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Wizards ready for "bright lights" of Madison Square Garden

By Michael Lee
Morning brew

When John Wall made his first appearance at Madison Square Garden with Kentucky last year, he took over the world's most famous arena with an electrifying performance. He led the Wildcats to a 64-61 win over Connecticut as he scored 12 of his team's final 15 points.

Wall put on another show a few weeks ago when the Wizards lost to the Knicks in the preseason and said afterward, "The lights is bright, you've got to perform. It's the mecca of basketball, why wouldn't you want to play here?"

Earlier this week, it looked like Wall's real professional debut in New York was going to be delayed when debris fell on the court and led to the postponement of the Knicks game against the Orlando Magic. But the situation has apparently been cleared up, and the game will go on as planned. The Knicks (2-2) are coming off a 120-112 victory on Thursday night in Chicago, where they shot an incredible 16-for-24 from three-point range.

The Wizards might welcome back Gilbert Arenas as well, as he returns from a strained tendon in his right ankle. Arenas will be a game-time decision, and Coach Flip Saunders will likely use him in a reserve role if he plays. Saunders said the Wizards could certainly use Arenas whenever he comes back.

"He's an all-pro player that has the ability to score, has been in big situations. Doesn't get flustered, no matter what the stage is, usually plays better the bigger the stage," Saunders said. "I think because of those situations, he's going to be able to help your younger guys and be a guy you can rely on. Put him on the floor, sometimes with Kirk, it'll make your whole team effective."

Co-captain Kirk Hinrich said that no matter who's on the floor, the Wizards still have to play as a team if they want to have success this season. "We just have to focus on us and bring about the right kind of effort. If we do that, we should be all right," Hinrich said. "Guys are in here working, we're getting there. Guys are trying, that's the most important thing. They are trying to do the right thing, and play the right way and it's coming out well. Everybody is trying to find their way. When we get stops, play with good pace and share the ball, we can be a good offensive team. When we don't, it's pretty evident what happens."

Hinrich said he has no concerns about playing at Madison Square Garden after the problems earlier this week. "If they say it's safe to play, then I trust them. I'd rather play in Madison because it's kind of one of the places I look forward to playing in, with the history in that building."

FROM THE POST
Here is a story on Andray Blatche and his path to regain his conditioning and his form from last season. Also, Gilbert Arenas practiced fully on Thursday and will be a game-time decision against the New York Knicks.

AROUND THE WEB
Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner also profiles Blatche. He has a quote from Saunders on Blatche's penchant to shoot jumpers instead of posting up. "Sometimes he gets paint repellent."

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis wants it to be known that his star point guard might not be the only one who get down on the dance floor. He even offers a challenge to fans. "When we have a total paid sellout this season, I will do the "Dougie" - I promise."

ESPN's Colin Cowherd may not be a fan of John Wall's dancing, but he has left an impression with basketball observers who consider him the front-runner for rookie of the year after the first week. NBA.com's Drew Packham has Wall atop the Rookie Ladder, ahead of 2009 No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin. ESPN.com contributor David Thorpe also has Wall ranked first and mentions Wall's improved jump shot since summer league. "If he can maintain the form he showed, his jump shot will be a legit threat for him all season," Thorpe writes.

In their latest debate on ESPN.com, Chris Broussard and Ric Bucher argue over which player is the better franchise cornerstone between Wall and Griffin. Broussard goes with Griffin because of his size. He says, "For all the great, scintillating point guard play we're now witnessing in the NBA, history -- even recent history -- shows that, when it comes to championships, a great big is more important than a great PG."

Bucher, the former Washington Post Wizards beat writer, picks Wall. "I don't know if Wall will ever even play in an NBA Finals, much less be its MVP. But he has unreal speed, a fantastic handle, floor vision, length and a shooting stroke that will be good enough to keep defenders honest."

Former Wizard Fabricio Oberto retired from the NBA on Thursday because of his recurring heart condition. CBSSportsline's Ken Berger reports that Oberto left behind a parting gift for the Portland Trail Blazers, by converting his contract from guaranteed to non-guaranteed so that the team wouldn't have to pay the remainder of his salary.

By Michael Lee  | November 5, 2010; 8:06 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
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Next: Source: Gilbert Arenas set to make season debut in New York

Comments

On Wall vs Griffin: be hard not to like both of them. Ric Broussard argues that it's better in terms of repeat championships to build around a great 'big' than a great PG, and that seems true, but that 'big' should be at center, not PF. Of course there are hybrid 4-5's out there like Pau Gasol who can be considered an exception.

