Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: MrMichaelLee and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  E-mail alerts: Redskins and Sports  |  RSS
Posted at 2:10 PM ET, 01/ 1/2011

Al Thornton adjusting to possibly more limited role

By Michael Lee

Al Thornton didn't really know how to handle it, since it caught him "completely" off guard. During the Wizards' win on Wednesday over the Indiana Pacers, Thornton had received a DNP-Coach's Decision for the first time since he joined the Wizards near the trade deadline.


I've just got to stay ready. (Getty Images)

He didn't get an explanation from assistant Randy Wittman, who was filling in for Flip Saunders, nor did he ask for one. The previous game in Houston, Thornton was shut out in just eight minutes played, snapping his string of six consecutive games of playing at least 26 minutes and scoring in double figures.

"I guess they are doing what's right for the team," Thornton said, explaining the DNP-CD. "That was the first time it happened like that, that I can recall."

With Rashard Lewis arriving in a trade for Gilbert Arenas and Josh Howard returning from his left knee surgery, it appeared that Thornton was sliding out of the rotation. Saunders had pretty much suggested that Lewis and Howard had swallowed up those small forward minutes before the game. Lewis is a spot-up shooter who can spread the floor for No. 1 overall pick John Wall. Howard is a veteran who can make plays, and has been filling in some at reserve point guard with Kirk Hinrich missing time the past two games.

Lewis and Howard are also the most accomplished Wizards on the roster, with appearances in the all-star game and the NBA Finals. "It's affected [Thornton] some, because those guys are pretty good," Saunders said of Lewis and Howard. "It's unfortunate. You can't play everybody. All of our players, with the amount of injuries that we've had. They've had opportunities. He's got to get ready and know that he'll get opportunities. But those guys bring something to the team that we didn't have."

And, as Thornton sat on the bench in the first half of the Wizards' 95-86 loss on Friday against the Pacers -- watching Saunders shuffle in Lewis, Howard and also Cartier Martin -- the fourth-year forward surely thought it was going to be another one of those nights when he was a spectator.

Thornton's opportunity eventually came when Howard was forced to sit the entire first half after experiencing some soreness in his left knee. He played 16 minutes in the second half, scoring 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting. Howard said that he would return to action on Saturday against New Orleans if his left knee felt better, which means that Thornton will likely face another night of uncertainty.

"It's tough. Extremely tough," Thornton said. "But I'm not going to get frustrated by it. Just got to keep a level head and try to stay positive and when the time comes, just be ready."

By Michael Lee  | January 1, 2011; 2:10 PM ET
Categories:  Al Thornton, Josh Howard, Rashard Lewis  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Open thread: Wizards (8-22) at Pacers (13-17)
Next: Open thread: Wizards (8-23) vs. Hornets (19-14)

Comments

glawrence, yeah I noticed that play too when blatche lost the ball & mcgee didnt pick it up.


Look I dont get why flip struggles so much with the rotation. Start wall, ny, lewis, dray, mcgee... backup hinrich, howard, thornton, booker, yi. What is so hard about that??

Posted by: Darnell1 | January 1, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Saunders said of Lewis and Howard. bring something to the team that we didn't have.


Flip what 1 win?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | January 1, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Why didnt Yi play until the very end? All of a sudden he comes in at the end of the game? I'm like Yi's back, why wasn't he playing? If it was because injury why put him in at the end??

Posted by: Darnell1 | January 1, 2011 2:37 PM | Report abuse

It was like flip suddenly remembered "oh yeah, yi is back".

Posted by: Darnell1 | January 1, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"Look I dont get why flip struggles so much with the rotation. Start wall, ny, lewis, dray, mcgee... backup hinrich, howard, thornton, booker, yi. What is so hard about that??"
Posted by: Darnell1 |

Can we say "injuries"? And your starting lineup was also his in the last game.

It's obvious he wants at least one vet with half a brain in the lineup at all times to play with the rookie and the young guys who are still working on "getting it". I can't say I blame him.

Posted by: fansincebullets | January 1, 2011 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"Saunders said of Lewis and Howard. bring something to the team that we didn't have.

Flip what 1 win?"

Posted by: bulletsfan78

Good, good! Still warming up for that Dumb Post of the game contest tonight, I see.

