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Posted at 12:32 AM ET, 01/ 8/2011

Wizards find motivation for inspired defensive effort

By Michael Lee

I salute our motivation. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


For a team struggling for wins, the Wizards are always in search of some energy source to keep them motivated and focused. Coach Flip Saunders decided to lean on an awesome nature video on Friday against the New Jersey Nets, while the players again came out with some new theatrics during pregame introductions.

The players gather around in a circle, then before a player is announced, he hops in the middle, does a little dance then gets tossed forward by his teammates. Of course, Nick Young came up with the idea on the team plane and it has contributed to keeping them loose.

"It's like back in high school. We had something in high school and we're trying to bring it here, like a chemistry," Young said. "Trying to go out there and play hard, to get us going. We're slowly coming together as a team."

The downside is that some teammates like to flaunt their strength in the process of throwing a starter on the court. "I know," Young said with a smile. "Especially with Kevin [Seraphin] and Hilton [Armstrong] out there, they tend to just throw you as hard as they can."

Whatever they used worked out to near perfection against a Nets team that somehow upended the Chicago Bulls two days before. JaVale McGee came out fired up defensively and Rashard Lewis was fired up on offense to lead the Wizards to a much-needed laugher in a new year, a new month, that opened with two losses.

The challenge for the Wizards, who are 0-17 away from Verizon Center, is trying to end their road misery in Charlotte on Saturday. At 9-8, they've proved that they can take care of business at home, or at least be competitive in front of their fans. Saunders described this process as "the evolution of becoming a good team."

"The first thing, what you do is, you win games at home," Saunders said. "You beat teams you're supposed to beat at home. The next step is, you start beating bad teams on the road. The third step is you beat good teams at home. And if you want to be really good, you are able to go on the road and beat good teams. That's when you start to win 55, 60 games.

"Right now, we're at that first step," he said. "We're able to beat teams we're supposed to beat at home and we're competitive, whether it's Miami or Orlando or New Orleans or Chicago, had a chance to win those games and maybe haven't won them. Maybe the second step is beat teams that don't have great records and are like us, and beat those teams on the road. Hopefully, we can start that [on Saturday]."

In order for that to happen, the Wizards will have to show the same competitive spirit on defense that they displayed against New Jersey. And that started with McGee. He recorded six blocked shots, including two on Devin Harris in the first possession, and made up for a poor performance against Brook Lopez last month by limiting him to 14 points on 12 shots and beating him in scoring (15 points) and rebounding (7-4).

Late in the second quarter, McGee stuffed Lopez on a jumper, looked over his shoulder to watch Andray Blatche grab the rebound, then sprinted down the floor. John Wall delivered a no-look lob to McGee and he dunked to give the Wizards a 50-30 lead. "JaVale is trying to find the difference between overexposing himself to block shots and knowing when you have an opportunity to contest it and get and not take yourself out of the play," Saunders said. "I thought he did a pretty good job of that overall tonight. He fought Lopez for most of the game. He did other things well. He shot the ball well when he got it. He had blocked shots and he rebounded fairly well."

And while Lewis has never been noted for being a defensive player in Seattle or Orlando, he has brought a level of professionalism that has helped the Wizards become a much more productive team on that end. The defensive numbers have been staggering since he arrived, and the Wizards didn't let the Nets reach 70 until there were 2 minutes, 30 seconds remaining.

After scoring 29 points in the Nets' 97-89 win on Dec. 16 -- Gilbert Arenas's final game as a Wizard -- Harris had just four points on 1 for 7 shooting. Harris, Travis Outlaw and Sasha Vujacic combined to go 3 for 29 on Friday night. The Wizards also took note of Harris's mad dashes and repeatedly slid in front of him to take charges, something that Saunders has made a point of emphasis in recent weeks.

"That's one of the things that we've worked on since we made the [Lewis] trade, a lot of defense. That's what was disappointing in the Philadelphia game was that what let us down in the fourth quarter," Saunders said. "We've been hanging our hat on that to stay in games. Tonight, we were good defensively for most of the game. We played good position defense. We've been having a lot of steals. Tonight, we didn't have that many steals. We just played very good position defense and really cracked down. We took about three or four charges tonight so that shows you are playing good team defense."

