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Saunders explains his take on Blatche-Garnett 'wolfing' exchange

Rockets (31-31) at Wizards (21-39)

Wizards starters: Randy Foye, Mike Miller, Al Thornton, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee

Rockets: Aaron Brooks, Kevin Martin, Shane Battier, Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes

Line: Rockets by 4.5

Coach Flip Saunders again explained why he criticized Andray Blatche for "wolfing" at Kevin Garnett in the fourth quarter of the Wizards' 86-83 loss on Sunday. Blatche and Garnett exchanged words for most of the final period and at one point, Blatche appearing to throw an elbow at Garnett when Garnett approached him to shout taunts.

After the game, Saunders said he and Blatche had a lot to say about the incident. Saunders coached Garnett for 10 years, has the utmost respect for him, and understands what Garnett uses to motivate himself. Trash talking from an opponent is right up there. But Blatche told Saunders that he was merely standing up for himself and didn't "worship" Garnett they way others might.

"We talked, screamed, talked, did a little bit of everything," Saunders said. "His argument was, 'I'm not going to let anyone talked like that.' I said, 'You've got to understand one of the keys at this level is understanding your opponent. Understanding what they try to do and as much as anything, this game becomes mental.'

"That's what Garnett does, he talks. He's talked for his whole career," he said. "He tries to get into people. He gets more frustrated with guys like Tim Duncan that don't talk back. Guys that talk back, he feels like he's getting through to him and it kind of motivates him, gets his juices kind of flowing. One thing you don't want to do with a guy with a high motor, a high-energy guy like Garnett. You don't want to force them to go to the next level."

Saunders said he shared the story of the time when he was in Minnesota and the Timberwolves recorded their first win against the Chicago Bulls. After the game, Saunders said Darrick Martin began talking trash to Ron Harper, which upset Michael Jordan. When the teams met a week later, Jordan took the challenge of guarding Martin and Saunders said Martin couldn't bring the ball beyond halfcourt.

"We had to take him out of the game. At halftime, Michael walked by me and said, 'I knew I was going to send him back to the CBA, I didn't know I could do it in a half,' " Saunders said. "You never want to get great players motivated."

When asked if he should've defending Blatche for standing up for himself, Saunders said, "The bottom line is the win the game. You might have personal agendas during the game, but the proof in the pudding and the eating is, Garnett won. The last six minutes, Dray didn't score. He got to him. From that standpoint, that was my argument. I'm always going to defend my player, but the argument was to be above those types of things."

The Wizards signed Shaun Livingston to a second 10-day contract on Tuesday.

By Michael Lee  |  March 9, 2010; 6:53 PM ET
 
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Comments

we clearly have the wrong Argentine.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 9, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

While Flip may have a legitimate point in terms of a specific game situation, I personally think he needs to stick up for his players and demonstrate to his emerging star that he has his back. There's too much talking down to the players from this coaching staff. Why not say we're rebuilding now, we've got a lot of young players but we're building a culture here where we don't back down from anybody, absolutely nobody! Never ever let the opposition think that you fear them.

Posted by: jweber1 | March 9, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Will Livingston see the court?

Posted by: bozomoeman | March 9, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Does NY have NBA game?
Flip should start him and let him play a whole half. Then do it again the next game to see if it was just a fluke.
I think NY is just too immature to realize what's happening to him.
I think Blatche was like this his first few years and finally the light bulb lit above his head.
NY is gonna grow up and I hope he's stilla Wizzie when he does.
He's cursed with potential.

Posted by: VBFan | March 9, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I have to give credit to Skiles and the Bucks. They took the Wiz completely out their game. Now they are back to looking like a competent team, sans a PG.

Posted by: bozomoeman | March 9, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

"wolfing" Mike Lee? You are the worst. I think the correct term might be woofing.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 9, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

i like Flip giving dray some luv as he came to the bench.

EG what do ya think about this hill kid 4 pts 4 rebs in like 3 mins.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 9, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

OMG....I hate Mike Miller....SHOOT THE BALL!!!and why does Nick Young look so confused out there?

