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Wizards lose to Magic

Morning brew

John Wall's first NBA field goal never actually went through the basket. That about sums up what turned out to be a rough debut for the No. 1 overall pick from last June's draft. There was little memorable about his first game, as the Orlando Magic flustered him, challenged him into being a jump shooter and celebrated every errant shot.

But the player who caused the most trouble was another former No. 1 overall pick in Dwight Howard, who refused to let Wall's first shot go down. Wall had sped up the court, broken down the defense, and tossed a layup off the glass. But Howard chased him down from behind, soared over him and slapped the shot hard off the backboard, earning a goaltending violation.

"I told him I was going to give him two points tonight," Howard, the top pick in 2004, said after his team humiliated the Wizards, 112-83 on Thursday night.

The rest of the night, the 6-foot-11 Howard was waiting in the lane, ready for snuff out any of Wall's attempts inside. Wall often wound up on his backside after their encounters. He finished with 14 points on 6 for 19 shooting and nine assists, trying futilely in the fourth quarter to get a double-double.

Orlando only let Wall show glimpses of his tremendous talent, such as the time Wall crossed up and drove into Magic reserve Chris Duhon so tough that Duhon started backpedaling as if he was ice skating on his heels. Of course, the play ended with Wall turning the ball over after he got into the lane. Wall finished with just three turnovers.

"It's not the most ideal situation to match up for your first game," Coach Flip Saunders said afterward of the Magic.

But in many ways, it probably was. No need to gain a false sense of security from an inferior opponent and develop bad habits. Howard and the Magic provided an eye-opener for the 20-year-old rookie, who surprisingly had the worst plus-minus of any player on the floor with a whopping minus-31. The Wizards lost by 29.

"It really taught me what I need to work on," Wall said.

Wall's family and close friends were at Amway Center to take part in his special night. His mother, Frances Pulley, wore a "Wall: Game Changer" T-shirt. But Wall learned that before he can change the game, he will have to make some changes in his game.

"He's going to have a great career," Howard said. "He's so fast. He wants to play at that one speed. I told him to slow down a bit. He's going to learn a lot. I'm 24, and I'm still learning in this league."

Michael Lee will host an online chat this morning to discuss the season opener and John Wall's NBA debut.

Here's the game story and a photo gallery. Tiger Woods was on hand to watch the game, which was a troubling debut for the Wizards.

Meanwhile, Gilbert Arenas went to Baltimore to visit a foot specialist.

Dwight Howard offers some advice to Wall in his rookie season.

AROUND THE WEB's Michael Wallace said Wall learned a valuable lesson in his debut: stay away from Dwight Howard.

NBA Fanhouse columnist David Whitley writes that Wall got a dose of reality in his NBA debut, while Fanhouse's Tim Povtak talks to Saunders, who isn't trying to temper expectations for his young phenom.

Bullets Forever's Mike Prada weighs in on the blowout and emphasizes that it's just one game.

NBA Facts & Rumors grades Wall's performance.

And Truth About It's Rashad Mobley lists the few highs and many lows.

By Michael Lee  | October 29, 2010; 8:34 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: John Wall is welcomed to the NBA with a walloping
Next: Wizards online chat at 11 a.m.


Wall, I thought he is here to pass, ended up taking 19 shots, 10 more than the next guy.

This team does not have rebounders. Both McGee and Blatche got only 2 rebounds (McGee had 0 defensive rebound). McGee again equates defense to block shots and left path to the basket wide open.

Scoring-wise, this team needs both Arenas and Howard healthy to be competitive, but I don’t know how to fix the rebounding woes when nobody cares to gather that ball (and guys in the interior do not block out).

Posted by: sagaliba | October 29, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Anybody wants to lower their predictions???

Rebounding will be the team's issue for the whole season. Tell me again why did they not re-sign Singleton?

Posted by: Dave381 | October 29, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I said it when they fired him and i'll say it now this franchise will rue the day they fired Eddie Jordan, Ernie Grunfeld has scuttled any chance this franchise has of winning he's the main reason they've lost over 100 plus games the last two years he has taken a franchise that at least under Jordan was competitive night in,night out,and turned it into a joke. Ted Leonsis first move after he bought this franchise should have been firing Ernie Grunfeld and if he think's Flip Saunders has a clue then i question Mr.Leonsis aptitude as an NBA owner,Flip Saunders coaching staff is also sorely lacking in the rudamentry aspects of coaching as witnessed in a sorry display of professional basketball last night in Orlando, this team lacks NBA talent sans John Wall and Gilbert Arenas and the fault lies directly at the feet of Ernie Grunfeld.

