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Posted at 9:07 AM ET, 12/16/2010

Wizards in similar spot, hoping to avoid repeat performance

By Michael Lee
Morning brew

For the second time in two weeks, the Wizards are on the road, facing a team on an eight-game losing streak that is looking up at them in the standings. Last week, the Wizards were without John Wall and Andray Blatche and went to Sacramento, where the Kings trounced them by 25 points. On Thursday, they head to New Jersey, possibly without Wall and Blatche again, and hope that they will not have a repeat performance.

The Wizards have won four in a row on the Nets' home court, but this season the team has moved from Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., to Newark. The move hasn't led to much success, since the Nets (6-19) have the worst record in the Eastern Conference and are a measly 4-8 at home.

But Flip Saunders knows that the injury-riddled Wizards (6-17) cannot get overconfident with the team riding a five-game slide and a 12-game road-losing streak. "I tell our guys, there aren't bad players; there are bad teams. When you go to play anybody, you've got to respect those guys, knowing that they can go out and play," Saunders said. "I'm sure that they're saying the same thing you're saying, 'We got a chance right now. This is a team coming in, they're hurt, they've got a lot of guys who are banged. We gotta jump on these guys right away.' "

Saunders said that despite the Nets' record, they still have some talent in former all-star Devin Harris, and center Brook Lopez, who participated on Team USA tryouts with JaVale McGee last summer. "Lopez is a very good post, one of the better low-block scorers in the league, and Harris is a great pick and roll guard so we've got to defend those. Our concern is we just don't have our horses and so we're asking [Gilbert Arenas], we're asking [Kirk Hinrich] and those guys, they almost have to play perfect-type games for us to be able to win."

Arenas has appeared to be less assertive in the past two games that Wall has missed and struggled to stay consistent with an ever-changing role. But Saunders said that he has not asked Arenas to take a backseat, teams have put an emphasis on shutting him down. "We haven't told him not to shoot. Last night, I says, 'Gil, you gotta get 30 tonight.' We've told him other players will adjust to what you do. I think he's trying."

FROM THE POST
John Wall is unaccustomed to injuries, but he is expected to miss sit out for the ninth time in 24 games and discusses his frustrations in his first season. The Wizards will also be without Andray Blatche and Yi Jianlian is now expected to miss the next two to four weeks with a sprained right medial collateral ligament.

AROUND THE WEB
In his interview with Sports Business Journal, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is conjuring up a turnaround in D.C.

Kyle Weidie of Truth About It takes a look into Gilbert Arenas's claims that he "hasn't really paid attention to scoring" this year. He also uses a statistical comparison to Arenas's first season in Washington -- and the numbers are pretty similar.

Howard Beck of the New York Times writes how the Nets have just six wins but five draft picks over the next two years, which gives them plenty of hope for improvement. But can they really lure Carmelo Anthony to the New York metropolitan area's other team?

The New York Knicks lost to the Boston Celtics again, but to observers of a team that has struggled for a few years, the defeat was a "statement" game. The Knicks are back now? To what? Either way, Amar'e Stoudemire is rolling.

Former Wizard Brendan Haywood's situation in Dallas gets more interesting as he adjusts to a diminished role.

NBA players are contemplating a decertification of the union to challenge owners under antitrust laws, but Commissioner David Stern warns against taking the "nuclear option" in collective bargaining negotiations.

By Michael Lee  | December 16, 2010; 9:07 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
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Next: Unheralded "other two" rookies thrust into spotlight

Comments

"I tell our guys, there aren't bad players; there are bad teams. When you go to play anybody, you've got to respect those guys, knowing that they can go out and play," Saunders said.

He meant the other team...all he ever says (about some of his players) is they are bad players.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 16, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

The funny thing is that the NJ players just had a team meeting like Miami did right before we played them so you know they will be motivated.

The bottom line is if Gil plays like this then we will be crap, espically with injuries. If Gil has another one of his games where he either cant or doesnt move, never goes to the rim, and has 0fts again then we will struggle to win. Might as well not be playing if he’s going to do that. We could have Hinrich do that. He cant play that way, espically with NY not starting. He needs to score & be aggressive “if he can”

Posted by: dlts2041 | December 16, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

"We haven't told him not to shoot. Last night, I says, 'Gil, you gotta get 30 tonight.' We've told him other players will adjust to what you do. I think he's trying."


Lol. No further questions your honor.

