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Day after he stormed out of practice, Flip Saunders says, 'message delivered, message received'

By Michael Lee

When Flip Saunders told his players to report back for another practice on Monday, Al Thornton recalls leaning his head back and saying, "Aw, not another one."

The players certainly didn't want to put in an extra two hours of work, but Thornton knows why it occurred. "The first practice was kind of lackadaisical. We needed to come back and sharpen up some things. It was very tough," he said. "In the grand scheme of things, we needed to come back. We couldn't finish on that note."


Who knows, if I play the last two minutes, maybe we don't lose and have two practices on Monday. (AP Photo)

The Wizards completed for their third practice in 24 hours on Tuesday, and Saunders said he noticed a difference in the last two. "We had better concentration. More concentrated effort, mentally and physically. Comprehended more things. Hopefully message delivered, message received."

Saunders said on Tuesday that the Wizards could see some changes to the rotation when they face Houston on Wednesday, with the Wizards ranking last in the league in rebounds per game (35.2). The Wizards made rebounding a priority during training camp, and the team has come back to win the overall rebounding competition the past three games.

"It was a focus in training camp that we identified early as being a weakness," Saunders said. "Just 'cause you work on it in training camp, four weeks, five weeks, six weeks, you're not going to change. That's a lot of time to alleviate all of the errors. But it's just one of those things you'll have to continually work on.

"Up front, we need to rebound the ball and we need to defend," he said. "Guys that have an ability to rebound and defend are going to have some opportunities."

Thornton said that the players took the extra practice session to heart. "A lot more competitive. Longer," Thornton said of the past two practices. "But the main thing, extremely competitive."

Saunders singled out Thornton as one of the players who brought the right focus to the early Monday practice, and the fourth-year forward has been one of the more efficient players on the team this season. He is averaging 15.2 points on 54.1 percent shooting, with 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals.

Thornton has also served as a barometer for the Wizards, since he has scored in double figures in their wins and close defeats, while being held below 10 points in both blowout losses. He has grabbed at least six rebounds in each game. "That's something that I pride myself on, try my best to bring it every game, be consistent," he said. "That's one of my main goals this year."

He had a team-high 23 points despite sitting out the final nine minutes of the fourth quarter of the Wizards' 107-102 loss to the Cleveland on Saturday. He admitted that sitting out for the finish, with Saunders relying on his three-guard lineup of Kirk Hinrich, Gilbert Arenas and John Wall was disappointing, but added that he has put it behind him.

"I was frustrated. Soon as I came out the game, I was thinking, 'Two minutes, he'll put me back in there.' But at the end of the game, we was scoring well. Gil hit a three, Kirk hit a three. It looked good for us. I wasn't tripping -- until the end of the game. I was like, 'Aw man, I wish I could've been in there.' But he apologized. We all move on."

By Michael Lee  | November 9, 2010; 3:48 PM ET
Categories:  Flip Saunders  
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Next: Saunders: Don't be fooled by Houston's 1-5 record

Comments

Give the 3-guard lineup a rest for now Flip.

This team can't run if they don't board... pretty simple really. The Rockets bigs will present a serious challenge for Blatche and McGee. The last thing we need to see is Hinrich getting posted up by Battier or Scola down low.

Posted by: elfreako | November 9, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Flip's all in!

Posted by: divi3 | November 9, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I am in agreement with elfreako. Let's put the 3-guard lineup to rest Flip. Whoever is hot between Gil and Kirk gets to stay in. Whoever is not, takes a seat on the bench.

Flip needs to keep Thorton in at the 3 and give the "rest" mins. to Nick Young. Martin should be getting some minutes also.

Posted by: BulletsFever | November 9, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Teddy Bigbucks is an enabler, but entertaining if nothing else. From "doogie" to "dougie."

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/sports/Leonsis-Offers-a-Stunning-Dougie-Preview-106979818.html

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 9, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

so i guess flips bad decision making isn't causing wiz games. when is the writers going to put the blame were it belongs. wasting time working on a 3 guard offense to begin with and bad sub patterns is the coach. this team has tuned him out and for good reason. ted pull a jerry jones and fire this guy now but don't use one of his assistants but get a real big man coach.

Posted by: rnbrown4 | November 9, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse


Flip better coach a good game against the Rockets since accountability is his publicly-declared theme. Can the players walk off the practice court on him?

Posted by: ahwyatt | November 9, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Yi - We need to find out and use him to his strength. For some reason I think he can be more productive, they all can but, but I'm just saying.

Arenas - I would love for he and J-Wow to gell but things are so icey right now with him Im not sure if he will bounce back in time for it to happen.

J-Wall - slow down and use your speed to your advantage, this doesn't mean use it all the damn time. Growing pains.

Blatch - Need to trust in his abilities and just play. Get in shape.

Mc Ghee - Need a role, he has all of this ability but Flip need to tell him what he wants him to do with it.

Nick Young - Need some Playing time, I think he is starting to mature.

Josh Howard - Could be the soul of this team once healthy.

Hinrich - Leadership. But. He must perform and be consistent for this young team to follow.

All of the above players are the keys to this team this year. I believe if flip can get the most out of these players and help them gell they can be dangerous next year. They are long and fast, I know I hated to play against players of this mold.

