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Grizzlies 112, Wizards 107

Antawn Jamison exited the shower as Brendan Haywood made his way back and Jamison smiled as he said, "Felt good having somebody have my back, telling me where I needed to be."

Haywood exhausted and still in uniform, turned back and simply said, "I'm tired."

Haywood had two points, two rebounds and three blocks in 24 minutes during his surprising debut on Wednesday, giving the Wizards a defensive presence in the fourth quarter that has been missing all season. It wasn't just his three blocked shots or the shot clock violation he helped force or even that huge steal with about minute remaining. Haywood also yelled out instructions to his teammates and kept the Grizzlies from attacking the rim or attempting to feed center Marc Gasol in the fourth quarter. His offensive timing was way off, as he missed his first five shots, all which were near the basket. You have to assume that some of those likely would've gone in if had played in the past 11 months.

"That was a little rust," Haywood said. "My timing was definitely off. Games move faster than they did in practice. I had to get used to it."

Haywood had a chance to be a hero, but he perhaps got a bit too greedy late in the fourth quarter. With the game tied at 105, he forced a steal after batting away a bad pass from Grizzlies guard Mike Conley. Caron Butler recovered the ball and raced down the floor. Butler's layup attempt rolled around the rim but Haywood trailed and was called for goaltending after he dunked it before it left the cylinder with 1:04 left. "It was one of those plays where, when I first took off, it looked like it was going to rim out. I jumped because I thought it was going to come off perfect, and it ended up rolling in," Haywood said. "It probably hurt us down the stretch, but the biggest thing was going down 15."

... The Wizards really had no business going down 88-73 entering the fourth quarter, but they played a horrible third quarter, turning the ball over seven times in the period, which resulted in 13 points for the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies really are a bad team, but the Wizards gave Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo plenty of confidence as those guys were able to race down the floor for fastbreak dunks.

... Jamison has never been noted for his passing skills, but he seemed overly aggressive last night with rookie Darrell Arthur guarding him. Jamison played like he wanted to embarrass the youngster from Kansas, as if he was going to get personal retribution for the Jayhawks' defeat of North Carolina in the Final Four last year. Problem was, his shot wasn't falling. He missed 10 of his first 13 attempts and finished 8-for-20 with 28 points.

... About that Javaris Crittenton turnover in the final seconds, when the Wizards were down 110-107 and looking to tie the game. Ed Tapscott drew up a play for either Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison or Nick Young to attempt a three-pointer. When he was handed the ball, Crittenton saw that Butler, who had scored 31 points, was double-teamed in the corner. Jamison had yet to break free of his man at the three-point line, and Young was the only player he saw open. "It wasn't like we had a timeout, so I couldn't wait the whole five seconds and ball fake. I went for the first guy open," Crittenton said.

Said Jamison, "It was difficult for the young fella. He's back there counting in his head and he thought he had to get the ball quickly and Conley made a great play on the ball."

... I may have seen the one of the worst offensive possessions in the fourth quarter when Rudy Gay had the ball in isolation against his fellow UConn alum Caron Butler along the baseline. Gay was dribbling and dribbling, trying to get around Butler, and the clock kept ticking and ticking. The few fans at FedEx Forum (more on that later), started getting restless, begging for Gay to pass or shoot. He did neither. Then, when the shot clock whittled down to two seconds, he tried to throw the ball off Butler to get it to go out of bounds. Butler moved and the Grizzlies got a shot clock violation.

Moments later, O.J. Mayo tried to compete with Gay for worst shot clock violation as he tried to dribble his way out of a double team against Haywood and Nick Young. Mayo's teammates were begging for the ball, but Mayo never lifted his head until he committed the turnover.

... I covered the Atlanta Hawks for two seasons and Philips Arena was hardly ever a filled-up arena. The Hawks were notorious for having lousy crowds, but I have never seen a crowd as terrible as the one Wednesday in Memphis. The team announced a crowd of 10,013, but another reporter and I were arguing about which digit should be removed to reveal the more accurate attendance. Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley was in attendance and he had to be upset to see so many empty seats -- especially when about one-fourth of the tickets are $10 or less.

... I guess the city is in mourning over Memphis Tigers Coach John Calipari leaving for Kentucky. Hard to believe that the last game played in this building was the NCAA Tournament game between Oklahoma and North Carolina. This one had to be a letdown, even with the Grizzlies winning.

By Michael Lee  |  April 1, 2009; 11:41 PM ET
 
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Next: Wizards Staying Upbeat

Comments

Michael Lee,

Thats a damn good summary. You got a little flare there fellow.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 2, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

It is imperative that we hire a coach next year that knows how to manage Team play.

The makeup of this Team is easily a serious 8-10 deep. The combinations are versatile and easily interchangeable.

A coach that knows how to meash a 10-deep roster could do wonders with this squad.

