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Posted at 8:05 AM ET, 02/ 9/2011

Keeping their heads up, despite losing streak

By Michael Lee
Morning brew

The Wizards have lost eight straight overall, including three in a row at home, but they are hoping to end both skids as they host the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday at Verizon Center. Although the Wizards haven't won since Jan. 22, Coach Flip Saunders said his players have continued to display a competitive spirit in practice.

"The most amazing thing, usually when you go through a slide, guys go into practice, they almost dread coming into practice. It's like a cloud that's hanging over your head almost," Saunders said. "Our guys have been, I don't know if it's resilient or whatever, they have an unbelievable attitude. Very upbeat and very willing learners in practice. It's like they haven't thought much about it. Their main concern is to try and get better."

When asked how the Wizards (13-37) have been able to deal with their recent slide, Andray Blatche said, "We're not thinking about it. We're just thinking about the next game. We still have a positive attitude. We're still together. Even though it says we lost, it doesn't feel like it, because we just brush it off and try to get the next one. I feel [on Wednesday], from the efforts in practice, it's going to transfer and we're going to get this win."

JaVale McGee said the players have not given up on the season, or their efforts to improve, even as they appear headed toward another lottery appearance. "We're definitely trying to work as hard as we can, in practice, especially, to become better players on the court," McGee said. "We're just trying to be more professional and try to be more aggressive and more competitive in practice, so that it can carry over to games. Just keep your head up, keep working and it'll eventually be over. You'll eventually get some wins and our road streak definitely will end."

The Bucks (20-30) snapped a four-game losing streak with a win over Toronto on Tuesday. They defeated the Wizards 100-87 on Jan. 19, as Keyon Dooling and Earl Boykins combined to score 42 points with point guard Brandon Jennings out with an ankle injury.

Nick Young said the Wizards are expecting a different result primarily because the location has changed. "We was right there when we was there at their home. We've just got to get the crowd into the game and bring the energy like we have. We've got to get more dunks. That gets us going, I guess."

Saunders said that despite the results, the team has been playing better. "The reason we need to get a win is, we've played well at times, they've done a lot of things in practice to improve and that's positive reinforcement," Saunders said. "That's why I think, more than anything else, it would be positive reinforcement."

FROM THE POST
JaVale McGee tries to snap out of a slump and prepares for the slam dunk contest.

Nick Young returns to practice after some discomfort in his left knee the day before and should be available for the Bucks game tonight.

Trevor Booker is a machine (DC Sports Bog).

AROUND THE WEB
The Lakers and the Denver Nuggets have reportedly had preliminary discussions about a blockbuster trade that would send Carmelo Anthony to Los Angeles (ESPN.com).

Kelly Dwyer says Kevin Durant is the most controversial pick for the All-Star Weekend three-point contest, but he also might be the favorite (Ball Don't Lie, Yahoo!Sports).

Hardwood Paroxysm takes a deeper look at the awfulness of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

John Wall returned to Rupp Arena on Tuesday to form the "Y" during Kentucky's 73-61 win over Tennessee. Wall sat courtside, offered words of encouragement in the locker room, and spoke with the student paper, The Kentucky Kernel, after the game.

By Michael Lee  | February 9, 2011; 8:05 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Nick Young returns to practice after left knee "scare"
Next: Jump ball: Suggest a dunk for JaVale

Comments

It's nice that our guys are "resilient...and have an unbelievable attitude...very upbeat, etc." But the Wizards are not going to become a winning organization with that "we will eventually get some wins" approach.

I'd prefer that our guys become outraged and furious about constantly losing. It would be good to see players holding their team mates accountable. How about a players-only locker room meeting?

Posted by: musicmanjr | February 9, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

That's been the question since the beginning of the year -- how the young Wiz would handle the losing. Anybody who took a look at that roster before the season could see they were in for a long year. And the stats geeks pretty much confirmed it, even then. Since that time the Wiz have had periods of good play, but not good enough to translate into many victories.

