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McGee provides fourth-quarter boost, but Wizards lose 16th in a row

When JaVale McGee entered the fourth quarter of the Wizards' 98-94 loss in Houston, his team had a one-point lead. But over the next three minutes, the 7-foot, second-year center played with the enthusiasm and bounce that Coach Flip Saunders always wants to see out of him.

After Chase Budinger gave the Rockets a 75-74 lead, McGee scored 10 consecutive points for the Wizards. He had back-to-back three-point plays and was especially active on the offensive glass. McGee rebounded a Nick Young miss and kept tapping the ball until knocking in a shot that put the Wizards ahead by two. He later tipped in an Earl Boykins missed jumper to give the Wizards an 84-80 lead.

McGee had five rebounds in the final period, with four of them offensive rebounds.

"He played really good," Saunders said of McGee. "He got tired, but played good. That's how he has to play - give that kind of energy until he can't go anymore."

McGee has had his struggles in recent weeks, losing his starting center job to James Singleton and later Fabricio Oberto. McGee finished with 13 points and six rebounds in just over 13 minutes, before he started to fatigue. But McGee said he is starting to figure out what he has to do to remain on the floor.

"Be aggressive," McGee said. "I just felt a little more confident. I had a play ran for me, and I was just trying to contribute, keep my hands up and get as many rebounds and contest as many shots."

McGee said that this has been a difficult season. "It's rocky because we're losing," he said. "We was losing when I was in the starting lineup and we was losing when I wasn't in the starting lineup. Now it's like, man, we got to get some wins. Whoever got to play, we got to get some wins. We're just trying to change the routine of losing."

By Michael Lee  |  March 31, 2010; 9:39 AM ET
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Next: Wizards to sign Cedric Jackson


Let the Mcgee hating begin ;...

Posted by: millineumman | March 31, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Ab had 31, 10, 3, and 4 while shooting over 50% yet the only sound bite I heard this morning was Flip talking about how selfish he was down the stretch of the game. He said that AB was forcing shots rather than involving his teammates.

How about asking his teammates to step up? If I was playing with a bunch of D Leaguers, I'd be forcing shots, too.

Incredible, that Flip. What's Leonard Hamilton up to these days?

Posted by: original_mark | March 31, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

One more time FLIP likes vets not young'uns and he's misplaced on this team.
I don't care about the disparaging remarks because I know he's trying to make them men, but there are far better ways to accomplish that end. Beating them all the time is not good for the soul.

Posted by: glawrence007 | March 31, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse


We can credit all of this to immateurity, lack of talent, and other sorts of ineptitudes you like to point out about this Team.

But one thing is encreasingly obvious to me. Flip Saunders gets as much blame as anything else.

Next year and going forward adding a high draft pick, FA's, trades, or whatever will not heal the wounds being inflicted by the F-League coaching that Flip is laying down.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 31, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

But Blatche DID force it on a few key possessions. He also, however, made a great pass out to Young, who missed the 3. But the coach's job is to coach, not to praise. This isn't kindergarten.

Posted by: IrenePollin | March 31, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

The 11 first half assists got them the lead. Three 2nd half assists lost the game. Instead of constant movement and team involvement, Boykins dribbled away the clock and Blatch hogged all the shots, while everyone else spectated.

Posted by: BennyFactor | March 31, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

We're in the money, we're in the money - now tied with the WARRIORS for the #3 pick. 0-23 streak here we come.

Posted by: glawrence007 | March 31, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Didn't hear Flip's comments so I can't speak to them, but here's what I saw.

- AB did have a great overall game, but still hasn't figured out Chuck Hayes, who gave him problems last time too. Granted, every time AB put the ball on the floor Hayes was hand-checking him and pushing him, but if the refs aren't calling it, you have to find another way. He needed to work on getting much deeper post position to start with. He's also at least 3 or 4 inches taller so he really should be able to get better shots than he was taking.

- Flip should really have included himself in the critique because there was a stretch when they didn't go to AB at all in the 4th and they couldn't score. And they kept running that AB / Boykins pick and roll, which the Rockets clearly had no problems defending.

- Earl's 3pter with 12 secs left on the shot clock....why?

- Why was Earl in there to begin with? I know early in the season he was Mr Clutch for a minute, but he didn't have it last night. Livingston at least presented a matchup problem for the Rockets.

- Why wasn't McGee in more down the stretch? If he's tired, give him a blow and then get him back in there. The Rockets frontline was very short last night and McGee was literally playing head and shoulders above them, getting boards and putbacks. I like Singleton's effort, but he wasn't providing any advantage.

