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The Wizards' rough road ahead [Updated]

Morning brew

The Wizards begin a "ridiculous" road trip tonight in Utah. Already reeling from its current seven-game slide, Washington will also face Denver, Portland and the Lakers during this stretch.

Al Thornton spoke to Gene Wang about the road ahead.

Added 11:23 am: The artist formerly known as Agent Zero told Esquire magazine that he wasn't using "longevity thinking" when he took out four guns in what he says was an attempt to play a prank on teammate Javaris Crittenton in December and said he deserves to be punished. The entire Esquire interview hits newsstands next week. An advance copy was obtained by the Associated Press.

Added 11:23 am: The New York Times's Off the Dribble blog points out that Shaun Livingston's comeback is a rare bright spot for the Wizards this season.


Around the league ...

There were eight games yesterday, including LeBron James (30 points) leading the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Boston Celtics. Antawn Jamison added 15 points and Anderson Varejao "dominated" the game, according to Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Highlights are below, courtesy of NBA.com.

By Alexa Steele  |  March 15, 2010; 10:51 AM ET
 
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Next: When will the Wizards win another game?

Comments

i'm happy the wizards already have more wins than they did last year.

Posted by: jefferu | March 15, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Flip's comments:
"I don't know in all the years I've been in the league, even when I was with Minnesota in the West, that we had a stretch where we played the teams we're playing with their records in the consecutive days that we're playing them," said Saunders, "To make matters worse, which I've never, ever seen, we play our last game against the Lakers. We come home. We got one day of rest, and we play at home, and the next day we go back on the road on a back-to-back, which is ridiculous."
____________________________

Welcome to the Wizards, doormat to the rest of the NBA. The bright side is, it's a chance to see who wants to compete and who wants to quit!


Memo to Flip:
Remember Foye is not a PG and Nick Young plays well in LA...

Posted by: bozomoeman | March 15, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Flip on potential rotations: Mike Miller sucks but Nick Young smiles too much

Posted by: divi3 | March 15, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Should be a fun game. I always like playing in Utah for some reason. Theyve got a few names out with injuries but I have a feeling they may come back tonight just so they can ease those guys in against an easy opponent.

As for me, all I want to really see is Livingston continue to get more run at the point early in games and see how good he looks even when his shot isnt falling as much. I would like to see him start the rest of the year but I know that wont happened.

The main thing I want to see though is the frontcourt matchup. Can Blatche keep it up and can him & McGee matchup with Boozer & Milsap? If Okur is back then throw him in there also. I think Flip probably got on Blatche about his rebounds last game so I think he will be alot more active this game in that regard but he may be due for a letdown in scoring. I could see him going for like 16 & 13 on like 35-40% shooting but if he puts up numbers against these guys then it just continues to prove that he’s an elite guy even right now.

I worry about him getting in foul trouble against them though. I also want to see how McGee plays, espically defensively. He was horrible last game but when I watch it closely, I think alot of it had to do with people telling him to stay on his feet. It seemed like he had it in his mind to stay on his feet until the last second last game which made him always jump late and have guys easily score on him and get into his chest for fouls. He does get alot of fouls on pump fakes by jumping so much but I also dont want to take his aggression away.

It will be intersting to see if Flip has him guarding Milsap or Boozer. The better defensive matchups may be Blatche on Boozer & McGee on Milsap but you dont really want to do that because you run the risk of Blatche getting in foul troulbe or just him wearing down regardless due to having to play so hard on both ends. Thats why I would put Blatche on Milsap or Okur if he plays because we need Blatche so much on O. I would also like to see Livingston play alot with Blatche & McGee to get them some easy baskets which they hardly ever get

Posted by: dlts20 | March 15, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

dlts20- great post, like your thinking and will be watching the same things. AB has shot under 50%fg only twice since the trades, that's awesome. However that may be related to why he isnt going to the FT line enough- he doesnt force enough shots, which is often the best way to get fouled. The majority of his scoring comes from smooov Js and layups in traffic. Fantastic he has that much skill/ability to do it, but he's going to have to start making guys foul him to make that last progression in his offensive game.

Mcgee is completely out of sorts and physically beat down. Hopefully at least the energy level is up after a day off. But until he's bigger/stronger he's gonna get used often

Posted by: divi3 | March 15, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Moribud is the operative word for the day, the article, the WIZARDS, the posts, the final results for my RICHMOND SPIDERS in ATLANTIC CITY, and the VCU RAMS who were left out of the little dance this post-season.

On the bright side however, the RICHMOND club will be dancing on the 18th in PROVIDENCE as the WIZARDS are being pasted by another opponant.

