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Wizards (9-37) vs. Clippers (10-36)

Folks, if you're watching this one you must really love basketball.....

Wizards starters: Mike James, Caron Butler, Darius Songaila, Antawn Jamison, Dominic McGuire.

Clippers: Fred Jones, Eric Gordon, Marcus Camby, Brian Skinner, Al Thornton.

Refs: Bon Delaney, Jack Nies, MIchael Smith.

Line: Wizards by 4 1/2. (Seriously)

-Interim coach Ed Tapscott was asked again whether he's considered making Javaris Crittenton the starter at PG in place of James given the fact that James has struggled of late.

His answer: "I don't expect that (James' struggles) to last. Then, you take a guy who is comfortable coming off the bench and give him starter's responsibilities and all of a sudden it's different. You have to look at a lot of different things: matchups - sometimes guys play better against second-line guys - and you're job coming off the bench is provide energy. It's a little different as a starter, whose supposed to get everyone settled into their patterns so, right now, I don't think we're looking to make a change."

I really don't have a deep though this. On the one hand, James is really struggling and Crittenton has been showing steady progress. Then again, why not start James and see how he's going early and then just go to Crittenton after that? Either way, Crittenton's development is one of the few things worth following when it comes to this team right now.

-Spoke with DeShawn Stevenson before the game and he said his back is holding up well after returning last night in Philly.

-How rough of a season has it been for this two teams? Clipps' coach Mike Dunleavy tweaked his back packing for the team's seven-game road trip that opened last night with a loss in Cleveland while Tapscott got whacked in his eye by a jersey as he left the court in Philly last night. Apparently a Wiz player (not sure who) gave his jersey away and got his coach in the process.

Along with the game at Golden State last Monday when a couple of WIz lined up facing the wrong way for the national anthem, take this as just another sign that this is not this team's season.

-Me thinks that Gilbert Arenas has been given a gag order (not that it really matters with him but still) because he's been keeping a VERY low profile of late.
I can say this: he is feeling pressure, implied and otherwise, to get back onto the court and start earning that $111 million but he's also looking at this team's record and at the fact that he has undergone three surgeries on the same knee and that's made him very cautious. That pressure he's feeling - from upstairs and from fans - is only going to increase as this season continues to go into the tank.

-For those of you constantly wondering why Darius Songaila plays such huge minutes, even at center, I believe that Tapscott has finally summed it up (for him and perhaps Eddie Jordan before him though Jordan had no problem starting JaVale McGee): "He's not unpredictable. Most of us as coaches hate unpredictability. A coach would rather have a guy who gives you eight points and six rebounds every night than a guy who gives you 21 and 12 one night and the next two and one and he's out in five minutes becuase he fouled out...He's too unpredictable."

By Ivan Carter  |  January 31, 2009; 6:01 PM ET
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Next: Wizards 106, Clippers 94


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Posted by: erniegone | January 31, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

What comes out of Taps mouth doesn't bear any semblance to reality. For example, Song is averaging 2.6 rebounds a game and McGee is averaging 3.7 in much fewer minutes.

Song is not consistent. His rebounds lately are 1,3,0,2,0,7,2,7, and 0.

Anyway, a coach should never say a first round pick is "too unpredictable" unless you are about to cut that player or send him to the D league.

BTW, McGee is not inconsistent. His rebounds lately are 6,6,7,0 (he played only 5 minutes), 9 and 6.

Posted by: Izman | January 31, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

He's too unpredictable

Predictability for what? If he afraid if he rolls the dice with the young players he won't win 22 games? He'll win 15 instead?

If you play young players, you're going to get up-and-down performances. It's unavoidable.

No young player - not even the greatest such as Jordan or Kobe or Bird - was consistent as young players.

This team is the worst in the league. Predictability goes out the window when you're trying to build for next year or for the long term. Growing pains don't matter when you're 9-865.


Posted by: SteveMG | January 31, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

i fail to see how an inconsistent performance as long as JaVale gains experience and gets back to where he was early in the season before Tapscott messed him up.
My god you got a team that is 9-37, who cares if you win 15 or 20 games. There is simply no upside to the rest of the seasin unless it is a building block. A win over the Clippers is simply unimportant (MEANINGLESS) and it damn sure is not entertaining. This whole player development scenario is consistent with why this franchise has been mired in mediocrity for so long.