- I'm usually on the side of leaving Miller in the game, but his shot was off last night and Budinger was coming too open off of all of those screens. Some of that is on the rest of the guys to slow Budinger down, like the Rockets were doing on our screens, but maybe someone else (Ross? Martin?) would have done a better job at keeping on Chase. Then again, with all of the double / staggered screens they were running for him, maybe not.

- Can't put this one on the refs because the Wiz were in it to the end last night, but good grief we get few calls. We're always at least 10 trips to the line fewer than other teams. Some times I get that when the Wiz settle for jumpers. But last night they were taking it to the hole and not getting much love. Rockets were allowed to block shots from the side of guys, which is often an automatic whistle.

Mostly good effort from the guys last night, it's a shame they couldn't seal the deal.

Posted by: ts35 | March 31, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and as I said, I'm usually on board with leaving Miller in for the other things he does besides score, and I know he's banged up.....but dang son, how many bunnies are you gonna miss??

Posted by: ts35 | March 31, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse


11 A's in the first and 3 A's in the second half.

Is Blatche the point guard? That would be a No.

So why would Flip criticize Blatche for not sharing the ball and they only had 3 assist in the 2nd half?

It seems to me that Flip deserves criticism for lack of assist in the 2nd half by sitting Livingston and going with Boykins.

In case Flip hasn't checked, Centers are not normally the position where assists come from, but he rather criticize AB.

Bennyfactor, I don't know whether you are a Flip guy or not, but as you point out the assist thing is telling.

Blatche had 3 assists, 2nd highest last night. Livingston had 2, but he was replaced for major minutes by dribble dribble no past/assist Boykins.

And Flip blames Blatche.


I can't see how people still say he is a good coach.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 31, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I feel that if we still had Alonzo Gee, we would have won that game.

Or maybe that other guy we had before him, I can't remember the name.

Actually, if the Lakers moved here and became the Wiz, we'd definitely have won that game.

Why can't Ted Leonsis make that happen?

We never get any breaks.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 31, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I think if Flip would compliment Andray more, tell him how good he's playing or how much he's improved or even something nice about his outfit, we would definitely have won that game.

We need a new coach. What about Larry in Clinton?

Posted by: Samson151 | March 31, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

5 missed point blank layups with little to no pressure is inexcuseable for an NBA player. seriously blooper reel stuff.

NYs 4 tough fouls kept him off the court long enough to cool him off, and by the time he came back in it was Earl and The Amazing Dribbling Machine. It was priceless to hear Glenn Consor begging on the radio to get NY a touch down the stretch.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 31, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

"We're always at least 10 trips to the line fewer than other teams. Some times I get that when the Wiz settle for jumpers. But last night they were taking it to the hole and not getting much love."
- ts35

Wouldn't you know I would complain about that and last night the FTAs were even. It just seemed like the Rockets were allowed to be more physical. My fave call of the night...Livingston sets a screen for AB on the low block. Livingston's man jumps in front of AB on the swtich and essentially holds him, keeping him from moving through.....and the refs call a 3 second violation.

Posted by: ts35 | March 31, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

So why would Flip criticize Blatche for not sharing the ball and they only had 3 assist in the 2nd half?

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD

Larry, I take your general point, but there were more than a few times that AB dribbled the ball into the ground trying to figure out a way to get a shot off. It's a tough thing, because he is the go-to guy on offense, but when it's not working, or you're struggling as he was down the stretch, some times you're better off kicking it out and working for better or different position. The other thing I noticed was that when he was down there, dribbling it into the ground, there wasn't a lot of cutting going on by other players. One thing is for certain, if you move to the hoop and get open, AB has the ability to find you. Bad O all the way around, conceptually and bad execution by the players.

Posted by: ts35 | March 31, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse


I would like to see them work on creating an institutional and organizational philosophy first and work from there. Intelligence and diligence. For now the emphasis should be on the long-term. A lot of resources should be directed towards player scouting, domestically and internationally, and player development, including improving our use of the D-league to develop young players, the way the Spurs clearly are.

You should send that to Ted and maybe it will become the Wizards new Mission statement.

Posted by: bulletsfan78

The good news BF78 is that if Ted is actually interested in running the Bullets the way he was with the Caps, I won't have to send it to him. That's essentially the model he evolved to with the Caps, once the quicker fix, big money FA signing style didn't work out.

They definitely turned to bringing in a ton of younger talent, developing through the draft and the minor league system. Aside from having Ovie drop in their laps, the next biggest contributor to their success has been identifying a style of play and drafting and signing players that fit into that style, rather than just a basic analysis of who's more talented or has more potential.

