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Warriors again provide special nights for Wizards


Excuse me while I dunk on your face. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)


If the last two games have proven anything, it's that the opponent really does matter. The Wizards (24-53) have already doubled their win total from the month of March, and it has as much to do with playing the New Jersey Nets and Golden State Warriors as it does their inspired play of late. Washington has swept the season series against just three teams this season - Philadelphia (3-0), New Jersey (4-0) and Golden State (2-0), which became the only Western Conference opponent to lose both games to the Wizards.

In the last meeting in Oakland, you'll recall that Gilbert Arenas went off for a season-high 45 points with 13 assists and Caron Butler also had his best game at that point, with 28 points, 10 rebounds and a season-high five steals. Golden State continues to be the gift that keeps on giving, as the Warriors' depleted roster -- they had just seven healthy players on Tuesday night -- restored the confidence of several Wizards by allowing them to have their own personal highlight reels.

Nick Young scored a season-high 29 points - the most since getting 22 in Los Angeles nearly three weeks ago. He had a season-high five three-pointers and also had two dunks. That might not sound like a lot of dunks for Young, who entered the league with a reputation as a skywalker. But he only entered the game with four dunks all season and recently joked with JaVale McGee that he was more of "a finesse player" now.


I almost forgot what this felt like. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Young couldn't resist taking it to the rim against the undersized Warriors, as he pump faked and drove for an easy dunk in the first quarter. Then, in the second quarter, the Warriors essentially rolled out a red carpet for him to drive baseline for an uncontested two-handed dunk. Afterward, Young hung on the rim and looked around, almost stunned that no one even attempted to stop him.

Saunders, though, said he was more impressed with Young did on the other end of the floor. "He's played pretty good position defense, so he's doing some of the little things; when you do those little things, you get minutes. He's been better defensively and because of that he's been gaining confidence and he knows we have confidence in him - when he plays like that he can be extremely productive."

McGee continued to be a dominant force against opposing backups, as he had a career-high with 25 points and 15 rebounds in 30 minutes. That was the most rebounds and points scored in one game by a reserve in nearly 24 years. In his past 93 minutes, McGee has scored 76 points, which is a pretty astonishing rate.

McGee got his points, simply by being active, running the floor and attacking the glass. He had nine offensive rebounds - one more than the Warriors. Saunders said he realized that McGee struggled against bigger and more imposing starting big men, who usually got him in early foul trouble and took away his effectiveness. Saunders also mentioned that McGee has complications with asthma, which diminishes his ability to play major minutes.

"I feel comfortable coming off the bench," McGee said. "I just feel like we need bench points more than we need starting points. Coming off the bench, when they start the game, you get that rest to get your mind right."

McGee made several spectacular plays, including five dunks, but was a bit out of control in the fourth quarter, when he drove the length of the court and lost the ball on a drive that made his teammates laugh, but upset Saunders, who quickly pulled him.

"When he dribbles the ball from one end of the court to the other, he's coming out of the game," Saunders said. "He's got to figure it out eventually. I don't know how soon, but eventually he'll figure it out. At least I know it's going to happen. So I hope he does."


I can still do a little sum'n, sum'n. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Andray Blatche gave McGee a hard time afterward. "He got his career high, because he worked hard for it. It's great to play with him and watch him play. That's what we need from him - aside from the full court one. Definitely, that was hilarious."

McGee said none of his teammates said anything to him about his turnover. "Nobody really gave me a hard time - but the coaches," he said.

Shaun Livingston again presented an argument about keeping him here beyond the final six games as he matched his career-high with 21 points and added eight assists with no turnovers. He started the game 9 for 9 from the field and had two dunks, including an impressive driving two-hand slam that gave the Wizards a 77-55 lead. After the Warriors got within 16, Livingston later dribbled the ball behind his back and pulled up for a fade away jumper. He got fouled on the play and added a free throw. Livingston finally missed a shot late in the third, as he came up short on a rebound tip.

Over his last four games, Livingston is averaging 16.8 points and 6.8 assists. "I'm just trying to finish strong. I'm getting the opportunity to play, getting a lot of minutes, unfortunately with the loss of some teammates," he said. "With more minutes, I'm getting more and more comfortable."

