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Posted at 12:56 AM ET, 02/17/2011

Short-handed Wizards go into all-star break with a whimper

By Michael Lee

I don't need this now. (AP Photo/ Reinhold Matay)


The concern for the Wizards entering their last game before the all-star break was not necessarily if they would be able to defeat the Orlando Magic; it really was if they were going to have enough offense to keep the game respectable.

For a team already deficient in talent, it was not good to enter the game with Nick Young and its best Magic spy, Rashard Lewis, sidelined with knee injuries. And it didn't get any better for the Wizards when Al Thornton returned after missing the past three games with a dislocated right middle finger, only to dislocate his right middle finger in a collision with Dwight Howard after playing just three minutes.

The Wizards' 101-76 loss got off to an ominous start when Andray Blatche backed down Magic power forward Brandon Bass, spun around him and airballed a dunk attempt, collecting the first of four turnovers when he caught the ball on the other side of the basket.

John Wall did his best to fill the offensive void, as he ripped through the Magic defense early on, playing with tenacity and pep, as he scored 27 points -- the most since he had a season-high 29 against Philadelphia on Nov. 2. Wall got to rim with ease, but he also seemed comfortable hitting open jumpers, with the Magic almost daring him to shoot at times.

Kirk Hinrich came off the bench and had a nice little scoring burst in the second quarter, when he scored 10 points, but the Wizards weren't going to seriously challenge the Magic with Josh Howard going 1 for 10, Cartier Martin going 2 for 13, Blatche going 6 for 17 and JaVale McGee going 1 for 6. Add that up, and the Wizards starters not named Wall went a combined 10 for 46 (21.7 percent).

"It was sort of John Wall all by himself," Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy said of the Wizards.


If you're lucky -- and healthy -- you'll be dominating like this in seven years, John. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

The Wizards played one competitive game against the Magic, and the only thing that they can really look forward to is that maybe someday down the road, Wall will take note of the beatdowns he had to take as a rookie and take it out on the rest of the league. Howard certainly appears to be doing that now, since he is playing at a frighteningly dominant level. He's showing that a supporting cast is almost irrelevant, because he can make up for holes in his teammates' games.

Howard scored 32 points on 15 shots. He put all of the Wizards' big men in foul trouble early and, didn't have to play in the fourth quarter. He didn't do push-ups along the sideline, as he did in the season opener, but the Magic seemed to be having a good time as they recorded their third win by at least 18 points against the Wizards this season.

"We knew it wasn't going to be an easy game," Wall said. "We knew it was going to be tough."

The Wizards knew before the game that Young was probably going to sit out after developing some swelling from a bruise in his left knee after the win in Cleveland. But there were concerns about McGee, who arrived at Amway Center complaining of soreness in his lower back.

"One guy's got Howarditis. I guess the other guy's got Gilbertitis," Saunders joked before the game about McGee and Young.

McGee said his back was fine once he hit the court, but he was already sitting less than three minutes into the game after picking up two quick fouls.

Young got roughed up the last time the Wizards faced the Magic, especially with Gilbert Arenas using some old dirty tricks, but he said after the game that he was really disappointed that he couldn't play one more game before the break. "It was tough just watching them out there. I knew that they needed me," Young said after the game. "It hurt. Especially how the other team was laughing, trying to take full advantage."

Blatche seated nearby said, "It's tough out there without Batman."

Lewis got a really nice ovation from the Magic, which played a little video montage with a voice over describing some of his better moments in more than three years in Orlando. After watching it, I wondered why the Wizards didn't do a similar deed for Arenas or Antawn Jamison when they returned to Washington earlier this season. Then again, the Wizards only have one second round appearance to show for the Arenas-Jamison era, while Lewis helped the Magic reach the NBA Finals and the Eastern Conference finals twice.

It had to be hard for Lewis to walk through the arena since his image is still plastered all over the place, in banners and pictures hanging along the halls. It was obvious that Lewis's former teammates still think highly of him. He embraced several of them after the game, including Jameer Nelson. Hedo Turkoglu needled Lewis throughout the game, at one point, ignoring a referee during a break in action in the fourth quarter to throw a pass to a seated Lewis instead.

"Me and Turk was messing around," Lewis said. "I think he made a jump shot and looked at me and started smiling. The very next play, he got dunked on by JaVale. He didn't want to look at me then."

Arenas didn't score until late in the fourth quarter, but he handed out six assists and got to leave the floor with a victory. The Wizards came away with a simple goal for the all-star break.

"Get guys healthy," Saunders said.

By Michael Lee  | February 17, 2011; 12:56 AM ET
Categories:  Flip Saunders, Gilbert Arenas, JaVale McGee, John Wall, Nick Young, Rashard Lewis  
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Next: Rashard Lewis: There's still something to play for

Comments

Why did Wall play 39 minutes in a game that was over in the third quarter? Isn't that why you have Shakur?

