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Posted at 8:03 AM ET, 11/22/2010

One giant leap for JaVale McGee

By Michael Lee
Morning brew

After JaVale McGee grabbed 12 rebounds on Friday against Memphis, Coach Flip Saunders was cautious about praising McGee too much, because he wanted to see how McGee would perform in his next game against Ben Wallace and the Detroit Pistons. Wallace is an aging veteran who has lost most of his athleticism but uses his savvy to remain an effective force on the glass.

McGee used his speed and athleticism to outplay Wallace, who still managed to grab 10 rebounds in just 20 minutes. But the 22-year-old center grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds, with eight coming on the offensive end. He grabbed an Andray Blatche missed jumper, then made a reverse dunk. McGee also wasn't afraid to mix it up and battle with Wallace and the undersized but rugged Jason Maxiell.

"I was just out there trying to be as aggressive as possible," McGee said after the Wizards' 115-110 overtime loss at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich. "I feel I did well."

McGee, a native of Flint, certainly had some incentive to play well with nearly 15 friends and family members in attendance to watch him play. He acknowledged them in the third quarter, when he recorded the play of the game. Gilbert Arenas missed a three-pointer and McGee sprinted toward the hoop, then caught the rebound and dunked in one rapid motion. After slamming the ball, McGee beat his chest, then lifted his two index fingers up to his supporters.

But McGee did more than just provide some highlights. He grabbed at least 10 rebounds for the third consecutive game and is averaging 11.8 rebounds over his past four games. "He played great basketball," said Arenas, who had a career-high 16 assists. "He stuck to his principles. He made it easy for himself, he was getting offensive rebounds, waiting for the offense to come to him and he didn't try to do too much to get him taken out of the game like usual. He showed that if he plays the right way, he is effective out there."

McGee was credited with just two blocked shots, but he altered several others and was called for goaltending three times. McGee also scored a season-high 20 points -- the third time in his career that he scored at least 20 points -- showing an ability to finish with some impressive hook shots in the lane and even a short jumper. "By far, his best overall game," Saunders said.

The night was incomplete for McGee, who wanted to leave with more than just his best game in the NBA. "Real disappointment coming up short," he said. "Everybody was out there working hard. We could've got the win, but we didn't so that's all that matters."

FROM THE POST
The game story from today's paper.

Analysis of a key play from the loss to Detroit.

A look at McGee's ups and downs this season.

Columnist Mike Wise's take on similarities between Gilbert Arenas and Clinton Portis.

AROUND THE WEB
The Detroit News' Terry Foster on Rip Hamilton's huge overtime period.

Mike Prada's breakdown of the game (Bullets Forever).

In non-Wizards news, another view of Blake Griffith's dunk against the Knicks (Ball Don't Lie).

By Michael Lee  | November 22, 2010; 8:03 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Gilbert Arenas makes the pass, then Richard Hamilton makes the Wizards pay
Next: Alonzo Gee rejoins Wizards, Lester Hudson waived [UPDATED]

Comments

After JaVale McGee grabbed 12 rebounds on Friday against Memphis, Coach Flip Saunders was cautious about praising McGee too much, because he wanted to see how McGee would perform in his next game against Ben Wallace and the Detroit Pistons.

but Flip has no problem criticized McGee after one bad game?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | November 22, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

but Flip has no problem criticizing McGee after one bad game?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | November 22, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Starting The 3 Small Guard Lineup Thoughts

Im probably still against it but Ill tell you that Gil & Kirk have played so well & Al has played so bad lately that I wouldnt be shocked if Flip goes with it despite wanting otherwise and I might not even disagree with him. I know one thing, even if Al does start he will be pulled super quick in every single game if he doesnt play like he did early.

Also, its not even all about the 3 little guards but alot of it is about NY. Alot of people think he's the odd man out when we get Wall back but all the guards including him are playing mad well while Al is struggling. I just wouldnt be shocked to see us start the little 3 or start NY or start Al but pull him quick every single game if he's not getting it done. I still dont like having 3 guards on the floor per say because all of them seem to be a little better "with" the ball and 3 guys means they wont have the ball that much. It has to be 2 in that respect but Al better step up

Posted by: dlts2041 | November 22, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

JMc just needs a good coach. He should never leave the paint areanon offense or defense. He does not set screens. He is just there and not in position long enough for an effective screen.
I like him switching in the paint. Never leaving the area for jump outs or screens.
There should be more post ups run for him, with the understanding and awareness for back out passes.
On defense again he should be staying near the paint, no chasing.
A marvelous potential talent who can revolutionize the center position with such athletic skills he needs encouragement rather than criticism and quick hooks.
Nice foundation with JMc and JW Ab Ny.
Kh is just annack up point guard and should never be on the floor with that inappropriate 3 guard set.
If Twitch likes the 3 guard set, only run it with Ny Ga and Jw.