Posted by: CBell29 | December 16, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

"We haven't told him not to shoot. Last night, I says, 'Gil, you gotta get 30 tonight.' We've told him other players will adjust to what you do. I think he's trying."


Lol. No further questions your honor!

Posted by: CBell29 | December 16, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Nets are starting Terrence Williams and QRoss, I would hope that doesnt present too much of a challenge for Gil and Kirk if we really are relying on them to be "perfect" for us to have a shot.

Posted by: divi3 | December 16, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

"The funny thing is that the NJ players just had a team meeting like Miami did right before we played them so you know they will be motivated."

Didn't Atlanta Hawks had a player only meeting before playing against us too? If so, hogwash to all of those teams! Why not have a player only meeting before playing against the Lakers???

Posted by: demonj21 | December 16, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

What about telling Gill that he is the Man and that team rebuild starts with him and not John Wall. What about telling him that he is the floor leader and not John Wall. What about telling him that he has to show Wall how to be the best he can be.

What about telling him that it was a mistake to say that Hinrich is the mentor for Wall and that Hinrich was brought to give veteran leadership and stability to the team.

After you've handed the franchise over to Wall and annoited Hinrich as the veteran captain, now you want to ask Gill to go out and score 30.

Please! Please! Please!

It doesn't work like that.

Wisdom of that Flip, uhh uhh, not a good statement, he doesn't have any.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 16, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"Howard Beck of the New York Times writes how the Nets have just six wins but five draft picks over the next two years, which gives them plenty of hope for improvement. But can they really lure Carmelo Anthony to the New York metropolitan area's other team?"

It's an interesting strategy the Nets are following. Has to be predicated on a real shot at Carmelo. As for all those draft picks, hard for a team to predict how much impact they'll have on the court.

Next year's class looks more solid than star-laden, with Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones, and Kyrie Irving presently at the top. The '12 class is mostly speedy guards and skinny forwards. Can't tell much about them yet.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 16, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Obviously teams have a "players only" team meeting before facing the Wiz b/c they don't want to hold the meeting and then get beat.

Interesting comment by Flip, "When you go to play anybody, you've got to respect those guys, knowing that they can go out and play...." Is he saying that the Wiz have some reason to take the Nets (or anyone else) lightly? Reminds me of AB's comment a couple of weeks ago that the team was "lackadaisical" in practice. How does a 6-17 record earn guys the right to take other teams lightly or practice lackadaisically?

Posted by: shovetheplanet | December 16, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Nets are starting Terrence Williams and QRoss, I would hope that doesnt present too much of a challenge for Gil and Kirk if we really are relying on them to be "perfect" for us to have a shot.

Posted by: divi3

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=5920357

Gonna call it unlikely that the Nets start Terrence Williams.

Posted by: ts35 | December 16, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

As for "Telling" Gil he has to get 30 probably doesn't fall in line with Gil telling Flip he want to come of the bench. Starting to wonder who's running the prison, the inmates or the C.O.'s. As a coach, if a players tells you he want to come off the bench and you don't let them know that they want to use them where it gives them their best chance to win but instead, you say "okay", how do you think telling Gil he needs to get 30 is meaningful to the player. Probably would have come off better talking to the air!

Posted by: zack9633 | December 16, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

It's an interesting strategy the Nets are following. Has to be predicated on a real shot at Carmelo. As for all those draft picks, hard for a team to predict how much impact they'll have on the court.
Posted by: Samson151

Or much like many teams creating salary cap space to lure in LeBron, et al., it could be predicated on a lot of wishful thinking.

Considering all they gave up was Terrence Williams (a player Avery didn't seem to get along with) and Joe Smith (who wasn't playing), seems like more of a "costs us nothing, why not give it a shot?" move.

The interesting part to me is that if the relative fortunes of those two teams continue, the Lakers' first rounder might only be a couple of picks ahead of the Nets' second rounder(s).

Posted by: ts35 | December 16, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

@Kalo, re: Gee "carving out minutes".

Yeah. I clearly misread that one. Unless Gee is carving them out with the Andy DuFrane's geologist hammer from Shawshank Redemption. Give him 40 more years and a Raquel Welch poster and he'll be playing again.

They way they brought him in and immediately popped him into the rotation reminded me of the way they brought in Boykins last year and Flip rode him long past his effectiveness. I was expecting the same with Gee. I still expect a random blip somewhere in the near future where he will go from DNPs to playing 15 mins a game for 5 games and then back to DNPs for another stretch, lather, rinse, repeat, but we'll see.