Posted by: EestiLaps | January 1, 2011 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Ian Thomsen of SI on the Miami turnaround:

"For Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: Teamwork. He wasn't asking for much from James, Wade and Bosh, apart from contributing to a team that outperformed the sum of its parts. Let's list the complaints that were leaking out of Miami early this season about young Spoelstra: His practices were too exhausting, he wasn't letting the players be themselves, he didn't have the full support of Wade, he was shouldered violently by LeBron, he wasn't making full use of Bosh, he didn't command the players' respect and was destined to be replaced by Riley and blah, blah, blah, blah. Now, the Heat have emerged as the league's No. 1 defensive team, and with each fortnight, they appear to be improving around their confident coach -- culminating in the Christmas Day clobbering of the Lakers, when they played with energy, selflessness and togetherness that left the champs a step behind. What a fascinating, soap-operatic team this is, and if it wins, the players should throw a party for Spoelstra for sticking with them. As opposed to vice versa."

Posted by: Samson151 | January 1, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Saunders said of Lewis and Howard. bring something to the team that we didn't have.


Flip what 1 win?

----

really, are comments like this necessary for your enjoyment of basketball?

they just make you sound like an idiot.

Posted by: MinuMang | January 1, 2011 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Good, good! Still warming up for that Dumb Post of the game contest tonight, I see.

Posted by: EestiLaps | January 1, 2011 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Are you only looking at the people who post on here or do you take into consideration the quotes in Mike's post?

If you include those then I will be honored to take 2nd place to any of Flip's dumb remarks...

Wait I shouldn't talk about such a great coach who gets the most from his players like that should I?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | January 1, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

It's obvious he [Saunders] wants at least one vet with half a brain in the lineup at all times to play with the rookie and the young guys who are still working on "getting it". I can't say I blame him.

I think that's pretty much the case too. And I can't say I blame him either.

Posted by: nmik | January 1, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Posted at 2:10 PM ET, 01/ 1/2011

Al Thornton and Kirk Hinrich adjusting to possibly more limited role

By Michael Lee

Aww Sheisse, my bag, wishful thinkful.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 1, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

MinuMang,

Are you telling me you enjoy losing?

I am more then willing to give Ted time to take the organization in another direction before posting my opinions about his leadership.

For over 30 years the Wizards have been selling the same product and because some fans are willing to sit back and accept it they continue down the same road.

Ted said they were on a youth movement and Flip comes out and say two 30 year old guys bring something to the team that we didn't have?

I thought sport teams were judged by wins and losses?

Based on the amount of wins the team has since the trade I don't see how much things have changed?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | January 1, 2011 3:27 PM | Report abuse

"Ted said they were on a youth movement and Flip comes out and say two 30 year old guys bring something to the team that we didn't have? posted by bulletsfan78"

Those two aren't contradictory. You can have a youth movement while simultaneously appreciating what two vets bring to the team.

"I thought sport teams were judged by wins and losses?"

Ultimately, they are. We ought to consider ourselves a ways away from judgment day, however.

"Based on the amount of wins the team has since the trade I don't see how much things have changed?"bulletsfan78

Based on wins alone, not much. But that's not our standard, is it? We can all read the standings. Not much intelligence required there. The trick is in recognizing that the team is getting better before that translates into wins.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 1, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

"If you include those then I will be honored to take 2nd place to any of Flip's dumb remarks..."posted by bulletsfan78"

LOL I'd say you have the makings of a champion in that respect.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 1, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

It's obvious he [Saunders] wants at least one vet with half a brain in the lineup at all times to play with the rookie and the young guys who are still working on "getting it". I can't say I blame him.

I think that's pretty much the case too. And I can't say I blame him either.

Posted by: nmik | January 1, 2011 3:13 PM |
It would be nice if whomever you think this vet is can actually play some ball or really needs to be on the court at all times.

You guys are making this too complicated and it is nothing more than an excuse that isn't adding any success to the team.

After all, the last time I checked, Flip stands on the sideline for every game. His presence should be enough for his young rookie or his young players that just doesn't get it, whether they are in the game or on the bench.

But Flip likes keeping them on the bench and yanking them for mistakes.

Don't know why he needs a vet on the floor with the way he coaches.

You guys keep apologizing and making up sheiss for Flip. Okay.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 1, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

"Ted said they were on a youth movement and Flip comes out and say two 30 year old guys bring something to the team that we didn't have? posted by bulletsfan78"

Those two aren't contradictory. You can have a youth movement while simultaneously appreciating what two vets bring to the team.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 1, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Really?

So having a guy like Lewis take time away from a young player (Booker)who in his own words said "The more you play, the quicker the game comes to you," isn't contradictory?

But there is more job security for Ernie and Flip by telling Ted he needs to wait because our guy in the PR department (Samson151) said..."We ought to consider ourselves a ways away from judgment day, however."

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | January 1, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

[Saunders] wants at least one vet with half a brain in the lineup at all times to play with the rookie and the young guys who are still working on "getting it". I can't say I blame him.