Posted by: mricklen | November 22, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Hard to win close games against top tier teams, when they are constantly bringing solid vets off the bench, and the Wiz only have rooks and inexperienced players to match them.
I do like the direction of the team personnel wise, and enjoy watching the progress.
Still feel that a different coach is a necessity.

Posted by: mricklen | November 22, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

but Flip has no problem criticizing McGee after one bad game?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | November 22, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse
-----------------

The fundamental problems that show up when McGee has "one bad game" have been around for years.

Posted by: crs-1 | November 22, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

a note about the goaltending calls.

one was questionable, one was flat out wrong.

i've been pleased with McGee's decision making regarding blocked shots as of late.

Posted by: crs-1 | November 22, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

"Arenas then whipped out a pass ahead to Young, thinking that he either would've had a fast-break layup or brought the ball back up to run a play. Young never got control of the ball. Hamilton was fouled and secured the win from the foul line. Saunders clapped his hands and shouted in frustration. "Those are the situations, you want the ball in your best player's hands and he's got to make a play," Saunders said of Arenas. "You're not going to give the ball to Nick at half court. We tightened up.""

Flip just gave the politcally correct version of "Gil choked". And he's right.

Posted by: ahwyatt | November 22, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Other than hoping he gets better at finishing at the rim, I actually like the new version of Arenas. He passes more (16 assists), defends better, and is more a complete player!

Pass to Blatche was the right play (Blatche probably should have been a little close and not behind the 3 point line), but the pass to Young was not.

However, according to the Washington Post, Saunders yelled "go" at the time, so obviously the plan was to take a quick shot if it was there, and not just blindly holding for the last shot. This is the coach's decision, Arenas failed on the execution part of it, not his decision making

Posted by: sagaliba | November 22, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

The Wizards are competitive this year, which is good. Now they're learning HOW to win. If they keep up the hard work, by February they will know how to close out a close game. Good job.

Posted by: carterm1 | November 22, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse


However, according to the Washington Post, Saunders yelled "go" at the time, so obviously the plan was to take a quick shot if it was there, and not just blindly holding for the last shot. This is the coach's decision, Arenas failed on the execution part of it, not his decision making

Posted by: sagaliba | November 22, 2010 9:38 AM

Sorry, dude. "Go." does not equate to "Attempt a stupid 1/2-court pass to a closely defended teammate.". Therefore, Gil's "decision making" is absolutely at fault.

Posted by: ahwyatt | November 22, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Progress, folks, progress. We knew they weren't going to be champs overnight, but they are making the kinds of strides that young teams going in the right direction need to make. Kirk played a bad game last night, but let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. He has been pretty steady all season long, and it's going to be very interesting when Wall gets back to see how the three-guard tandem is going to work, because it appears that Gil is very close to being his old self (why is it taking Blatche so long to get in shape?). He played arguably the best floor game I've ever seen him play. He and Wall will be a very intriguing backcourt once they both get healthy.

Last night was also Exhibit A as to why we need to be patient with JaVale. He's coming, folks. He's coming. He's not there yet, but he's coming.

Posted by: bpybay | November 22, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

interesting when Wall gets back to see how the three-guard tandem is going to work

The best 3 guard lineup the team could run would include Nick as the 3rd guard. At this point he is a better defender than Wall/KH/Gil and he has enough size to legitimately try and matchup with opposing 3s. And he's currently shooting 49%

Posted by: divi3 | November 22, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

BTW, Im not advocating the 3 guard lineup. Im just asking. I think its dumb for the most part but at the same time, if your SF is playing like crap then you almost have no choice. One thing is for sure, we better start Gil. Gil made some strange comments after the previous game saying how when Wall comes back its his show and he will take his foot off the gas. He said that he will go back to the bench. I hope he's just trying to be a good teammate because it would be stupid to make him a bench player. If Flip is hell bent on starting Kirk then it better be over Al and not Gil.

Still, Id prefer Al starting, then NY if he struggles, and then go small. Maybe even Booker before then but Gil better start

Posted by: dlts2041 | November 22, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Great game by the Wiz except for the finish. Gil is looking good and will learn again that he is the finisher. His play was unselfish down the stretch of this game and he will get the edge back to close. I think that is what Flip was trying to say about that turnover to half court. The possession and a good shot is more important than taking chances at that point in the game.

I commend him for making the "right play" with defense collapsing but there aren't many that has had the success he's had taking the last shot with the game on the line.

I'm encouraged by what I see. 16 assist for Gil and solid defense shows a lot of maturity in his game. Now he has to incorporate that type of game with the ability to take over and close like he did in the past.

Would've really liked for the Wiz ro get this one with Javalle having the type of game he had too. Be very encouraged Wiz fans.