Lewis is displaying a more well-rounded game with the Wizards, as he had season-highs with 13 rebounds and six assists against the Nets. In seven games with the Wizards, he is scoring more (14.0), rebounding more (7.4-4.2) and assisting more (3.0-1.2) than he did in Orlando. He is also starting to connect with Wall, providing a stretch forward that can catch-and-shoot and boost assist numbers. Lewis scored 11 points in the first six minutes, all off four passes from the rookie.

"The chemistry with John is getting better and better every game and in practice," Lewis said. "We are just trying to figure things out with pick and rolls and when we get stops we have to get him the ball. When you're getting stops you can run out, John is pushing the ball and the defense seems to collapse in the paint, out on the perimeter. I most definitely felt my shot going early."

Wall didn't have his best game offensively, and admitted afterward that he still doesn't have his explosiveness. But Kirk Hinrich came off the bench and scored 10 points and Wall didn't have to worry about logging heavy minutes, when he's clearly not playing at the level at which he started the season. Wall, a North Carolina native, is looking forward to playing his first professional game in his home state. "It's a big one. We want to get a win, first of all. I also want to play well," he said. "We got to get us a road win."

By Michael Lee  | January 8, 2011; 12:32 AM ET
 
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Comments

Fact that Wall doesn't have his speed back yet is probably helping him play in a more controlled fashion. He's really put together some good performances on offense the past two games.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 1:02 AM | Report abuse

Saunders said. "You beat teams you're supposed to beat at home. The next step is, you start beating bad teams on the road. The third step is you beat good teams at home. And if you want to be really good, you are able to go on the road and beat good teams. That's when you start to win 55, 60 games.

"Right now, we're at that first step," Saunders said.

Then when you start to win 55, 60 games must be step 1,256?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | January 8, 2011 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Just caught this one on DVR. Nice effort, good win (because there are no bad ones), but NJ is awful. I hope all those who thought (or still think) that AJ would have been a better coach for the Wizards' rebuilding project were taking notes. Harris is a good player but he appears to have gone from underrated to overrated in record time. One season of putting up big numbers on a terrible team can do that, I guess.

Great all around effort on defense. The template is there they just have to be able to replicate it regularly. They really seem to be moving (slowly) in the right direction. It'll be interesting to see what moves get made after the season (or after the lockout, if there is one).

Couldn't agree more with Mike Lee's point about Lewis. The team really seems more together since he's been here (although I'm sure Arenas leaving helped a lot too). It's interesting that the Magic traded him, in part, because they wanted players with more of an all around game, because Lewis certainly appears to have that here.

And for those of you whose guts bleed at the thought of small ball, I hope you caught the start of the Magic/Knicks game. Phoenix started a lineup of Nash, VCarter, GHill, Childress, and Pietrus. Childress jumped center and Hill started off guarding Stoudemire. Fun stuff.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 8, 2011 3:51 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to see more Thornton, Armstrong, Booker, Seraphin & less Blatche.

Posted by: Darnell1 | January 8, 2011 5:54 AM | Report abuse

"And while Lewis has never been noted for being a defensive player in Seattle or Orlando, he has brought a level of professionalism that has helped the Wizards become a much more productive team on that end."

Nobody's more surprised than me. But I suppose this is more what he did during Orlando's run to the finals a couple years back -- help out inside.

Whatever the cause, he's provided more than expected from a guy traded from a winning club to a losing one.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 7:33 AM | Report abuse

"Fun stuff.Posted by: kalo_rama.."

LOL of course Phoenix got smoked... this trade seems to have energized Stoudemire beyond where I've seen him in years. Maybe it's being back with D'Antoni, or the big city.."

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Also noticed Philly over Chicago, another home victory, avenging that awful 121-76 loss earlier in the season. Holiday outplayed Derrick Rose for much of the game. Hot shooting by the Sixers turned it around -- they hit their first nine shots of the third quarter and outscored the Bulls 32-18. Lou Williams was again a force.

Philadelphia looks like a legit contender for a late playoff start. Whether they'll make it or not is anybody's guess.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 7:46 AM | Report abuse

I enjoyed my first game at Verizon Center last night. I haven't been to a game since the Bullets lost to Detroit in the first round of the late 1980's. Definitely a great arena and an entertaining effort by the Wizards last night. I just wish the Wizard Girls danced more like they did 20 years ago!

Posted by: MeviousMan | January 8, 2011 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, Amare wasn't traded -- he just signed with NY.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 7:59 AM | Report abuse

McGEE needs an equal partner at the #5.

