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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Evans, Kings Steal Game From Arenas, Wizards

Fourteen. Six. Those are the two magic numbers for today's post. Divide six by fourteen. What did you get? 2.33?, too.
The Wizards have currently lost six games in a row by a combined fourteen points. That means they've lost each game by about 2.33 points. It also ties an NBA record of six straight losses by less than four points each game. The most recent one came last night in Sacramento, where the Wiz faced a young Kings squad. Once again, though, the Wiz fell beind early, catching up a bit, but still lost the 1st quarter by a point. That was just the start.
The Kings went up by 9 in the 2nd quarter, but the Wiz made a run toward the end of the quarter that continued into the 3rd quarter and kept it pretty close for a while, eventually mustering a run to give themselves a 3 point lead. But, that lead quickly fizzled away as the Kings pulled away due to a 15-2 run late in the 3rd, and never let go of it. Up 12 with less that 4 minutes remaining, the Wizards played tough defense, good offense, and pulled to within one point with 16 seconds left. This set up Arenas, with 33 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, who showed many more glimpses of his old self tonight than he has in any other game this year, to do what he does did best. He dribbled at the top of the three-point line...watched the clock wind down...made his move toward the hoop with 4 seconds remaining...made a lightning-quick crossover...and then...BAM! In the blink of an eye it was stolen by Tyreke Evans and Arenas had to foul him, sending him to the bench with his 6th foul of the night. Goodbye Arenas, goodbye game. Kings win 101-98. It is difficult to watch these games anymore. I know the ending before it plays out. They may not be winning games, but there's no doubt they make losing interesting.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Typical Wizards Night...Close, But No Cigar.

In the words of my brother at the end of last night's game -- "Somewhere LeBron is laughing."
Of course he is. He's probably dancing like he did against the Bulls, too. Why? Because just as he did against the Cavs in the playoffs a few years ago, Arenas missed two free throws in the final seconds of a game en route to another Wizards loss. He shot 1-6 from the foul line for the game...and then went straight to the practice gym after the game and made 40 of 50 free throws. Probably not the amount we all know he can make, but 80% in the practice gym by himself is just a little better than the 16% he shot when it counted. Right? So why does the man who loves attention always make them behind closed doors and miss them with the game on the line?! I wish I knew...
And even after the missed free throws, there was still a chance for the Wiz to tie the game at 103, but, following a timeout, Arenas got the ball and rushed a three that clanked off the rim and fell to Randy Foye, who ran to the three-point line and quickly fired a turnaround three because time was expiring.....except there was about 8.5 seconds left when he shot it. He didn't know how much time was on the clock, and once again, the Wizards showed they didn't know how to win. At 7-13, thee is always a chance to turn things around, but the hopes of this happening fades quicker and quicker as the Wiz lose game after game.
Side-note Observation:
I will say, however, that Brendan Haywood has been more than I ever expected him to be this season. No, he doesn't average 20 and 10, but his numbers are still very solid (averaging over 10 points, almost 11 rebounds, and more than 2 blocks per game!) and continued his consistent performing with 17 points and 8 rebounds and a block on 7-7 shooting last night. His presence is really felt on this team. I never thought I'd witness the transformation of "Brenda, the weak center" a few years ago to "Brendan, the Wizards' big-body in the paint!" I am very glad for him, too, because when I come to games early, I see him out on the court before EVERY single home game working on his free throw shooting, which has drastically improved over the years, and low-post moves, which have looked much better this season, as well.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Big Night