Posted by: ts35 | December 16, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Nets make three-way Terrence Williams deal official

Jordan Farmar, the ex-Laker who started two games when Devin Harris was out with a strained knee, will start in Morrow’s place when the Nets host the Washington Wizards tonight, coach Avery Johnson said. via TrueHoop

PG vs. PG times 2. Should be interesting. I'm not a big fan of the trade or of Billy King, but he does deserve some recognition for stepping up and supporting his coach in dealing Williams.

Posted by: djnnnou | December 16, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

"I was kind of kidding him. I told him, 'In the first 20 games, you missed more games than John Stockton missed in 20 years,'"

You're jut go great for morale Flip. Way to boost that confidence! :P

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | December 16, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The only hope about Gil is everytime you think he looks done or is tanking it, he always seems to get his confidence back, starts playing more aggressive, and throws up some big games while looking solidly explosive. The Nets roster is perfect for him to do that against if he wants to but IDK if he has it in him, espically mentally. Its up to him.

I would actually start NY at the 2 right now with Gil at the 1, espically since you never know if Gil will just coast again. We need more scoring. It would also be good to keep Wall out even one more game and have NY matched up against Wade. Then Wall, Dray, & Howard all come back for the Bobcats game for us to finally start seeing what we have.

Posted by: dlts2041 | December 16, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to see isolated cameras on the coaches for the entire game. This game is as much of a referendum on the Avery vs. Saunders debate as it is about the development of these young rebuilding teams. Talent levels being relatively equal let's just see which team plays within their game plan, hustles on defense, rebounds and plays with the most heart. Offensive cohesiveness will come for both teams with time.
-West Coast Bullet

Posted by: WestCoastBullet | December 16, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

@ts35,

I think the big difference between Boykins and Gee is that, at least initially, Boykins was actually effective. He did have some positive impact on the floor, early on. He did some things that no one else on the team was doing. But Gee really hasn't done anything worth rewarding. He's an impressive athlete but really not much of a basketball player. I thought that became apparent once they started playing him more minutes in Thornton's absence. That's why I didn't see much chance of him holding onto a spot once Thornton returned.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 16, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

You also said on a number of occasions that Kirk was 'terrible'. Now he's apparently been upgraded in your mind to 'OK'.

I actually think he is terrible as a 35min/night starting SG, but am trying to be nice about it.

Posted by: divi3 | December 16, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

"Interesting comment by Flip, "When you go to play anybody, you've got to respect those guys, knowing that they can go out and play...." Is he saying that the Wiz have some reason to take the Nets (or anyone else) lightly? "

Posted by: shovetheplanet | December 16, 2010 11:49 AM

I'm pretty sure he's saying just the opposite, that the Wiz aren't in a position to take anyone lightly, however awful their record, a problem that this team seems to have had for a long time, going back to the Howard/Webber days. Don't know what it is, but this team/organization has a long history of thinking it's better than the actual on-court results say it is.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 16, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

You argued repeatedly against setting the bar too low by expecting them to lose a lot.

If you want to go back and find said arguments, I'm sure somewhere or other I mentioned "health." If Wall as 100% every night I'd like to think this would be a different team.

Posted by: divi3 | December 16, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

@ Larry, re: Gil and Leadership

Larry, I think you have the correct diagnosis, but the wrong solution. I do think this team does lack for leadership from the players (from the coaches too, but that's a separate story). I just don't think Gil is the solution. In a generic sense, a guy with his on-court resume would be the guy to do it, but I think too many things with Gil fight against it, mainly his past behavior and his reluctance to lead in the past. I think you mentioned before that Flip for you is not a 'foxhole' guy. I don't think Gil is that kind of guy either.

Wall's obviously too young and new to it, and while Hinrich has the bona fides but not with this team and doesn't seem to be the dynamic type of leader this team needs.

Imo, the team would have been better served bringing in at least one or two more vets, guys with reps for being professionals -- which of course assumes some could be found who wanted to come here. I was 50/50 on the idea before the season because Flip tends to rely on those kinds of guys too much, rather than play the young players who need court time. But it's apparent to me when I read things about them being apathetic in practice, etc, that more leadership from the players is needed.

Posted by: ts35 | December 16, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

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