ARMSTRONG is strictly a bench material third option there at this point. Our high pick [if there's no labor stoppage] should be for a #5, if we don't trade for one or get a FA.

I thought RL was going to be "little cancer" to ARENAS "big cancer", but it's great to see LEWIS trying to take over BLATCHE's slot in the starting rotation. This may be the first time in RASHARD's career he's going all in at the 4-3. At 31, he may feel this is his final chance at making a difference-making contribution to a team.

Damned shame 'DRAY doesn't. He certainly could. If BLATCHE doesn't care, we've gotta' move him.

Play SERAPHIN no matter how much it hurts. He's got the nasty make-up if not the ability defensively. Offensively....well, he'll be a good complement to whoever mans the four after LEWIS retires.

JIANLIAN is no answer. Move him too.

Play BOOKER more at the #3.

HOWARD may recover his stamina by next season, but that knee will not hold up this one.

AL THORNTON is holding his breath because he's not getting the burn he wants. Trade him, and bring back ALONZO GEE. Use the trade to get a decent experienced older back-up at pg.

CARTIER MARTIN is certainly making the most of his opportunities this season. Showing well so far, even though overmatched half the time.

In the back-court, it's good to see HUDSON gone. Now go get an experienced above average pg. to spell WALL and HINRICH.

YOUNG continues his upward path toward becoming the player GRUNFELD thought he might.

The newbie in the back-court needs burn to give WALL a chance to heal up.

HINRICH can't carry the load at pg, and is a step slow on the perimeter against JOHN WALL-types. But his overall has improved the WIZ defense [post-ARENAS], and he appears to have limited offensive game. He should be better next season after getting used to FLIP.

WALL needs rest and re-coup time.

Posted by: glawrence007 | January 8, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Hilton is talking to you, Flip...

"Guys took real heat into it, paid real attention to it and got real excited about it. I guess we do need a little speech to motivate us right before the game. A couple of games ago, when coach [Randy] Wittman took over, he was really excited. He was like 'I believe we could win,' and everybody got hyped. We came out and won that game, and I think we needed a little mental uplifting before this game."

Posted by: divi3 | January 8, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

"Tonight, we were good defensively for most of the game. We played good position defense. We've been having a lot of steals. Tonight, we didn't have that many steals. We just played very good position defense and really cracked down. We took about three or four charges tonight so that shows you are playing good team defense."

Flip is talking to you, team.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 11:38 AM | Report abuse

All kidding aside, it is different playing defense with a big first half lead versus having to play catch up. Ask Orlando. For one thing, you don't have to take risks and accumulate fouls. And having a decent shooting percentage means you're not relying on offensive rebounding to stay within range.

It's just one game, but I imagine it will feel like a reward to the players, for having worked hard to improve.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

The big 1stQ lead was in large part due to 4-5 blks from Javale and his utterly disrupting their sorry offense. 4blks in 10mins? He was playing the way many people don't want him to, but it worked

Posted by: divi3 | January 8, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

And for those of you whose guts bleed at the thought of small ball, I hope you caught the start of the Magic/Knicks game. Phoenix started a lineup of Nash, VCarter, GHill, Childress, and Pietrus. Childress jumped center and Hill started off guarding Stoudemire. Fun stuff.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 8, 2011 3:51 AM

Yeah, you are absolutely right. It was Fun stuff for the Knickerbockers. Thay ran Phoenix's arse's in the ground. Small ball...the Knicks had a hellavu fun time, but I don't think Phoenix who trotted out small ball had any fun atall.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 8, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

It's great to see Nick Young emerge as the best and one of the most valuable players on this team after being maligned by the usual suspects and this organization.
Seems the only one who appreciated this kids talents heertofore was Arenas.

Javale McGee clearly was the impetus for this win as he was in the win against Indiana. John Wall is still a work in progress and the team actually played better last night with Hinrich at the point. Wall's inability to make a midrange jumpshot forces him to make mistakes and make foolish forays to the basket.

While Wall foolishly was annointed the "face of the franchise" at the beginning of the year, McGee and Young are as critical to this teams future on the court.

Posted by: NewManagement | January 8, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Hilton is talking to you, Flip...

"Guys took real heat into it, paid real attention to it and got real excited about it. I guess we do need a little speech to motivate us right before the game. A couple of games ago, when coach [Randy] Wittman took over, he was really excited. He was like 'I believe we could win,' and everybody got hyped. We came out and won that game, and I think we needed a little mental uplifting before this game."