Posted by: AllDCSports | November 9, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Saunders always sounds like an a hole in his interviews. These aren't college kids he's talking about.

Posted by: bobilly2 | November 9, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Practice!! We talkin' 'bout practice?!!"

Posted by: junkiwonteverread | November 9, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

So, Flip plays a few head games with his young guys, and they respond. I'm glad he called them out.

So much negativity on this blog -- not from Mike, but many of you other guys. It makes me pine for melodius_thunk.

So much promise here with these Wizards, beyond just J-Wow, and why not? Wall does stuff that's jaw-dropping, eye-popping.

So maybe Gil comes around, and Blatche and McGee grow up, and Howard, Hinrich, Yi, Thornton, Armstrong and Young play up to their abilities, Martin and Hudson fill in, and Seraphin and N'daiye incubate.

So many reasons to be hopeful this season.

So be it!

Posted by: zinger1 | November 9, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

... and I forgot about Booker, another good reason to cheer. In the long run, we're loaded.

Posted by: zinger1 | November 9, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Saunders always sounds like an a hole in his interviews. These aren't college kids he's talking about.

Posted by: bobilly2 | November 9, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Damned certain some of them ought to me. YI has no business in the NBA for one.

Posted by: glawrence007 | November 9, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

"so i guess flips bad decision making isn't causing wiz games."

Posted by: rnbrown4 | November 9, 2010 5:25 PM

Nope. David Stern is the one causing Wiz games. If you want to make it stop (and god knows there are times when I do) he's the man to talk to.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 9, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

"... and I forgot about Booker, another good reason to cheer. In the long run, we're loaded.Posted by: zinger1"

Maybe the team could go on hiatus until the 2014 season...

Posted by: Samson151 | November 10, 2010 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Why not try to pick up free agent center Eric Dampier to at least tutor our young big men? Drop Shame-to-pay N'Diaye or Lester the molester since their contracts aren't guaranteed yet, and pick up a veteran who can teach the young bigs how to play. Heck, he would automatically be our best post defender right away...

Posted by: Janitor_with_a_Jumpshot | November 10, 2010 3:08 AM | Report abuse

JwJ...do you miss Haywood yet??

Posted by: oddjob1 | November 10, 2010 5:31 AM | Report abuse

Plain & simple... we need to be goin starting 5 Wall, Arenas, Thornton, Blatche, Mcgee w/ Kirk, Booker & Yi the main guys off the bench! It is obvious! That gives us the right mix.

NY off the bench if O is sputtering as the DS (designated scorer) when needed.


JwJ , yeah I'd LOVE to get Camby.

Posted by: Darnell1 | November 10, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Plain & simple... we need to be goin starting 5 Wall, Arenas, Thornton, Blatche, Mcgee w/ Kirk, Booker & Yi the main guys off the bench! It is obvious! That gives us the right mix.

NY off the bench if O is sputtering as the DS (designated scorer) when needed.


JwJ , yeah I'd LOVE to get Camby.

Posted by: Darnell1 | November 10, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Plain & simple... we need to be goin starting 5 Wall, Arenas, Thornton, Blatche, Mcgee w/ Kirk, Booker & Yi the main guys off the bench! It is obvious! That gives us the right mix.

NY off the bench if O is sputtering as the DS (designated scorer) when needed.


JwJ , yeah I'd LOVE to get Camby.

Posted by: Darnell1 | November 10, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Scratch the three guard lineup unless we're matching up with a team like Golden State.

Gil needs to start at the 2 period and he needs to have the ball in the crunch time until JWall develops a mid range game and a decent jump shot. The lane is too clogged up because he is not a threat to score from the outside yet. He will develop a jump shot because he is hard worker that wants to get better and he is also the cornerstone for our franchise moving forward.

Cartier Martin sent the Philly game into OT but we actually won the game bc JWall was aggressively looking for his shot early on. He was even 2-3 from behind the arc against Philly and that is because Atlanta dared him to shoot the night before. His aggression opened the court up and allowed him to control and impact the game the way JWall knows how too. His aggression was missing from the Knicks game and the Cavs game.

He will have to learn how to score in a half court offense. Right now the majority of his buckets come in transition. What happens when a team limits the transition buckets? We will struggle because our best experienced options on offense have yet to play together. That would be Josh Howard and Gil just coming back off of injury.

I hope Flip is being very cautious with Gil's minute right now because the rotation is not good. Its early.Stay tuned Wiz fans

Kirk Hinrich needs to come off the bench and we need to play him at the two when Gil enters the game. Gil needs the ball in his hands more for this team to be successful the way it is currently constructed.

Posted by: JWADE4 | November 10, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Flip needs to get off this Kirk Hinrich tip. Great role player and could play on my team any day for all of the intangibles that he brings to the table but we want win many REGULAR season games with KH, GA, and JW starting together or playing for long stretches of the game.

Posted by: JWADE4 | November 10, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Nope. David Stern is the one causing Wiz games. If you want to make it stop (and god knows there are times when I do) he's the man to talk to.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 9, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

LOL. Not sure anyone picked up on that.

Posted by: bpybay | November 10, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Hinrich needs to be the 6th man off the bench or something...no more 3 guard sets. That $hit doesn't fly in the NBA.

Posted by: msveasey | November 10, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

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