Great to see LIVINGSTON doing well. My God, amazing what a real point guard can do as opposed to a "Tweener-combo" guard.

Posted by: glawrence007 | March 15, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

"you said reddick didn't go for the fake which is false, NY leaned in for the a foul, that he didn't get and missed a 12-15 ft floater. Maybe not the best offense, but if missed shots is your gripe, i think therer's enough blame to go around. "
Posted by: lilhollywood10

Reddick didn't leave his feet, which is why Nick didn't get contact or a foul. Missed shots I can live with, ill-advised off-balance shots when you have other options and half the shot clock left is a different story. For reference, it drives me crazy when Foye does it too.

"If you want to change his game change it, but then what?"
Posted by: lilhollywood10

If asking him to play intelligently, hustle and play D is 'changing his game', then it's time to cut him.

"reddick scored 18pts that night and young played 9mins, apparently MM didnt guard him either."
Posted by: divi3

Reddick scored his 7 points off of Young in 3 mins in the 2nd qtr, 8 off of Ross (I have no idea why he gets minutes) in the 4th, 1 of off a technical free throw. So yes, MM gave up 2 points to him. They really should bench that guy.

The Magic ran the same play with Nick and Miller guarding Reddick. Reddick passes the ball into Howard on the low block, then cuts hard baseline. With NY guarding him, Reddick makes the cut, leaving NY behind, gets the ball back on a quick give and go on two different occasions, once for a layup, once for a foul on McGee. When they ran the play against Miller, Miller was even with him, denying the pass.

Posted by: ts35 | March 15, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

To further highlight the difference between Nick and MM. Midway through the 3rd qtr, Miller got the ball, drove baseline and got stuck. He then inexplicably threw the ball to Jameer Nelson in the middle of the lane who promptly took off with one guy (I think it was Barnes) filling the lane. Blatche and Thornton slow Nelson down, but then both strangely drop off of him, leaving him alone at the FT line. Nelson starts to go up for a jumper, but SL comes from behind to alter his jumper. Nelson changes and tries to throw a pass to Barnes on the wing. Miller who has been hustling back up the floor jumps into the passing lane and steals the ball back, starting an Al Thornton 1 on 3 break (yes 1 on 3) the other way. Point being, did Miller make a stupid mistake? Yep. But he didn't compound it by not hustling.

So is the point of this that Miller is awesome and Young sucks? No. The point is to show that there is some times a reason beyond "the coach must hate him" or "Flip sucks" that Young gets yanked from the game. I don't completely agree with the way Flip does it by the way. After his gaffes in the second, I thought it made sense to sit Young down, but I would think you should give him another chance in the third to come out and play better, instead of sitting him until the fourth. When he came in in the fourth, he played much harder on the defensive end. And again, I really have no idea why they give Ross minutes.

P.S. Maybe it was the 3 games in 3 nights thing, but Brandon Bass beat Blatche badly on the hustle meter. I know I shouldn't nit-pick because Dray dropped over 30, but any time you saw Bass getting a big offensive rebound and putback, it was usually because Dray didn't get a body on him, so Bass ran right around him.

P.P.S Wasn't rewatching the game divi, I never got a chance to watch it through the first time and I needed to clear the dvr space. So I started watching it just to see how they ended up giving up the 15 pt lead.

Posted by: ts35 | March 15, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"They really should bench that guy."

Considering Miller scored 4pts in 30mins from 3 fg attempts, I would tend to agree!

seriously though, weren't NY and MM on the floor together against Detroit? Seems like Flip has gone to that lineup recently.

It will be interesting to see if Foye sits or plays more 2 as Livingston gets increased PT

Posted by: divi3 | March 15, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"P.S. Maybe it was the 3 games in 3 nights thing, but Brandon Bass beat Blatche badly on the hustle meter. I know I shouldn't nit-pick because Dray dropped over 30, but any time you saw Bass getting a big offensive rebound and putback, it was usually because Dray didn't get a body on him, so Bass ran right around him."

That's what Bass does, which makes his string of DNPs earlier in the season after the Magic gave him a sizable FA deal a read puzzle. He's a hustle, energy, effort guy with some decent skill. But it's his constant motor that keeps him on the floor. Lack of that kind of energy has always been one of Blatche's problems, and he generally tends to shrink when faced up against guys like that.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 15, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

"I don't completely agree with the way Flip does it by the way. After his gaffes in the second, I thought it made sense to sit Young down, but I would think you should give him another chance in the third to come out and play better, instead of sitting him until the fourth."

