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Will December be the Wizards' month?

How bad is the Eastern Conference this season? The Washington Wizards (5-10) are just one game out of the eighth spot in the East as they get set to kick off the month of December on Tuesday in Toronto.

The Wizards are hopeful that the worst is behind them, after surviving a month that started with Antawn Jamison out with a shoulder injury, ended with Mike Miller out with a calf injury and included a rough schedule loaded with playoff teams from last season. But can flipping the calendar to another month also flip their season downside up?

The 15-game schedule for the month of December looks to be a little lighter, with the Wizards playing just five games against teams with winning records (Boston, Phoenix, Milwaukee twice and Oklahoma City). But, as Randy Foye pointed out, the Wizards shouldn't get too caught up with an opponents' record. "You can't look at no team and say, it's easier now, because you can go anywhere -- New Jersey or Minnesota -- and they can beat you," Foye said.

If you don't believe him, then go see what the Timberwolves did to Denver on Sunday. And facing inferior opponents doesn't mean that the Wizards should run through those teams, either -- after all, the Wizards are a bad team, too, right now.

The Wizards will face the Raptors again on Friday in Washington. They also have home games this month against Milwaukee, Boston, Indiana, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City. The Wizards have nine games away from Verizon Center, with road games against Detroit, the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento, Golden State, Milwaukee, Minnesota and Memphis.

But Foye said he was optimistic that the Wizards can turn it around in December. "We 5-10 now. I think we could be 10-5 this month -- or better."

Coach Flip Saunders said that in order for the team to improve its lot this month, it will have to have more trust in the system and remember what works. "I think, when you play how you played against Dallas, when you play how you did against Cleveland for three quarters, or how you did against Miami, and you have to understand, that's the bottle of magic, that you have to perform at that level," Saunders said. "It's just a matter of keep on pounding and pounding and understanding that's how you have to play.

"There are times where you could say we are immature competitors," Saunders said. "When things go a little bit bad, we don't have the sticktoitiveness to stay with what we're doing, to stay with the system."

Saunders explained that a number of factors have contributed to the Wizards sputtering out of the gate, including a new system, several new players, injuries and an ever-changing lineup. But he also said that the team could simply be making the situation more complicated than it really is.

"Our main thing is basically playing basketball, playing the right way and playing how they would play almost controlled and you would play almost pickup basketball," he said. "You're playing pick and rolls, you're moving the basketball, you're playing how you've been playing since you were in ninth grade. So it's not a major change of how guys are going to play."

Antawn Jamison said the Wizards have shown that they aren't too far off, but they won't be able to lean on the "it's early" excuse much longer.

"Once you look at it, we're only five game away from being at .500 ... and our biggest thing so far is not putting a string of victories together. I just think four or five victories in a row will ease things around here, especially in the locker room. But I just think winning solves a lot of things. We haven't done it the way we'd like to do it, but the excuses of it's still early in the season is getting old. We just need to fix games like we had Saturday and in San Antonio. For us it's execution offensively, defensively and once we do that, we'll be fine."



By Michael Lee  |  December 1, 2009; 11:58 AM ET
 
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Next: Wizards (5-10) at Raptors (7-11)

Comments

who the hell said 13-15? LOL

Posted by: SDMDTSU | December 1, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

even I have to laugh at 13-15!

Posted by: Blurred | December 1, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Back @ Lilhollywoood10,

For all the very reasons you say that AJ is a good player and our best player is why he isn't a black hole.

Just accept the fact that you gave a bad analogy to a good player.

I don't know how old you are, but if you look far enough back you will find some NBA players that had terrible looking shots and they were everybit as great and better in some cases than AJ.

It has only been, with modern coaching and basketball teachings from a very early age that quote proper form for everthing on the court has been institutionalized across the board.

Some unorthodox players like Jamison still make it through because they are good and not a black hole.

Keith Wilkes had a terrible shot just to name one, but there are a great many players with crazy looking shots that were good NBA players but were never considered black holes because they shot funny and took there shot when they had it.

And if my memory serves me correctly Earl the Peal Monroe gets the credit for making the scoop shot famous, a shot that Jamison also uses.

If you really knew NBA history you would never mention black hole and Jamison in the same sentence.

A Quick Shot Artist you might want to call him but certainly not a Black Hole.

LarryInClintonMD.

By the way is Shawn Marion a Black Hole?

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 1, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I voted for 0-2 games. Who's the best college player this year? Is there a Blake Griffin that they can draft in June?

Posted by: freeflyr61 | December 1, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

AJ is Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell with an outside shot.

Posted by: freeflyr61 | December 1, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse


December will mirror Oct/Nov and the Wiz will win 5 games.
Unfortunately, one of those wins win not come tonight. Too much dissension.

Posted by: 2020doc | December 1, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Interesting take, Larry.

For what it's worth, Kevin McHale is another power forward whom many considered a black hole, most notably Larry Legend.

