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Posted at 8:31 AM ET, 02/22/2011

Wizards face demanding stretch of games

By Gene Wang
Morning brew

Following nearly five full days off during the all-star break, the Washington Wizards aren't exactly easing back into their schedule. Not only are they playing four games over the next five nights as part of two back-to-back sets, but the opponents all are playoff teams.

It's quite a way to start into the final portion of the season for the Wizards, whose first 54 games included 26 straight road losses before a 115-100 win at Cleveland on Feb. 13. Tonight's game against Indiana will be Washington's first since a 101-76 loss at Orlando on Wednesday.

"Being a young team, we can't keep making the same mistakes over and over again," said forward Rashard Lewis, who missed the last three games with tendinitis in his right knee but indicated he expects to play tonight. "I think we have to learn from our mistakes and move on to the next game. Even if you win or lose, you've always got to be prepared to move on to the next game."

The rugged stretch begins against a Pacers team clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers have won seven of 10 and are two games behind Philadelphia for the No. 7 seed.

Speaking of which, Washington then travels to play the 76ers tomorrow night. The last time the Wizards played at Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 5, not only did they lose, 109-97, but swingman Josh Howard played just 12 minutes before leaving with discomfort from tendinitis in his left knee.

Howard recently rejoined the lineup, playing two straight games before the all-star break, and Coach Flip Saunders said after last night's practice he expected the 2007 all-star to play tonight.

From Philadelphia, the Wizards go to Miami, which is one of four teams with 40 wins this season. Their last trip to South Florida yielded a 105-94 loss in which LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 76 points. James is tied with the New York Knicks' Amare Stoudemire for second in the league in scoring (26.1 points per game), and Wade is just a hair behind at 25.4.

Washington wraps up its week against Dallas on Saturday at Verizon Center, and even though the Wizards have been credible at home, it's hardly an advantage given the Mavericks' 19-8 road record, the second best in the NBA. Dallas also has won 13 of 14 and has 40 wins despite the absence of 2007 MVP and 10-time all-star Dirk Nowitzki for nine games with a sore right knee.

"You've got to approach one game at a time," Saunders said. "We're probably going to have to use a lot of people just because of the situation."

FROM THE POST
Michael Lee previews the second half of the NBA season, including last night's blockbuster trade of Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks.

The Wizards held a late practice yesterday.

And, in case you missed it, John Wall and JaVale McGee made their presence known during All-Star Weekend.

AROUND THE WEB
Craig Stouffer says John Wall's confidence is sky high after winning Rookie Challenge MVP (Washington Examiner).

Jon Kelman of Bullets Forever revisits a question he asked six months ago: Who would you trade John Wall for?

Kevin Blackistone says Knicks owner James Dolan gutted his team to acquire Carmelo Anthony (FanHouse).

Ken Berger believes that although this Knicks team will have flaws, it is the most relevant team that has inhabited the Garden in more than a decade (CBSSports.com).

Michael Wilbon says the new Knicks will be "somewhere between decent and pretty darned good" (ESPN.com).

By Gene Wang  | February 22, 2011; 8:31 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Carmelo Anthony traded to New York Knicks, finally
Next: Wizards react to JaVale McGee in dunk contest

Comments

I'm interested to see this upcoming game against Philly. Wiz usually play pretty decent against them but Philly's been playing a lot better. I want to see what we bring after the all star break.

I guess there are probably no trades of any consequence for this team we could speculate or rumor about?

Posted by: gmac78 | February 22, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I will say it again. If the Wizards start this last stretch with Blatche as the starting power forward, then ball movement will continue to be a big problem on offense. Its unfortunate but at this point, what could they get in trade value for him? This is another one of those signings that Grunfeld made that has blown up in his face. Blatche must go. Grunfeld must go. Another 20 and 60 season in the books.

Posted by: dandyhuffman | February 22, 2011 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Pro basketball has degenerated into a game of thugs and posturing. When your players start looking and acting like ghetto goons, the game is finished in my mind. Return to the no-touch rim and maybe the game will become a decent sport once again.

Posted by: pjohn3 | February 22, 2011 8:49 AM

WOW,
I'm actually impressed that you even know how to use a computer!