I think that's pretty much the case too. And I can't say I blame him either.
Posted by: nmik | January 1, 2011 3:13 PM
|
It would be nice if whomever you think this vet is can actually play some ball or really needs to be on the court at all times.
Posted by: LarryInClintonMD

I think it's rather apparent that for Saunders, given the lineup he has to work with, that vet needs to be Hinrich, Lewis, or Howard.

Although I'm sure it would be wildly amusing to watch a lineup of, for instance, McGee, Seraphin, Booker, Young, and Wall out on the foor, I'm not sure the embarrassment for the players would translate into any real learning. And I certainly don't see how wanting the young guys not to be any more embarrassed than necessary and to learn something can be construed as "apologizing and making up sheiss for Flip."

Posted by: nmik | January 1, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

nmik

How do you explain Booker saying "The more you play, the quicker the game comes to you," ?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | January 1, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse

nmik
How do you explain Booker saying "The more you play, the quicker the game comes to you," ?

Posted by: bulletsfan78

For Booker, who unlike some of our other youngsters, already seems to have a grasp of what is expected of him on the court, that may well be true. (I think it's true of Wall.) I doubt that it's true of, for example, Seraphin or even McGee.

And I certainly don't believe that even Booker would benefit from playing "more" with the rather comically terrifying hypothetical lineup I posted above.

Posted by: nmik | January 1, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Nmik, Yea of little faith. Do you have or have you ever heard of the Big Blue line up/tradition of the Carolina Tarheels.

When those five guys were sent on the floor no one knew what would come of it. It was comical in a sense. It put all the starters on the bench and even the top role players.

The Big Blue lineup mainly could not do anything right, but they busted their tales off for 2-3 minutes to gain any advantage they could. It was a huge shot in the arm for them and it got the veterans attention as well.

They made atrocious mistakes but the bottom line was to do their best and not get wiped off the floor. If they played even, success, or 1 or 2 points down, success, if they had a plus in points, they gym went absolutely wild.

You apparently have the mindset just like Flip, for you must believe that nothing positive can be gained by playing your bench players together in any scenario.

Yea of so little faith. We know that Flip has little faith just from looking at him on the sideline.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 1, 2011 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes Flip suffers from foot-in-mouth disease. His comments about Lewis and Howard's skills relative to those of Thornton are just the latest symptom. (Wording changed a bit for effect): "Thanks for the hard work Al, but those guys are just better than you." Can't do a lot for a player's confidence when the coach disses him in the media (see JaVale McGee).

Posted by: randysbailin | January 1, 2011 6:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure the embarrassment for the players would translate into any real learning.

Posted by: nmik | January 1, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

The 2008-2009 Oklahoma City Thunder finished 23-59 and lost a few games by 20 or more...I guess the young guys that played together on that team didn't learn anything from the embarrassment?


http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/OKC/2009_games.html

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | January 1, 2011 6:23 PM | Report abuse

"They made atrocious mistakes but the bottom line was to do their best and not get wiped off the floor. If they played even, success, or 1 or 2 points down, success, if they had a plus in points, they gym went absolutely wild."

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 1, 2011 5:51 PM

A touchingly homey little fable that conveniently ignores: (A) the scenario in which the bench gets blasted by 12+ and digs an even bigger hole for the starters to dig out of and (B) the fact that college ain't the NBA, where "making atrocious mistakes" and "not get(ting) wiped off the floor" are almost always mutually exclusive propositions. (Hell, the truth of the matter is, more often than not, they're mutually exclusive in college as well.)

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 1, 2011 6:30 PM | Report abuse

"Sometimes Flip suffers from foot-in-mouth disease. His comments about Lewis and Howard's skills relative to those of Thornton are just the latest symptom. (Wording changed a bit for effect): "Thanks for the hard work Al, but those guys are just better than you." Can't do a lot for a player's confidence when the coach disses him in the media (see JaVale McGee)."

Posted by: randysbailin | January 1, 2011 6:05 PM

"Wording changed a bit for effect"? Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

So apparently people have now abandoned even the pretense of trying to hide it when they blatantly put false words in people's mouths. Oh well. On some level, I guess the move towards transparency can be seen as progress of a sort.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 1, 2011 6:35 PM | Report abuse

"So having a guy like Lewis take time away from a young player (Booker)who in his own words said "The more you play, the quicker the game comes to you," isn't contradictory?" posted by bulletsfan78

I didn't see Booker's name in the article. He's a rookie #23 draft choice. They don't get a lot of minutes.

Learn to stick with the subject, OK?

"But there is more job security for Ernie and Flip by telling Ted he needs to wait because our guy in the PR department (Samson151) said..."We ought to consider ourselves a ways away from judgment day, however."