And Saunders is gaining more confidence in him. "Everyone has always known, he is a point guard and the only reason he's not an all-star at this point is because of the injury," Saunders said. "We knew he had the mental capacity to play the position. We knew at one point, he had the physical skills. Even though he might not be as physically explosive as he used to be, he seems to be getting better and better with that. He's got unbelievable size, so you can do a lot with him. He's progressed and he's getting more confidence."

The Warriors seem to have that effect on the Wizards. But the Wizards' next three opponents are all Eastern Conference contenders battling for playoff positioning. That will really show just how much progress the Wizards have made. "Now we have a great challenge, we are playing three great teams in four days," Saunders said.

No more Warriors and Nets.

By Michael Lee  |  April 7, 2010; 12:10 AM ET
 
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Next: A rare blowout win for the Wizards

Comments

Shaun Livingston is the ideal guard to play with Gils

Posted by: merajc86 | April 7, 2010 12:43 AM | Report abuse

Livingston is an awful guard to play with Arenas, because he can't play off the ball and doesn't provide the dimension of athleticism and explosiveness they need on the wings. He might make an okay backup, however.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 1:40 AM | Report abuse

"When he dribbles the ball from one end of the court to the other, he's coming out of the game," Saunders said. "He's got to figure it out eventually. I don't know how soon, but eventually he'll figure it out. At least I know it's going to happen. So I hope he does."

Good luck, coach. It's been 5 years (and counting) waiting for Blatche to figure that out.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 1:42 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 1:40 AM

Livingston is an awful guard to play with Arenas, because he can't play off the ball and doesn't provide the dimension of athleticism and explosiveness they need on the wings.

---------

Well I think the idea is to play Livingston at the point and have Arenas play off the ball on the wing. I know Gil can play off the ball in spurts so I don't see why it couldn't work.

But frankly, I'm stunned at how much better Livingston has looked lately. He's looked much quicker and athletic the last few games than when he first signed. Maybe he's in shape now. Maybe he's finally fully recovered from the injury but I think his recent performances are opening some eyes around the league.

Posted by: Dat2U | April 7, 2010 2:43 AM | Report abuse

Uh KAL:

He was talking about McGEE not BLATCHE. How about two years not five.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 7, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

And yes, I'm all for playing GA at PG only when the situations or injuries dictate.

If we exit this season with only six players we're looking at keeping on this team that are under contract, and we have three picks, we'll need a ton of FA's or D-league players.

McGEE
BLATCHE
HOWARD* - team option
THORNTON
YOUNG
ROSS* - player option
FOYE* - 80% scale offer
ARENAS

Something better be negotiated in the ownership department pretty damned fast, or we won't have any free agents to get.

For goodness sakes we have one asthmatic center, one great PF, one broken down, and one good SF, and IMO four SG. No PG's, though we have two combo guards one of which is not counted as returning.

Obviously ownership is telling management to hold off signing anyone until the transfer of ownership is accomplished.

Maybe IRENE thinks this will force TED's hand, and the POLLIN family will end up with more money.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 7, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

I don't see any reason to not keep Livingston next season. Guy plays the PG position well, doesn't appear to be a knucklehead and only injuries held him back. Even if we insist on playing Arenas as the PG, imagine Shaun coming off the bench against opposing teams' backups?

Posted by: tundey | April 7, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

UH . . . (I love it when people do that, like it's somehow so damn clever) glawrence007:

I know full well what Saunders was talking about. My point (pretty clearly stated to anyone who actually read it) was that it's been 5 years now and Blatche still hasn't broken the habit of dribbling the ball upcourt and turning it over, so Saunder shouldn't hold his breath waiting for McGee to break the same habit. How about you not embarrass yourself by rushing in and trying to be a smartass only to fall flat on your face?

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

"Well I think the idea is to play Livingston at the point and have Arenas play off the ball on the wing. I know Gil can play off the ball in spurts so I don't see why it couldn't work."

