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Wizards falter in the third quarter, and final two minutes, in loss in New York


Is this my one shot? (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)


It wasn't the best finish, as the Wizards let the New York Knicks score the final four points of the game on Sunday, including two Toney Douglas free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining, to win, 92-90, at Madison Square Garden.

Nick Young broke an 88-all tie with two minutes remaining, when he nailed a 19-foot jumper that brought his teammates out of their seats on the bench. But the Wizards missed their final four shots -- with none coming inside of 15 feet, including Yi Jianlian's desperation three-pointer as time expired. Coach Flip Saunders blamed the meltdown on poor clock management down the stretch.

"You can't get a carry call with 53 seconds left," Saunders said in reference to Young, who had a rough night in a reserve role, with just three points on 1 for 8 shooting and that costly turnover.

After the game, Lester Hudson sat quietly in the visitor's locker room, noticeably frustrated about how the game ended with him running the show. He also got beat backdoor and fouled Douglas on the decisive possession.

This is a critical stretch for players battling for roster spots and spots in the rotation, and Saunders gave Cartier Martin a chance in the starting lineup. He finished with four points and three rebounds, but helped neutralize Danilo Gallinari, who missed all seven of his field goal attempts and scored just one point.

"It felt good. I'm pretty confident in myself," Martin said. "Defensively, I was able to get a couple of stops, slow down Gallinari. My offense didn't go the way I wanted it to, but I know there are other phases of the game, besides scoring. It was difficult to lose a game that we played so well in."

The Wizards primary problem was the third quarter, when they squandered almost all of their 11-point first-half lead and got outscored 29-19. Amare Stoudemire scored 10 of his 18 points in the period, at one point blowing around Andray Blatche for a dunk. The game turned shortly after Saunders sat McGee with 6:27 remaining.

Blatche had his shot blocked by Stoudemire and Wilson Chandler. Al Thornton had his shot blocked by Stoudemire and Timofey Mozgov and two turnovers; one off a bad pass that led to a layup by Douglas, and another when he grabbed the rim in an attempt to put back a John Wall miss. Hilton Armstrong also had two offensive fouls and Wall was called for his second travel of the game. Saunders theorized that Wall's speed probably led to those calls. "I think he's so fast, [the officials] can't read what he does. He has such long strides. He can eat up a lot of floor in one dribble."

Wall said the Wizards showed some improvement against the Knicks but have to figure out how to come out with better focus after halftime. "The last game we lost, we took a step back, but this game, we took steps forward. We still got to figure the third quarter part out," Wall said. "We really have to have the same focus we had at the beginning of the game in the third quarter."

McGee committed a team-high four turnovers, but he made up for it some with six blocked shots. He was truly dominant on the defensive end of the floor, and he wasn't given credit for a few blocks or how he altered several shots. McGee had two blocks in the first two minutes, but he was forced to sit after picking up two quick fouls. He had two more blocks near the end of the first half, sending one Douglas attempt into the fourth row. He didn't get credit for one block, when he appeared to send Gallinari's shot in reverse with his elbow. "I was playing aggressively," McGee said.

McGee and Andray Blatche had some good moments against the Knicks, but Saunders still wants more from his starting duo. "They still have a tendency to float sometimes and don't want to be involved where the dirty work is inside," he said. "You got to have some inside presence. When you have two young guys developing, you're not sure what they are going to give you every night."

Thornton said he was a little sore after playing 26 minutes in his first game back after missing the previous two with a sprained left ankle. "It's really sore, but it's getting better, but the good thing is I cane tolerate it and I can play on it. I was a little winded, but for the most part, it felt good to get out there and get a sweat in and be with the guys again."

The Wizards will practice in Toledo, Ohio, on Monday. They have one more preseason game left. Saunders didn't use Adam Morrison, but said that he plans on taking a look at a number of guys on Tuesday and in practice. As for the players he evaluated on Sunday, Saunders said, "There were some good things, some bad things, some good learning experience. We had some guys that played, fighting for playing time. Some hurt, some helped."

By Michael Lee  | October 17, 2010; 11:18 PM ET
 
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Comments

I like Martin's defensive performance--I think he and Morrison are going to make the team. I'd like to see them keep one more player who's not currently under contract, but it sounds as if that's not going to happen. I can't figure out what's up with NY. One game he's great, the next he's terrible. At this point in his career, he ought to be bringing it every night.

Posted by: pjkiger1 | October 17, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

I dont know, it doesnt look to me that there is much attempt from the guards to get the bigs the ball inside. Maybe it's a chicken-egg thing, but there's a hell of a lot of dribbling and very few entry passes.

That said, team looked pretty good at times.

Posted by: divi3 | October 17, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

He shaved that scraggly beard and cut his hair, holding true to his pledge to "look pretty" in time for the regular season opener in Orlando. When asked about the new look before the game, Arenas said, "I don't know what you're talking about."