Good article in this week's SI on Joakim Noah.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 5, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

In their latest debate on ESPN.com, Chris Broussard and Ric Bucher argue over which player is the better franchise cornerstone between Wall and Griffin. Broussard goes with Griffin because of his size. He says, "For all the great, scintillating point guard play we're now witnessing in the NBA, history -- even recent history -- shows that, when it comes to championships, a great big is more important than a great PG."

I tend to agrre with this, but the thing is with those "great bigs" so hard to come by it makes having a really good point guard all that more important. He can keep the offense flowing and effective not to mention having great playmaking ability.

Posted by: gmac78 | November 5, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

In their latest debate on ESPN.com, Chris Broussard and Ric Bucher argue over which player is the better franchise cornerstone between Wall and Griffin. Broussard goes with Griffin because of his size. He says, "For all the great, scintillating point guard play we're now witnessing in the NBA, history -- even recent history -- shows that, when it comes to championships, a great big is more important than a great PG."

Put me in the BROUSSARD camp. If I ran an NBA franchise I'd have three tremendous bigs and a swing player, and two fair offensive, shut-down defensive guards to get them the ball. Defend the perimeter and dish inside. This outside strength is great if you've got the inside locked up. GRUNFELD passed on that maybe because the ghost of KWAME BROWN continues haunting the franchise, and this year the best player was an outside player, WALL. I'm sure GRUNFELD is holding his breath (and his future employability in this league), pinning his hopes on the rapid development inside of BLATCHE, McGEE, ARMSTRONG, SERAPHIN, and N'DIAYE. I have my doubts, but all will be well if the front line develops the way he envisions.

Posted by: glawrence007 | November 5, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Update on the problems in Detroit. That situation seems to be coming to a head, and this early, too.

http://nba-point-forward.si.com/2010/11/04/can-the-pistons-be-fixed/?eref=sihp

Posted by: Samson151 | November 5, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

"Charlie probably didn't have a momma that was tough that would have smacked his butt and kicked him back out the house and told him to stand up fo' hisself."
-LarryInClintonMd

Right, because using violence to solve personal disputes is ALWAYS better than using words. Just ask all the upstanding young gentleman packing heat and hanging out drinking 40s at 11am in Sursam Corda. I bet their tough mommas ignored their problems, smacked them around, and taught them to stand up fo' theyselfs real good. They'll probably be dead by age 23, but they sure don't take no disrespect!

So, yeah, Charlie Villanueva should compromise his NBA career and take a swing at KG next time he sees him on the court--because I'm sure he wouldn't want some moron in PG County to think he ain't living the thug life. Jeezus...

Posted by: Plix | November 4, 2010 10:47 PM

Jumping too conclusions might just show your own negative prejudicial bias.

First of all we are talking about trash talking in the NBA. Not thugs, and not PGC. Evidently, you jumped all the way from trash talking all the way to vieldly saying that PGC is a den of thugs.

Wow.

And secondly, standing up for yourself in may day, where gangs and thugs were not on the radar screen, was about being a strong young person in word and deed and also in play.

It had nothing to do with the biased slight you are referring to. Parents in my day taught their kids what playing and pickin was all about and how to react to it without thuggery and ignorance of the type you are slanting a whole county with.

The nerve.

Trash talkin in the NBA is a time honored tradition and if Charlie V wants to go cryin to the twitter page cause he don't know how to handle it, it doesn't make PGC a thug county.

You is anything.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 5, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

The guy may have been a stiff, but that was a class act by Oberto, converting his contract from guaranteed to non-guaranteed when he was under no obligation do do so. A LOT of guys would have just taken the money and run.

Posted by: rufus_t_firefly | November 5, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

I saw the Knicks play last night and they look good. There offense looks to be in high form.

John Wall will need a fine game from all his mates, himself and hopefully Gilbert.

I still wonder how much of Flip's talk of easing Gilbert back is all about his health and not some grand strategy on the court.

If it is really all about making sure that Gil gets completely healthy and not forestall his comeback with continued injury then yeah that is very smart.

However, if Flip is not starting Gil because of strategy and to somewhat balance the 2nd team, look for disaster and a disarrayed team.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 5, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

However, if Flip is not starting Gil because of strategy and to somewhat balance the 2nd team, look for disaster and a disarrayed team.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD


Flip's dumb but he's not THAT dumb. Even if Gil doesn't start tonight Flip will eventually have him 30-35 minutes and he will be in the game during crunch time no matter what. Even Flip can see that Hinrich is not the best selection as a shooting guard and has been strug-uh-ling on defense, his alleged strength.

