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Hawks and Bobcats Turn the Tables

From 2004-05 through last season, the Wizards went 24-8 against the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Bobcats.

Think about that.

It was that dominance of those two Southeast Division rivals that allowed the Wizards to squeak into the playoffs a couple of times.

But now the tables have turned. Last night's not-as-close-as-the-score-would-indicate 111-90 loss at Atlanta dropped the Wizards to 0-3 against the Hawks this season, and the Wiz are already 0-2 against Charlotte, where they play tonight. Even worse, this team is starting to carry itself like a loser.

Sure, vets like Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Darius Songaila seem to truly care and bring a professional effort. while the young guys simply don't really know what is happening around them. But the overall body language and attitude stinks.

In the past, when the roles were reversed, the Hawks would put up a fight for a bit but as soon as the Wizards strung together a few possessions, they would fold. That was the Wizards in the second quarter last night.

Put it this way: Judging from the mood in that locker room after the game last night, it was impossible to tell whether I'm covering a 41-11 team or an 11-41 team.

As one injured vet told me recently: "Losing is a habit like anything else. Once it sets in, guys can start to get used to it."

Still, the entire thing is still a little shocking. As one scout said to me last night: "I've seen this team a bunch and I know it has injuries but I just can't imagine that a team with Butler and Jamison can be this bad."

By Ivan Carter  |  February 11, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
 
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Next: The Other Side: Charlotte Bobcats

Comments

"I've seen this team a bunch and I know it has injuries but I just can't imagine that a team with Butler and Jamison can be this bad."

It can when those two don't have any veteran help from other guys having career years and are relying on a bunch of raw, clueless recruits to do so much of the heavy lifting.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 11, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

this team sucks historically.

everyone has turn the corner in the NBA. i think in a few years, if they keep the players they have now, Memphis will be one of the better teams. teams like OKC and minnesota are already turning the corner.

the only other bottom feeder to keep the wizards company is the clippers. all the other teams are better off than the wizards right now.

and i don't think i'm in the minority when i say that Gilbert Arenas will not drastically improve this team.

interior play and defense isn't something that Arenas is known for.

Posted by: RedDMV | February 11, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, right. Ivan and his dumpers.

In the 15 games that McGee has played a whomping 20 minutes or more, he is averaging 20 points and 12 rebounds on a 40 minutes basis.

The bad isn't McGee.

It's putting James, McGuire and Songaila on the court to start and for so many minutes. This line-up spots the other team 10-15 points a game.

Posted by: Izman | February 11, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Right. Its not Caron and Antawn. (Actually, it is a little)

Its not on the young guys.

Its on the coaching.

Poor gameplans, rotations, and no accountability fosters a losing atmosphere.

Posted by: UltimateFootballNetwork | February 11, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I put most of the blame on the coaching staff. It's appalling to see the same players doing the same stupid things over and over and over again!! Dribbling into a crowd with their heads down.... failing to switch on defense and leaving someone wide open for a 3-pointer.... trying difficult shots instead of passing... trying to make a difficult pass instead of an easier one... and on and on...
I can't wait until this season is over and we hire a real coach. That's where the improvement will begin. Everything else will fall into place.

Posted by: paulstutz14 | February 11, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

This is another reason on why they will need to get a coach that is not only knowledgeable in the game but is also well respected by the players. A tough mentor is what these players need. Avery Johnson?

Posted by: Dave381 | February 11, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

"In the 15 games that McGee has played a whomping 20 minutes or more, he is averaging 20 points and 12 rebounds on a 40 minutes basis."

So he only plays 20 minutes but puts up numbers on a 40 minute basis. That's pretty impressive. Who knew he had the ability to bend time like that?

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 11, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

@kalo

It's obivous that the kids (Young, McGuire, McGee, et al) are feeling their way through this. However, I don't believe they are in over their heads, or as you say "...raw, clueless recruits..."

When I hear clueless, Tapscott comes to mind. I am not bashing him, but here are the facts, he coached 20 seasons ago at American University. If anyone is in way over their heads, it's Tapscott, simple as that. He has lost the team, with the possible exception of Jamison & Butler, who he has allowed to roam with no leash. It can be argued that Eddie Jordan practiced this same approach with the Big 3, but he had bench experience with Sacramento & New Jersey.

I understand that Tapscott has the interim label, but he is a main reason why this team is regressing, even with recent all-stars in Butler & Jamison...

Posted by: -CN- | February 11, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Let me be clearer on why the Wiz stink using this year’s PER statistics:

Jamison 20.48
Butler 18.50
McGee 16.97
Blatche 16.23

Average NBA player = 15

Young 14.07
Pech 12.87
Songaila 11.48
Crit 10.99 (albeit improving)
Thomas 10.25
Dixon 9.99
McGuire 9.98
James 9.40
Stevenson 7.02

So, AJ and CB play 40 minutes.

But the other two players above average (McGee and Blatche) get only 15 and 23 minutes.

The coach puts James (9.4) and McGuire (9.9) and Song (11.48) on the floor as starters. Even more bizarre, the coach wants Stevenson (7.02) back on the floor.

There is no question as to why the Wiz stink. Look who gets most of the 160 minutes not counting AJ’s and CB’s time on the court.

And that's just the start of coaching nightmare. No focus on D, no player development, etc.