The system next year will be crucial to the success of the Wizards. Players like Blatche, Magee, Crit, McGuire, Young would have tremendous impact in the right system.

The right system would also alleviate tremendous pressure on the Vets to carry the Team.

Mr. Abe Polin, Can ya' hire Mark Jackson.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 2, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

From the description you gave, Rudy Gay may have the new "worst possession in the history of the NBA", topping even Zach Randolph's of 2008 . . . it sounds like it was at least a strong contender for the title . . .

Posted by: bucky_katt | April 2, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

In reference to the Phoenix Suns, the question was, what to do with the Team next year.

Mark Jackson said the first thing that he would do was to have a meeting and ask who wanted to play Defense and go from there.

His point was, if you ain't playing Defense you are out the door.

Now, if he asked the Wizards that question, I donot think a single player on the roster including Gilbert would not answer in the affirmative.

But, whats so funny about Mark Jackson saying that is that I know that the only reason that Mark wants to play D' is so that his scores will count.

Mark Jackson loved to score the ball. He relished it. His desire to play D' is like Michael Jordan playing D'. You play D' cause you want your scoring to count.

MICHAEL LEE, can you put the word in the organization. Can you whisper to the players and to Ernie and pass to the word to Abe.

Tell them there's this Wizard Insider blogger out there that is insisting that Mark Jackson is there next coach.

You don't have to tell them its me, but in the military, they have a saying when you want to suggest something to the high ups, or the chain of command, they say, "Run It Up The Flag Pole".

So Michael Lee, can you "Run It Up The Flag Pole" for me, and let us know what the Organization thinks about it.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 2, 2009 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Mark Jackson is ludicrous. He once said Kobe is better then MJ!

Posted by: jeremydvid | April 2, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse

How is that a guy who has never coached on any level has "a system" and how does LarryinClintonMD know it? Mark Jackson has never had to relate to players or get them to play for him -- I don't necessarily want the Wizards to be that experiment.

Posted by: Chad32 | April 2, 2009 2:12 AM | Report abuse

Retread or a fresh new face? That always seems to be the choice in hiring an NBA coach. Not many of the successful college guys ever hack in the pros.

I don't know what Mark Jackson's system would be, but could it be any worse then the last 5 months?

Good to see Haywood out there, he made a difference in the D the first night. The youngsters continue to show flashes of progress.

A draft pick, a trade, and the right coach, and the turn around will be rapid.
Finding a coach that knows the difference between uptempo and playing D, sweeping the glass and securing the ball, and getting out in the running lanes would be a start.

Got to agree with Larry, nice game post Micheal!
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | April 2, 2009 6:59 AM | Report abuse

We should hire the women's coach from the university of Tennesee --- break the glass ceiling.

Posted by: MeviousMan | April 2, 2009 7:11 AM | Report abuse

It was great to see Brendan out there last night. Did anyone watch how hard Brendan works on defense? He is constantly moving, looking around, checking on his man and communicating. JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche and anyone else occupying the center role needs to work as hard as Brendan does on every sequence on the defensive end.

Posted by: jonathan30033 | April 2, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Jamison smiled as he said, "Felt good having somebody have my back, telling me where I needed to be."

Our problem in a nutshell. Our captain and starting power forward needs someone to tell him where to be on defense. But of course, Gil will be the object of scorn as soon as he plays again and no mention of this will be made. I hope BTH also told AJ what to do when got to where he needed to be.

BTH: Cap, when you get there how about actually putting a hand in his face or blocking a shot?

AJ: Oh. I gotta be there AND do something once I get there?

Sarcasm aside, this is a major issue. AJ puts up numbers but he needs to do that off the bench against 2nd teamers.

Posted by: original_mark | April 2, 2009 8:07 AM | Report abuse

I agree. I like Mike Lee's writing style.
I also agree with GM that we don't need another experiment at coach. We need Thibodeau. He has credibility (a ring) and the players would listen to him.

Posted by: original_mark | April 2, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Man, it sure was nice seeing Haywood out there last night. I have always been a Haywood supporter since day 1, and yesterday only showed me more how much we really missed that dude playing defense in the block.

Is he D. "Superman" Howard manning the middle? No. Were they playing the Cav's or the Lakers last night? No. But the point I am trying to make it you could really see a difference on our interior defense, thanks to Haywood.

I can not wait to see tonight for the first time this season we will have everyone back. More L's means more ping pong balls which I am not mad at, however I will take a win against LaTravel anyday over getting extra ping pong balls. I can not stand that team. They feel like the Cowboys to me. Let's go Wiz....