Posted by: dargregmag | October 29, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

That's typical Magic: they like that shock and awe. Put the opponent on his back early and spend the rest of the game stomping. That's a club that won 23 of 28 to end last season. They swept Larry Brown's team in 4, then chased Mike Woodson out of Atlanta in another sweep.

Then Boston stopped them cold. Embarrassed them. Last night, in their shiny new arena, they had a point to make. And they did.

What did we learn about this iteration of the Wiz? Very little. We learned that Andray Blatche is not in shape and John Wall won't be able to carry the team by himself. We already knew that, of course.

Keep watching.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 29, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

By the way, Kalorama called that one.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 29, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

man when you see AB and Mcgee standing next to dwight Howard, you got to wonder who's training Howard. Because whoever is training AB/McGee aint doing a good job. Not only that but Dwight Howard got a former all pro center helping with his offensive moves. Can we not afford to bring Karl Malone or Moese Malone to teach our big men moves?

Anyhow, after last night game, we're going back to the draft lottery (no suprise there). Harrison Barnes anyone?

Posted by: demonj21 | October 29, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

"Anyhow, after last night game, we're going back to the draft lottery (no suprise there). Posted by: demonj21"

That's been a good guess since the day last season ended. People just forget it during the off-season.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 29, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

The NBA is a marathon, not a sprint.

Did the Wizards have a bad outing last night? Yes. Will every contest be as poorly played? No. Does the Magic game count as five games in the 'L' column? No!

I'll be the first to admit that last night the Wizards were punched in the face and had their lunch money taken away from them (I'm sure that evokes a few unpleasant childhood memories for the haters, but I digress). This is part of the learning process for a young team missing its primary scorer and most veteran player and, quite frankly, will ultimately hasten the Wizards' transformation into a hardened, playoff-bound bunch.

Take a deep breath and relax, Wizards Faithful. Losing last night's game assures the Wizards a lottery appearance no more than winning last night's game would have guaranteed them a playoff berth.

Take comfort in the fact that under the tireless and galvanizing leadership of Ernest Grunfeld, the Wizards will rebound from the loss to the Magic and be stronger (and wiser) for having experienced it.

The swelling crowd of crazed, rabid haters can just step back now. Nothing to see here.

In Grunfeld We Trust!!

Posted by: melodious_thunk | October 29, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

About Howard's physique: it's not just working out. You have to have the frame to support it, and Javale doesn't. Kevin Seraphin, on the other hand, does. But Seraphin's a ways away from an NBA player.

Don't despair: Kevin Garnett and Pau Gasol aren't built like Dwight Howard, either.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 29, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

We need interior play (ie rebounding) more than we need guard play and an extra veteran on the floor with John Wall.

Flip is clueless. You are going to have to start Yi, McGee, and Blatche together to solidify interior play.

Yi and Blatche are mobile enough to cover the three position interchangeably if needed.

Start Blatche or Yi at the three depending upon matchups. But interior play is more important, way more important than the guard play.

John Wall and hopefully it is just a two game thing with Gilbert are more than adequate to handle the guard play.

Not having good interior play also hinders the offensive efficiency of Wall. With McGee inside and Blatche or Yi on the wing, Teams may not sag like Orlando did last night against Wall.

With Blatche, McGee and Yi in the game at the same time, teams would have to adjust to us on offense. They will not adjust to Thornton or even Hinrich at the SF position

Last night Howard shutdown Blatche and the basket at the same time. Imagine if Blatche took him out on the Wing to open up the court.

Now Howard has to make a decision, does he guard the basket or go outside with Blatche.

Last night all he had to do was stay inside and it shutdown our whole offensive flow to the basket.

Making a small adjustment of having Yi, Blatche and McGee together on the floor would make a difference.

Flip bemoans our interior play, but Flip ought to know that McGee and Blatche need Yi's help more than keeping an experienced guard on the floor with Wall.

Hinrich isn't the answer, nor is Thornton. Howard can make a difference at the SF.

Ironically, it is the interior play that John Wall needs the most. To rebound for the break and to open the floor with bigs that must be guarded inside and outside the paint.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 29, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I thought at one point they were going broadcast the remainder of that game to the Cartoon Network. That was pathetic.

Where are all the McGee lovers? Does he even think while he's on the court? It was as if he'd never defended the pick and roll. Maybe he went back to the huddle and told Flip, "hey, we've got to add that play to our playbook." And how many more times is he going to snatch a ball when it's 1 foot from the rim? I could pick on McGee, but Blatche, too, suffers from poop brains. He's the guy that's got to show some discipline, but he settle for awful shots all night.