Yeah, in short spurts. But Arenas needs the ball in his hands the majority of the time to be effective, which means he needs to be paired with a guard who can play significant time off the ball. Livingston is not such a player.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

I think we really need to lock up Livingston with a contract to keep him here. Semms to have a great command of the offense, really swings the ball around well, and can create those mismatches with smaller guards in the post. I'm impressed by his calmness and thinking out there. You can see how he knows the game - watch how he makes an entry pass to Miller or Young on the wing, and while his pass is in the air, he's already looking down low to see what might be open on the interior for the next pass.

Posted by: quinn3 | April 7, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

livingston is definitely a keeper, no two ways about it.

Posted by: divi3 | April 7, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

rather than worrying about a meaningless coast-to-coast dribble at the back end of a blowout win, how about focusing here:

"That was the most rebounds and points scored in one game by a reserve in nearly 24 years. In his past 93 minutes, McGee has scored 76 points, which is a pretty astonishing rate."

Posted by: divi3 | April 7, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

By winning last night the Wizards went from the 3rd best chance at the #1 overall pick to between 4th - 6th best chance. They can't even tank correctly. This team is a nightmare.

Posted by: Rocky420 | April 7, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

"I don't see any reason to not keep Livingston next season. Guy plays the PG position well, doesn't appear to be a knucklehead and only injuries held him back. Even if we insist on playing Arenas as the PG, imagine Shaun coming off the bench against opposing teams' backups?"

Agreed. Only worry would be Grunfeld not having the authority to sign anybody for next year until the ownership shift is finalized.

Posted by: nmik | April 7, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

when you do those little things, you get minutes

How about "when you get minutes, you do those little things".

If we could manage to stop jerking NY's minutes around, he'd be more inclined to play at 100% all of the time at both ends.
Flip is a joke.
I've been saying for at least a year that NY is a scorer and if you treat him like one and give him shots, he'll produce. Yet it seems to have taken Flip all year to figure that out.
Clearly we have the makings of a decent uptempo team. The days of the big lumbering C are about gone. We need to get with it and start playing a little faster. With Livingston and Gil we have a pretty darned good backcourt.
With AB and JM, we have a decent young frontcourt pairing. We need to use NY in a 6th man role coming off the bench shooting. We need a veteran big man C for those nights when we play the big C. We also need to parlay our pick into a good sf.

We are one good coach and and a player away from being a fringe playoff team next year.

Posted by: original_mark | April 7, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

By winning last night the Wizards went from the 3rd best chance at the #1 overall pick to between 4th - 6th best chance. They can't even tank correctly. This team is a nightmare.

Posted by: Rocky420

This might be true if the Ping Pong Ball system actually worked in bad teams favor. We won only 19 games last season and still wound up drafting 5th.

Posted by: Lisa_R | April 7, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

preach it o_m, preach it!


Posted by: divi3 | April 7, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

the one year we did win the lotto, we get one of the all-time busts. Probably dont need to worry about "bad" wins, though ripping off 3 more Ws against conf contenders would be pretty absurd

Posted by: divi3 | April 7, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I'm beginning to think NY has been typecasted. His defense is not as bad as it has been made out to be. The few times he gets to play for quite a while, I won't say he has lock down D, but he uses that lenth and stays in front of his man about on par with what I see in the NBA. On the other side off the ball last night, I also saw Steph Curry play better D. than I expected to see. He was about the only player for Golden State giving any kind of effort. A few times he made Nick give the ball up.

Posted by: millineumman | April 7, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

UH . . . (I love it when people do that, like it's somehow so damn clever) glawrence007:

It's because you're so damned dumb kal. Give it up.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 7, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Just as the team starts to get comfortable with Livingston, the season ends and--with the way things are trending--Gilbert comes back, is handed the starting point guard spot, and we're completely starting over again. I just don't ever see GA playing the #2 guard spot. At times, he played well with Foye (who Flip doesn't like and the team probably won't resign) and, years ago, with Hughes. But they're more combo, scoring-guard types. Frankly, however remote the possibility, I wish they could move Gilbert, keep Livingston and develop a true team, versus Gilbert and a lot of other players waiting for their turn to shoot, which is where we always end up with him. Besides, with Gilbert, the entire first half of the season will be all about him and his comeback, and that is going to be extremely tiresome. I agree with the concern of the Pollins-Grunfeld doing more damage before the ownership change.

