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Posted at 10:44 AM ET, 12/ 7/2010

Wizards face "a tough challenge" in the two-time defending world champs

By Michael Lee
Morning brew

The Los Angeles Lakers are probably the last team the Wizards would like to face as they attempt to end a 10-game road-losing streak. The Lakers rank second in scoring (108.5 points) and rebounding (44.9) and they have yet to lose a home game to a team with a losing record this season.

In their past eight home games against teams with losing records, the Lakers have won by an average of 17.6 points -- including a 113-80 win over the Sacramento Kings last Friday -- with just three decided by fewer than 19 points. "Challenges," Coach Flip Saunders said. "We've got to play them all. I would think our guys would be ready to come and play. We have a tendency, when things go bad, we almost try too hard and it's like being in quicksand, the harder you try the more you sink. We just have to find some level ground and not be in quicksand."

The Lakers (14-6) are eager to get back on track, having lost four of their past five games. But they have dominated the Wizards of late, winning the past seven games. "That's a tough challenge, they the world champions," John Wall said. "They don't have everybody but they're team that will blow you out in a minute or second. They have the best player in the game, Kobe Bryant, they have Pau Gasol, an all-star, Lamar Odom and people coming off the bench that can start for any team, so they can come out with energy and they are a great team to play."

Under Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 16-4 against the Wizards. "What do you say? They are the defending champs," Kirk Hinrich said. "It's huge. Hopefully we play hard and just lay it all out there."

Andray Blatche said the Wizards certainly won't lay down. "It's going to be a dogfight. We'll play hard, play our hearts out."

FROM THE POST
The Wizards will play their 20th game of the season, but remain in search of an identity.

Take a walk down memory lane, as Mike Wilbon writes his farewell column for the Washington Post as he departs to work for ESPN full time. Go back and see some his work through 32 years at the newspaper.

AROUND THE WEB
Jake Whitacre of Bullets Forever looks into the players that receive keys to the palace this week. It's been a rough one.

Rashad Mobley of TruthAboutIt.net looked back at the Wizards' "Third Quarter From Hell" in Phoenix.

The Los Angeles TImes reports how the Lakers are winning without huge contributions from Ron Artest. Also, Andrew Bynum has returned to practice for the first time since his knee surgery.

Antawn Jamison is with a new team, but has assumed a familiar role with Cleveland that he had in Washington -- as team spokesman -- now that the Cavaliers have lost four in a row.

Former Wizard Shaun Livingston is suddenly started to have an impact with the Charlotte Bobcats.

By Michael Lee  | December 7, 2010; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Wizards react to Steve Nash, 10th road loss in Phoenix
Next: Josh Howard on return: "It's about to be that time"

Comments

Expectations are low for the wizards so I'm just looking for a competitive game and not a blowout. Save your strength for a beatable team like sacramento wednesday

Posted by: jefferu | December 7, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

FIRE FLIP. this team wont go anywhere or progress enough with flip saunders. his rotations are horrible. arenas benched? wat a joke. hinrich playing almost 40 mins a night? wata joke. yi playing more mins than mcgee now? joke. gee starting over thortan? joke. flip is horrible. he needs to be fired asap. how are areneas and wall ever gonna learn to play together with hinrich starting over gil? flip is flat out horrible. anyone else agree here???

Posted by: skinsfan09 | December 7, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

@ skinsfan09,

I think your observations are very solid from what we are seeing from the Wizards so far.

But to hear Samson and Kalo describe what is going on they obviously disagree. It is their choice and opinion and they are entitled to it but I would vote that they are a lot more wrong in their assessments that what you have said.

It is almost like Flip Saunders is taking a preseason approach in the way he is handling this team under the guise of rebuilding and low expectations.

Sure, this team is not expected by some NBA experts to not even come close to being a playoff team, but IMO, it is no excuse for the way they are being coached.