Posted by: NewManagement | January 31, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Predictability aka consistency should not be your focus when you have been predictably losing 4 out of 5 games.

Posted by: emmet1 | January 31, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Tapscott loves predictability. And he's ensured it with his coaching -- we lose every game, quite predictably.

Posted by: keithward64 | January 31, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Predictability aka consistency should not be your focus when you have been predictably losing 4 out of 5 games.

Why can we dummies see this and he can't?

Their goal shouldn't be just to win the next game. It should be to develop your team for the next year and future years.

Sure, try to be competitive; but be realistic as to what the season means.

Posted by: SteveMG | January 31, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

McGee played hard and smart tonight. If Tapscott can't see that McGee has earned the starting spot, then he ought to be unemployed asap. This is a question of basic competence. It's like starting Calvin Booth over Brendan Haywood, Eddie Jordan would have been fired instantly for that.

Posted by: emmet1 | January 31, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Memo to Tapscott:
Our starters are
Critt Young Butler Jamison McGee

Posted by: emmet1 | January 31, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

If Tapscott can't see that McGee has earned the starting spot,

No, don't start him. Right now, he shouldn't be matched up for more than spot minutes against an opposing team's top bigman.

Use him against the team's backup. But be consistent and don't jerk him out as soon as he makes a mistake. Give him some rope.

You use McGee against a Howard or other big man for long stretches and he'll be eaten up.

Posted by: SteveMG | January 31, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

The Wizards players probably really feel bad about this season. But listen, somebodyelses plight might be as bad as theirs.

Can you imagine how bad Baron Davis feels, leaving Golden State on the precepts that he and Elton Brand would bring the Clips out of there misery. He commits and Elton bolts. Now Baron is stuck with the Clips rather than being with a much better GS Team.

You can't tell me he feels better than the Wizs do right now. LOL


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 31, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Does Haywood train or has he been directed to train with his left hand, shooting that is? Does anybody know?

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 31, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Start McGee! He may get eaten up by players like Howard but he'll be learning up to speed. I think Nick Young, Crit, and McGee really need more PT. You can see they are gaining confident the more they play.

After watching Blake Griffin today (doubt we'll get the top overall pick) if he drafted by the Wiz, we will be a very scary team. I would prefer a PG like Ricky Rubio but looks like that wont happen. Drafting BG mean someone has to go - Dsong, Thomas, and AB. Can't keep everyone.

Last, you notice one thing McGee does well that BTH can't do. Rebound and dunk right away. BTH tend to hesitate. same goes to AB.

Posted by: demonj21 | January 31, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Stat of the game = 25 = the number of "gushes" that the Clipper's announcers let out about Javale McGee, including "the Wizards found their center of the future".

BTW, the box score is wrong. McGee had at least 4 blocks. I saw him repeatedly rebound, guard the rim and set picks.

Taps better limit McGee to 4 minutes next game or even the Post writers will be able to figure out that Taps is full of it.

Posted by: Izman | January 31, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Whoa NICK. Nice message if anyone who counts is listening. Hello-o-o, TAP and NBA selections committee.

Posted by: glawrence007 | January 31, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully, this win vs a terrible, terrible team doesnt give Tapscott any confidence in his ideas.

His comments about consistency are comical since the only things consistent or predictable about the Wizards are losing and bad basketball.

I got the Clippers broadcast team and they were falling all over themselves talking about McGee.

A night after playing lights out and only 19 minutes for Crittendon?

Speaking of consistency, Caron Butler is averaging 5.6 (!!!!!) turnovers over the past 5 games. That is nothing short of pathetic. I guess it doesnt matter since Butler has veteran status.

Nick Young. 22 points in 23 minutes.

Even though the Clippers were playing without Zach Randolph and Chris Kaman, if it wasnt for their turning the ball over a whopping 23 times, the Wizards would have lost this game.

