be a leader "participating" and stinking up the joint night after night?

Does Tabscott really think guys like Juan, Nick and Crittention is going to understand that logic. It should be the best 5 goes on the floor.

Lastly nobody in their right mind will think you are throwing in the towel if you gave Stevenson and Song. some DNP's. We would only do that if you did it to AJ or CB. If that was not a Bill Clinton like answer from Tapscott to a question I do not know what is?????

Posted by: BulletsFever | December 29, 2008 2:55 PM

ruben patterson? try shawn marion with two extra inches and twenty extras pounds of muscle, his confidence will continue to build and his game will improve, especially offensively.

Posted by: bford1kb | December 29, 2008 3:58 PM

Original Mark, good thinking except you left out someone...Jamison. What's your plan for him? I still say groom him as 6th man. Will extend his career and he may be around with something to give by time we are good again.

Tonight's game is interesting because we have the center mismatch again. After 2 positive games will we take steps backwards or keep it close?


Posted by: stanlong23 | December 29, 2008 5:51 PM

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