Posted by: ts35 | March 31, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I'm not saying AB is above criticism but how about saying something to the 4-15 guy who's making 10 million?
Can you really blame a guy for forcing shots when he's on the court with:

a man who 's 4-15 and obviously ice cold (Miller)

A young player who doesnt know the definition of a good shot (mcGee)

A streak shooter who hasnt taken many shots and is probably not hot (Young)

two guys luck to be in the league (Singleton, Ross)

Personally, I'll take a forced shot from my best player over a shot from guy unlikely to make it or get a call from the ref.

Posted by: original_mark | March 31, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I agree that Flip
s job is to coach. But coaching is more than drawing up x's and o's.
It's also about drawing out the best in your players by balancing motivational praise and criticism fairly and equally.

Maybe he's supporting AB behind the scenes but it sure seems like the sound bites are all negative. Maybe thats because of the very definition of a sound bite. Perhaps the media is just more likely to air negativity and sensationalism. ???

Posted by: original_mark | March 31, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse


Agreed. What you point out we are seeing over and over again. When you see it over and over again then it becomes a coaching issue.

Even if Blatche is a sure thing out on the wing, players should still cut to the basket or work free for a pass.

If these positive things isn't a part of the natural offensive flow, then you have a bunch of dumb players on the floor or coaching that isn't demanding basic offensive play.

It could be a combination of both and also it could come from not having the right mix of players on the floor.

I keep saying over and over again that it is easier for Blatche on the floor if McGee is in the game with him, especially in crunch and the money quarter.

But Flip coaches from negatives and not positives. Another thing, the last I time checked all NBA players get tired on the floor. To replace McGee because you think he is tired assumes that all the other players that are running up and down the floor with him are fresh.

That is idiotic coaching. You train hard so that you can play when you are tired. Sometimes you have to train on the fly, as in, playing becomes your training. You can't train on the bench, so right now Flip should not pull McGee for thinking he is tired, he should let him play and evaluate him while he is tired.

Especially now.

A smart coach would know that, but not this Flip guy.

And people still say he is a good coach.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 31, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

A smart coach would know that, but not this Flip guy.
And people still say he is a good coach.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD

I try not to critique them too much on what they are teaching or not teaching, running or not running, because we're not in the room or in the huddle, so we don't always know if he's asking them to do things and they aren't or if he's asking for the wrong things.

But I do feel free to critique obvious things like sub patterns and who's in when. And when they run the same plays repeatedly to no obvious positive effect. Some credit goes to the Rockets who, even depleted as they were are a good defensive team. But the NBA is at least in part about match-ups, and I think he left his two biggest match-ups problems for the Rockets on the bench in crunch time in McGee and Livingston.

I can see McGee getting winded after that stretch he had of 10 points in 4 minutes or whatever, so you bring him out, give him a quick blow and get him back out there. Scola is 6'9", Hayes is 6'6". Brooks is 5'10" or thereabouts. When it was clear AB was having trouble with Hayes, get your 7'0" Superball of a center and your 6'7" point guard in there to cause the Rockets problems.

To me, sitting far off the sidelines, it was bad game management.

Posted by: ts35 | March 31, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

This is a bad team with below average players. Not one of these guys would start on almost any other team in the league (well maybe MM but I do include AB who is playing well but putting up numbers that are distorted because they have no other options) These guys wouldn't even start on the Wizards if EG hadn't traded everyone away, for players that immediately got injured. So even though they are working on a 16 game losing streak, you have to be happy and amazed that they aren't getting blown out every night. They are at least for most of the game trying hard and competing. (And really at this point there is no point to win any games if we want a chance at Wall or Turner.)

So although it's fun to do and I enjoy reading it, there is really no point analyzing Flip's coaching of a bunch of D-Leaguers. Flip is doing a pretty good job with what he's got, has he made mistakes? Sure. But do you really think he was telling his players not to pass? Not to cut to the basket and move without the ball? Not to run the offense? Not to try hard on defense? I mean of course he's telling them to do it, but unfortunately he can't make them do it. And bad players forget what the coach said, or get lazy, or just stand there and forget what they should be doing, or try to do too much on their own. No matter how much skill some guys have they just sort of space out sometimes.

So until Flip has a real team to coach let's not run him out of town just yet.

Posted by: mjshabba | March 31, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Uhh, Uhh, mjshabba,

I seem to remember in the not to distant past, in like the period from the beginning of the season until the Gun Fiasco at the VC Corrall, that there was a real team to coach and some of the same crap that we see now occurred then.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 31, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

mjshabba, I generally agree, but last night they were playing a team that was essentially at the same talent level with all of the guys they were missing.