Posted by: BulletsFever | April 2, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

"Sarcasm aside, this is a major issue. AJ puts up numbers but he needs to do that off the bench against 2nd teamers.Posted by: original_mark"

Think that's a bit of an overreaction. A good big man often does the same thing for the back line. Kevin Garnett does, for instance. So did Pat Ewing.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 2, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Gasol still got his 18 and 9 in 32 minutes. But Haywood was moderately effective against the big man was he was in there. That's a good sign, both in terms of Brendan's comeback and for the Wizards future. There aren't a lot of centers in the NBA who can go strength to strength with Gasol.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 2, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Javaris had no business in-bounding the ball at the end of the game. Caron should've had the ball in hands to make the entry pass. To much pressure on a young guy like that. The coach drew it up and he should be demoted for that alone. Javaris shouldn't even of been on the court. Jamison, Caron, NY, and maybe even Pecherov should have been the ones to receive the pass for a 3 attempt. Javaris was put in a tough situation, one he shouldn't of been in if the coach was aware of the situation

Posted by: BurgwithaU | April 2, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

mark,

I think what Jamison means is that Haywood playing at the center position is better able to see the whole court developed than people playing at the wing.

Of course, you also need an experienced guy like Haywood (vs. youngster as McGee) to interpret what he sees.

Last night we saw how this was done. By sliding to the open lane a little bit, Haywood discouraged the penetration before it happened. On pick and roll, Haywood tried to cut off the passing lane to the rolling guy, and allowed teammates time to shift.

We also saw the difference in shot blocking. McGee, a good shot blocker no doubt, often completely abandons his post in attempting to block, and leaves his own man wide open under the basket. Last night, McGee altered one shot and blocked one, but both resulted in baskets for Memphis. Haywood's blocks, OTOH, did not result in easy baskets for the opponents.

Posted by: sagaliba | April 2, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I just remember AJ saying the same thing about Haywood directing traffic on defense when BTH first got injured. Shouldn't AJ know his defensive assignments by now?

I'm an AJ fan because he's the only real rebounder we have on this team (McGuire tries, too but is a little small). But comments like the one above make me think that he doesn't really care about defense.

Maybe Samson151 is right and I'm overreacting but c'mon, AJ.

Posted by: original_mark | April 2, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

"Javaris had no business in-bounding the ball at the end of the game. Caron should've had the ball in hands to make the entry pass. To much pressure on a young guy like that. The coach drew it up and he should be demoted for that alone. Javaris shouldn't even of been on the court. Jamison, Caron, NY, and maybe even Pecherov should have been the ones to receive the pass for a 3 attempt. Javaris was put in a tough situation, one he shouldn't of been in if the coach was aware of the situation.Posted by: BurgwithaU"

No, no, no. We benefit when Javaris is on the court in that situation. That's how a PG learns. Plus he's been playing well the past few games, and now he got rewarded with some prime time. All's well.

OK, there isn't anybody else, but leave that aside fot the moment.

Butler needs to receive that pass, not throw it.


Posted by: Samson151 | April 2, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Seeing the empty stadium at Memphis is embarrassing... but then again, so was the NBAs decision to have teams in Oklahoma City and Memphis. How about these alternatives: a) a team in Seattle b) a second team in either NYC or Chicago c) a team in San Francisco d) a team in Baltimore e) a team in St. Louis. All of the above seem more viable in the long term than OKC or Memphis (and probably Toronto and Indianapolis)

Posted by: awb9h | April 2, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"Seeing the empty stadium at Memphis is embarrassing... but then again, so was the NBAs decision to have teams in Oklahoma City and Memphis. How about these alternatives: a) a team in Seattle b) a second team in either NYC or Chicago c) a team in San Francisco d) a team in Baltimore e) a team in St. Louis. All of the above seem more viable in the long term than OKC or Memphis (and probably Toronto and Indianapolis)Posted by: awb9h"

You'd think so, wouldn't you? But it doesn't always work out that way. If the NBA can be the only pro game in town (as in Memphis and OKC) they often do better than in larger venues. I don't know what happened in Memphis. In OKC they're drawing beautifully.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 2, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

AJ's point was that BTH is the anchor of the team's defense and knows where people are on the court. He's also a deterrent to people just driving into the lane for layups or giving up easy post ups. No one on this blog ever said Jamision was a good defensive player, but he's also not as much a liability when playing with legit, shotblocking center like Haywood.

Good to see the big man get in some minutes and him helping to give us a chance at the end. I'm looking forward to tonight when we have 4 of our 5 starter in uniform for the 1st time this season.

Posted by: wizfan89 | April 2, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I am not a BH fan, but I can see what his presnce can mean. He does clog up the middle with several blocks, a steal, and calling defensive plays. If he could only shoot. But, I would be happy with a 10/10 from him. I do like JCrit, but he needs to get more assists and of course an outside shot, which he will have all summer to work on. I love his rebounding and defense. Over this season, I have been disappointed in the number of careless turnovers by Caron ( an all-star??) I do like Caron, I would just like to eliminate those careless to's. I still like NY. The Wizards do not get their shooters a lot of good looks like other teams do. ( 3 pointers especially) Is it the Princeton offense, or poor execution?

Posted by: bailey5 | April 2, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

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