Overall, they've handled it pretty well, not turning on one another in the name of 'accountability' which is just another name for blaming. The coaches have been generally supportive, although losing like this is probably harder on coaches than players, since the coaches are the one who lose their jobs over it. The fact that Leonsis has stuck to his rebuilding plan no doubt helps -- he comes across as a serious owner, not another jumped-up multi-millionaire in over his head.

Let's see, they've got 32 games remaining. Personally I'm hoping they use it to help John Wall continue to develop, and to try out some combinations that might come in handy in the foreseeable future. As for Nick Young, Javale McGee, and Andray Blatche, I imagine the team will be making some decisions there, as well.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 9, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

players-only locker room meeting???...

Musicmanjr,

That indicates that these players can actually do something towards controlling this malaise of events surrounding this Team.

Ideally, players should.

However, the constant barage from Flip about them not being ready yet and especially most of the board and a fair share of the media expressing that only Wall is a keeper, and they need this type of player, or that one, and winning is 2-3 years down the road and yadayadayada....

That would give any Team of players a state of mind attitude that they are accomplishing about all they can right now.

Look at the comments of Samson and Kalo_rama and others that indicate that coaching isn't an issue and that the state of the Team is about where it should be for a rebuilding Team.

Everything is fine. We are on schedule. This futility is par for the course. There isn't any reason to have a players-only meeting, when according to most experts, what we now see in the Wizards is about what should be expected.

However, what I see isn't a par for course, on schedule, rebuilding NBA Team. I see a Team with more problems than just the plight of a rebuild. I see a huge coaching issue. An issue so bad that a players-only meeting might not accomplish much.

Especially since, it has been slightly indicated that when a few weeks back the players started to question things and were told to button those types of comments up. I don't know that to be true, but there was a couple of comments indicating that.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 9, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Team just played 15 games in 25days...I think a few days off will have helped a lot and they'll play well tonight against a Bucks team on back-to-back's

Posted by: divi3 | February 9, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

any news on the "plans" to re-sign Mustafa Shakur, or does he have that Crittendon Syndrome on his ankle?

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 9, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

However, what I see isn't a par for course, on schedule, rebuilding NBA Team. I see a Team with more problems than just the plight of a rebuild. I see a huge coaching issue. An issue so bad that a players-only meeting might not accomplish much.

Especially since, it has been slightly indicated that when a few weeks back the players started to question things and were told to button those types of comments up. I don't know that to be true, but there was a couple of comments indicating that.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 9, 2011 10:28 AM

I agree with you Larry that there are more problems than the rebuilding of this team. I just feel that responsibility can start from the top down and from the bottom up.

Nick Young did indicate that changes were needed in game planning. Flip jumped all over Nick for making the statement. But, by speaking out, Nick has elevated his status on the team. I don't want anarchy, but at this point of the season, why shouldn't a veteran [in his contract year] like Young speak out when he sees this charade of game planning? Nick's value on this team is at a high point. As a matter of fact, why haven't our " team captains" addressed this malaise?

Posted by: musicmanjr | February 9, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I was talking to my friend about that "run and jump" comment yesterday. He brought up Kevin Love and it all got put in perspective.

He's about 6'8"...not very athletic...but he can get more rebounds in one game than JaVale and Dray have combined in a week.

Kinda sad actually. =\

Posted by: SDMDTSU | February 9, 2011 11:14 AM | Report abuse

"Keeping their heads up, despite losing streak".... but
When they sign their checks at the bank they have their heads down.
TLG=Ted Lose Grunfeld

Posted by: member8 | February 9, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

You see Musicmanjr,

Look at Samson151's comment as I was responding to you his hit the board.

Does Samson151's comments read like the Team needs to have a players-only locker room meeting to you?

Doesn't sound like it to me according to him.