Posted by: UltimateFootballNetwork | January 31, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Izman, yeah I kept wondering why the blocks weren't showing up on the statsheet! He had several of them

Posted by: emmet1 | January 31, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

You use McGee against a Howard or other big man for long stretches and he'll be eaten up.

Posted by: SteveMG | January 31, 2009 10:09 PM

We have three options at center right now: McGee, Songaila, and Jamison.

Small ball with Songaila/Jamison at center has never worked, not under Eddie Jordan and not now under Ed Tapscott.

McGee's not perfect, as his detractors point out, but will one of those detractors make the case that Songaila's better? That's the issue at hand.

Posted by: emmet1 | January 31, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

That's the issue at hand.

I disagree. The issue at hand is the development of McGee not who's better right now. Right now means nothing. The future is what I'm looking at.

You match him up with a Howard or any other stud center and he'll get 3 fouls within the first 5 minutes. And he'll have to either sit or play passively.

Match him up against a team's second guy or at least bring him in later in the first after Songaila/Thomas (whomever) has banged the guy a bit.

He needs consistent minutes but smart consistent ones.

There's a bigtime player somewhere in McGee. No need to rush it especially during this wasted year.

Posted by: SteveMG | January 31, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

SteveMG, I disagree. McGee need to play off his mistakes. If he's going to foul out so be it. Did you see McGee against Shaq? Shaq schooled McGee yet McGeee wasn't afraid to challenge Shaq. Let the boy play! This is the NBA, if he felt he being rushed then he should be playing in the D-League.

Posted by: demonj21 | January 31, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

SteveMG, I disagree. McGee need to play off his mistakes. If he's going to foul out so be it.

Well, I thought the idea was to give him playing time? Let him mature and improve?

It won't do much good if he gets 3 fouls in the first 5 minutes and then has to sit out the next 15.

You can't play a rookie against a veteran in the NBA. They'll get destroyed.

If he's always in foul trouble, he's not getting PT.

Posted by: SteveMG | January 31, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

SteveMG, then we agree to disagree. I just feel that McGee, if fouling out in 5 minutes then to sit down and ask himself why. By sitting and watching isnt going to teach him anything. He is still flying in the air from fake pumps. He done this too many times and still doing it.

Posted by: demonj21 | January 31, 2009 11:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't particularly care if he starts, but at center, half the game should be his every night

Posted by: bford1kb | January 31, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I don't particularly care if he starts, but at center, half the game should be his every night


But he can't play half the game if he picks up a bunch of fouls early and has to sit.

Sorry, I've said the same thing 3 or 4 times.

Let's let someone else chime in.

Posted by: SteveMG | January 31, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

ummm...i'm pretty sure McGee has never fouled out. It's hard to foul out in 5 minutes of play per game. With the Wizards' record and the heavy minutes from veterans, i'd easily take an "inconsistent" rookie who has the potential to fill up the stat sheet. Songaila would be a good starting center...if this was 1955. 6'9 doesn't cut it in this league now.

Posted by: superwilks | February 1, 2009 1:00 AM | Report abuse

The only thing more predictable than McGee's unpredictability is the amount of bashing of Tap in here, which is mostly unwarranted and wrong. It's McGee's first good game during minutes that mattered (aka no garbage time stat stuffing) in probably more than a month. Tap is absolutely right! Btw, he left McGee in the game and rode him out much like Crittenton last night. So, the message is play well and correctly even if we are over matched on a nightly basis and you will get minutes! Funny how CB and AJ and the rest of the team are not complaining one bit, but the couch coaches in here complain

I loved the first subs of the game JC and McGee bc it gave them a chance to play with the rest of the starters during minutes that mattered. That's how you develop players!

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 1, 2009 1:38 AM | Report abuse

As someone who grew up surrounded by b-ball coaches, including my father, I can tell you that Tapscott is by no means alone in his desire to have predictable players on the court. The issue is control -- most coaches feel a need to manage what is happening on the court, and when a player does something great one minute and something stupid the next, it makes coaches VERY nervous. Most coaches view a missed defensive assignment that leads to a dunk as five times more important than a brilliant offensive play that leads to a dunk. Why? Because of control -- if a player doesn't execute the way the coach instructed, the coach is just a bystander. So, players that execute the coach's plan are favored -- hence Michael Ruffin, Darius Songalia, etc.