Posted by: divi3 | January 8, 2011 11:31 AM

Watch out divi3, you can't be commenting that hype, and uplifting means anything. Nick Young even indicates the Team needs some kind of motivation as indicative of Mike Lee's comment above.

Butchaknow divi3, folks like Samson151 have said many a time here that these are adults making millions and this rah-rah stuff don't mean anything in the pros. It is only good for college and high school kids, amateurs they say.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 8, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

i must say, tears almost came into my eyes tonight how we played defense. gota give those guys a round of applause! nice win with NJ coming off a win beating chicago. STILL, we need a new coach. i have a feeling those guys were playing more for pride & tired of losing rather than influenced by Flip's coaching. STILL, i would love for us to trade blatche for gerald wallace or hickson without having to throw little nicky in. if we have one of those two guys with the same defense intensity we played with tonight we can certainly make a push for the playoffs and have alot of potential for next season. MAKE IT HAPPEN ERNIE!

Posted by: CantWait90 | January 8, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Wizards find motivation for inspired defensive effort
By Michael Lee

Yeah, all it took was the players to realize was that they were adults making millions of dollars.

Its really just that simple.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 8, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Call me crazy, but rashard lewis is better than arenas. Not as talented, but definitely the better player. Who would have thought that at the trade's outset?

That looked like a professional organization last night. It was great to watch. Wall is starting to play excellent ball offensively in running the offense and finding the open man - and he's doing it under control without the threat of always needing to drive and kick.

Young is cementing himself as a man to build around. A couple years ago we would mention on here that whenever he consistently hit shots, he was unguardable. Well now he's consistently hitting shots from everywhere on the court. And he's picked up his effort defensively. Kid is growing up before our eyes.

I agree with the poster who said it may be time to look at moving Thornton. If/when Howard gets back, Thornton should see minimal minutes. I believe Booker is more than capable of filling those minutes, and his energy and hustle is needed for this team. I also like Martin in a limited role. With Blatche, Yi, Lewis, and Booker (along with McGee, Armstrong, and Seraphin) we really don't need Thornton swinging to the 4. Move him and look to get something in return.

Posted by: psps23 | January 8, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I checked the box score and I saw that JM, AB, RL, NY, JW, were the starters. That is the lineup I think they should stay with for awhile now. I'd use that as my basis for integrating my gameplan with my players and the rotations.

I would not move AB to center and RL to small forward without good reason.

I would sub based upon player position mainly. Armstrong and Seraphin would be the center subs. Yi for Blatche. Booker, Thornton, Howard, Martin at the three, with Booker being interchangeable for the four as well. Hinrich for Wall/Nick and Martin would have to play some minutes at guard as well.

If you define something that is set for players and not as it appears this anything goes substition pattern, it should add to team cohesion and play, especially on the road.

The starting lineup above may not have been the first time it was used, I did not check, but that lineup I think is the one we should set on using for a bit now.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 8, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I think it's more likely that Blatche getting called out by Mike Wise and McGee's mom being in the stands were bigger motivators than an old YouTube clip. Either way, it's nice to see Blatche and McGee both play solid D in the same game.

Posted by: djnnnou | January 8, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I have always like Lewis's game. When the Majic went to championship game, I thought the shooting of Lewis and Petrie would propel them to win the championship.

Then the insertion of Nelson from injury in the championship series derailed what they were bringing to the table. Hindsight and debatable at this point, but when they changed to Nelson at the end, I think it slightly impacted the Majic's whole game chemistry that propelled them till then.

Lewis and even Petrie weren't the same since then. You have to realize that Nelson is a three point shooter as well and when he returned he was a third shooter along with Petrie and Lewis. It had to affect them. Now the both of them are gone and there was one comment just the other day that Arenas might cause Nelson to be traded as well. Arenas's play will have to continue to get much better though in order for it happen.

I always said that it would be pointless to trade Arenas without getting a star in return. When you name stars aroung the league Rashard Lewis's name might not pop up, but IMO, his play so far fills a void emblematic for what you would want star like players to bring to your team.

I thought Lewis was good before and he is proving it now.

It is funny how style of play can impact a players game. Look at Hedo Turkoglu and how he never looked like the same player when he was traded even with two different teams. But now being traded back to Orlando, he is that formidiable player like before.