Wait, what is Flip going to do when JWall comes back? Send Gil back to the bench. Flip would be a fool but I don't put it past him, he is stuck on Kirk Hinrich "hard". And what about NY? Been looking good too and on defense, rebounding. What excuse will Flip come up with next for why Alonzo Gee should get NY's playing time? I like Alonzo game and he can help us but please don't deliver another crushing blow to NY, he may not be able to come back after this one. And he let Javalle play through his mistakes for a change but Yi was inactive. What happens when he comes back?

Posted by: JWADE4 | November 22, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

McGee had a nice game but he also left a lot of rebounds out there on the floor. I recall one late offensive rebound by Maxiel where McGee didn't box him out that allowed them to get within two. Also they did outrebound us, and got more offensive rebounds that we did.

The other thing about McGee is that he can look horrible at times, especially late in the game. The attempted pass to Blatche late in the game, the time when he didn't have anyone to pass to and tried to drive in and lost the ball, another pass directly to C. Villanueva, that Villanueva couldn't handle.

Posted by: tedunni1 | November 22, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Saunders is still limiting JaVale's minutes. McGee hasn't fouled out of a game this year. He's becoming a smarter post player. He's not getting pump-faked as often. And he's a nightmare matchup for most centers in the league. Maybe Flip knows something about JaVale that he's keeping to himself.

Regarding the 3-guard lineup: Why not let Nick Young run with John Wall and Arenas?

Posted by: musicmanjr | November 22, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the 3-guard lineup: Why not let Nick Young run with John Wall and Arenas?

Because the only reason there is a 3 guard lineup is so Flip doesnt have to choose between Gil and Kirk

Posted by: divi3 | November 22, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

As a die hard wiz fan, heres my two cents worth about the season so far. John Wall is a great rookie in the sense that he is able to go out and get good individual numbers. However, just like the rest of the team he needs to start learning how to close out and win games at the NBA level. In some crucial parts of the game it appears that he is moving at a high rate of speed that doesn't benefit the team. McGee has shown in the last few games that he is making a concerted effort to improve. He is slowly realizing that altering an opponents shot or blocking it to a teammate is more effective than throwing it into outer space, achieving nothing but allowing the opposing team to take the ball out. Gilbert seems to be hesitant to take over games at crucial times, particularly in the all important third quarter. Kirk has been outstanding other than his rare, unexplained lapses in ball handling resulting in turnovers. Sort of like unforced errors in tennis. Nick Young can be a great scorer, but he is entirely too inconsistent at this point in his career. It hurts me to say that because I love his game.

I think our future is bright. Alonzo Gees addition should help us as well.

Posted by: dark_knight | November 22, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

The oldest player on this team is Josh Howard at 30, then Hinrich at 29 and Arenas at 28. After that, they are all either 26 years young or under. This is a very "youthful" team that has a lot of young players with game experiences (Thornton, Blatche, Young, Jianlian and Armstrong). It will be a bonus if they are also competitive and manage to win some games every so often. This is a young team that can mature real fast, in a good way, due to all their previous game experiences. They just got even younger by letting go Hudson (26) and getting back Gee (23) who may have learned a thing or two from the Spurs.

Posted by: JohnWWW | November 22, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse


Response to the glawrence007 comments, the Wizards need to win! Being in the lottery doesn't mean you'll mean a championship team...look at the LA Clippers theyve been in the top 5 lottery for the past 5 years and still have the worst record in the league.

The Wizards team/organization needs to focus on improving and winning games. They need to build that winning attitude because for a very very long time this team and organization has had a winning atmosphere since the 70's. So I say win, keep winning and young guys like McGee, Blatche, Young, Wall keep improving so that this team and organization can become a winning organization.

I know I'm going on a rant but look at the Mavs, prior to Dirk joining the organization and team was awful. They were in the lottery for years. Now they have 50 wins season every year(Also the owner played a part in that). No they haven't won an NBA title but there more attractive organization to other players because of their winning ways. Clippers will always have stars coming to the city, because it's LA. But eventually the best players leave because their tired of the losing and being in the lottery every season.

Posted by: rcnasa | November 24, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse


Response to the glawrence007 comments, the Wizards need to win! Being in the lottery doesn't mean you'll mean a championship team...look at the LA Clippers theyve been in the top 5 lottery for the past 5 years and still have the worst record in the league.

The Wizards team/organization needs to focus on improving and winning games. They need to build that winning attitude because for a very very long time this team and organization has had a winning atmosphere since the 70's. So I say win, keep winning and young guys like McGee, Blatche, Young, Wall keep improving so that this team and organization can become a winning organization.

I know I'm going on a rant but look at the Mavs, prior to Dirk joining the organization and team was awful. They were in the lottery for years. Now they have 50 wins season every year(Also the owner played a part in that). No they haven't won an NBA title but there more attractive organization to other players because of their winning ways. Clippers will always have stars coming to the city, because it's LA. But eventually the best players leave because their tired of the losing and being in the lottery every season.

Posted by: rcnasa | November 24, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

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