Flip Saunders needs to recognize that this is the regular season and not preseason auditioning.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 7, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

"Expectations are low for the wizards so I'm just looking for a competitive game and not a blowout. Save your strength for a beatable team like sacramento wednesday"

Posted by: jefferu | December 7, 2010 11:07 AM

That's something of a contradiction, isn't it? If you really think they should go into this game with the intention of "saving their strength" then you can't really expect it to be competitive. It'll take every ounce of strength they can muster against the Lakers not to be down 20 at the half.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 7, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

"But to hear Samson and Kalo describe what is going on they obviously disagree. It is their choice and opinion and they are entitled to it but I would vote that they are a lot more wrong in their assessments that what you have said."

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 7, 2010 11:34 AM

This isn't a democracy; you don't get a vote. All you get is an opinion, and we know what those are like.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 7, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

i think Larry just called for a vote, and I'm voting with him on this one.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 7, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Jets Coach Rex Ryan answered reporters’ questions after their 45-3 loss to the Patriots on Monday night.

RR: Obviously, we got outcoached, outplayed, got our butts kicked.

A coach who is willing to admit he got outcoached...wow who would have thought a coach is also responsible when a team gets embarrassed like the Wizards have more then once this year?

Please will one of you Flip apologist please cut and paste one quote where Flip ever said "I" needed to do a better job instead of blaming it all on the players.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 7, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

lilhollywood10

I second that motion.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 7, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"RR: Obviously, we got outcoached, outplayed, got our butts kicked."

LOL notice he included 'outplayed'. Rex knows he wasn't on the field. It wasn't really his butt that got kicked. It was the players'.

Rex probably suspects he would have been a lot tougher than some of the guys on his team. And you can bet he'll call them out in public if he thinks it will help.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 7, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

In other news from The Association, apparently Josh Smith is still a prima donna.

http://nba-point-forward.si.com/2010/12/06/smiths-attitude-poses-problems-for-hawks/

No real surprise, other than it took longer to develop than expected.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 7, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

LOL notice he included 'outplayed'. Rex knows he wasn't on the field. It wasn't really his butt that got kicked. It was the players'.

Rex probably suspects he would have been a lot tougher than some of the guys on his team.

So how long have you known Rex? And does he usually call or just email to let you know when what he says isn't what he means?

Posted by: divi3 | December 7, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

@ larryfromclintonmd

i agree. even if the team doesent do good regardless, the coaching is still horrible, there is no way gee should be starting over thortan, be4 he was hurt he was doing good. and hinrich over arenas just makes me sick. flip has a man crush on hinrich. hes a decent backup but common. arenas is trying to be mr. niceguy saying hel come off the bench. but we need him to be starting and learning how to play with wall. i personally like arenas, but if we are going to part ways with him, we at least need to let him show his talents to other teams.

Posted by: skinsfan09 | December 7, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

HIRE MIKE WOODSON!

Posted by: dargregmag | December 7, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

LOL notice he included 'outplayed'. Rex knows he wasn't on the field. It wasn't really his butt that got kicked. It was the players'.

Rex probably suspects he would have been a lot tougher than some of the guys on his team.

So how long have you known Rex? And does he usually call or just email to let you know when what he says isn't what he means?

Posted by: divi3 | December 7, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I also noticed how he put outcoached FIRST. He knows it's his job to prepare his team to go out and play winning ball, and they looked horrible. I'm assuming he knew that a loss like that falls on him. In some circles they call that accountability.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 7, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"So how long have you known Rex? And does he usually call or just email to let you know when what he says isn't what he means?
Posted by: divi3"

And let me call attention to yet another distortion on your part: I didn't claim to know Rex's secret thoughts. Just noted that he included players in his criticism (that's who gets outplayed.) So he wasn't taking the blame and letting the players off the hook. He knows whose butt actually gets kicked, and it's not his.