Posted by: jweber1 | April 7, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

...and a player away from being a fringe playoff team next year.
Posted by: original_mark | April 7, 2010 9:12 AM |

That's what I am talking about!

Take Lebron away & see where the cavs are.

Posted by: Rocc00 | April 7, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

"Shaun Livingston is the ideal guard to play with Gils. Posted by: merajc86"

I'd go with Steve Jackson.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 7, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

"Take Lebron away & see where the cavs are.
Posted by: Rocc00'

Thing is, the Cavs were deliberately built to complement LeBron. You never know how a team like that will react to the sudden loss of the star. Sometimes they actually play better for a while. But it usually doesn't last.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 7, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Livingston is the real deal. I just hope the Wizards don't let him get away. I think he will be an excellent PG to run with GA...Good Player know how to adapt and play together. He will make like alot easier for GA. And he can controll shot select with is needed.

Posted by: lemekdivine | April 7, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I think Livingston is exactly what Gilbert needs. A point guard that can handle the ball flawlessly, control the game with smarts and talent, and allow Gilbert to concentrate on scoring the ball.

It would be foolish to allow Gilbert to come back as point guard. A scoring point guard is not what this current Team would need.

It would be absolutely the wrong thing. The point guard for this squad must control the flow and keep things moving for everyone.

Livingston can do that. Gilbert cannot. And how could anyone know that these two cannot play together.

If you believe that Gilbert really has to control the ball mainly all the time, then that is a Team I don't want to see.

Gilbert isn't that darn good and he must be a part of team philosophy that includes all of the best efforts of the Team.

Shaun Livingston, as said above is just what Gilbert needs.

I agree.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 7, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Livingston is shooting at a high percentage like around 48%. That is exceptional for a guard and he is better than foye because he makes better decisions on passing the ball. His lack of turnovers is reminds me of Antonio Daniels except with more scoring. If livingston comes back to training camp after training with Tim Grover for explosiveness this guy would be unbelievable. Right now Gilbert is the only guard on the wizards who can get pass 2 defenders off the dribble and we need another.

Posted by: jefferu | April 7, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Livingston is an awful guard to play with Arenas, because he can't play off the ball and doesn't provide the dimension of athleticism and explosiveness they need on the wings. He might make an okay backup, however.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 1:40 AM |

Kalo_rama,

At times we can be oh so wrong. Please, would really think and look at what you just wrote.

What you just wrote here assumes that Gilbert will play point and Shaun will be playing the two.

What? Why? and What for?

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 7, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Livingston is an awful guard to play with Arenas, because he can't play off the ball and doesn't provide the dimension of athleticism and explosiveness they need on the wings. He might make an okay backup, however.

Posted by: kalo_rama

I know you didn't see the game last night Kal, and I know it was the Warriors (and an undermanned Warriors team at that), but Livingston did show more explosiveness last night than I have seen. He had a couple of nice drives and a couple of nice dunks. Not saying that means he will work well paired with Gil, just pointing out that he seems to a) be getting into game shape and b) having more confidence that his knee will hold up.

I don't know how they would play together. Not great defensively is my first thought. But I think Gil would give up dominating the rock quite as much if he knew the guy getting it would do something good with it.

Posted by: ts35 | April 7, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Larry, Agree with you 100%. This team is all about playing team ball. Arenas should adjust to them and not the other way around. This current team is compose of good and WILLING passers (Livingston, Blatche, Miller). No more blackhole (AJ, Etan, CB). No more contested shot with still 15 seconds left in the clock. With some luck in the draft and FA we'll see some improvement next season.

Posted by: Dave381 | April 7, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I don't know how they would play together. Not great defensively is my first thought. But I think Gil would give up dominating the rock quite as much if he knew the guy getting it would do something good with it.

Posted by: ts35 | April 7, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse


and he's a true pg. he looks to pass first 95% of the time. he'll look to get Gil easy shots just as he's done for AB and on a smaller level NY.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | April 7, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

All of those jumping on the "See NY can play D, he just wasn't given a chance" bandwagon need to check themselves.