Everything is fine. We are in good hands.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 9, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Nick Young did indicate that changes were needed in game planning. Flip jumped all over Nick for making the statement. But, by speaking out, Nick has elevated his status on the team. Posted by: musicmanjr

Pure fantasy.

Posted by: djnnnou | February 9, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I was talking to my friend about that "run and jump" comment yesterday. He brought up Kevin Love and it all got put in perspective.

He's about 6'8"...not very athletic...but he can get more rebounds in one game than JaVale and Dray have combined in a week.

Kinda sad actually. =\

Posted by: SDMDTSU | February 9, 2011 11:14 AM

Now that SDMDTSU is a great run and jump comparison. You nailed this one. You brought it all home without any personal slight to ones basketball acumen.

Not only does he get more rebounds, he shoots more, he does more things well on the floor than McGee and Blatche as of right now.

I can only wish that the Run and Jump of Blatche and McGee was like this guy. But the mentorship and support this guy has received is notable.

And he may just be a better player than those two. Blatche and McGee went through about the same as this guy in his first few years in lack of playing time.

But he has really stepped up to the challenge now. A great comparison and one that I can accept.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 9, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I was talking to my friend about that "run and jump" comment yesterday. He brought up Kevin Love and it all got put in perspective.

He's about 6'8"...not very athletic...but he can get more rebounds in one game than JaVale and Dray have combined in a week.

Kinda sad actually. =\

Posted by: SDMDTSU | February 9, 2011 11:14 AM | Report abuse

what a coincidence that love learned the game early on from a relative who actually played the game. He was taught to play the big man position by an actual NBA big man, and it shows.He was shown the way to play the game by a person who had relative success in the NBA. Javale was 6'7" HS kid who learned to play the game from a WNBA player............and that shows.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 9, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

At this point I find it hard to say that anything other than rebuilding is going on. Losing sucks but what do you expect after the team dumps all five of its starters? I'm not too pleased with Flip but no one likes the coach of their favorite team when they're losing. Larry, I don't see your issue with Flip. He praises his players now. He plays our future. Our success at home proves that his system is capable of winning with our players. Its the players that have to buckle down and get a win on the road.
Also, if I remember correctly Nick was the only one to speak up and all he did was question some of the play calling. I think it is smart for the organization to shut the players up. The last thing this team needs is people pointing fingers. Flip is doing the right things and is apparently helping them get better.

Posted by: Wizbullets88 | February 9, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Wizbullets88, I don't necessarily agree that we can say that Flip praises his players. The other day he was tongue in cheek when he appeared to be praising Booker and at the same time he said you hate to say that about a rookie...

Wizbullets88, I guess I am spoiled by seeing and routing for top of the line coaching. You see I know what drove Dean Smith to bring Charlie Scott in to Carolina as the first black player. It was coaching and a keen sense of fairness and to pursue the best player regardness of his hue. It was about breaking down stereotypes and also most importantly about winning as well.

The other day I was going on about spontaneity and got to the point of calling it controlled/structured spontaneity. The Carolina Tarheels have made their forte on structured spontaneity. Putting the ball in the players hand on the court and letting them go. Duke and Mike K. does the same thing. I was a huge fan of Wooden as well.

Michael Jordan, a great player, the triangle gave him structure but spontaneity gave him Rings.

Flip is too controlling and too structured for this young team. I see him as a terrible fit. I am sure many disagree. I just believe the team is better than what they put on floor every night. I can't fault only the players for that.

Too me you cannot separate bad performance from the coaching. Maybe I am just naive.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 9, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Like you, I am an avid Tarheels fan and appreciate their rich history in coaching. Flip isn't my favorite coach but to get rid of him NOW would be more damaging than good. A lot of coaches don't want to rely on rookies to spark them. It's risky to put a lot of pressure and expectations on a rook. I could see the way you took it, but i don't think that was Flips intention.