It is things like this why I always say it is more than just the player. Coaching and style can be everything to a player.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 8, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Butchaknow divi3, folks like Samson151 have said many a time here that these are adults making millions and this rah-rah stuff don't mean anything in the pros. It is only good for college and high school kids, amateurs they say.

Yeah, all it took was the players to realize was that they were adults making millions of dollars.

Its really just that simple.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 8, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

The only problem with Samson and kal's theory is these are a bunch of 20-25 year old kids (JM, AB, NY, JW)and most of them only went to college for a few years so maybe treating them like they are college seniors instead of a bunch of vets isn't a bad idea?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | January 8, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

"Tonight, we were good defensively for most of the game. We played good position defense. We've been having a lot of steals. Tonight, we didn't have that many steals. We just played very good position defense and really cracked down. We took about three or four charges tonight so that shows you are playing good team defense."

Flip is talking to you, team.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Sure they won...let's wait to see what happens the next time they lose...

Will Flip go back to calling out individual players or will he still say we didn't play good defense and put the blame on everyone including himself?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | January 8, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

LOL can't help but notice that the FFF (Fire Flip Force) is basing their analysis of the victory on the rah-rah element rather than the defense or the shooting... based on a comment from Hil Armstrong, a nice guy who played a total of, oops -- he didn't play. DNP-Coach's Decision.

All I can say is, it figures.

You put those cherries back when you're finished pickin', boys.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Now Detroit is involved, although how much no one knows -- From ESPN on the Carmelo deals:

"Sources...confirmed the Nets and Nuggets have discussed a three-way trade proposal that would land Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups and Pistons guard Rip Hamilton alongside Anthony in New Jersey."

"But a source... told ESPN's Chris Broussard that the three-way deal in its proposed form -- which would require the Pistons to take Nets center Johan Petro and surrender a first-round pick in addition to absorbing the expiring contract of Troy Murphy to the Pistons -- is not amenable to Detroit."

"The source told Broussard the Pistons... would be interested if... they only had to surrender Hamilton and take back Murphy... Such a scenario, however, has not been discussed."

"The Nets have already committed to send rookie Derrick Favors, former All-Star guard Devin Harris and at least two first-round picks to the Nuggets in exchange for Anthony. But New Jersey has been attempting to find a third team -- having already tried Portland, Minnesota and Cleveland before Detroit -- to help facilitate the blockbuster deal..."

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

LOL can't help but notice that the FFF (Fire Flip Force) is basing their analysis of the victory on the rah-rah element rather than the defense or the shooting... based on a comment from Hil Armstrong, a nice guy who played a total of, oops -- he didn't play. DNP-Coach's Decision.

All I can say is, it figures.

You put those cherries back when you're finished pickin', boys.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

So are you saying Hil Armstrong is lying?

I'm still all for firing Flip, but I know there is no way Ernie is going to fire his handpicked coach...all I can hope for is Ted fires Ernie and Flip both next year and hires Mike Budenholzer of the Spurs.

I am glad Ted went and told he needs to play the young guys since NY is getting 35 mpg while your boy Kirk is getting 22.

By the way it was one game, but like I've been saying since Etaps was the coach play the young guys to see which ones can play.

Who cares about if they win or not it's not like they are going to win a championship with this team.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | January 8, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Butchaknow divi3, folks like Samson151 have said many a time here that these are adults making millions and this rah-rah stuff don't mean anything in the pros. It is only good for college and high school kids, amateurs they say.

Yeah, all it took was the players to realize was that they were adults making millions of dollars.

Its really just that simple.

LarryInClintonMD.

Larry, I hear a lot from you on a regular basis about what the coach needs to do, the coach should do, the coach isn't doing.....What responsibility do the players bear? Why is it necessary to resort to a gimmick to get them to play together and help each other? Why is it necessary to kick all of them out of practice because they are not giving enough effort? Is there a lack of leadership? Yeah, probably. Some of the tone of Flip's comments rub me the wrong way. Some of his decisions make me scratch my head. Yes, he mentions KH way too much. But sounds like there is also a lack of followership.

Yeah, the guys are young, but there are guys as younger or younger bearing much greater responsibility overseas in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Larry, you were (are?) in the military, do those guys have the luxury of not following a leader? I'm sure you had leaders you respected and some you didn't, but troops aren't given the luxury of choosing to follow or not follow (in most cases). And it's not like Flip is asking them to charge a machine gun nest or do something morally reprehensible.