Posted by: kanderson2385 | March 9, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

EG what do ya think about this hill kid 4 pts 4 rebs in like 3 mins.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 9, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

lilhollywood10

Didn't you get the memo from EG about the NBA only allowing Rubio to be taken with the 5th pick last year?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 9, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it's bad for a coach to get in a young player's face. Doesn't work so well with 28 year olds, who've realized you can't really do anything to them, but it's like Crash Davis said in Bull Durham: "They're kids. Scare'em." Now that we've anointed him to the Hall of Fame because of this past what, ten or fifteen games, Blatche could be in danger of pathological head-swelling. I mean, he's already better than Kevin Garnett, so how long can it be before he surpasses Nowitzki, Bosh, and eventually Larry Bird? By the way, javale McGee is officially better than that bum Dwight Howard as of 9PM on April 3, 2010. Be sure to tune in.

Just kidding. Blatche is a nice player who's played way better than anybody had a right to expect, except of course, bulletsfan78, who also put ten grand on Susan Boyle to place on Britain's Got Talent.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 9, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh...vintage play from the guards tonight!

Posted by: bozomoeman | March 9, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Blatche is a nice player who's played way better than anybody had a right to expect, except of course, bulletsfan78,

Posted by: Samson151 | March 9, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Samson151

I wanted the Wizards to trade AJ last year so the young guys could get some real playing time.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 9, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

guys takin it to the rack can't get a call? can't get a loose ball foul? can't get a blocking foul called? Are we at home?

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 9, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

i luv it when phil chenier disagrees with certain players getting calls.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 9, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

what did they feed their guards at villanova? Foye and Lowry are like the friggin M&M twins. They are the two thickest guards in the league. Like a coupla Khalid El Amins.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 9, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Scott Dawg said F that and lost like 20 lbs coming into his senior season and 'nova.


it's amazing how much more comfortable NY looks.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 9, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

it's nice to see a smile on nick youngs face on the court, win or lose. make millions and smile young brother. ain't nothing but something to do....

Posted by: joerutgens72 | March 9, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

was that a play.....run out of the timeout...........to put the ball in NY's hands?

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 9, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

KG has nekkid pics of Flip.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | March 9, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Livingston showed flashes of classic pg play that we never see from Foye or Boykins, gotta like that.

Mcgee didnt deserve minutes tonight. From shoot around onward he looked lazy, not sure what's up with that, but he deserved to sit.

well, well, well, nick young produces when he gets minutes yet again

Posted by: divi3 | March 9, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

"Mcgee didnt deserve minutes tonight. From shoot around onward he looked lazy, not sure what's up with that, but he deserved to sit."

Posted by: divi3 | March 9, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Maybe JM thought it was tobacco in the bowl of that pipe NY offered him in the locker room.......Just being facitious.......

Posted by: glawrence007 | March 9, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Unrelated to tonight's game, but damn, Peter John Ramos is tearing things up in China!

- Peter John Ramos: 28.8mpg, 16.5ppg, 12.9rpg, 1.4apg, 3.9fpg, 0.3spg, 1.2bpg, 69% FG, 0% 3PT, 66% FT

http://www.shamsports.com/content/pages/2010/03/chinese-basketball-association.jsp

To put those numbers in context, Stephon Marbury, the best player in the CBA almost registered a quadruple double this season:

Stat line: 26 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists and 7 steals

Posted by: JPRS | March 9, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

well, well, well, nick young produces when he gets minutes yet again

Posted by: divi3 | March 9, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

divi3,

So what you're saying is a player can score more points when he gets playing time versus while sitting on the bench?

What a novel idea...who would have thought that was possible?

Not Flip, Ernie or kal.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 9, 2010 11:38 PM | Report abuse

that was Dray's worst outing since the trades, hey Flip, maybe the negative reinforcement doesnt work!