I guess slow progress is better than no progress

Posted by: gmac78 | February 22, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

John Wall's play in the Rookie Challenge game has his confidence sky high. It has been noted what he can do with quality players around him.

I believe those quality players around him were all rookies and they played against two year players.

Translating that to the Wizards and the regular NBA grind, comments have been made that Wall doesn't have quality players around him now and there is a lot of indications that those around him now aren't the right ones to develop with him to include McGee.

Ironically, only Nick Young seems to be getting a pass.

Of course everyone knows that all star games are devoid of defense and the style of play is all out open floor UpTemPo offense.

What the Wizards run doesn't come close to this style, but there are any number of teams that have open floor UpTemPo style as a part of their gameplan.

My take is that, for John Wall to be the type of player that he is and the franchise player and all, and further to boot, the cast of characters with him now are more fit to Runnin' And Gunnin', why is the Wizards employing a half-court set offense as the predominant gameplan???

Just why is that???

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 22, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I say let Wall run a fast paced young athletic team up and down the court rather than running flips black hole Andray Blatche shooting oriented offense.

Posted by: skinsfan09 | February 22, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

For after the break I say let Wall run a fast paced young athletic team up and down the court rather than running flips black hole Andray Blatche shooting oriented offense.

Posted by: skinsfan09 | February 22, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

According to the Boston Globe, The Celtics maybe interested in Josh Howard...
I wonder what Ernie will do about this?

Posted by: bozomoeman | February 22, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

The Wizards 15-39 first 54 games

28 games to go and at looking at their schedule I see them going 9-19

that would be 25-57

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | February 22, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

if celtics want josh howard I wouldn't mind giving luke harangody a good look. Marquis daniels is injured, and i don't think celtics have any other young forwards to replace him

Posted by: jefferu | February 22, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

The Celtics have nothing to offer in a trade. Given all the injuries on their front line, they may need Harangody again (he's already been pressed into service a few times because if injuries). Besides, the Wiz don't really need any more stumpy "big" men. Now, if they were to offer Erden, then I'd say deal. But they won't.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 22, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

"What the Wizards run doesn't come close to this style, but there are any number of teams that have open floor UpTemPo style as a part of their gameplan."

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 22, 2011 10:41 AM

Yep.

NY Knicks: 28-26
Phoenix Suns: 27-27
G.S. Warriors: 26-29
L.A. Clippers: 21-35
Sacramento Kings: 13-40

Yeah, those are the teams the Wiz should be emulating.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 22, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

SI.com on Denver's hidden benefit from the trade:

"The most important thing: The Nuggets are saving an enormous amount of cash in this deal. By sending out Billups and Anthony without taking on Curry’s expiring deal, Denver trims its payroll for this season by about $18 million — and it could cut more if it continues to deal before Thursday’s trade deadline. But that alone will take the Nuggets under the luxury tax, meaning they won’t have to pay the dollar-for-dollar penalty and they’ll be eligible for the reimbursement non-tax-paying teams get in the summer. Quite a windfall."

Posted by: Samson151 | February 22, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Zach Lowe on the Knicks' chances of getting that third superstar in 2012:

"We don’t know what the salary cap will be in 2012 (though it figures to be lower), and we don’t know what the sign-and-trade possibilities will be for New York in July 2012 — or whether trade rules will be broadened so that incoming and outgoing salaries won’t have to match quite as closely. The Knicks have certainly made the pursuit of those players more difficult today, but who knows what the CBA will look like in a year or whether any of those players will want to come to New York."

"All three of those players are more valuable assets than Anthony...New York fans should not delude themselves into thinking they are getting someone [Anthony] anywhere near the top five players..."

Posted by: Samson151 | February 22, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

"28 games to go and at looking at their schedule I see them going 9-19. that would be 25-57Posted by: bulletsfan78"

4-5 games better than predicted -- not all that bad, I suppose.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 22, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

It's put up or shut up time for Anthony. Either he proves himself to be one of the truly elite players by elevating the Knicks, or he proves himself to be this generation's Vince Carter, a guy who puts up big numbers and gives the fans a show, but can't rise to the occasion of carrying a team. I'm leaning towards the latter.