Posted by: artiesliver | November 5, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

...Flip will eventually have him playing 30-35 minutes...

Posted by: artiesliver | November 5, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

"Gilbert Arenas practiced fully on Thursday, spending most of his time lined up with the second unit which featured Lester Hudson, Yi Jianlian, Cartier Martin and Hamady Ndiaye. Arenas will be listed as a game-time decision when the Wizards face the New York Knicks on Friday at Madison Square Garden."

Gil practice "fully" but spent most of this time lined up with the 2nd unit.

Why? Why? Why?

I don't get that. If he is able to practive fully then why is he practicing as a 2nd stringer? Sounds like Albert Haynesworth and Shanahan. We all see how that worked out.

So what gives, folks? It isn't as if Gilbert hasn't been there all this time and is behind the learning curve. What the hay is up?

He practiced fully is the quote. Is he ready or isn't he. Did the Med Staff say he could practice fully but only on the 2nd Team. Ludicrous. Med Staff wouldn't say that.

So if he can practive fully, then why not with the first team and why not start?

What is up? Is Flip too smart for his own good. Can Gilbert go or can't he? If he can go, then why with the 2nd team.

If you want to limit him because he is coming off injury then cut his minutes. Having him go with the 2nd unit will cause Gilbert to have to do more on the floor.

Going with the 2nd unit doesn't help ease him back in because it will invariably cause him to do more on the floor with less capable players than the first unit.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 5, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

And invariably, if he is coming in as 2nd stringer, he might not see anytime on the floor with McGee who is only playing 20mpg.

Astounding.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 5, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Why? Why? Why? I don't get that. If he is able to practive fully then why is he practicing as a 2nd stringer? Sounds like Albert Haynesworth and Shanahan. We all see how that worked out.

Take a deep breath, Larry.

It makes sense to practice Gil with the second unit for now since nobody on the team knows how his ankle will respond to yesterday's activities. If he aggravates the injury and can't go tonight, at least they haven't disrupted the first team's continuity and flow by taking some guy (probably Hinrich) out of the starting lineup only to have to put him back in right before tipoff.

Posted by: artiesliver | November 5, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

"A great big is better than a great PG?"

I would think its more of you have to have a dominating big and an electrifying wing player which Wall is. Examples Magic-kareem, kobe-shaq, parker-duncan, wade-shaq, Cassell-olojuwan. Where are we gonna find a dominating low-post player?

Posted by: jefferu | November 5, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

that was a class act by Oberto, converting his contract from guaranteed to non-guaranteed when he was under no obligation do do so

Absolutely.

Posted by: nmik | November 5, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Had to repost below from the last thread. I got misunderstood, but at the same time, folks are quick to show their prejudice.

"Charlie probably didn't have a momma that was tough that would have smacked his butt and kicked him back out the house and told him to stand up fo' hisself."
-LarryInClintonMd

I guess you have to spoon feed folks these days in this politically correct society.

In my day smacking his butt and kicking him back out the house does not necessarily mean physical violence. This is what happened to me and plenty of kids who came home crying cause other kids were calling names and picken as we called.

My mom did not slap or kick me, but she in no uncertain terms told me to shut up that crying and to get my butt back outside play. She did not lay a hand on me. But as a very young person, I understood her message well. She wasn't tellin me to commit violence, she was tellin me to stand up for myself and be a man.

I never had a problem since with kids being kids and it was never about violence or the thug, beer drinking, gangsta bullcrap you guys are bringing into this.

It was all about trash talkin and a lesson that Charlie V did not learn from his momma or anyoneelse.

Sometime you folks need to stop throwin your prejudicial shields up to quickly.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 5, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"Examples Magic-kareem, kobe-shaq, parker-duncan, wade-shaq, Cassell-olojuwan. Where are we gonna find a dominating low-post player?Posted by: jefferu"

You notice none of those 'bigs' are 6'9" post players? Hakeem is the shortest of the lot.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 5, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I was checking the last thread for the quote on playing time for McGee and saw that my post had gotton me condoning violence, called a thug, a gangsta, and PGC as well.

Seems like every now and then somebody has to have a reason to show their prejudice towards Prince Georges County. I wonder is it because PGC is one of the most if the the most afluent Black County in America and they just can't stand it.