So, yeah, he gave them a bit of a rah-rah speech, and it looks like it may have helped. But what did it help them do? Ah, right, it motivated them to play the way he had already been asking them to play. So I guess he just needs to ask nicer from now on? I don't know if I want to root for a team of guys who need someone else to motivate them all the time.

There is plenty of room for blame on all sides, but it seems like everyone just wants to blame one side or the other.

Posted by: ts35 | January 8, 2011 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Some one said RL is better than GA.I agree with you, he is much better for this team than GA.We do not need to go to the talent issue.I used to like AJ as a profssesional,I think RL is a better player than AJ.RL is a team player, he does not take everything to him, he does not demand for a ball.He might not be a good rebounder like AJ but he will compensate that diffrence with assists and he is a better position defender than AJ. RL will be a better player than AJ in the SF position, his out side shoot is also much better than AJ.RL is over paid but it is not EG's fault, he did a good trade.The million dollar question is why orlando gave up on him? Time will tell the facts.

Posted by: gtefferra | January 8, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Larry in Clinton... your comment on the negative impact of the Magic turning to a barely recovered J Nelson on the three-pointing shooting of Pietrus and Lewis in the 09 Finals is an interesting one... I have always thought that three point shooting is a lot like field goal kicking in that it is very much specialized and requires the player to perform in a certain rhythm to succeed on a routine basis... Whatever the reason, neither Pietrus nor Lewis ever got it going for the Magic after that time.

Turning to the present situation with the Wizards, I have always been a big fan and consistent defender of Gilbert Arenas but trading him for Lewis was a smart move.

It goes WAY beyond the money saved three years from now and right down to the fact that Lewis can be a great complement to a guard like Wall. Lewis may have melted a bit under the pressure of the Finals and the expectations of Magic management and fandom given the size of his contract, but in this situation he may well be a godsend on the court.

Posted by: khrabb | January 8, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Stop a moment to pray for Rep. Giffords in Tucson, who apparently is still alive after the shooting...in surgery at the moment.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

There is plenty of room for blame on all sides, but it seems like everyone just wants to blame one side or the other.

Posted by: ts35 | January 8, 2011 2:40 PM

Your comments have some merit. But, you are aware that I don't just blame the Coach and the Organization. You must know that I adamantly submit that Coaching and Organization is hugely more responsible than quite a few here are willing to admit. I see when players aren't professional and not making good decisions on and off the court.

You indicate it would seem that the players have a choice not to follow the coach as being unlike military structure. That is a wrong assumption. Even in everyday jobs, if you are not following the directions and instructs of your job/supervisor, you very quickly will not have a job. To indicate that players are somehow flaunting the coaches philosophy and instruction and if it is in fact so means one thing. You got to get new players or a new coach.

Unless of course you want to continue to fail.

To indicate that motivative tactics and speeches and rah rah, like some want to refer to it has no place in professional sports or isn't of consequence is also a wrong assumption.

I wonder what one coach who was famous for his motivative tactics would have thought of such. That person being Vince Lombardi. You see in order to lead and spur others to follow you and perform their damdest best for you must motivate them and spur them onward.

Just showing them the x's and o's without much enthusiasm, excitement, a gimic, a speech, pre-game inspiration, half-time kick in the butt, sideline excitement, and then you expect them to perform at a high level might get you a Team like the one that follows Flip Saunders.

Who says motivational antics, tools, speeches, doesn't work with pro players? When a coach calls timeout in a game, surely he may be explaining x's and o's but the best ones are hugely motivating there players as well.

TS35, it is pure folly to downplay what motivation really is as well as it is to assert that the naming of a team captain is just an insignificant honorary formality.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 8, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I've heard of winning one for the Gipper, but winning one for the water buffaloe is a new one.

How many times can Flip bring out this tape?
__________________

More seriously, as Samson151 points out, give a few thoughts to the Congresswoman and the other victims. Including the parents of that child. A child? Heart breaking.


Posted by: SteveMG | January 8, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Call me crazy but when we got off to that great start, I was thinking that we need to save some for this game. Therefore I was actually glad that the Nets made a bit of a run a couple of times. I could see us in typical Wiz fashion just thrashing them from the jump, some of us maybe thinking they turned the corner, just to lay down a futile effort against the Bobcats with the worst D ever.

