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Wizards' morning brew: Saunders rips team

Last night's 110-98 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder triggered a strong response from Coach Flip Saunders after the game. On the blog, Michael Lee shares more details about Saunders sounding the alarm.

Here's Bullets Forever's Mike Prada on Saunders reaching the breaking point. Meanwhile, Truth About It offers locker room faces and quotes.

In the Washington Times, Mike Jones wrote that Saunders couldn't contain himself after the game.

Sadly, it appears that the end is near for Jones and the rest of the Times' sports staff. Last night Jones tweeted: "And I cover my last Wizards game, fittingly a loss which sums up how they've been on the beat."

Ever since the paper's new management announced nearly a month ago that the Times was planning to lay off up to 40 percent of its roughly 325-member staff, many have assumed that local reporting would be hard hit and the entire 25-member sports department would lose their jobs. Although no final date has been announced, reporters covering the Wizards, Capitals and Redskins are not traveling with their teams this week.

Dan Steinberg says goodbye to the Times sports section on the D.C. Sports Bog.

Around the League ...

There were seven games on the schedule last night. Among the highlights: Kobe Bryant scored 44 points as the Lakers topped the Warriors, 124-118, while the Cavaliers (a team that plays defense) took care of the Hawks, 95-84.

These games and more are covered in's Daily Zap:

By Alexa Steele  |  December 30, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
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Next: Arenas admits to D.C. police firearms probe


Accept the process, folks.
I've been preaching patience with regard to Grunfeld and the Mediocre Three, but the meek have not been listening.
The Mediocre Three MUST continue to receive the lion's share of the minutes in order to artificially boost their numbers and create a greater demand for their services. There's absolutely NO chance that Jamison or Butler will come off the bench because they are on the trading block and Grunfeld is an extremely bright person with vision and foresight. He's too wise to diminish their stock when he's trying to move them.
Status quo must continue to rule the day until Grunfeld can mold the team according to HIS vision!

Posted by: melodious_thunk | December 30, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

As of now its just like the Pistons fans said when they said why they couldnt win in the playoffs. The O is desgined for all jump shots and good D takes that away in the playoffs. I wish Flip would change up some or throw some Princeton in there from Unseled Jr. or I hope the O just grows more and or maybe gets alot better with Miller back

Posted by: dlts20 | December 30, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Waiting for Kalo, to tell us how the wizards just needed to score a few more points and we would've won last night..

Dude you are probably the least knowledgable person on all these blogs when it comes to the Wizards... Trust me you are way off base with what you say the problem with this team is...

Posted by: kevenjones | December 30, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Enough is enough. It is unexplainable but this team can't play defense against anybody and finds ways to miss free throws and final shots when the game is on the line. As painful as it may be, Arenas needs to be traded in a "Herschel Walker" type of deal that will perhaps pick up a defensive minded big man, expiring contracts and future picks while clearing cap space for the future. Ideally, trade him to the Western Conference (Dallas?)

Posted by: yoseltzer | December 30, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I rarely comment even though I read on here everyday. I figured I'd say something out of frustration I've been feeling this season.

One thing I don't understand is all the Gil bashing. I think Gil has been pretty good for us. Matter of fact I think he's the only player so far who's actually played like a star in the last 5-10 games. It's the rest of the team that's not doing anything. I actually thought Gil played his best game of defense lastnight.

Now for everyone else...I think Haywood is trying his best. Problem is he can't rebound and play D for 2 people at the same time. If he doesn't get the rebound at least he's boxing out. But Jamison and Caron's man are killing us on the boards. I think that's the biggest problem really. Good ol fashioned rebounding.

Now except for the 4th period when the Wiz played terrible D throughout, at least in the Minnesota and Griz games they made plenty of defensive stops, but they couldn't secure the rebound and the other team always scores when given the second or third chance. It's frustrating to see good defense only to see the other team grab the rebound and score. I blame most of this on Antawn just because he is supposed to box his man out, but I also understand it's just a mismatch for him either size wise or athletically. I like McGee, and I could understand him sitting stretches, but now I'm convinced that we have to be younger and more athletic now to be better defensively. Ok, vent over.

Oh, one more thing. Caron is gonna make me break my tv. He passes up open shots for contested shots like many have mentioned. If he just took the open shot it would cut down on half of his turnovers and charges every game. Ok, now vent over.