McHale's career assist average? 1.7

Antawn's career assist average? 1.7

Posted by: 2020doc | December 1, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

These Wizards are playing like they have been since the 9th grade. Like a bunch of talent that doesnt know how to play as a team. Too many primadonnas on this team, too many players who need to defeat a player one on one instead of inside of an offense. Butler needs to take a page from the new Nick Young and shoot when he gets the ball. Blatche is also falling prey to the spread and take mantra. When they get structure offensively, they will be better defensively.

Posted by: jrbell84 | December 1, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

During the last poll I thought the Wizards would start slow and win 6 games..

They play 15 games in Dec, how many wins will they have come New Years Day?

@ Tor win
vs Mil loss BB game
vs Tor loss
@ Det win
vs Bos loss
vs Ind win
@ LAC win
@ Sac loss
@ GS win
@ Pho loss BB game
vs Phi win
@ Mil loss BB game
@ Min win
@ Mem loss
vs Olk loss BB game

I have them going 7-8 since nobody knows when Miller is coming back.

That puts them at 12-18 with 52 games left.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | November 30, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 1, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

"For what it's worth, Kevin McHale is another power forward whom many considered a black hole [like Jamison]..."

Right. McHale didn't like to pass the ball back out. In his defense, that's not what the Celts needed most from him. He was among the NBA's best inside scorers, and that was his mission. Larry was the assists genius.

Most PFs don't handle the ball all that much anyway, apart from scoring opportunities. Tim Duncan is probably the best of the modern crop, and his career average is only 3.2 assists. Dirk Nowitzki's is a mediocre 2.7, and he doesn't even play that close to the basket. When Jamison doesn't score or rebound, then there should be questions. But assists have never been his game.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 1, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Agreed on almost all points, Samson151. My only quibble is the characterization of Duncan and Nowitzki's assists as "only" and "mediocre". As you point out, most big men aren't playmakers, so there's no real reason to expect them to rack up a lot of assists. Comparatively speaking, a 3 apg game average is actually pretty good for a scoring big. By way of comparison, Webber's career average is 4.2 apg, and he's widely considered one of the best passing big men in the history of the game.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 1, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"There are times where you could say we are immature competitors," Saunders said. "When things go a little bit bad, we don't have the sticktoitiveness to stay with what we're doing, to stay with the system."

Saunders said. "It's just a matter of keep on pounding and pounding and understanding that's how you have to play."


The way Flip is using the players on the roster, it looks like Flip isn't sure if his system will work with these players or not.


If the players don't get his system, is Flip the kind of coach who can adjust to bring out the strengths of his players?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 1, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I voted for 3 to 5 wins based on what I have seen so far. I expect more of the same because it is mostly the same players I have been observing here for years. There is no chemistry. These players do not complement each other at all. One game it is this. The next game it is that. There is no consistency. How can there be with a team that shoots and passes as poorly as this one?

Posted by: dandyhuffman | December 1, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

But assists have never been his game.

Posted by: Samson151

That was my point. As you stated, he scores and rebounds so it's not like he's a bum if he's not racking up assists.

In similar vein, I was surprised that Karl Malone, a scoring big if ever there was one and considered by many to be the best power forward ever, averaged a whopping 3.6 apg for his career.
And he could have been a Bullet! lol

Posted by: 2020doc | December 1, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

How many players on the team REALLY care about winning every single night? At what point do young players lose enough games on a bad franchise that it's what they are accustomed to anyway?

IMHO, attitude is what Flip has to change just as much as teaching his vaunted system. The players have played exactly how he wants them to a few times with nice results, but can't do it nightly or even every other game. Why would that be? Lack of talent, time, or desire?

Good teams feel sick (and angry) after bad losses, somehow I doubt that happens here.

Posted by: divi3 | December 1, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

As of right now, 57% of people think that the Wiz will win between 9-15 games this month.

Uh, ok. I'll take a half of whatever y'all smoking up in DC

Posted by: Max_in_Missouri | December 1, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

If they win tonight, every thing will be fine.A loss tonight will put wiz down and they are not going to play good for a while.

Posted by: gtefferra | December 1, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"In similar vein, I was surprised that Karl Malone, a scoring big if ever there was one and considered by many to be the best power forward ever, averaged a whopping 3.6 apg for his career.
And he could have been a Bullet! lolPosted by: 2020doc"

Yep, that surprised me too. Just another tribute to a great player.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 1, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Gilbert is so stationary on offense and moves like like an old man. The question for the season is how long are they going to stick with him. As I see it even if his point production picks up his short comings, lack of mobilty and effort,hamstrings the whole team. When Miller gets back they should go with him, Foy, and Bonkins. They all give it their all, and if they loose at least they give the appearance of trying hard. On Offense you can bet your last nickel on where Gil will be camping at and 9out of ten times you will win. No effort!

Posted by: sdonnelly2 | December 1, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

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