Besides, Rex Ryan's rep precedes him. He's a tough old-school football coach. Flip's been accused of exactly the opposite -- of being afraid to confront his players.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 7, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

"I also noticed how he put outcoached FIRST. He knows it's his job to prepare his team to go out and play winning ball, and they looked horrible. I'm assuming he knew that a loss like that falls on him. In some circles they call that accountability.Posted by: lilhollywood10"

A 45 to 3 butt-whipping in front of a national audience? Of course that falls on the coach. And the players, obviously. There's plenty to go around. I'm sure NE would appreciate a little credit, too. Weren't they on the field? I haven't heard Belichick taking credit for being a great coach.

Belichick being a good example of the coach's dilemma. When he was a coordinator in NY, people said he was a genius. Then he went to Cleveland and lost and people said he was overrated, didn't know how to motivate players, couldn't put the right lineup on the field, was getting outcoached. Then he went to NE and won Super Bowls and somehow people decided he was a genius again.

According to Bill, he was doing pretty much the same thing in all three places. Probably including taping the other guys' practices.

Does Flip take credit for victories? Or does he give it to the players?


Posted by: Samson151 | December 7, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm wondering if there's a class in Sports Management School on "Handling the Disgruntled Fan." I'm pretty sure some of these posts would make it into the textbook.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 7, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Now that we bring up pro football, I'm also reminded of Marty Schottenheimer. Marty won a whole lot of games in Cleveland, KC and San Diego. Marty has the most wins of any coach who never went to the Super Bowl. He's been Coach of the Year in various polls three times, has a 59.4% career winning percentage, and was actually fired by the Chargers after going 14-2 during the regular season. Marty spent one year in Washington in which the team lost its first 5 games, then won its next 5, then stumbled to an 8-8 finish. He was fired right after that.

When asked in which of 20 seasons did he do his best coaching job, he said: "Washington."

It's a crazy life.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 7, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Samson151 | December 7, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Well, I'm sure the first lecture would be "How To BS'em : Part 1-It's not about who starts, but who finishes. Part 2- It's not about wins and losses."

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 7, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse


So he wasn't taking the blame and letting the players off the hook. He knows whose butt actually gets kicked, and it's not his.

Posted by: Samson151

i haven't seen one blogger write that players are in no way responsible for their performances. seems people are saying that it's nice to hear a coach say that HE was part of the problem, something that saunders just doesn't do. i guess there's always the possiblity that he really feels he hasn't been outcoached this season.

btw, nobody 'actually' gets their butt kicked in football. not the coach, not the players.

Posted by: lawdireckon | December 7, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Samson151 | December 7, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

You gonna talk about the team's owner and his love affair with Steve Spurrier? About how he offered Spurrier the job before Marty? About how Spurrier came available at the end of the college season ( you know the one that ends before the NFL season ends). A lot of people saw letting Marty go as a wrong move, especially considering the team won like 5 straight down the stretch. I dunno if Flip Saunders is Marty Schottenheimer, but i'd guess that at least a .500 record like Marty had with the skins would placate the fans.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 7, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Does Flip take credit for victories? Or does he give it to the players?


Posted by: Samson151 | December 7, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Wall may get some credit, but i dunno if Flip ever credits the players for the win.Then again, since he's been here he's only had 33 or so chances to credit anyone ,while he's had 60 something chances to rag on folks. Maybe he just attributes the wins to luck, whereas he sees clear individual deficiencies in the losses. Not that wins and losses matter anyways.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 7, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Relating to the topic being discussed, why do such a high fraction of quarters end with Gil in isolation trying to do too much? In these types of situations and coming out of timeouts, there is very little ball movement/creativity. Yet, you would expect there to be go to plays for these moments.

Posted by: audacitea | December 7, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Relating to the topic being discussed, why do such a high fraction of quarters end with Gil in isolation trying to do too much? In these types of situations and coming out of timeouts, there is very little ball movement/creativity. Yet, you would expect there to be go to plays for these moments.

Posted by: audacitea | December 7, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

It's not about who starts but who finishes!Oh yeah and wins and losses dount matter either..........they still count, they're just not important to this team.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 7, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

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