Posted by: kelvinjdd | December 30, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

It is and has been Jamison. Last night, the team was -28 with him on the floor and he lead the team in scoring. His 28 points is meaningless.

Posted by: learnedhand1 | December 30, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

"Waiting for Kalo, to tell us how the wizards just needed to score a few more points and we would've won last night..

Posted by: kevenjones | December 30, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse


LMFAO..."just a few more points."

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 30, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"It is and has been Jamison."

butler's 3-11 isnt doing us any favors.

AJ is lousy defensively, but Durant is throwing down on everyone these days. What killed me last night was watching Jeff Green and Hardin fly to the glass while our 7footers looked on.

but the finger can be pointed everywhere, the team sucks. In fact they are very good at sucking, because even when they do 1 thing right they always balance it out by blowing something else.

Posted by: divi3 | December 30, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Where are the holy trinity of idiots this morning Lilhollywood, Kalo, Blurred???

I argued with these 3 clueless idiots all day yesterday and all 3 agreed that:

The Wizards offense is the problem (LMAO) & specifically Brendan Haywood causes the bad perimeter defense and this team would win more games w/o Haywood.

I'm telling you 3 dummys again.


Posted by: kevenjones | December 30, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Lies. i challenge u to find any post where i've ever said that the wiz prob is not scoring enuff pts. u can look into the archive at old threads and i guarantee u won't find me talking that "offense is the porblem cuz they're not outscoring the opposition" junk. I was in a 3 day argument with SDTSU or whatever over the same issue. i actuall held a similar position to yours, that good transition defense can stop transition offense and just becasue we take bad shots doesn't mean we can't defend well on the other end.

but either way,me,blurred, and kal agreed that you were obviously high out of yer mind with all that crazy BTH talk yesterday and since us 3 rarely agree on anything i dubbed it tha holy trinity. sorry if my lighthearted attempt at humor offended u but,i never said what u claim i said so keep my name out yer mouth co

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 30, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse


good stuff

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 30, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Jamison has been a terrible defender forever, but he is a leader and an efficient scorer so I think you can compensate for him if you have at least 3 other people stepping up on Defense.

Caron on the other hand is not fitting in at all (Gil coming back seems to have thrown him for a loop, he can't do as much 1 on 1 and needs to find a way to get his shots without going into isolation so much) and we have yet to have a 2 guard that really fits in consistently, although I think Mike Miller should be that guy.

I'd like to see either Caron or Jamison come off the bench in exchange for someone who plays hard D and is a team first player.

How about a starting lineup of:
*Mike Miller (hopefully he'll be back soon!)

Or move Jamison to the 3, start Blatche and have Miller or Foye at the 2 depending on the matchup.

The larger point is, we need a good defender and team first guy over having a 3rd major scoring option in the starting lineup.

Posted by: rock77music | December 30, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks lilhollywood10. rock77music I think you may be on to something with that lineup. McGuire is probably one of the only players on the team that can play man defense and rebound. I actually think his jumper is waaay better than Stevenson at this point.

I think that Caron should be a good fit, but his head is not in it. He runs the play, but when he gets the ball the problem is he is turning it into an isolation play. I don't think that all they run are iso's for him. Every game he comes off a screen, Gil hits him in stride wide open. Instead of taking the shot he waits for his man to catch up to him, then 1 of 2 scenarios plays out. He either jab steps a few times then takes the jumper (always contested), or he jab steps and pump fakes a few times only to drive to the basket and draw a charging call. Every now and then he scores on the shot or the drive. Even Nick got the memo. More times then not at least NY comes off the screen and shoots right away, or he keeps his dribble and goes toward the rim. I need Caron to get the memo.