Posted by: ronjon629 | February 17, 2011 7:26 AM | Report abuse

This dog ain't hunting. Healthy or not. He just want hunt.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 17, 2011 8:18 AM | Report abuse

will not/won't that is

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 17, 2011 8:21 AM | Report abuse

"One guy's got Howarditis. I guess the other guy's got Gilbertitis," Saunders joked before the game about McGee and Young.

Yeah, McGee goes out and picks up two silly fouls immediately. It was almost like he was trying to prove a point. But you can't prove a point with the referees. You just let Howard go once he has established his move with the ball. It was almost like, let me get my two fouls and go the bench.

Maybe Nick young pulled a Gilbert. 'Aww coach my knee is swolled up. I can't go.'

I'm just having some fun guys.

This team is like the Gang That Can't Shoot Straight.

Blatche has no role on this Team. He is just out there, it seems to me. No purpose, no nothing. But besides John Wall driving to the basket last night nothingelse showed any promise.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 17, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

"One guy's got Howarditis. I guess the other guy's got Gilbertitis," Saunders joked before the game about McGee and Young.

I would say that is not really funny for the head coach to say. Wait till they start saying the team has Saunderitis.

Posted by: bobilly1 | February 17, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

The Wizards knew before the game that Young was probably going to sit out after developing some swelling from a bruise in his left knee after the win in Cleveland. But there were concerns about McGee, who arrived at Amway Center complaining of soreness in his lower back.

"One guy's got Howarditis. I guess the other guy's got Gilbertitis," Saunders joked before the game about McGee and Young.


Good stuff Flip. NY sidelined with a legit injury, no doubt suffered while tyring to carry the load for this team on offense. JM who complains of back pain,is a puuss-C? Really i remember JM having back issues last yr and early this year.

I dunno if i like the head coach of our 3x 40+ loss team trying to get brownie points with the media by ripping guys on his team, especially when one is legitimately hurt. NY was geeked up all week for the game. No way he came down with Gilbertitis.

As for Howarditis, I'd be worried if I was a C that had to start against him too, especially with a coach this clueless. I guess i shouldn't say clueless, as Flip was obviously expressing his supremem confidence in JMac by letting him check Howard 1 on 1. DH doesn't go for 30+ and 12 against guys he can't bully. He can bully Javale b/c of his size and strength, but why not double team ( i didn't see it much)

I also woulda liked to have Kirk get the star over Cartier (i guess we know who's comfort zone gets shaken when given the starting role).I know KH ain't a 2, but he's been a starter in this league, and I'm sure the defensive stalwart could hold JRich. And we shoulda seen more Shakur, crazy that he didn't play more. I also think the team took a night off, and Flip shoulda had his team better prepared. Where was the offense? I suppose injuries can make you look that way, especially with so many young raw players providing depth on the bench, but last night was worse than the spurs game IMHO. The spurs have lost 9 gms this yr and are the class of the NBA. The Magic seem to have rebounded well from the trades, but they are still flawed. If you double howard and force Nelson to beat JW and force the Turk to do it all you have a better chance than playing DH straight up and still not shutting down anyone else.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 17, 2011 9:56 AM | Report abuse

"One guy's got Howarditis. I guess the other guy's got Gilbertitis," Saunders joked before the game about McGee and Young.

I would say that is not really funny for the head coach to say. Wait till they start saying the team has Saunderitis.

Posted by: bobilly1 | February 17, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

DH embarrasses a lot of people, Flip just embarrasses his players. I think a lot of people around here are coming down with Saundersitis. How bout you try, just once to coach these guys out.

The shot at NY is really bothering me. Even if his injury isn't terribly bad, let the kid take the an extra day to get healthy, he still traveled with the team and prepared to play. NY knows what's at stake for him this year. he's on the last yr of his deal, he's gotta finish out the year strong, especially since some folks don't think he's good enough to be on THIS team going forward. Flip is really out of touch. If NY said Flip had Van Gundyitis (Flip hasn't beat the Magic as Wiizards coach) I'm almost sure he would get fined or suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. How is Flip helping anyone or anything with his comments?

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 17, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Can any Wizard stay healthy the entire year? Sheez, I could understand if we had the age of the Celtics but we have a young team.

Posted by: fearturtle44 | February 17, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

the training staff has been questioned for years. I guess it's ok now to say that maybe the team's owner could spend a coupla dollas to spruce up the facilities, training equipment, and hire an all new training staff.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 17, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

He probably thinks Nick should have played, he basically said Wall needed to toughen up earlier in the season. Maybe he thinks Nick is being overly cautious because it IS his contract year. Well, the team didn't pick up Young's option...no sense in risking his knee for Flip, that's for sure.