An obvious back-handed slap at media coverage of his faux pas relating to NY. This guy doesn't forgive or forget slights imagined or real. He's a prick of the first order, and a demented fool.

NICK's problem is that GA's back and running things per usual, or so ARENAS, and unfortunately NICK seem to think.

MARTIN may make the team. MORRISON too. I think HUDSON just flunked NBA 101. I don't think he'll be allowed to repeat the course.

Posted by: glawrence007 | October 18, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

I never know whether a player like Cartier gets the start because the coaches have decided to keep him or because they're thinking seriously about cutting him. But I do think the club needs somebody who can play defense on the other team's SF.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 18, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

I doubt Morrison makes the squad. Defensively he doesn't bring much and offensively he can't dribble. He's like a 6'8" Pecherov IMO.

McGee was very good considering the 2 early fouls. I actually think Al Thornton is cut out to do the 'dirty work' that Flip is seeking. He always seems to give max effort with very little concern about style points. Sure he makes mistakes but they are aggressive ones.

I'm hoping he has shown enough to earn his starting spot back.

Posted by: elfreako | October 18, 2010 12:49 AM | Report abuse

A back hand clap at the media. . . are you serious? Why in the freck would Gil have to "play up" to the media? The same media that did everything to urge everyone to run him out of town . . . if you believe he owes "kind words" of any type to WP's Mike Lee or any other local media . . . the word you use towards him (starts with a p and and ends with rick) should be guided at YOU and the media!

Posted by: zack5 | October 18, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

I'd just like to say that I am still pissed that we let Roger Mason Jr leave several years ago. You can see by the way that he lit it up against us last night that he is a force to be reckoned with.

Posted by: Blurred | October 18, 2010 6:51 AM | Report abuse

Seriously though, Kirk and Yi were excellent pickups this offseason and improved this wretched team.

Mcgee is on his way to MIP contention this season and all star status by next.

John Wall is the real deal and if he avoids injuries, will play in this league at a super high level for 15 years.

Blatche is doing fine.

If Arenas can stay sort of healthy and shut his gaping maw, this team could be pretty OK and definitely has a nice core for the future.

I guess we sort of have to keep Nick around for a while, but geez whats wrong with him? Of course if he leaves, some dildonious will cry for 4 years about how he would have been the piece that would have ut us over the top.

Posted by: Blurred | October 18, 2010 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Blurred, Do Dilidonious's tend to go with their Vibes?
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | October 18, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

"The pro-Gil/anti-Gil split on this board is pretty fascinating. I think there are enough posters in here that the percentage is probably representative of Wiz fans overall, which appears to be about a 65-35 pro-Gil advantage. It will be very interesting to see how it all plays out."

Wait a minute -- that ESPN poll somebody published says the opposite. You have another poll?

Posted by: Samson151 | October 17, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Samson, I believe (I read the poll last week, but I did not review it before writing this post) that the ESPN poll represented NBA fans in general, and not Wiz fans in particular, which is what I am referring to. I stand corrected if I'm wrong. It does appear to me that there are more pro-Gil than anti-Gil folks in this forum (although the anti-Gil folks are REALLY anti-Gil).

Posted by: bpybay | October 18, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

If I'm the Wiz, I keep Hudson and Martin. I believe cutting Nick is out of the question, but if I am Wiz management and am serious about improving this team to its max, I let him go. I like the young man (he shares my last name), but he doesn't have enough of the intangibles (or the requisite skill set, other than shooting) to merit keeping him (he would most assuredly latch on to another team) -- too one-dimensional. I believe Martin has better upside.

I also hope one mistake won't cause them to overlook all the good things Hudson has done this preseason. He should be a lock to make this team.

Posted by: bpybay | October 18, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Although Nick looked like he may cry at times last night, he was engaged defensively despite his shot not falling. Worst body language I've ever seen from him, like he found out before the game he's 4th on the depth chart.

CMartin will make the team I think.

Yi is regressing.

AB will be fine, but maybe not for weeks.

How is Gil supposed to integrate into this team without any preseason PT?

Posted by: divi3 | October 18, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

How is Gil supposed to integrate into this team without any preseason PT?

Posted by: divi3 | October 18, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I think they know what they've got with Gil, and he looked tremendous in the first three games (as did the team when he was in there), which is very encouraging. I believe he is practicing. I don't think we need to be concerned about him not playing these last few preseason games.

Posted by: bpybay | October 18, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I don't think we need to be concerned about him not playing these last few preseason games.

Posted by: bpybay | October 18, 2010 9:10 AM

So does Gil start or come off the bench behind KH? Will Flip really go with the guards lineup rather than start Thornton? Doesnt seem as if the preseason is being used to coalesce a starting 5 as you might have expected with such a new team.