Posted by: Wizbullets88 | February 9, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"The other day I was going on. . . "

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 9, 2011 12:30 PM |

Really?! Yeah, there's a shock.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

McGee blamed his lackluster outing against Howard on feeling a bit "light-headed" as he continues to regain his energy level after returning from a bout with the flu that cost him two games and nearly five days of action almost two weeks ago. He rebounded somewhat the next night against the Atlanta Hawks, as he scored 12 points - including an exciting drive and dunk over Josh Smith - but was unable to take advantage of the absence of all-star center Al Horford as he grabbed just five rebounds.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/08/AR2011020805828.html

Even if he's returning from a bout with cholera, there's no excuse for not grabbing more than 5 boards in 30 minutes against a Hawks front line missing Al Horford.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Kevin Love is amazing, but he's also fool's gold to a certain extent. Jump shooting big man that plays no defense...which isnt the end of the world when you look around the league. But since we are apparently starting from scratch, it would be nice to finally build a team of players that all carry their weight defensively. Not that we have that now, but if there was ever a time to put money where the mouth is and actually move towards a defense first squad...this is it.

Posted by: divi3 | February 9, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Kevin Love is amazing, but he's also fool's gold to a certain extent... Posted by: divi3

I agree, but then do you pass on a guy like Sullinger?

From Chad Ford's Draft Blog:
But Sullinger's play on the court isn't the only thing helping him -- so is the play of the Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love. A number of NBA execs are using Love as a high-level NBA comp. Like Love, Sullinger isn't an explosive athlete nor is he the ideal size for his position. But he has Love's high basketball IQ, body strength and rebounding savvy. Most importantly for many NBA GMs, Sullinger is seen as a bit of a sure thing. He might not dominate, but they believe he poses less of a risk than fellow freshmen Irving and Jones.

Posted by: djnnnou | February 9, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

There's no question Love's numbers (both rebounding and scoring) benefit from playing on such a lousy team (the Wolves starting C barely pulls down 5 rpg). But that only begs the question: If Love can take advantage of his circumstances to pad his rebounding stats then why can't McGee, who plays on a team every bit as lousy as the one Love plays for (and who has much better physical tools to work with than Love) do the same?

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Why dont you ask how come Love doesnt block any shots? Or how come he gets shredded by quicker players in the paint on a nightly basis?

Love is much stronger than Mcgee and not nearly as tall, he has a superb leverage advantage on many bigs to go along with his strength. He holds his position with ease, it's amazing to watch. But he's super limited defensively for some of the same reasons.

Mcgee is an ok rebounder who will hopefully get better, but comparing him with Love is unfair

Posted by: divi3 | February 9, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Anyone that puts up 30/30 is not fools gold. Anyone that puts up more consecutive double doubles than almost anyone in the history of basketball...is not fools gold.

I was just saying there is more to it than run and jump. I remember Dennis Rodman was saying was more about studying, tendencies and knowing trajectories and how the ball would bounce.

Neither Love or Rodman has McGee's athleticism...but I was just referencing that "run and jump" comment.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | February 9, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"Why dont you ask how come Love doesnt block any shots? Or how come he gets shredded by quicker players in the paint on a nightly basis?"

Because those would be incredibly stupid questions. Love lacks the physical tools to do those things. McGee, on the other hand, does not lack the physical tools to be a better rebounder than he is.

"Mcgee is an ok rebounder who will hopefully get better, but comparing him with Love is unfair"

(A) There's nothing "unfair" about it. Players get compared to other players all the time. Occupational hazard of being a pro athlete. And since any such comparison, apropos or not, exacts a grand total of zero penalty on the parties being compared, there is no element of unfairness involved. It's just talk. Sticks and stones . . . (B) I wasn't comparing him to Love, at least not in the way your fumble-fisted distortion of my words was attempting to imply I was. I never said he should be grabbing as many rebounds as Love does or that he should rebound the same way/using the same approach Love does. What I did say (since, as is your habit, you didn't actually bother to read it the first time, prior to "responding") was that Love is taking full advantage of the opportunities presented to him as result of playing on a team that's short on talent. McGee, on the other hand, is not, despite having ample opportunity to do so.