Now they we had to work some for it, I think that will again make us focused for tonight. It sucks that we didnt get to rest guys but fatigue shouldnt be a factor when youre 0-17 on the road and havent won 2 games in a row all season. You should be able to fight through it. Here's seeing if they can. Jax & Wallace always kills us and they are playing alot better without Brown. Lets see if our 2 new fan favorites in NY & Lewis can give those guys the same problems they ususally give us.

It would be great if we had Howard to matchup with them also but thats probably a long shot. Thorton or Booker will need to step up. If we go small some with Wall & Kirk, hopefully Jax doesnt kill us in the post. They will be active, physical, and hustle alot. If we can match that then we will be ok. Here's hoping that Dray has started to turn the corner and I think Wall could go for like 18 & 12 tonight or more tonight back in front of the hometown crowd.

Posted by: dlts2041 | January 8, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the poster who said it may be time to look at moving Thornton. If/when Howard gets back, Thornton should see minimal minutes. I believe Booker is more than capable of filling those minutes, and his energy and hustle is needed for this team. I also like Martin in a limited role. With Blatche, Yi, Lewis, and Booker (along with McGee, Armstrong, and Seraphin) we really don't need Thornton swinging to the 4. Move him and look to get something in return.

Posted by: psps23 | January 8, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for the props. THORNTON has no way to go if...IF JOSH pulls it out this season. Only way he should stay is for insurance to make certain HOWARD is a go. I want to see BOOK get some real burn. Rather win 19 than 26 this season and see TREV get some serious seasoning for next year.

Same with KAVEEN IF 'DRAY ain't gonna' play. Now if BLATCHE comes to his senses look out, but I don't think it's happenin'.

Posted by: glawrence007 | January 8, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Let's see, tonight in Charlotte -- the 'Cats are playing a little better than the last time they met Washington. Got an OT victory in Minnesota following a road loss to Miami. DJ Augustin was the leading scorer and Tyrus Thomas played well inside. Gerald Wallace is doubtful for tonight but Stephen Jackson and Nazr Mohammed should play. The Wiz are winless in their last four trips to Charlotte.

Let's hope we see some continued good defensive play and respectable shooting.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Trading Thornton wouldn't make much sense. They're not going to get much value for him. He's got an expiring contract, but it's so small that the odds of getting a player with any real value back are pretty slim, esp. if it means taking on a longer-term deal in return. And given the uncertainty concerning Howard's knee and the team's limited options at SF, there's a good chance they're going to need him at some point. I really never understood the Thornton hate around here (other than the obvious fact that certain people target him as an obstacle to Nick Young starting).

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 8, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

EDIT:

Make that "(other than the obvious fact that certain people targeted him as an obstacle to Nick Young starting)." (Past tense)

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 8, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

"I think Wall could go for like 18 & 12 tonight or more tonight back in front of the hometown crowd. Posted by: dlts2041"

Wall's from the Raleigh area, isn't he? Not Charlotte.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, he is from Raleigh, but the Bobcats in Charlotte is as close as he can currently get to a home crowd.

I think that is what dlts2041 meant in general.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 8, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Charlotte's 167 driving miles from Raleigh. About 3 hours in normal traffic. Won't be many Raleigh area fans there unless John paid for them to come...

Posted by: Samson151 | January 8, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

True, and to top it off Wall played college ball at Kentucky instead of Carolina. In Carolina it is nothing for the college fanbase of Raleigh/Durham to travel to Greensboro and Charlotte, though.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 8, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Ah, right, it motivated them to play the way he had already been asking them to play.

Again, to me it looked like Javale played the way HE plays. The same way that results in so many blocks but riles so many fans because of positioning issues etc. He only had 6 boards, but something like 4 blocks in the 1stQ alone. We sprinted out to a huge lead as the Nets couldnt score at all during that period.

I'm having trouble seeing where last night was a case of Mcgee 'finally' playing the way Flip wanted him to...didnt look like it to me.

Posted by: divi3 | January 8, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Terrible, terrible, terrible team...this team is bad all the way around, from the GM to the coach to the trainers, doctors, players, equipment manager and the waterboys...but you cannot release the entire squad and organization so as always it falls back to Flip...Saunders is not the right coach for this particular roster...Flip must go! Hopefully before the all-star break so that the interim can make a strong case for the head coach position next year. Ted-Flip Must Go!!

Posted by: ronniecope106 | January 8, 2011 9:32 PM | Report abuse

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