Posted by: divi3 | February 17, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

He probably thinks Nick should have played, he basically said Wall needed to toughen up earlier in the season. Maybe he thinks Nick is being overly cautious because it IS his contract year. Well, the team didn't pick up Young's option...no sense in risking his knee for Flip, that's for sure.

Posted by: divi3 | February 17, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

That's how it comes across, but to say that NY is scared of Gil in the media does nothing but breathe life into another bs rumor. I sincerely doubt NY was scared to play Gil last night, why keep that BS going? You're the head coach of an NBA team, not TMZ.com.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 17, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I'd bet Nick is disappointed he didnt have the opportunity to try and drop a 50 spot on Gil's fat mouth. Especially after Gil was dense enough to mention in the press he was getting away with fouls, you know the refs wouldnt have allowed it again.

Flip is generally quick to distance himself from the team, everybody needs to know he's just the poor guy stuck with these players- none of this team's abysmal performances reflect on the coaching. So it doesnt surprise me he said what he did, and yeah, it's a lame thing to say about your leading scorer and only legit offensive threat (for the most part).

Posted by: divi3 | February 17, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, horrible thing to say. NY only said the same thing himself that he let GA get the best of him and get in his head. I know you guys have to find something to discuss, but, man, just weak commentary. I think Chenier said the same thing during the game - NY needs to stop playing the little brother role to GA. Fire him too! The truth is the truth and if they can't handle it then they shouldn't be playing a game for a living making millions of dollars. Have you ever listened to Phil Jackson's media comments about his team or players? Have you ever listented to Jerry Sloan's media comme`nts about his team or players? Have you ever listented to Larry Brown's media comments about his team or players?

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 17, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: divi3 | February 17, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Maybe he'll talk about not doubling DH or not slowing Wall down a bit last night. i guess the game was out of reach around the middle of the third (when teams usually distance themselves from the wiz). But it woulda been nice if Wall coulda found a way to get his teamates some buckets. One asst + 5 TOs in 39 mins??Looks like a NY type line, minus the TOs.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 17, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: divi3 | February 17, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Maybe he'll talk about not doubling DH or not slowing Wall down a bit last night. i guess the game was out of reach around the middle of the third (when teams usually distance themselves from the wiz). But it woulda been nice if Wall coulda found a way to get his teamates some buckets. One asst + 5 TOs in 39 mins??Looks like a NY type line, minus the TOs.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 17, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, horrible thing to say. NY only said the same thing himself that he let GA get the best of him and get in his head. I know you guys have to find something to discuss, but, man, just weak commentary. I think Chenier said the same thing during the game - NY needs to stop playing the little brother role to GA. Fire him too!

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 17, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Yeah the difference between Phil and Flip (other than one is mature enough to go by his given name rather than be a 50 yr old man going by the name flip) is that Flip is the coach of a major franchise. Phil is a tv analyst/media member. His job is to talk about the game, Flip's job is to coach and win some games. I dunno what Flip's comments do to further his cause.

The difference between Phil saying NY needs to stop playing "little brother" and Flip basically saying Nick is scared of Gil should be obvious. Once again Phil C (a medai member who is paid to talk about the team) mentioned NY's rough outing last game and said that NY has to lose the little brother mentality. i think that's a fair assesment, if in fact NY has a "lil bro mentality" when it comes to Gil.
What Flip said amounts up to NY didn't play tonight because he's scared of Gil. Gilbertitis is similar to Algebritis. I suffered algebritis for a while in grade school. If there was a big test coming I might get a stomach ache in the morning or fake sick in general, because i didn't want to take the test. Flip is saying NY didn't want to face Gil and I think that's A) Untrue and B) Not something a coach should be saying just to get some chuckles out of the media. His job isn't to make this team any more of a laughing stock than it already is.

BTW No one said Flip should be fired. But i would like to know which Larry Brown interview you referenced, was it before or after he was fired or quit on an underachieving squad?Phil's method works because he's Phil, and he's had the honor of coaching MJ, Kobe and Shaq. Jerry Sloan was a great coach, who's won as many titles as Flip Saunders. As hard as you think he was on players, he also had a coupla HOF'ers there as a strong foundation and solid leadership. I worry about what the coach for this team does. Right now he's really good at tossing his guys up under the bus. You lose a game by 30 and find a way to blame the one kid who didn't play. Get serious.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 17, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I worry about what the coach for this team does. Right now he's really good at tossing his guys up under the bus. You lose a game by 30 and find a way to blame the one kid who didn't play. Get serious.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 17, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

lilhollywood10, I agree with you 110%

Posted by: musicmanjr | February 17, 2011 2:40 PM | Report abuse

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