Posted by: ZardsFan1 | October 29, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

When Yi comes into the game he is rendered ineffective because he is still only the 2nd big on the floor.

With the way Blatche and McGee style of play is and Yi being somewhat similar, they are going to only maximize there effectiveness by playing together.

Two of them will only be effective with teams that aren't strong in the middle. You will not be an effective interior team waiting on teams with weak interior play.

You have to be strong yourself and the best chance for this team to be effective interior wise to have Yi, Blatche and McGee together as a solid part of the gameplan. This, even when Howard returns.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 29, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

John Wall 35 minutes in a blowout loss? WHY?!

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | October 29, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

BTW any1 on the Magic surpass 30 minutes?
Didn't think so.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | October 29, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

You can stratigize all you want but Yi is not a starter and McGee............... well the jury's still out imho, guy's like Javale need to stay four years and get some much needed coaching and PT instead of comming into the league before they're ready, Nick Young is the perfect example Young should have stayed at USC at least three maybe even the full four years but that's water under the Anacostia now bottom line; this team is in trouble even if and when Gil comes back and to think not even three years ago we had Caron,AJ Brendan, and Gil damn, didn't know how good we had it.

Posted by: dargregmag | October 29, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Speechless right now. However, I believe Grunfield it's starting to look like Grunfield could have assembled a better team throughout the years. Now I know why Wall didnt look too pleased when he saw that the wizards had the no. 1 pick.

Posted by: washwiz | October 29, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

John Wall 35 minutes in a blowout loss? WHY?!

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | October 29, 2010 10:46 AM

BTW any1 on the Magic surpass 30 minutes?
Didn't think so.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | October 29, 2010 10:47 AM

Wall played a lot because he's a rookie who has a lot to learn and has to play through his mistakes. I fault Flip for a lot of things but not Wall's minutes last night. On the other hand, Orlando was blowing the Wizards out, doesn't have a rookie starter they're trying to break in and was in the first game of a back-to-back. It all makes sense. Just think about it.

Posted by: Skinz4Lyfe | October 29, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

This team will go nowhere with Grunfeld and Saunders. Grunfeld threw away a whole season by firing the coach who had taken us to the playoffs three years in a row early in the season, only to bring in an interim coach so the team could win 19 games the rest of the way. Bonehead move. Just like last year's bonehead move; how do you have the number 5 overall pick and the number 32 pick in the draft, and have nothing to show for it a year later? That's Ernie's legacy, regardless of what the Grunfeld apologists say. The proof is in the pudding, and we got a taste of the pudding last night. After being with the team since 2004, Ernie rolled out a team last night that looked like it didn't belong in the same league with Orlando, much less on the same court. I know Orlando is a championship caliber team, but after six years, shame on Ernie for the product we're putting on the floor. Get rid of him, and get rid of Flip.

Posted by: sonny2 | October 29, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Don't need a big man's coach for our 5 and 4s. As one of the so called expert here mentioned the team already have Sam Cassell to teach them about inside game. Nice!

Posted by: Dave381 | October 29, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

If this team sucks, it falls directly on EG/Flip, and they'll be fired. Whine all you want about Blatche and Mcgee being weak and NY being dumb....but EG extended AB, picked up Mcgee's 4th year, and drafted NY. Flip has now been coaching them for a season and a summer. There's really nowhere else for the player-haters to turn now. Nowhere left to point fingers, the whole organization under Leonsis is in the same boat together.

Except Gil I guess, he's chillin on a private yacht with his pocket still right despite.

Posted by: divi3 | October 29, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Just went back a looked at the last thread and I am somewhat still awed at the number of comments still alluding to players not having a clue and not having any smarts for how to play the game.

I am almost convinced that these comments come from folks that haven't actually played the game.

After running up and down a court for many years you find out that dumb player don't last long.

Certainly, players that make it all the way to the Pro's aren't and shouldn't be dumb players. Assuredly, their levels of knowhow and moxy for the game can vary greatly, but dumbness and inability to understand the game can't be hidden all the way to becoming a Pro player.

If it is really the case that the Wizards has dumb players who have no aptitude to learn the NBA game, isn't this a serious indictment on the Wizards, Mr. Grunfield, and Flip Saunders?

For, if the Wizards players are too dumb to learn the NBA game, we must conclude they are smart businessmen to get paid for something that they have no mental aptitude for.

GET THE POINT. So enough with the dumb comments already, folks.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 29, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Blatche would pick up all those Hakeem moves better than DHoward could, and better yet, maybe Dream could instill some warrior spirit in him!