Haters with a big R.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 5, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

@artiesilver,

Okay, done.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 5, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I was checking the last thread for the quote on playing time for McGee and saw that my post had gotton me condoning violence, called a thug, a gangsta, and PGC as well.

Seems like every now and then somebody has to have a reason to show their prejudice towards Prince Georges County. I wonder is it because PGC is one of the most if the the most afluent Black County in America and they just can't stand it.

Haters with a big R.

LarryInClintonMD.
__________________________________________

Larry,
Those "sombody"s are what we affectionately call, Northern Virginians. Spoon-fed their illogical beliefs by Virginian centered "local" media, Northern Virginians have become fearful of anything that resides on the other side of the Potomac River. The mere mention of Prince George's County, sends Northern Virginians into fear induced convulsions.

Posted by: WallyWutMD | November 5, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse


I would think its more of you have to have a dominating big and an electrifying wing player which Wall is. Examples Magic-kareem, kobe-shaq, parker-duncan, wade-shaq, Cassell-olojuwan. Where are we gonna find a dominating low-post player?

Posted by: jefferu | November 5, 2010 10:53 AM


Makes me appreciate Michael Jordan all the more. He won championships with Longley, Wennington, Cartwright and Perdue. Legitimate bigs, but none of them even remotely approaching dominant. Maybe an electrifiying guard doesn't need a dominant big to win a title. Come to think of it, how many would argue that Shaq was still dominant when he won a championship with Wade?

Posted by: artiesliver | November 5, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Despite how great Wall has looked, my question is: Is he an exception, or will players with his physical gifts become the norm at PG? Clearly the nba has been moving towards that type of athlete at the PG position, is Wall a cut above or will there be a guy like similar every other draft (from a physical perspective)?

Remember when Shaq hit the scene? People thought he was 1st of a "next gen' of giants headed into the league. 15yrs later, turns out Big Diesel was in a physical class unto himself.

Where will Wall's speed and agility rank in 5 years?

Speaking of which, DRose is in full superhero mode now. Added some muscle and strength, guy is an absolute blur. No reason Wall cant be that and then some in 2yrs

Posted by: divi3 | November 5, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

@LarryinClinton

I disagree with you that a mother who disregards a crying child by "smacking his butt" and kicking him back out on the street to face his tormenters alone is a good parent. I REALLY fail to see how that makes me racist.

If your problem is that I made reference to thugs in Sursam Corda, YOU ARE THE ONE who framed your parenting advice in street vernacular. I just followed your lead to make the point that a highly paid, successful professional like Villanueva doesn't need to act or talk like a street hustler in order to prove his manhood to you or to anyone. Using the media to expose KG as a classless scumbag was a professional, effective approach in my book.

Anyway, I'm done highjacking the Wizards blog with this junk. Suffice to say we disagree, and I think encouraging children to make their own choices about how to exact street justice is a crappy way to run a family (or a society). YMMV.

Posted by: Plix | November 5, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Pistons are ia problem the GM need to consider Arenas contract.

Posted by: gtefferra | November 5, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Pistons are ia problem the GM need to consider Arenas contract.

Posted by: gtefferra | November 5, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Here is a story that Charles Barkeley told last night in reference to Maurice Lucas.

CB complained to his teammate at the time who was Moses Malone(I think) that Maurice Lucas had elbowed him in the throat knocking him down and it hurt like hell.

CB said that Malone told him when they go back out on the court to hit Maurice as hard as he could. Charles was afraid to do that because he knew that Lucas could kick his butt, but he followed Malone's advice anyway.

He knocked Lucas to the floor and he was petrified at what Lucas would in turn do to him.

Barkeley said when Lucas came unto the court after the time out, he came up to him and smacked him on the butt and said "Good job young fella, I was trying to see what you was made of."

Great story about the NBA and things that go on, on the court.

Charlie V. broke the code in my book. Handling trash talk on the court has nothing to do with thug life, gangstarism, and violence.

It is unfortunate that my old way of saying things brought out some prejudicial comments and biased opinions about PGC, but man I guess I am asking too much for folks to keep things in context.

Smackin someones butt and kicking them out the house is an analogy that should not be taken leterally and I am guilty for thinking that some would not get that.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 5, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

literally, I mean.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 5, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Anyway, I'm done highjacking the Wizards blog with this junk. Suffice to say we disagree, and I think encouraging children to make their own choices about how to exact street justice is a crappy way to run a family (or a society). YMMV.