Posted by: divi3 | March 9, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Technical point: Flip's comments were just negative comments, not negative reinforcement.

e.g. positive reinforcement is when you apply a shock, or give a reward. Negative reinforcement happens when you remove a shock, or remove a reward.

Negative reinforcement in this case would be saying nothing when a player expects a coach to say something.

I agree with the larger point though -- As the saying goes: Praise in public, criticize in private. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. Not everyone is motivated by the same thing (e.g. a minority of players probably do respond to getting called out publicly -- this is one reason that a coach like Phil Jackson might say something negative about a player in the press -- it's about using every motivational tool in the tool box).

One area of improvement that I'd note is that Blatche does sometimes settle for the outside jumper. When he attacks the basket he has a better chance of drawing fouls and going to the line (and shoots a higher percentage). Even with the great shooting percentage, he's not getting many looks at the line. Some of this may be not getting calls, some of this is probably about shot selection. If he's shooting 50+ percent that's not an issue. If he's shooting in the mid to high 40s, he can add to his scoring by getting opportunities at the line.

Posted by: JPRS | March 10, 2010 12:30 AM | Report abuse

@divi3,

He never gets mins bc he rarely plays well you goofball. What kind of logic have you learned in your life or school? Could it be he got mins tonight bc he finally played decently and that every time he plays decently he gets mins??? Causation and correlation seem to escape you.

And, how about your boy JM? Clueless per usual. He was used like a rented mule by the frigging Rockets with Scola and Hayes playing center. If there is a team he should just eat alive it would be the small Rockets, yet he was just abused bc he is so damn boneheaded.

Posted by: rphilli721 | March 10, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

I sort of get what Flip is saying, but I think it's coming at the wrong time. KG is a bit past his prime and banged up. He's not the dominant player he has been. So he should have maybe critiqued Blatche in private about his game in the 4th, not his woofing. And in public say something to the effect of...For 3+ quarters Blatche took it to KG, the next step is for him to learn to finish it off, but he's close, he's getting it. Flip's is still worshipping KG too much.

On the other hand, I think Chuck Hayes and to a lesser extent Scola and Hill took Blatche out of his game tonight. It's a good sign that on an off night for him he still managed 18 and 8, but they really needed him to show up bigger in the 2nd and 3rd. My Holiday-Inn Express take on it is that they made a concerted effort to take away his lateral moves, the dribble and the spin. In his next step of evolving offensively, he learn to go over the top with a jump hook or something similar and simple, like Scola's quick (and maybe illegal) turn and scoop. And divi, you can't be happy that Blatche did not manage to get a single free-throw attempt.

We've all spent a week debating the merits of Livingston, Young, and Miller...who'da thunk those 3 would be our most effective PG / SG / SF combo tonight? Sadly they didn't fare much better defensively than any of the other combos. If Livingston's knee can take the pounding, he's earned regular minutes. He got players more easy baskets in the halfcourt tonight than I have seen in some time from the Wiz. I think Young has earned more regular minutes as well. He shot the ball pretty well, but he also took it to the hole a couple of times and at least drew fouls (as per divi). I don't think he should take MM's minutes, but I don't see any proof right now of Ross's worth.

I would have liked to see McGee out there more because his size and athleticism should have been a tough matchup for the shorter Rockets. But Scola's guile sadly was too much for him, especially with the latitude the Rockets were getting from the refs. I hated watching it, but I don't begrudge them it. Teams with a rep of being a good physical, aggressive, hustling defensive team always get the benefit of the doubt, especially against lesser teams. I did think the charge calls got a little out of control though.

Posted by: ts35 | March 10, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

I see the point of both sides of the FS/AB argument. I have to add that KG is no MJ and is not even close to the old/young KG. So, it's not as if KG started dominating the game from that point forward. He may have been fired up, but the player that brought it home was Rondo. So, it seems a hollow argument for FS to make and you risk alienating the best player currently on the roster.


