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Posted at 6:19 PM ET, 12/17/2010

Wizards hope to have Josh Howard and Andray Blatche against Miami

By Michael Lee

The Wizards have been plagued by injuries all season, but they are moving closer to being whole, with Josh Howard possibly set to make his season debut and Andray Blatche returning from a two-game absence on Saturday when the Miami Heat makes its first appearance to Verizon Center.


Y'all ready for this? (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Both players will be game-time decisions, but Coach Flip Saunders said after practice on Friday that he expects to add two veteran forwards to the lineup. "Based upon today, I would say both of guys will play some. That's my inclination."

Saunders said the Wizards would "probably not" have John Wall, who will likely miss his 10th game of the season. Howard said he is "very anxious" to get back on the court after being sidelined since Feb. 22 with a torn ACL. He met with a doctor after practice and was hoping to receive clearance to play.

"Whenever the doctor says I'm a-okay to go, I'm going," Howard said. "I'm looking forward to coming back. I enjoyed my four games playing here last and hopefully, I can shake the rust off and get back to being the old Josh Howard."

Howard has been practicing full contact for nearly a month, and with Wall hurting, he has been getting some time initiating the offense as a point guard. He said his playing time would be determined by "feel" and he expects to get about 20 minutes against Miami. He has no problem making his return while attempting to guard LeBron James.

"It would be a challenge to come out and the first guy I play would be him. He's an old friend of mine, I'm just happy to be out there," Howard said. "Miami is Miami, I don't see a team as good or bad, I just try to be there for my team. Whether it's Miami or New Jersey, not saying they're bad, but just getting out there and playing is No. 1 for me."

Blatche said his sore left knee has been feeling better after resting for nearly a week. He practiced in full on Friday and expected to play if he didn't have any complications. "It wasn't pain I couldn't bear. The knee was so swollen; I couldn't bend it," Blatche said of his knee. "It was too stiff to do anything with it."

Blatche scored a season-high 26 points against Chris Bosh and the Heat when the teams met on Nov. 29. But he said that it has been difficult that he has been unable to contribute while missing four games during this season-long six-game losing streak.

"Seeing my team struggling and going through the motions [in New Jersey], it seemed like guys wasn't there," he said. "We have to come out with a purpose. We have a losing record. We don't have no time to be coming out all pretty and lackadaisical. We have to be tough and start fighting. We're in a deep whole right now. We're a young team that's trying to be up-and-coming, so we have a lot to improve. If I feel I can help my team tomorrow, I'm going to play."

After sounding as if he was ready to bench JaVale McGee following a poor performance against New Jersey's Brook Lopez, Saunders backed off those comments slightly on Friday. He said his comments were merely "an evaluation of where our guys are and why we have at some times, inconsistency. I think he's had good games and he's had bad. And what's happened from his standpoint, what injuries do so much, you're thrust into a different role and sometimes, what you do is, you're asked maybe to do some things, you may not be capable of. He still at times, plays well, and he's shown some good plays. Everyday is a new experience, it's just a matter of maybe we get him more rest early, get him back in where he's matched up and get him some confidence, with the guys he's playing with."

By Michael Lee  | December 17, 2010; 6:19 PM ET
Categories:  Andray Blatche, Josh Howard  
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Next: Report: Wizards in serious discussions to trade Gilbert Arenas to Orlando

Comments

Either Ted or EG told flip to zip his mouth and continue to loss.It is clear JM is not himself for the last 7 games, he is not doing the basics.Instade of talking to reporters and get embarased again he was supposed to bench him exactly for 7 games.Now it is the same situation of last season with AB,more disrespect.These collection of young players are not going any where, it is hard to respect a coach who allways exclude himself from the responssiblity.I hope the owner will open his big eyes and take an action.

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

Either Ted or EG told flip to zip his mouth and continue to loss.It is clear JM is not himself for the last 7 games, he is not doing the basics.Instade of talking to reporters and get embarased again he was supposed to bench him exactly for 7 games.Now it is the same situation of last season with AB,more disrespect.These collection of young players are not going any where, it is hard to respect a coach who allways exclude himself from the responssiblity.I hope the owner will open his big eyes and take an action.

