Wizards hope to end road skid
The Wizards ended a remarkable streak on Friday when they defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, 89-86, with a, grind-it-out, "root canal" performance that saw them shoot just 38 percent. It was the first time since Jan. 14, 2008 that the Wizards made fewer than 40 percent of their shots and still won a game, breaking a string of 43 consecutive losses in that situation.
Now, they are focused on ending another streak on Sunday in Detroit. They are the only team in the Eastern Conference without a road victory this season. The Wizards are 0-5 -- with three losses by at least 21 points -- away from Verizon Center, where they an impressive 4-2. Only five Eastern Conference teams have at least four wins at home.
The only other NBA team without a road win are the 1-13 Los Angeles Clippers.
"That's part of the maturity process, to be able to fight things," Coach Flip Saunders said. "What happens is, when things go bad at home, the crowd will help you get into a game, or you make a couple of shots and the crowd will get into it and you play off your adrenaline and you don't hang your head as much. On the road, it's the other way around."
The Wizards are a completely different team at home than on the road. They average 99.8 points and shoot 45.3 percent at Verizon Center, but just 89.6 points and 43.2 percent shooting away from home. They also grab just 35.8 rebounds on the road, compared to 41.8 at home.
"I don't know. I cant tell you," Andray Blatche said, when asked why the Wizards have performed so poorly on the road. "It's something about that road. We've got to find a way to pull together and get over that hump. It's sad to say that we're the only team in the league without a win on a road. We've got to go on to Detroit and make that happen. We're going to have to all pull for each other on the road, get each other hype and be each other's friend and tough it out. That was key."
Blatche is the most dramatically different player away from Verizon Center. At home, he averages 20 points and 9.8 rebounds. On the road, he averages 12 points and 5 rebounds, although those numbers are somewhat skewed since he has sat the fourth quarter of a few blowout losses away from home.
Saunders said a primary difference is that the Wizards have struggled taking care of the ball on the road, where they average 19 turnovers a game. They average 16.7 at home. "On the road, the No. 1 thing you have to do, you have to be able to take care of the basketball, so you won't be able to give up runs," he said. "What happens is you turn the ball over and that's how other teams get their crowds into the games, get fast break points, get layups and get spectacular players. They're scoring and you have to go against a set defense all the time and it's like going in quicksand, you keep on sinking further and further the more you work on it."
| November 21, 2010; 12:03 PM ET
Categories: Andray Blatche, Flip Saunders
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