This story reminded me of the LaBradford Smith/MJ match up years ago. Anyone remember that one? Smith went off for I think 30+ on the first night of a back to back and was trash talking MJ. Well, MJ utterly destroyed him the next night. But, hey, nobody would remember LaBradford Smith otherwise.

Posted by: rphilli721 | March 10, 2010 1:06 AM | Report abuse

Right on ts35. Agree with both the Saunders comment and about tonight's game.

Even if Livingston is nowhere near where he once was as a player, from what he showed tonight he definitely deserves an extended look. Offensively he's able to create opportunities for teammates with looks that seem to come from out of nowhere (great assist to Thorton at the basket -- one of the turnovers too, probably would have been an assist if there was greater familiarity between the players). Defensively he's no worse than Boykins.

In addition to working with Young at SG, it would be good to see Foye getting some work at SG with Livingston on the court.

Posted by: JPRS | March 10, 2010 1:37 AM | Report abuse

And, how about your boy JM? Clueless per usual. He was used like a rented mule by the frigging Rockets with Scola and Hayes playing center. If there is a team he should just eat alive it would be the small Rockets, yet he was just abused bc he is so damn boneheaded.

Posted by: rphilli721 | March 10, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

if height were all it's about why is it that houston has played better as a team dating back to last season without Yao Ming? Their interior/frontline players are all skilled players with lots of experience,high bball IQ, and bodies more like grown men than 17 yr old kids.
Unlike our Argentine,Scola isn't just old. He's got way more in the tank than OLDberto. That being said he still has eons of professional (NBA and Abroad) and international (olympics) experience. Hayes was even a four year player at one of the premier college programs in the country. He played under Tubby Smith the same guy who coached Rondo into who he is. Alls I'm sayin is that as well as JM has adjusted to learning on the fly (which we all asked for), there are gonna be games where he will be outplayed,outmuscled, and outsmarted. I'm just glad u jumped all over him for the first one. Especially since he only played 17 mins and Scola did his damage over 41 mins. No one's saying he didn't have a rough outing. He was definitely sleepwalking out there 4pts and 7 rebs.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 10, 2010 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Flip quite frankly was out of line, if anything Blatche was in KG's head. KG did not score a fiel goal for the first time in 14 years. He also missed two crucial free throws in the last minute. Blatche blocked two of KG's shots and had 23 points and 9 rebounds. Boston won quite simply because of their familiarity playing together and they have more scoring options to go to in the fourth quareter (Allen, Rondo, Pierce, Garnett). Of course in the clutch it is easy to take Blatche out of the game, because they can simply double him and the Wizards other options are not nearly as good as what the Celtics have. Foye took four of the last 5 shots of the game for this reason. Flip should never tell an NBA player not to trash talk. That is part of the game. The young Atlanta Hawks trash talked and battled the Celtics in a close hard fought 7 game series two years ago when the Celtics eventually were crowne champions. It did not pay off that year, but they own the Celtics now and swept them in the regular season. I watched Matt Barnes battle and not back down from Kobe Bryant Sunday and they almost came to blows, but on the last shot he had a hand right in Kobe's face and Kobe missed the last shot. John Starks and Anthony Mason never backed down from Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Flip sounds like a wimp, implying that a young turk should defer to a Superstar on the downside of his career.

Posted by: impartial1 | March 10, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

HOW COME THE MAJORITY OF THE ARTICLES THAT MICHAEL LEE WRITES HAVE NUMEROUS GRAMMATICAL ERRORS?

THERE IS SOMETHING CALLED PROOFREADING!

Posted by: SELAHSIXX | March 10, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

when the coach doesn't back up the best player you have a stephen jackson.

Posted by: jefferu | March 10, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

"Guys that talk back, he feels like he's getting through to him and it kind of motivates him, gets his juices kind of flowing."

Who cares if it gets Garnett juices flowing? He shot 0 for 7 with 4 TOs. This is not the same Garnett when Saunders was coaching him. Sadly, our coach still lives in the past.

Posted by: sagaliba | March 10, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

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