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

I'll be glad to see Howard back on the court. Always thought Thornton and Howard would be a nice rotation at SF. Of course that's at some point in the future.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 17, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

"Either Ted or EG told flip to zip his mouth and continue to loss.It is clear JM is not himself for the last 7 games, he is not doing the basics.Instade of talking to reporters and get embarased again he was supposed to bench him exactly for 7 games.Now it is the same situation of last season with AB,more disrespect.These collection of young players are not going any where, it is hard to respect a coach who allways exclude himself from the responssiblity.I hope the owner will open his big eyes and take an action.Posted by: gtefferra"

I read that twice and I'm still not certain what action you want Ted to take.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 17, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

"There are a million plausible arguments as to why a different coach would produce better results . . ."

Okay. Let's hear some.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 17, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

The Cowboys are playing better since they got rid of their incompetent coach (Wade Phillips).

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 17, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

A powerful guy like Kendrick Perkins or Andrew Bynum deals with a Brook Lopez by pushing him away from his comfort zone around the basket.

We're hoping Kevin Seraphin will turn out to be this sort of player.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 17, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

What are you basing your hopes on...the fact that Ernie said it?


Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 17, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Ted said he wanted to use the hockey model he uses with the capitols their current struggles aside how can this be. the physical demands of each sport is different the labor agreements are different. the succesful NBA teams are veteran and free agent built. football teams on the other hand seem to thrive with youth and key veterans say QB. IDK just IMO

Posted by: Rvf0509 | December 17, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully that motiates Javalle. I think he will look alot better with Wall pushing the rock and he has the speed to kill Z, espically with Miami on a back to back

Posted by: dlts2041 | December 17, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

"There are a million plausible arguments as to why a different coach would produce better results . . ."

Okay. Let's hear some.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 17, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

The Cowboys are playing better since they got rid of their incompetent coach (Wade Phillips).

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 17, 2010 7:55 PM

The Baltimore Orioles played better this season after firing Dave Trembley/Juan Samuel and hiring Buck Showalter. As a matter of fact, they had the best record in baseball from the time they hired Buck until the end of the season.

Posted by: musicmanjr | December 17, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Watching Knicks-Heat -- I guess NY doesn't play defense in the conventional sense -- they just try to outscore you. So far they've been successful, largely because of Stoudemire's effort. Miami is shuttling big men in against Amare and so far it seems to be working moderately well.

It's weird that in Phoenix we may actually have forgotten how good he can be.

The Heat are leaving Gallinari and Chandler open outside so if they can get going a comeback may follow. No question which is the superior club, however. It isn't the Knicks.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 17, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Man this Gil to Orlando deal rumor will not die. This maybe impacting Gil's play.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-magictradetalks121710

Posted by: bozomoeman | December 17, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

"The Cowboys are playing better since they got rid of their incompetent coach (Wade Phillips)."
"The Baltimore Orioles played better this season after firing Dave Trembley/Juan Samuel and hiring Buck Showalter."

Citing the football Cowboys and the baseball O's doesn't constitute an 'argument' -- let alone a million plausible ones. Those are just examples. They could be exceptions, right?

For instance, take the last ten NBA teams that replaced their head coaches before midseason (as the Wiz did with Ed Jordan). Now, how many experienced a significant improvement in performance? And how long did that improvement continue? Depending on the answer, that could be a plausible argument for making a change.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 17, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

"Man this Gil to Orlando deal rumor will not die."

Might just come off. I'd be in favor of it. The Wiz are probably going to lose a lot of games anyway, and unloading Gil's contract would help in the future.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 17, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Bargnani is taking the opposite approach to Lopez tonight in Toronto. He's stepping outside and dropping in jump shots. At the moment he's 14 for 26 for 32 points. Kris Humphries handles the defensive boards.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 17, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Sorry I meant Linas Kleiza.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 17, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Re Gil trade:
If Gortat, an expiring contract and a first round pick come back in return, that would certainly be a coup for Grunfeld.
Of course the NY vs Gil match up would be an interesting watch.