Posted by: kelvinjdd | December 30, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Caron shakes&bakes his way from wide open to contested 10x a night. The crazy thing is he must be shooting better than 50% when he just stops and pops, yet he himself doesnt seem to get this. Truly bizarre

Posted by: divi3 | December 30, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

taking NY out of the starting lineup for DS about a month ago should be looked at as a major mistake by Flip. He said that he took NY;a scorer, out of the lineup to motivate the big 3 ( i guess letting them know that the scoring burden was on them). Not only did they lose games after the switch, but NY's play off the bench has been much shakier that his play was when was starting this season. The same happened to AB. AB was having a career year and was on the verge of breaking out (not like that), when AJ came back his mins and role in the team (from PF to backup C) changed and i don't thin he's adjusted well. The unless EG is gonna scrap the whole thing in the offseason, some of these young players will be on this team in the future. If that's the case then why not get them some experirence now, especially since "anybody" could come out there and beat his team. Don't forget that flip these are the guys that YOU put on the floor and YOU keep in the game.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 30, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Caron shakes&bakes his way from wide open to contested 10x a night. The crazy thing is he must be shooting better than 50% when he just stops and pops, yet he himself doesnt seem to get this. Truly bizarre

Posted by: divi3 | December 30, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

i thought i was gonna be eatin a lot of crow because CB has played a lil better. I was amped when he started taking and making the catch and shoot jumper. But the old man game reared it ugly head again and before i knew it CB was back to pump,pump jab shot clang. it's like he thinks he gets degree of difficulty pts or something. Weren't people worried that NY would ignore the coach and go back to the same ol'??????????

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 30, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

i still am not sure what NY did to lose his recent increase in PT. First he was doghoused for weeks, then one day he suddenly started and played well for awhile, then mins gone for some reason.

There was a point where he was aggressive defensively and playing offense to compliment Big3 instead of just being the 4th jacker on the floor.

Lots of TOs going on, but I liked the look He and Gil gave opposing backcourts, impossible to cover those 2 guys playing a 2man game from wing and key

oh well, guess Flip knows best

Posted by: divi3 | December 30, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

my group that has season tix nickname for AB is 'degree of difficulty', kid never saw a reverse layup in traffic he didnt like

used to be "coast-to-coast" but thankfully he's given that up.

flip's gotta start pulling vets when they make bum plays, sit CB and tell him why.

Posted by: divi3 | December 30, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I agree, NY shouldn't be losing as many minutes imo. I was glad to see AJ taking it to the hole more, but was it me or does it look like AJ short arms those hook shots? It's like he makes a pretty nice move, but if he's a foot or two out of his comfort zone in the paint the ball has been barely hitting the rim.

LOL, AB does take high degree of difficulty shots. The lowest degree would be to go up and dunk it but what do we know...

Posted by: kelvinjdd | December 30, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Watching Wizards' game is like watching a bad movie with repeated, predictable scenes. At the beginning of this month it was close but no cigar. Recently, you can forget about what happened in 3 quarters and half. With 5 minutes remaining in 4th quarter, you can be sure that Wizards is down by 10. When the game is on the line, Big 3 would not know how to put the ball in the basket. They missed FTs, rushed shots, turned the ball over, you name it, just find a way to loose.

Saunder is talking about shaking up the lineup, but he is atill playing his starters big minutes and have player like McGee sitting on the bench.

Posted by: sagaliba | December 30, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse


Ny was playing inspired deefense against allstars like Wade and young up and comers like Iggy. The dramatic drop in playing time has to mess with a player's psyche. plus you change his mindset from being Gil's Robin and the guy charged with stopping the other team's 2, to the first scorer off the bench in a lineup that struggles to score at times. I think Ny was playing himself into becoming a decent defender, because that was what he needed to do to get PT. After flip pulled him, despite playing inspired defense and good offense, i'm sure he felt as clueless as he's looked at times.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 30, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Saunder is talking about shaking up the lineup, but he is atill playing his starters big minutes and have player like McGee sitting on the bench.

Posted by: sagaliba |

WHY dont you wait till they play 1 game since his vent and see if he does or does not shake up the starting lineup LOL

Posted by: rnorris6 | December 30, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I have been a fan of the Bullets/Wiz for 30 to 40 years. This is the first time that I don't want to see what they are doing. Basketball is offense and defense. I think that most of the Wiz are unwilling or unable to play defense. I love Antawn. He is my favorite player. He is trying to play defense. That is all you can ask. I don't think that Gilbert tries very hard to play defense. If you subtract the points he gives up from the points he makes, I don't think that the Wiz are much ahead. If you also subtract his turnovers that lead to the other team's points, I am not sure the Wiz are even.

It is time for a change. You can get rid of all of them except for Antawn. I don't think that they will be worse. I would rather see a team that gives its best effort on offense and defense.