Good coaches control their need to control. Phil Jackson, for example, is well-known for not jumping up to call timeouts when the other team makes a run (especially during the regular season) so that his five on the floor can work it out for themselves. John Thompson, recognizing Iverson's great talent, adjusted his regular offense to give Iverson a lot of room for creativity.

That's not to say that having players who execute the game plan on the floor while more talented players are on the bench is necessarily a bad idea. If one player is consistently missing offensive and defensive assignments, that affects the success of the four other players (kind of like if one part of a five part machine is broken). Putting a substandard but functioning part or player in instead allows the other four to do their work.

In this lost season, though, putting the inexperienced player in learn how to execute makes all the sense in the world. That is, if you can control your need to control.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | February 1, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

. So, the message is play well and correctly even if we are over matched on a nightly basis and you will get minutes!

But he's a rookie. Rookies don't play well consistently.

At this stage, why be concerned whether they play well? He needs to play and go through the growing pains that all young players do.

My only concern is that he's not matched up early against the top centers that will get him in foul trouble and force him to the sidelines.

The key is getting him minutes and playing time. Even if he's making mistakes.

Tapscott simply cannot have the same quick hook with McGee at this stage of the season. The year is lost; use the rest of it to development players. Even if during that development they screw up.

Posted by: SteveMG | February 1, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Gilbert Arenas is a good player.
But he is susceptible to repeated injuries.

He is thus extremely lucky to bluff his way into a $111 Million GIFT contract.

Lots of people would love to get $111 Million as a free gift - doing nothing for it - just enjoying spending it.

Gilbert Arenas use to say in his blog to NOT TURN DOWN a gift-horse in the mouth. And he did not. Good for him.

Too bad for the Wizards. Their owner and general manager were dumb enough to give Gilbert a MAX CONTRACT despite his physical fragility.

In retrospect, Gilbert deserves his money. Even if he does not play again.

I wouldn't turn down a $111 Million gift. No one in their right minds would.

Currently, I play basketball better than Gilbert can. Heh heh.

Gilbert deserves his money.
The Wizards deserve the pain they created for themselves.

Now if Gilbert could only go on a cruise vacation while rehabbing his knee. Get a nice palatial room on a large ship and spend the next month in the Mediterranean, spoiled by the ship's crew.

At least if Gilbert did this, we could vicariously enjoy his riches.

Do it.

Posted by: jameskatt | February 1, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Start McGee! He may get eaten up by players like Howard but he'll be learning up to speed


I'll chime in.

It's as much about foul trouble as it is playing sound basketball.
If your minutes are against the best in the league and you're a rookie, the odds are that you're going to be playing with a sense of desperation. The fundamentals get lost in that style of play, and extended minutes in that situation serve to create and reinforce bad habits.

It's been said before, but either ignored or forgotten.

Posted by: crs-one | February 1, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

McGee had one really strong play last night, when he got the ball on the left baseline, backed down his man to create space, and then swished a 12-15 foot turnaround jumper. That's the sort of move he should be concentrating upon repeating, rather than throwing up crazy off-balance runners and some of the other weak stuff that we too often see from him.

Posted by: pjkiger1 | February 1, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

He needs to leave those shots to AJ. That's his game!

Posted by: pjkiger1 | February 1, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

It's been said before, but either ignored or forgotten

Right now (maybe for the future too), McGee's a "4" and not a "5".

This is where the loss of Haywood really hurts. If Haywood (or another decent experienced bigman) was available, you could match him up against the top centers and allow McGee to roam around a bit at "4". Less pressure on JM.

And even if teams try to post their "4"s against McGee, Haywood could help out.

Right now, McGee's exposed at the "5" with no help. That is, not only is he a rookie at the "5", he's got nobody to help him out.

Result? Foul troubles, et cetera.

This team needs to focus predominantly on developing McGee. And seeing if Young can be anything more than a fifth or sixth guard. Same with Pecherov (I've given up on him).

Posted by: SteveMG | February 1, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

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