Posted by: bozomoeman | December 17, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

For instance, take the last ten NBA teams that replaced their head coaches before midseason (as the Wiz did with Ed Jordan). Now, how many experienced a significant improvement in performance? And how long did that improvement continue? Depending on the answer, that could be a plausible argument for making a change.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 17, 2010 9:09 PM

In the 2005-2006 season, Pat Riley replaced Stan Van Gundy as Miami Heat coach after 21 games. The Heat went 41-20 the rest of the season and won the NBA title. Does that qualify?

Posted by: musicmanjr | December 17, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

@Samson151

Also, John Wall can't really develope as long as Gilbert is around. This needs to be Wall's team, but right now the "former face of the francise" is still here and they play the same position. Not to mention, Gilbert is the better player because he is a veteran. So, to reiterate, Gilbert needs to move on for Wall to develope and reach his potential.

Posted by: MeviousMan | December 17, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

OK, that looks like a blueprint on how to beat the Knicks at MSG. Miami used three centers on him. Two of them picked up 4 fouls. They conceded the 3 pointer, even with Gallinari out there.

Predict we'll see more of this in future.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 17, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

"In the 2005-2006 season, Pat Riley replaced Stan Van Gundy as Miami Heat coach after 21 games. The Heat went 41-20 the rest of the season and won the NBA title. Does that qualify?Posted by: musicmanjr"

Sure, although you picked one with a strange set of circumstances. Riley had been the coach in Miami since the mid-90's. He 'fired himself' after finishing 36-46 in '02, but stayed on as GM. Van Gundy taking over seemed to help and Riley strengthened the roster from the GM spot. Then Stan resigned after an 11-10 start and the rumors flew that he was forced out because Pat wanted to take over what he believed to be a championship club.

So you picked the weirdest case I could think of.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 17, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

I am sure Grunfeld would do the deal becuase it buys his inncompetent but along with his clown coach time. Any orgaizational move that does not involve a sea change in the organization is a waste of time. Flip is part of the good old boy network that gets over simply because he's been around. Its time to change the culture of the organization which must start at the top.

What a punk move to call out your 21 year old center without personallty taking responsibility for the teams performance. Without Arenas this team will go simply from bad to unwatchable.

Posted by: NewManagement | December 17, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

"In the 2005-2006 season, Pat Riley replaced Stan Van Gundy as Miami Heat coach after 21 games. The Heat went 41-20 the rest of the season and won the NBA title. Does that qualify?Posted by: musicmanjr"

Sure, although you picked one with a strange set of circumstances. Riley had been the coach in Miami since the mid-90's. He 'fired himself' after finishing 36-46 in '02, but stayed on as GM. Van Gundy taking over seemed to help and Riley strengthened the roster from the GM spot. Then Stan resigned after an 11-10 start and the rumors flew that he was forced out because Pat wanted to take over what he believed to be a championship club.

So you picked the weirdest case I could think of.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 17, 2010 10:10 PM

Hey, you set the parameters. I met them!

Posted by: musicmanjr | December 17, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse


Leonsis is a smart businessman who knows that it's not wise to diminish a player's value by announcing that he's on the trading block. Therefore, it was absolutely the right move for him to insist since taking over the team that Arenas was going nowhere. It should be clear to all that Arenas will have a change of address sooner rather than later.

As he is wont to do, Ernest Grunfeld will pull off yet another stunning trade at a time and place of his choosing (and not a minute before). Stand back and let the man do his work.

In Grunfeld We Trust!!

Posted by: melodious_thunk | December 17, 2010 11:55 PM | Report abuse

"Seeing my team struggling and going through the motions [in New Jersey], it seemed like guys wasn't there," he said. "We have to come out with a purpose.
-----------------------------------------
Interesting, AB couldn’t see the exact same thing was happening when he was in the line-up playing! His statement is just further evidence of how this team is so lost.

NEW MANAGEMENT PLEASE!!!!!

Posted by: bazteal | December 18, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

"Hey, you set the parameters. I met them!
Posted by: musicmanjr"

I don't see how. I suggested looking at the last ten cases where a coach was replaced before midseason -- whether the team's record improved significantly, and how long that improvement lasted. We know, for instance, that replacing Ed Jordan didn't produce a significant improvement in the Wiz' record.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 18, 2010 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Do we really want to trade Arenas to a team in the same division?

Posted by: tundey | December 18, 2010 6:00 AM | Report abuse

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