Posted by: divi3 | October 18, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse


I think these past two games have shown why we need Gilbert: the Wizards have lacked an experienced, confident closer.

It's no coincidence that the Wizards have folded in the second half of games with guys missing wide open shots because they feel the pressure. With Gil on the floor getting scores, he puts points on the board, loosens up the defense AND he gives the team confidence.

Hinrich finished 3-7 from the field but it seemed much worse. He's just too streaky to rely on for scoring and isn't the threat that Arenas is to take it to the rack.

Say what you want about Thornton's b-ball IQ, but the guy seems to be the only forward willing to slash to the basket, pick up fouls and fight for rebounds. We're going to need him until Howard gets going.

I won't even get started with the sulking Nick Young. Dude still hasn't figured out that when the shot isn't falling he just needs to double-down in other areas of the game.

Posted by: and_1 | October 18, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I doubt Morrison makes the squad. Defensively he doesn't bring much and offensively he can't dribble. He's like a 6'8" Pecherov IMO.

LOL, good 'un

And for Zack5:

In case you haven't noticed I will reiterate.......I'm a WIZARDS fan. Team first, individuals second. GILBERT ARENAS is all about GIL to the detriment of himself and unfortunately all around him. He's a demented fool, and I used to like the guy. I woke up why don't you?

Posted by: glawrence007 | October 18, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Saunders sounds pretty committed to that 3 guard lineup, at least at the start of the game. I can imagine the howling we'll hear around here if he goes through with it. But if the team has some depth, it's at guard. The real vulnerability seems to be inside, at least against disciplined clubs who know how to exploit it.

Blatche looks about 3-4 weeks away from being in game shape. I think that's what we're seeing in the second half.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 18, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Say what you want about Thornton's b-ball IQ, but the guy seems to be the only forward willing to slash to the basket, pick up fouls and fight for rebounds. We're going to need him until Howard gets going.

by-and-1

I think he's going to be needed right along. I like his play for the most part and his 'tude totally.

Posted by: glawrence007 | October 18, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Saunders is talking a big game about inside presence and scoring, but then wants to put KH at SF. That lineup is a perimeter oriented rotation, fine if that's what Saunders wants, but dont complain when you play small ball and have trouble on the interior.

I'm not fully sold on AT, he's all over the map, but he's aggressive and always seems to be around the rim on both ends of the floor. It's glaringly obvious you dont get that with the 3 guard lineup. Cant have your cake and eat it too, Flip.

Posted by: divi3 | October 18, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Doesnt seem as if the preseason is being used to coalesce a starting 5 as you might have expected with such a new team.

Posted by: divi3 | October 18, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

No, probably not as we expected divi3. Some cracks are beginning to show in the pre-season euphoria of a "new" WIZARDS team. but we'll muddle through this season for better or worse. And with 'THE CANCER.'

Posted by: glawrence007 | October 18, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I agree with divi3 about the rebounding situation. No conincidence that once again the Wiz outrebounded their opponent when they start a more traditional lineup with Martin at SF.

It's interesting that Flip doesn't hesitate to play 3 guards but still hasn't put 3 versatile bigs (Blatche, McGee, Yi) on the floor even though it's preseason. Go figure.

Posted by: and_1 | October 18, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

why does Flip continue to play John Wall for 35 minutes plus? Brandon Jennings mentioned how Wall is playing too many minutes in light of being a rookie on the verge of an 82 game marathon.

I know it's crazy and highly unlikely but is it possible we cut Nick and keep Martin & Morrison?

Why no significant playing time for Seraphin and H? Isn't that what the preseason is for?

Posted by: spoooooooon | October 18, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Say what you will about NY, but Morrison is absolutely horrible. No way he makes the team.

Could NY be cut? I suppose, especially if they determine it's necessary to keep a spot for H so as to retain his rights.

Posted by: divi3 | October 18, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

No way will Nick be cut.

1. Young will probably have about 10 big games this year. He will stink in the other 72, but still...

2. They owe him $2 million.

As for Ndiaye and Seraphin, I believe they both go to the D League. Hamady ASAP and Seraphin a couple months into the season (for political reasons).

I'm not sold on Hudson. His point guard play in general and that backdoor play he allowed yesterday, specifically, lead me to believe he is on the bubble. I think the race for the last roster spot is between Martin and Morrison.

Posted by: and_1 | October 18, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Blurred at 6:51am:

I'd just like to say that I am still pissed that we let Roger Mason Jr leave several years ago. You can see by the way that he lit it up against us last night that he is a force to be reckoned with.

Blurred at 6:59am:

I guess we sort of have to keep Nick around for a while, but geez whats wrong with him? Of course if he leaves, some dildonious will cry for 4 years about how he would have been the piece that would have put us over the top.

Posted by: Urnesto | October 18, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Gil and Howard are the two keys to this team's performance that we have seen very little of yet. Howard's apparently any where from a few weeks to a few months out.
Gil's been resting a sore groin the last few games and it has shown on the floor.