That pretty much sums up my opinion on this "hot button" wizards issue.

Posted by: divi3 | March 15, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"I don't completely agree with the way Flip does it by the way. After his gaffes in the second, I thought it made sense to sit Young down, but I would think you should give him another chance in the third to come out and play better, instead of sitting him until the fourth."

That pretty much sums up my opinion on this "hot button" wizards issue.

Posted by: divi3

The difference being that I wouldn't just give him minutes. If he came in the in 3rd and played the same as he did in the first half, I would have given him the quick hook again.

Posted by: ts35 | March 15, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

The difference being that I wouldn't just give him minutes. If he came in the in 3rd and played the same as he did in the first half, I would have given him the quick hook again.

Posted by: ts35 | March 15, 2010 12:41 PM

i'd like to see Miller/Ross/Foye held to the same standards.

Posted by: divi3 | March 15, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Lack of that kind of energy has always been one of Blatche's problems, and he generally tends to shrink when faced up against guys like that.

Posted by: kalo_rama

He didn't seem to so much shrink as much as he just didn't move. It was definitely more lack of effort. Again, some of that could fairly be chalked up to 3 games in 3 nights and the offensive load he carries, but in terms of learning to be a big-time player and learning to win games, it's something he and the rest of the team need to work on.

Something else to watch for. On opposing team fast breaks on mini breaks. McGee and Young -- and to a lesser extent Blatche, Livingston and Thornton -- in transition they tend to find their man first, then track them down court, rather than getting back first as a team, then finding their men. It's one of the reasons (but certainly not the only one) why they are consistently beaten on fast breaks.

Posted by: ts35 | March 15, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

The difference being that I wouldn't just give him minutes. If he came in the in 3rd and played the same as he did in the first half, I would have given him the quick hook again.

Posted by: ts35 | March 15, 2010 12:41 PM

i'd like to see Miller/Ross/Foye held to the same standards.

Posted by: divi3

Were it me, I wouldn't be playing Ross at all, except maybe to give other guys a breather. He's not hitting shots, and his one calling card is supposed to be defense, and he's not playing that any better than Miller or Young. If nothing else, give his minutes to Gee. At least that kid exciting to watch!

Before Livingston showed up, they really didn't have a choice but to play Foye more minutes. Looking at the Magic game, once SL came in and was playing well, Foye didn't see the court very much. And I'm sorrry, with both Foye and Miller, they may make mistakes, but they tend not to compound mistakes the way that Young does. And not to beat a well-dead horse, but Miller may have only had 4 pts, but he also had 4 rbs, 5 asts and 2 stls.

All that is required of Young is that when is in there, he plays hard and with his head not too far up his arse.

Posted by: ts35 | March 15, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

btw, i think what's happened with Miller is he's the exact same player he was last season and that's just what he is now. EG took a chance that last season in Minny was an anomaly given his previous production....but it wasnt, he's just a slightly older player now, injuries have caught up etc

he may actually benefit from some reduced PT imho, i've noticed he's often really good initially then loses steam

Posted by: divi3 | March 15, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"And I'm sorrry, with both Foye and Miller, they may make mistakes, but they tend not to compound mistakes the way that Young does."

not taking an open shot, then passing it to Singleton for a 3pt attempt is compounding mistakes to these eyes!

anyways...not like it actually matters

Posted by: divi3 | March 15, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"Something else to watch for. On opposing team fast breaks on mini breaks. McGee and Young -- and to a lesser extent Blatche, Livingston and Thornton -- in transition they tend to find their man first, then track them down court, rather than getting back first as a team, then finding their men. It's one of the reasons (but certainly not the only one) why they are consistently beaten on fast breaks."

Well that's a pretty good sign of a players not fully grasping the concept of team defense and responsibility, which isn't really a surprise given the thrown together line-up the Wiz are rolling out. A lot of the guys haven't played together long enough to really anticipate how their teammates are going to react to a situation on the court, so that makes it tough to anticipate how to cover and react if there's a breakdown. Consequently, players get locked in on their individual duties without a strong team concept.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 15, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

anyways...not like it actually matters

Posted by: divi3

What??? You mean I broke down game tape for nothing???

;-)

Posted by: ts35 | March 15, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Consequently, players get locked in on their individual duties without a strong team concept.

Posted by: kalo_rama

Yeah, I hear ya, and I'm certainly no expert. Given the propensity for teams to pull up for 3s now on the fast break, maybe they coach it differently. But for the little bit I've been taught, I always thought job #1 on the break was get back, #2 was stop the ball, and then worry about finding your man. So I didn't think that was so much of a team defensive concept as it is B-ball 101.