Posted by: Plix | November 5, 2010 11:50 AM

Plix, I grew up in the South in the 60's. If you read my answer above you will see I am not talking about street violence nor parental violence.

The statement I made was a pure analogy as a personal experience for young kids in my neigborhood who grew up together.

There was no smacking or kicking or street violence. It was about kids picking on each other and crying home to momma and momma knowing the situation being stern enough to send them back out to play with a different perspective about themselves.

Apparently, you are two young to understand that and can only relate to what is happening in the world today.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 5, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

LarryInClintonMD

Here's some advice: Say what you mean and mean what you say.

In the meantime I'll work on my mind-reading skills.

Also, please work on your reading comprehension. I never said a single bad thing about PGC, other than the fact that you apparently live there and said (but apparently didn't mean) that Villanueva's mom should have smacked him around more to make him into your definiton of a man. The leap from there to "PGC is full of thugs" was one you made all on your own. I never said it, and I didn't mean it.

Final piece of advice: crying wolf about racism doesn't benefit anyone.

Enjoy your day, and may the Wiz beat the living holy hello ut of the NY Knickerbockers tonight. :)

Posted by: Plix | November 5, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse


Yea there is no getting around the fact that you need a valuable big man to win an NBA championship. If you look at history, most teams had an all star big man on their roster in order to win a ring. The Wizards are at square one, we can only hope that John Wall is the piece needed to build the championship team. The Clippers are a little further ahead with talent like Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon to compliment Blake Griffin....it remains to be seen if John Wall's current young talent can compliment him well enought to build for that championship run.

Posted by: rcnasa | November 5, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse


Yea there is no getting around the fact that you need a valuable big man to win an NBA championship. If you look at history, most teams had an all star big man on their roster in order to win a ring.

Posted by: rcnasa | November 5, 2010 1:01 PM

It's nice to have a dominant big man and it certainly makes it easier to win it all but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a fact that you 'need' one, since championships have been won by teams not having one. A legit superstar with a strong supporting cast can get 'er done.

Posted by: artiesliver | November 5, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Yea there is no getting around the fact that you need a valuable big man to win an NBA championship. If you look at history, most teams had an all star big man on their roster in order to win a ring. The Wizards are at square one, we can only hope that John Wall is the piece needed to build the championship team. The Clippers are a little further ahead with talent like Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon to compliment Blake Griffin....it remains to be seen if John Wall's current young talent can compliment him well enought to build for that championship run.

Posted by: rcnasa | November 5, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

This team has some nice young pieces. I believe Booker can be a Barkley type (he's even a tad bit taller than CB). THEY NEED TO PLAY HIM!!! Blatche is very underrated (especially by some folks on this blog). He's going to be a great 4 in this league (I expect he will average 20/8 or better this year).

I hope McGee is not 27-28 before the light finally comes on. Guy's got unreal, captivating potential. Too bad he doesn't have Wall's maturity. That potential, combined with a more mature approach to the game, could result in much more SportsCenter (dominance! - which SportsCenter DOES capture) than the "style" he is seeking. If he realizes his potential, this team could be well on its way. (Note to McGee -- when Flip says "substance," think "trophy." When he says "style," think "SportsCenter." Which one would you rather have? Only you can answer that question, and your answer should provide great insight into where you are from the mental standpoint at this stage of your development.)

Thornton is playing better than most of us expected at this point, at least based on past blogs. Add a healthy Gil and Howard to the mix (if we are indeed able to do so), and we have some really nice pieces in place.

Development, development, development!!!

Posted by: bpybay | November 5, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse


artiesliver,

It almost is a fact. Looking at the teams of the past who has won NBA titles they've all had an all star big man (PF or C). The only exception would be the Chicago Bulls because they had the greatest player in the game. Unless John Wall becomes turns out to be the next MJ there still needs to be a big man who can score, reobund and defend in the post.

Posted by: rcnasa | November 5, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Watched the game tonite against the Knicks...and the 4th period tells you all you need to know about the team...el foldo as usual come crunch time...the announcer noted the Wiz were down by 6 with 6 minutes to go...

No inside game for the Wiz from that point...no rebounding...Blatche is soft no matter how you slice it...he doesn't want to be anywhere near the paint come crunch time...and McGee is a non factor...

None of this is news though...4th place this year for sure...Knicks are on the rise...If Carmelo goes there they might make the playoffs....

Posted by: pentagon40 | November 5, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

""The lights is bright.." Wall sounds smart;)

Posted by: bal503 | November 5, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

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