Gil's injury has opened the door to an interesting possibility, does Gil start the year coming off the bench?
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | October 18, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Hinrich finished 3-7 from the field but it seemed much worse. He's just too streaky to rely on for scoring and isn't the threat that Arenas is to take it to the rack.

Say what you want about Thornton's b-ball IQ, but the guy seems to be the only forward willing to slash to the basket, pick up fouls and fight for rebounds. We're going to need him until Howard gets going.


Posted by: and_1 | October 18, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse


Everyone is crying about rebounding when Flip goes with the 3 guard lineup, but Kirk lead the team with 9 boards last night.

I am not a fan of the 3 guard lineup but to say our rebounding suffers with Kirk on the floor seems patently wrong. Maybe Offensive boards, but not rebounding as a whole.

Posted by: Blurred | October 18, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Blurred at 6:51am:

I'd just like to say that I am still pissed that we let Roger Mason Jr leave several years ago. You can see by the way that he lit it up against us last night that he is a force to be reckoned with.

Blurred at 6:59am:

I guess we sort of have to keep Nick around for a while, but geez whats wrong with him? Of course if he leaves, some dildonious will cry for 4 years about how he would have been the piece that would have put us over the top.

Posted by: Urnesto | October 18, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse


perhaps the facetiousness of the first comment eluded you. I thought the comment "You can see by the way that he lit it up against us last night that he is a force to be reckoned with" would have tipped you off, since he went like 1-3 last night for 2 pts.

****Spoiler Alert****
I will write something very similar about Brendan Haywood sometime before 2013 when McGee goes 21/16 on a team headed deep into the playoffs (hopefully the Wizards) and Haywood is fighting to get 12 minutes of backup time on his lottery bound team after getting passed around the league like a fat chronic joint at an Iverson sponsored after-hours party.

Posted by: Blurred | October 18, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

So blurred, getting stoked for the VCU pre-season? We got some pre-SPIDERS invite and tix in hand.

Posted by: glawrence007 | October 18, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Yes. My son is now 4, so I can start taking him to a few of the evening games. he loves the Sat afternoon games and is already asking when get to go watch Basketball.

Not sure what to expect from them this year. Losing a guy like Sanders on a squad like ours is a big blow. ACC teams go through guys like him yearly, but he was a rare treat for a mid-major.

Heard any news about the rams? Local paper sucks so bad I dropped my subscription except for Sundays and now I get all my news online.

how are the Spiders supposed to shape up? Is the UR/VCU game at Robbins or Seigel? Maybe we should meet up for a "hello" during that one.

Posted by: Blurred | October 18, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

C'mon guys, get real. Do you really think Gil is going to start the season on the bench? This is PRESEASON. There is no pressing need to start him now. Not only is he our starter, but obviously one of our top two players. Don't let the preseason suck you into believing that he is on anyone's bubble (as to whether or not he is the starter). If he is healthy, he starts. Period! That is especially true if they are trying to move him (which we can all speculate about, but no one knows for sure).

Other thoughts:

I don't believe Morrison will make the squad.

No need for N'diaye and Seraphin to play in preseason. They won't be in the regular rotation during the season and they will be brought along in practices, and play during garbage time. We already know what we've got with those two, and both of them are works in progress who won't ultimately factor in to how well we do this season -- at least not early on.

Flip is not playing for wins right now (we had our bench in during the final minutes of the 4th last night). I think he is looking at specific situations and how those who ARE on the bubble will respond in them. I personally couldn't care less about wins right now. Not important at all.

I believe Flip will start with season with the three guard line-up of Gil, Hinrich and Wall (with Blatche and McGee), which doesn't bother me in the least. That group will be a defensive nightmare for opposing teams, and with Gil on the floor, Hinrich will get plenty of open looks and scoring chances.

I like this team and its potential. Obviously, there will be rough spots during the season (as there are during the preseason), but I believe that as AB and AT round into form, and when we get JH back from injury (if he makes it all the way back), we will be a dangerous club.

I'm predicting 38-44 this year.

Posted by: bpybay | October 18, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

"That group will be a defensive nightmare for opposing teams"

How do you figure?

Posted by: divi3 | October 18, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

does anyone know of a way to block rollover ad / pop-up ads? would like to be able to read about the faltering Wiz in peace

Posted by: prescrunk | October 18, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

"I agree with divi3 about the rebounding situation. No conincidence that once again the Wiz outrebounded their opponent when they start a more traditional lineup with Martin at SF. posted by and_1"

Although the team's leading rebounder was Kirk Hinrich with 9. Cartier Martin had 3.

Makes me wonder how you arrived at that conclusion. Martin's big contribution seemed to be defensive, on Gallinari, and well away from the basket.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 18, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

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