Posted by: ts35 | March 15, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

"So I didn't think that was so much of a team defensive concept as it is B-ball 101."

Well, I don't really see there's much distinction between the two.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 15, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

'"I have a painting of him in my garage. I just walk by it with my head down," Arenas said. "I called Mrs. Pollin and said, 'If Abe was still with us, I would've had to talk to him, so I'm gonna give you the same respect. I want to say sorry to you. I deserve to be punished. I'll do everything it takes to get back your husband's respect."'

Gil, Gil, Gil.

Dude is in pergatory. :(

"Well that's a pretty good sign of a players not fully grasping the concept of team defense and responsibility, which isn't really a surprise given the thrown together line-up the Wiz are rolling out."

Yeah, and this isn't going to be the team you see next year either so I wouldn't expect to see that team "gel" right away either.

The Wiz have a lot of players right now who can't create thier own shots so they just turn the ball over instead.

One thing about Areanas, he created a lot of his own shots.

I hope he does come back next year(yes, I reserve the right to change my mind), but I also hope they sign another "star" to a max deal.

AND I hope that guy is Chris Bosh.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | March 15, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I would never want to say never, but at the moment, I can't see one of the big-time FAs coming here. If the Wiz are going to get a good FA, I think it will have to be because they maybe overpay a second tier guy and do it early. Which will probably drive us all bonkers.

The other way they could go is the way of the current Nats and Skins (who knew?) strategy and let the market shake itself out and see who's left.

I doubt they'll get one of the stars, but it would be good if they could get a younger veteran starter and maybe some beef for the bench.

Posted by: ts35 | March 15, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Quintessential Gilbert speak from the Arenas interview.

Re Pollin, "I have a painting of him in my garage. I just walk by it with my head down."
And to think there were those who doubted that Gilbert had a special place in his, ah garage, for Abe.

Gilbert's take on the judicial system is refreshingly optimistic. Everything is cool as long as the judge, "Goes off the actual real story." And a, have we heard the 'actual real story' and if so what does it sound like? Can't be the part where Arenas tells Esquire that he used to have as many as 500 firearms in his home. Though I'm sure the judge will appreciate the fact that everyone needs to have a hobby.
Arenas also said that he and Crittenton returned to good terms almost immediately after their confrontation,"He goes into the Jacuzzi," Arenas told the magazine. "You know what? I gotta warm my knee up anyway. I go in and sit with him."
That is soooo touching. Oh and by the way, 'man the torpedoes!'

Posted by: midlevex_ | March 15, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

The impending end of the current CBA and the general belief that the new one will tighten the purse strings on the players means that when the FA merry-go-round stops, there may be some guys (non A-listers) looking for a place to land. The Wiz could conceivably lure someone who might not be otherwise enticed by throwing some extra $$$ their way. But that's not really a good rebuilding strategy, overpaying for underwhelming talent. Among the real alpha males, there will basically be two choices: go to one of the small handful of desirable destinations with cash (a list that doesn't include D.C.) or re-sign where they're at. Everyone else will be digging for scraps.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 15, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

About the d-league: I think it was Tim Legler, a former minor leaguer as well as an ex-Wiz, who said that there's not that much difference between a d-leaguer and the guys at the end of an NBA bench, but there's quite a difference between a d-league game and an NBA game. The implication being that the stats you put up in d-league don't always predict your performance in the Show.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 15, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

AND I hope that guy is Chris Bosh.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | March 15, 2010 1:46 PM

if by Chris Bosh you mean DJ Mbenga, your wish will be fulfilled.

Posted by: divi3 | March 15, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I recently heard one of the TV talking heads (it may have been Hubie) note another major diff between the D-League and the NBA, namely that most of the usable NBA potential talent in the D-League are guards/perimeter players. There aren't a lot of worthwhile big men in the D-league, because anybody with size and a modicum of game automatically gets scooped up by the NBA. That's how much of a premium there is on bigs.

That might help explain the impressive numbers Thabeet put up during his recent assignment.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 15, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

"Yeah, I hear ya, and I'm certainly no expert. Given the propensity for teams to pull up for 3s now on the fast break, maybe they coach it differently. But for the little bit I've been taught, I always thought job #1 on the break was get back, #2 was stop the ball, and then worry about finding your man. So I didn't think that was so much of a team defensive concept as it is B-ball 101."

Transition defense is one (of many) weakness of the team even when the so called "big 3" was still playing here.

Posted by: Dave381 | March 15, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

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