Hey, I explained I'm with the League Against Stupidity, Sports Operations (LASSO). Pro bono long-term assignment.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 1, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

"nmik
How do you explain Booker saying "The more you play, the quicker the game comes to you," ?
Posted by: bulletsfan78"

Why do you have to explain it? That's every rookie's opinion. If it was up to them, they would play every minute of every game, except when they wanted a blow.

Good thing we have coaches.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 1, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

A touchingly homey little fable...

Fable Kalo_rama, fable, what fable are you referring to. Even you must know that the Carolina Big Blue team used by one Dean Smith is not fable.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 1, 2011 6:48 PM | Report abuse

"Do you have or have you ever heard of the Big Blue line up/tradition of the Carolina Tarheels.When those five guys were sent on the floor no one knew what would come of it. It was comical in a sense. It put all the starters on the bench and even the top role players.The Big Blue lineup mainly could not do anything right, but they busted their tales off for 2-3 minutes to gain any advantage they could. It was a huge shot in the arm for them and it got the veterans attention as well." posted by larryinclintonmd"

No 'veterans' in college, just upperclassmen. We shouldn't mistake a rah-rah college tradition for a way of improving a pro basketball team.

"You apparently have the mindset just like Flip, for you must believe that nothing positive can be gained by playing your bench players together in any scenario."

I'm betting most NBA coaches agree with Flip. The way to integrate young players into a team is to play them with vets.

"We know that Flip has little faith just from looking at him on the sideline." posted by LarryInClintonMD."

He does look a little discouraged sometimes at what he sees on the court. Maybe we should get him a power bracelet.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 1, 2011 6:50 PM | Report abuse

"After all, the last time I checked, Flip stands on the sideline for every game. His presence should be enough for his young rookie or his young players that just doesn't get it, whether they are in the game or on the bench."

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD

Hey, LarryInClintonMD, I was kinda worried you wouldn't be participating in tonight's game-related Dumb Post contest. Glad to see you warming up!

Good luck!


Posted by: EestiLaps | January 1, 2011 6:52 PM | Report abuse

If we're going with a youth movement why are vets getting all the minutes. Rookies like Booker, and young guys like Al need to learn how to win as well. I don't understand Flips strategy here.

Posted by: Gooddad | January 1, 2011 7:00 PM | Report abuse

"The 2008-2009 Oklahoma City Thunder finished 23-59 and lost a few games by 20 or more...I guess the young guys that played together on that team didn't learn anything from the embarrassment?"

You mean the OKC team that played Kevin Durant (2nd overall choice), Russell Westbrook (4th overall), and Jeff Green (8th) but also had Joe Smith (13th season), Malik Rose (12th season), Chucky Atkins (9th season), Desmond Mason (8th season), Earl Watson (7th), Chris Wilcox (6th), and Nick Collison and Nenad Krstic(both 4th year)?

Posted by: Samson151 | January 1, 2011 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh, LarryInClintonMD, and everybody else who hopes to win tonight's Dumb Post contest, remember you gotta write something dumb about the Wiz and not the Tarheels!

Posted by: EestiLaps | January 1, 2011 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: EestiLaps | January 1, 2011 6:52 PM

This Dumb Post thing that you have claimed for yourself might actually be something to be amused by, except for the fact, you only consider some commentors and not all of them.

So, that would make you Dumb Post thing quite biased. Hell, have you considered yo'self?

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 1, 2011 7:12 PM | Report abuse

"This Dumb Post thing that you have claimed for yourself might actually be something to be amused by, except for the fact, you only consider some commentors and not all of them.

So, that would make you Dumb Post thing quite biased. Hell, have you considered yo'self?"

LarryInClintonMD


Oh, LarryInClintonMD, good news! All posters not related to, or affiliated with, the judge of the contest are eligible to win the Dumb Post contest!

Regrettably, I am both related to, and affiliated with, the judge of the contest.

But, LarryInClintonMD, if you'd like create your own contest, I'd be only too honored to participate.

Posted by: EestiLaps | January 1, 2011 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Oh no. This is one contest where the rules shant apply. Please include yourself. In fact, no objection here and I am sure you want get any others as well.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 1, 2011 7:30 PM | Report abuse

"Oh no. This is one contest where the rules shant apply."

It's not limited to persons who sign their names twice on posts?

Posted by: Samson151 | January 1, 2011 7:35 PM | Report abuse

"If we're going with a youth movement why are vets getting all the minutes. Rookies like Booker, and young guys like Al need to learn how to win as well. I don't understand Flips strategy here.Posted by: Gooddad"

Pretty sure we'll see Al tonight. Also, they might hope to light a fire under him --

Posted by: Samson151 | January 1, 2011 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company