I give Flip a bit of a pass generally because the team he inherited was flawed and then they even blew that team up, so he's coaching with the deck stacked against him a bit. But there are certain trends that crop up that I think are legitimate to question, even given the nature of this team.

Posted by: ts35 | March 31, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

"Saunders singled out Blatche, who had his fifth 30-point game since the all-star break."

of course Flip singles out AB for the loss, that's just what he does. You have to assume either 1)behind the scenes he's more positive with him or 2)they have no working relationship whatsoever.

gotta love ABs postgame, he is really trying to step up and be The Man to the fullest extent:

"when he admitted to ignoring open teammates. I got to learn from it," said Blatche, who added 10 rebounds and three assists (all of his assists were in the first half). "I just want to say my teammates did what they was supposed to do. I take full responsibility for the loss. I don't know; I just got to grow from it. I have to show trust in my teammates, be more relaxed and take what's given."

Posted by: divi3 | March 31, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"I can see McGee getting winded after that stretch he had of 10 points in 4 minutes or whatever, so you bring him out, give him a quick blow and get him back out there."

That was a "teaching" moment from Flip to Mcgee. He stayed on the bench for lack of hustle on one play after he'd scored 10 consecutive points for the team.

i'm sure he was the only guy on the floor who made any mistakes, so Flip had no choice but to sit him.....uh huh

Posted by: divi3 | March 31, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

You're right.
This is not a very good group.
That they can keep the games interesting is surprising to me.
Maybe that's the strategy. Someone's telling the Flipper to put in the dribbling machine in the 4th and take out the shot blocker and look good losing.
Don't wanna appear like we're throwing the games just to get more lotto balls.

Posted by: VBFan | March 31, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse


We can credit all of this to immateurity, lack of talent, and other sorts of ineptitudes you like to point out about this Team.

But one thing is encreasingly obvious to me. Flip Saunders gets as much blame as anything else.

Next year and going forward adding a high draft pick, FA's, trades, or whatever will not heal the wounds being inflicted by the F-League coaching that Flip is laying down.


If you don't see utter lack of talent on this squad, you are blind as a bat. Judging any coach on this team's performance is preposterous.

If FS said he took JM out of the game bc he had fatigued, then that is why he yanked him. Why you guys pretend to know more than the facts is unbelievable. It's just pure nonsense to support whatever wrongheaded agenda you may have.

AB was absolutely forcing dumb shots down the stretch. His fakes and hesitations weren't fooling Hayes anymore partially bc Hayes can't move anyway and the refs were letting him push AB around a little bit. Therefore, AB was left to shoot fading 15 footers as the shot clock wound down. Not exactly prime possessions. AB needed direct quick moves around a stationary Hayes or just go straight up over him. Like I've been saying, AB's repertoire needs to expand as teams scout out his pet moves.

What is with Kyle Lowry? The dude barreled to the lane on 5 occasions by my count and either used his left arm to push defenders away or barreled into them to create the separation he needed to get a shot off. Zero calls against him! 3 fouls on the Wiz and 3 buckets made by Lowry not counting foul shots. Pathetic when compared to Hayes' molestation of AB on most possessions.

Anyway, every lose just improves our draft pick so all is not lost. Please please please let us get Evan Turner. He is a future perennial all-star probably starting in year 2. I see a Brandon Roy'esque player, but even better. Maybe even a little Dwayne Wade as he does everything well for his size. I'm not sold on Wall becoming great and the bigs have the proverbial potential, but none are as sure a pick as Turner.

Posted by: rphilli721 | March 31, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I see Wall being the next Derrick Rose, which is to say a very very good player, but no franchise changer or great player. Evan Turner is almost a sure fire perennial all-star like I said previously. A 25 pts, 5/6 assists, and 4/5 rebound type of player with all the intangibles.

Posted by: rphilli721 | March 31, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

"We're always at least 10 trips to the line fewer than other teams. posted by ts35"

Looks like it's closer to 2.5 trips. The Wiz shot 1693 FTs YTD (in 73 games), and the opponents 1877.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 31, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Scola also got away bashing his off arm for separation as well, almost to the extent the rockets figured the wiz wouldnt get the calls.

personally I love ABs game, sure he has plenty to work on, but there's plenty of time to do it.

Posted by: divi3 | March 31, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

say; samson151, question? did we win any game when Gee was with us, and if you are a Gee fan go and root for his team. You sound so stupid.

Posted by: maejude | March 31, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

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