But, at the same time, this move was just as much (if not more) about perception and marketing as it was about winning games for the Knicks. They can ride out the hype and the buzz for a while, as they try to assemble the rest of the pieces. But it's a small window.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 22, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

http://nba-point-forward.si.com/2011/02/21/monday-musings-hawks-impending-fall/

Also from Zach Lowe:

"5. Nick Young, chucking indiscriminately


Young is having a career season — look, I wrote a nice thing about him! — and I get that he’s often the first option now in Washington and probably has free rein to shoot as much as he wants.

But, please, settle down just a bit. Young is averaging 18.6 shots over his last 10 games. Only seven players in the NBA average that many attempts per game; six played in the Al-Star Game and one is Monta Ellis. Young would be better served to pull back a couple of those contested mid-range shots he’s making at an unsustainable rate this season and work on other parts of his game — handling the ball and becoming a serviceable distributor on pick-and-rolls.

He does look great turning over his right shoulder, though."

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 22, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Call me crazy but I actually think we finish the season pretty strong. McGee had started to play better recently and I think this dunk contest will make him so confident that he plays great in the 2nd half. The same with Wall. Wall seemed like he hit the rookie Wall and then finally got his 2nd wind a few games back and I think with him winning the MVP of the rookie/soph game, it will give him confidence to play great in the 2nd half of the year. Then I think Dray will also magically start playing harder because he now feels that he's "2nd Half" Dray after last season. You also have NY who played great in 2 of his last 3 games, and we should be more healthy then we have been all season.

I think we could look a ton better but the real question is how much of a good thing is that? Last year Dray finished great which I think gave him a big head and it didnt carry over like we had hoped. Playing great may give this team & EG a false sense of hope going into the Offseason. People might think that weve finally put it together and the young guys will be older and ready next year. Worst of all it may seem like Flip is still the right guy even though I think his thousand play, half court, jump shot, crap system sucks and he doesnt demand enough of the players let alone himself who never takes in responsibility. Who knows. That doesnt even include us hurting our draft pick

Posted by: dlts2041 | February 22, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

As for the game tonight, I really want to see it. I always watch Indy out the corner of my eye & I love there style of play. I think Wall would look great in that uptempo system. Indy is as hot as any team in the league right now since the coahcing change and will probably be a playoff team while I also think we will play very confident tonight. Then I always love the matchups with Hibbert vs McGee, Wall vs Collinson, NY vs Dunleavy, Granger vs Lewis or Howard, McRoberts vs Dray, and so on.

Also, if we are healthy down the stretch I would love for Flip to for once grow a pair and make guys earn there run. In the frontcourt we basically have 4 starters for 3 positions with Howard, Lewis, Dray, & McGee. I think it makes sense for Howard to sit since he probably has the lesser future with us but at the same time if he's right, he can easily be the best player in the group so he might deserve to get that shine also. Either way we can use it to keep McGee and espically Dray on there heels to play hard & consistent down the stretch if Flip is smart

Posted by: dlts2041 | February 22, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Tonight for me is the NY show. Dunleavy cant guard him & by time they put someone else in, NY should have it going. If he's smart and plays right then he should go for 30+ and keep us in it or better. I really really want to see Wall vs Collinson though. That will be fun

Posted by: dlts2041 | February 22, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I also think we should go to Dray. I like his matchups "if" he's right which you never know of. NY 1st & Dray as the 2nd option.

Posted by: dlts2041 | February 22, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I also think we should go to Dray. I like his matchups "if" he's right which you never know of. NY 1st & Dray as the 2nd option.

Posted by: dlts2041

Man, the only thing we should try to do involving Dre is move him before the trade deadline this week. I'm sure he has a little value but this is getting rediculous trying to run the offense through AB. Of all the major cities with NBA teams, we are the absolute worse. EG needs to try to make some moves to improve this team and our most tradable player is AB. I know he doesn't want to leave but he's gotta get the h*ll out i=of here.

Posted by: zack5 | February 22, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

for some reason I thought this game was on the road which then for some reason makes me less excited about it. Im a road freak. Nothing better then winning in a hostile enviroment but I guess I wouldnt know much about that with this team......lol

Posted by: dlts2041 | February 22, 2011 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Still can't figure out why Flip don't have a rotation of players that he's comfortable with. They really need to blow this thing up from the top down. They look aweful but maybe it's me.

Posted by: zack5 | February 22, 2011 8:45 PM | Report abuse

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