Ernie Grunfeld now has the answer to the question of how well the Wiz will do with the big three healthy and a very good coach. He can't feel very good about it.

I think that getting a starting point guard with size, quickness, great with assists, great assist/turnover ratio, and very good defense is the place to start.

The Wiz have stood still while other NBA teams have improved. This record 10-20 is what happens when you do that.

The time is now Ernie!

Posted by: JoeC2 | December 30, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

"WHY dont you wait till they play 1 game since his vent and see if he does or does not shake up the starting lineup LOL"

Because Saunders had hinted about shaking things up a couple of times. Last night certainly was not the first time it came across his mind. I am just wondering, before he completely reshuffles his starting line up, why didn't he play reserves more first?

Posted by: sagaliba | December 30, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

From Boz:
>>Last year I asked a friend who's been an NBA coach and executive how he evaluated the Wizards. Talent level aside, how many winning players did they have -- hard-nosed, strong, defense-first, bust it every minute, workaholic, team attitude and mean, too?

"Maybe Dominic McGuire," he said. Nobody else.

One guy off the bench, without too much raw ability, was the only person he saw who could have been an old Celtic sub or a bad-boy Piston or a role-playing Rocket. The rest, in a word: soft.

Hey Kevin Jones, wherever you are,
Who said this yesterday??!!

Posted by: dovelevine | December 30, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

We don't play defense, we are not anywhere as atheltic as younger teams are .. this team is headed for disaster and unfortunately nothing can be done about it unless some contender can use two of the big 3 to compete and in return we wil get low number one draft picks. In Gilbert defense he is paying well but since they are losing it is not adding up.

Posted by: svafai2000 | December 30, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

The team problem start with Ernie then trickle down to his buddy Flipper. He hire a guy who has no clue on how to coach. Flip was brought in last training camp to coach defense. How'd that turn out. Flip has gone through 2 camps and 30 gms and is just realizing the fake 3 don't play D. What's he getting paid for. When Flip had KG and Detroit 2 good teams he got away from playing D. THE MAN CAN'T COACH. IT WAS A MISSTAKE HIRING HIM. BRING ON NEW OWNERSHIP.

Posted by: rnbrown4 | December 30, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

>>Saunders rips team.

Who is ripping Saunders?? Took him 30 games to figure out what we've been saying all season. He admitted himself that the entire NBA for the past 5 years has known this. So what's the freakin revelation.

The real surprise is that is took him so long to say anything and that he hasn't done anything really different from any of his predecessors.

He's the one who keeps putting the same rotation out there. He's the one keeping McGee and McGuire and Nick on the bench.
Some1 should be ripping the head coach and the GM!

Posted by: dovelevine | December 30, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

As Popeye once said, "I yam what I yam."
And the Wiz are what they are. And since they aint changin any time soon, the way you use them and the combinations you us them in, well it better change.

Arenas unfortunately does not play well with others, especially Butler, Haywood and Jamison. So you better mix those combos up. Because the rotation you've been using aint working.
And thats on Flip, not the players.

They players have been very consistent-- only not in the ways one would like.
But they is what they is.

Posted by: dovelevine | December 30, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

What is Saunders doing wrong:

1. He has McGee at the end of the bench. This is a big man with the second highest vertical in the league after Howard who blocked 5 shots in a half game a month ago. But he is at the end of the bench with no PT so that Flip can "develop" Blache.

2. There is no "game coaching" Gary Williams would sit these guys in a heartbeat. You tell AJ and GIL and Blache that if they keep shooting long threes in the fourth Q you are going to bench them. Not the next day, but right then. There is absolutely no coaching discipline on this team. Not only do they not play defense, they pay no price for mistake after mistake. A good coach takes a player out who brakes the rules over and over.

3. Saunders has an interesting way of testing players. You get 5 days to see how you fit as a starter. An interesting approach, but it leaves four guys always starting and one guy to prove himself.

4. Suanders may be a good handler of spoiled millionaires, but he is no game coach.

Posted by: smallwhiteforward | December 30, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

The teams problems start with Ernie Grunfeld then trickle down to his buddy Flip-Flop. Either BRING ON NEW OWNERSHIP... or let Grunfeld coach this bunch of clowns HE HIRED for a zillion $.

Happy New Year to all.

Posted by: horace1 | December 31, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

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