Posted by: divi3 | October 29, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Can't teach toughness.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 29, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Didn’t Ernie say that we want to rebuild and be competitive at the same time? He drafted 4 players this year. Wall is a unanimous choice, due more to the luck of the ping-pong ball than the homework of a GM. The other 3 simply cannot contribute at all. The #17 pick wasn't even activated for the game. Ernie also said that we want to "get tough," and the end result is we are out out-rebounded 53 to 25!

53 to 25?! Looks like we can only get rebounds when the ball happened to bounce into our players' hands!

Posted by: sagaliba | October 29, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Can't teach toughness.

So what? Dirk, Pau, Odom, Bosh, etc etc etc...none of those guys are tough. Some of them are considered soft. Doesnt mean that type of player isnt one you want on your team.

Posted by: divi3 | October 29, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

If your 4 is soft, then you better have an enforcer at the 5. The Wizards don't.

Posted by: roscoepcalhounbrownjriii | October 29, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Can't teach toughness.

So what? Dirk, Pau, Odom, Bosh, etc etc etc...none of those guys are tough. Some of them are considered soft. Doesnt mean that type of player isnt one you want on your team.

Posted by: divi3 | October 29, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Depends on your definition of "tough." If you define it as the in-your-face, scowling, menacing type, then by that definition, no they are not tough.

However, if you define toughness as resistance in the face of adversity, never backing down, and never giving up or giving in, then you can (as I do) classify each of the players you named above as tough.

You cannot win in the NBA without being tough, and the players you mentioned are all winners -- you never see any of them backing down from a challenge.

Our bigs last night, on the other hand ...

Posted by: bpybay | October 29, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

1 game with a rookie point and newly formed club; humiliated is overkill. They lost to a Contender (who by the way, can't seem to contend past a certain point)

Good learning experience but no biggie. They got a ways to go and that's a given.

Posted by: kahlua87 | October 29, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

DC has to be the worst sports town in America....There isn't one town out there that has so many losing teams. Yeah, yeah, I know you CAPS fans will say they are winnders...but when was the last time the Caps hoisted the Stanley cup trophy? The wizards are atrocious, the redskins are mediocre at best, the Nationals are...well, bottom dwellers. The Terps, Cavs, G-town, non factors for any big time sports. The soccer team (DC United) has regressed to being door mats....

What other town has so many losers as teams? At least Detroit can boast about the Redwings. Tampa has a legitimate baseball team.... and now, even Dallas has a world series contending team.

This is depressing!

Posted by: sd-bones | October 29, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I said it when they fired him and i'll say it now this franchise will rue the day they fired Eddie Jordan...

Posted by: dargregmag | October 29, 2010 10:02 AM

Yeah, right, and I bet it's tearing up Philly, too. If Eddie Jordan were John Wall's coach, Wall would ride the pine for three years behind Hinrich while Wes Unseld Jr tutored him on the bench.

Posted by: KTV1 | October 29, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

[EG] has taken a franchise that at least under Jordan was competitive night in,night out,and turned it into a joke.
Posted by: dargregmag

To be fair, EJ's competitive team was largely assembled by EG. If you want to blame him for tearing it down, at least give him the credit for building it in the first place. Since EJ hasn't had any head coaching success anywhere else, it's hard to fully credit him with their success.

Posted by: ts35 | October 29, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Can't teach toughness.

Posted by: kalo_rama

Yes, you can. And players learn to play tougher all the time. Pau does not play the same way he used to. He's plays more physically now.

But like with all other things, you have to be willing to be taught.

Posted by: ts35 | October 29, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

flip is probably not the best coach for the situation here. this team needs a tough, discipinarian....teacher and mentor as coach. as a fan i don't like the way the team played last night. there was no desire and they allowed themselves to be steam-rolled. on that i blame the coaches. not for how they coached the game(more on that in a sec), but an obvious lack of teaching has taken place. mcgee should be skyhooking teams into submission and yet he doesn't even seem all that interested in learning that one basic shot. i could place the blame, but i don't think it's necessary here. as for the game coaching, why didn't booker play(more), why didn't you have yi, blatch and mcgee on the court at the same time(i agree with larryinclinton on that for sure), after all that is the time you try things. in a blowout game. which brings me to my main point. the whole coaching arrangement is lameduck. these guys won't be back next year. there will be a lottery pick next year and it's all part of leonsis' master plan. isn't there a threat of a lockout next year? that will give ownership time to evaluate the true direction. this is a lost season and any potential lockout time benefits leonsis. time to build the management team he can work with. these holdovers do not fit his style from what i can tell.

Posted by: joerutgens72 | October 29, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

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