As for the "blah, blah, blah" about strength and what have you . . . Love ain't exactly Alonzo Mourning or Ben Wallace, knocking guys to the floor while he pursues the ball. He grabs a lot of his boards well below the rim by anticipating where the rebound will bounce and beating his man to the spot. It has a lot more to do with his strengths above the neckline than below it. And, on a related note, Dikembe Mutombo wasn't exactly a physical powerhouse, and he couldn't jump over his own shadow, but he was tall, long, and had a nose for the ball, and during his prime he routinely averaged 11-14 rpg. (And he absorbed a helluva beating while doing it.)

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Another note on the "strength" issue:

Love came into the NBA as a pot-bellied doughboy but (A) his first two seasons he still managed to grab 9 and 11 rpg in about the same amount of PT that McGee is getting now (B) he worked his ass off (literally) in the summer to get into better shape coming into this season.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

You should probably apply your haterdade to every player in the league who is 6'9" or taller but not grabbing 12+ boards a night. You wont of course, because per usual your retarded comparison is intended only to diminish the guy on our team.

Guess how many Cs with less than 5yrs in the league grab more defensive boards than Javale? Four, and two of them are within less than 1reb per game. Guess how many Cs younger than Javale grab more defensive boards? Zero.

And he's the 3rd amongst all Cs for offensive boards.

But yeah, let's complain he doesnt play like Kevin Love...star of a 13 win team with the worst defense in the league. Perhaps Love shouldnt be so concerned with getting double-doubles every night...his team would probably be better if he did a little less boxing out and little bit more defending.

Posted by: divi3 | February 9, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

btw, 14 of the top20 rebounders in the nba are PFs including 4 of the top5. So perhaps you should pour some of your haterade on Blatche, he's probably more deserving

Posted by: divi3 | February 9, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

"You should probably apply your haterdade to every player in the league who is 6'9" or taller but not grabbing 12+ boards a night."

I love the smell of dancing straw. Of course, I never said McGee should be averaging 12 rpg. In fact, I quite clearly and succinctly stated that I wasn't suggesting McGee should be putting up the same numbers as Love. Which, of course, pretty much guaranteed that you'd come in acting like I said the exact opposite. Rises in the east, sets in the west . . .

"You wont of course, because per usual your retarded comparison is intended only to diminish the guy on our team."

"Our" team? Did Leonsis give fans free stock in WS&E? Because this is the first I've heard of it.

"Guess how many Cs with less than 5yrs in the league grab more defensive boards than Javale? Four, and two of them are within less than 1reb per game. Guess how many Cs younger than Javale grab more defensive boards? Zero."

Guess how much those oh so carefully worded, lovingly cherry-picked, and unsubtly gerrymandered stats have to do with anything I said? Absotively nada.

"But yeah, let's complain he doesnt play like Kevin Love..."

Please refer to the first paragraph of this post for a response to this bit of flaming scarecrow filler.

"btw, 14 of the top20 rebounders in the nba are PFs including 4 of the top5."

BTW, who cares? Got nothin' to do with nothin', does it? Nope.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

"Our" team? Did Leonsis give fans free stock in WS&E? Because this is the first I've heard of it.

Sorry I forgot that you are a Pistons fan. That should have read "my team."

Posted by: divi3 | February 9, 2011 6:12 PM | Report abuse

"Look at Samson151's comment as I was responding to you his hit the board.
Does Samson151's comments read like the Team needs to have a players-only locker room meeting to you?Doesn't sound like it to me according to him.Everything is fine. We are in good hands.LarryInClintonMD.Posted by: LarryInClintonMD

Almost missed this. Well, the players can have a players-only meeting. That's their prerogative, right? I'd never object to that. It's a free country.

However, don't expect me to stop pointing out when I believe something that's said here is stupid. It's a free country for that, too.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 9, 2011 6:48 PM | Report abuse

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