Posted by: Izman | February 11, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

SO HE ONLY PLAYS 20 MINUTES BUT PUTS UP NUMBERS ON A 40 MINUTE BASIS. THAT'S PRETTY IMPRESSIVE. WHO KNEW HE HAD THE ABILITY TO BEND TIME LIKE THAT?
----------------------

Not me who made the original statement, but... With his hang-time, MeGee defies physics in many ways...

Posted by: -CN- | February 11, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

This is all Ernie's fault.

With Antonio Daniels setting up Antawn and Caron this team would be a lot better;

With Roger Mason starting at the 2 guard, the team would be a real team; and

Add AD plus Mason plus Eddie Jordan, and the team makes the playoffs.

Any good GM would have kept Daniels, Mason, and Eddie Jordan.

The Wiz have fallen apart, just like the Knicks did in Ernie's wake, and just like the Bucks did.

Posted by: SteveC28 | February 11, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Grunfeld would be setting a precedence if he were to have two interim coaches in the same season, which is a distinction many may try to avoid.

Being that Tapscott is not a coach by trade, he wouldn't do well with the '04-05 version of the team, simple as that. Tapscott belongs behind the scenes, moreso than on the bench calling the shots...

Posted by: -CN- | February 11, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Does Tapscott leave a lot to be desired as a coach? Sure. No surprise there. I made the same point when he was announced as getting the job. The guy lacks the experience or background (and, it would seem, even the desire) to be an NBA head coach. Does he play a role in the team's current woes? Obviously. But so do the players. It's not an either or thing.

At the end of the day, it's up to the players to make plays, get stops, grab rebounds, and hit shots. If they fail to do that (as the Wizards routinely do) then they're going to fail.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 11, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

It's not just that they're bad; they're not getting better. No cohesion. No discipline.

Yes, losing is a habit. Bad teams can win occasionally through defense, but none of this team's leaders play D--so the younger players don't either. In all the trades that everyone talks about, no one thinks to bring in defensive-minded players, and a defensive-minded coach.

Don't you also get the impression that other teams are playing an entirely different type of basketball--one where the three-point shot is an integrated part of their offense? They start hitting threes and, even when we're on, we're hitting twos--and we never catch up. We really have no reliable three-point threats.

This is a bit late to add, but I laughed out loud the other night when during the Hawks game Phil Chenier said, "With Darius Songalia out the Wizards will have to go small." Like he makes them a big front line.

Posted by: jweber1 | February 11, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

"I AM an all star"

- Caron "Tuff Juice" Butler


As long as the team captain continues to look at this situation as if he's doing his job and the problem lies with others, we will continue to have problems. AJ doesn't boast or make continued claims to stardom. I even watched him get down into a defensive stance and actively play defense against Josh Smith last night. I completely respect AJ for what he's trying to do. Even when he has a pitiful shooting night, he hustles and tries to contribute. Caron, not so much.

Posted by: original_mark | February 11, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

The Wiz have players capable of hitting open threes at a decent clip. The problem is that without a reliable low post presence or off the dribble penetrator to draw the defense in, they rarely get good open looks.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 11, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"Does Tapscott leave a lot to be desired as a coach? Sure. No surprise there. I made the same point when he was announced as getting the job. The guy lacks the experience or background (and, it would seem, even the desire) to be an NBA head coach. Does he play a role in the team's current woes? Obviously. But so do the players. It's not an either or thing.

At the end of the day, it's up to the players to make plays, get stops, grab rebounds, and hit shots. If they fail to do that (as the Wizards routinely do) then they're going to fail."

What a bold analysis. Talk about stating the obvious.

Posted by: cj658 | February 11, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

The Wizards do not have any reliable 3 point shooters. To make that suggestion is plain stupidity. Without Gil and Mason, nobody on this team will get the respect at the 3 point line. Sure, AJ, CB, & NY can knock them down every once in a while, but none of them are pure shooters. The Wizards lack a pure shooter to FORCE the defense to recognize the 3 point line. The presence of a low post player helps, but it is irrelevant in this situation. All the good teams in the East have legit 3 point threats.

Cavs: Mo Williams, Wally, Gibson.
Celts: Allen, House
Magic: Nelson, Lewis
Hawks: Bibby, Johnson

Well you get the point. Even if the Wizards had Tim Duncan, they would still be a sub-par three point shooting team. It’s not about anything they are lacking, they simply do not have the personnel that demands respect from the defense. Period. Let’s not make this more complicated than it has to be (which some people love to do around here).

Posted by: cj658 | February 11, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

"To make that suggestion is plain stupidity"

Referring to the suggestion that the Wiz have players capable of knocking down threes at a consistent clip.

Posted by: cj658 | February 11, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

CJ - Agree. The team consist of scorers and not shooters. They need high volume of shots to put up decent numbers.

Posted by: Dave381 | February 11, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

It is the injuries if the Wizards were healthy they would be undefeated! Gil, DS, CB, Aj, and BTH would go down in history as the best team to ever play in the NBA! ETaps and EG should get the best front office of the year award. GO WIZARDS!

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | February 11, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Team is sunk. Even if Arenas gets healthy, he's pushing 30 on a bad knee. Looks like the days of the 2000-2001 season are back (i.e., Popeye Jones, Jahidi White, Courtney Alexander...) Those names give me chills.

Posted by: t-train | February 11, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Your "primary shooter" (also your primary scorer) is none other than ... Antawn Jamison!

Unfortunately, he's also your primary low-post scorer AND your primary rebounder.

This is a problem. And the Wizards are screwed.

Posted by: uptownjive | February 11, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

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