The question with Nick was never his physical ability to play D, it was his commitment and focus to playing D. If you watch early season games, his effort on the D was all over the place, some times game to game, some times within games.

He has played with better focus lately and everyone seems to want to jump on the train of "see? if they had given him minutes earlier...." which excludes the possibility that maybe he is playing with more focus because he knows if he doesn't he won't get minutes.....which is known as coaching. But I know y'all don't want to buy into that, because it can't be the player's fault.

Nick has been playing better lately. I think he has been helped greatly (as all players are) by having a PG who actually gets him the ball in good spots.

The other side of it is that they just played the Nets and the Warriors. Up next is the Magic. Last time they played the Magic, Young got played by JJ Reddick. Before I'm ready to buy in that Nick has 'arrived', let's see how he does against a real team. With all of the injuries, Nick is going to get minutes. And if he's matched up against Reddick, Reddick is going to make him work. If NY holds up, I'll start to buy in.

Posted by: ts35 | April 7, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

the Magic have nothing to play for do they? May not have the intensity tonight, whereas we will go hard I would think.

Livingston is 6'7"! Gonna be a long night Jameer, unless Flip goes Earl on us

Posted by: divi3 | April 7, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Loved McGee's aggressiveness last night (and lately) and he had a great game.

But to be fair, the Warriors were ridiculously small last night. There was one great shot of the Warriors huddled up and Don Nelson was the 2nd tallest guy in the huddle. And he was pretty close to first. Nelson ain't a short guy, but he's no 7 footer either.

But props to McGee, AB and the Wiz for doing what you're supposed to and attacking an opponent's weakness.

Posted by: ts35 | April 7, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Thing is, the Cavs were deliberately built to complement LeBron. You never know how a team like that will react to the sudden loss of the star. Sometimes they actually play better for a while. But it usually doesn't last.
Posted by: Samson151 | April 7, 2010 9:50 AM |

That's right.
So to say that the Wiz are one "lebron" or "kobe" away is correct, IMO.
Cause any team can be built around 1 superstar who can carry the entire crew if need be.

Ernie's plan for 3 stars to go up vs. 1 mega star didn't work.

But the way I see it now, AB & JM & SL & NY are good/young complementary pieces that are in need of one main king to get the Bullets back in the thick of things.

Posted by: Rocc00 | April 7, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

God, Kal, you woke up angry. It's all just conversation. But it definitely seemed like you misread it on the Blatche-McGee thing, and on the Livingston-Gil thing. The other guy just offered a friendly correction. It's all good, man.

Also: Mike Lee's statement that "That was the most rebounds and points scored in one game by a reserve in nearly 24 years" -- that just can't be right. And is that a franchise or league stat?

And what does it mean, exactly? Is 27 points/12 rebounds worse than JaVale's 25/15, or less? There's no combined points/rebound stat. Also, I think Blatche got exactly those same numbers off the bench, against GState, in Tapscott's first game taking over for Eddie Jordan.

Posted by: Urnesto | April 7, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

God, Kal, you woke up angry. It's all just conversation. But it definitely seemed like you misread it on the Blatche-McGee thing, and on the Livingston-Gil thing. The other guy just offered a friendly correction. It's all good, man.

Also: Mike Lee's statement that "That was the most rebounds and points scored in one game by a reserve in nearly 24 years" -- that just can't be right. And is that a franchise or league stat?

And what does it mean, exactly? Is 27 points/12 rebounds worse than JaVale's 25/15, or less? There's no combined points/rebound stat. Also, I think Blatche got exactly those same numbers off the bench, against GState, in Tapscott's first game taking over for Eddie Jordan.

Posted by: Urnesto | April 7, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I doubt that Arenas and Livingston will both be in a Wizards uniform next year. A good team will see that Livingston is close to his old form (or even at 80% still very effective) and will offer him a multi-year deal. Arenas needs the ball in his hands to be effective and that won't happen with Livingston playing PG. Hopefully, the Wiz will buy out Arenas and re-sign Livingston for next year.

Posted by: wizfan89 | April 7, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

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