So, after some really tough losses against the Toronto Raptors and the short-handed (and I mean SHORT-HANDED)Detroit Pistons as of late, the Wiz look to get back on track tonight...but it won't be easy. A nationally televised game vs. the Boston Celtics could provide some extra info about what the Wizards are really made of. While their current two-game losing streak and 7-12 record show otherwise, people who know the Wizards' personnel feel that things could get turned around, though it's been taking much longer than expected. (Former) All-Star players, an all-star coach, three-point specialists, and an offensive rebounding machine. And they're 7-12? Clearly not good enough and no one is happy about it. But against the Celtics, winners of eight in a row right now, the Wiz need to play with the heart, desire, will and desperation that was NOT showing against the Pistons last game if they want to have a chance against this Boston powerhouse. I won't be at the game because of a late class tonight...damn those Thursday night classes at Mason!! I'll just have to pray that things go our way and that Flip and Ernie, who recently spoke publicly about the dissapointment of this season so far, have gotten into the heads of these players...for good instead of for the next game or two. Either way, it will be a tough one tonight and we'll see what type of energy this team comes out with and if they can withstand the charge or even possibly get a huge "W" in the end.
-Arenas scores more in the fourth quarter than he did in the fourth against the Pistons (a.k.a. just get at least a free throw)
-Antawn gets back to his consistent self and gets his 20 and 10 that we all know he can get
-Caron stops hesitating and pulls the trigger when he has the open shot
-Brendan comes up huge on defense with some blocks and at least 10 boards. We will probably need at least 4 on the offensive end from him if we want second chances
-Foye gets in and hits some shots and gets back to feeling comfortable on the court
-Boykins can mix things up and get Boston confused with his weaving through the defense
-Nick Young hits his first shot...because we all know he's hot when he hits early and...I don't even want to go to what happens when he misses early.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday Night Debacle.

Wow. From the second the game started, the atmosphere -- from the fans down to the coaches and players -- was completely dull. I thought I was going to fall asleep by the middle of the first quarter. The only thing that kept me awake was the hope that someone on this team would provide a spark with a dunk, a nice pass or any other type of MADE field goal. Instead, the misses kept coming for the Wizards and the Bobcat shots kept dropping in. On numerous ocassions, Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler were given completely wide open dunks and layups because of non-existant Wizards defense. Brendan Haywood, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee were out of place, coming out to provide help on screens just a few feet away from the hoop, but unable unwilling to get back to their man who was underneath the hoop and able to get easy buckets. Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson were flying for offensive rebounds while everyone on the Wiz were 5 steps behind them all game long and not fighting with them for any rebounds. They couldn't hit a shot (39%), couldn't defend and plain and simple the booing fans said it all. By the third quarter, the stadium was filled with the sound of boo's coming fom the fans, as the players trudged off the court, heads down, looking as if they wished they could just leave the court and go to sleep...which is pretty much the way they played the entire game. No one was on the same page and it was just a bunch of players with different ideas of what they wanted to do on the court. No cohesion. No chemistry. No execution. Nobody brought the will to win last night and it was a bit "embarassing" as Flip said. We are now 5-10, which isn't great but it can obviously be improved upon. We just need to get people on the same page and working toward the same goal. We can't have Antawn playing for a championship and Gil playing for stats...just a hypothetical situation...but could be a true one. It's just one bad game after two consecutive wins and it's still early in the season, so these things happen. But with the players we have, let's just make sure it doesn't happen again.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This One's For You, Mr. Pollin.

On the night of the death of one of Washington, D.C.'s most influential citizens, the Wizards finally showed the grit and toughness in tonight's game which their boss showed every single day of his life. Abe Pollin re-invented downtown D.C. He built the area now called Chinatown, turned it into a well-known and popluar place to be, built the Verizon Center and spent $200 million of his own money to make all of this happen. He fired the greatest player ever. He made the President of the United States move seats at a Wizards game because the president was originally in Pollin's seat. And tonight, the Wizards resembled their great owner on the court against the Philadelphia 76ers. JaVale McGee proved, for one night at least, that his lanky body has a whole lot of muscle inside of it. Fighting for loose balls, battling with Dalembert and swatting away a career-high six shots, McGee checked into the game and brought some fire and passion that the Wix have been waiting for from him. Defensively, he most certainly brought his A game and received well-deserved rounds of applause from the fans when he subbed out. And Nick Young, well, he shot. Shot some more. And then shot again. Oh, yeah, and he shot one more time, probably for good luck, until he had 20 points in his second start of the season. All the shooting that he did, a typical occurence when he has the chance, actually was impressive...for one night at least. And on the one-year anniversary of Eddie Jordan's firing from the Wizards organization, he was once again shown the exit to the stadium with an unhappy ending. But his team came so close...thanks to Arenas and his six turnovers. And his 6-14 shooting. And his three missed free throws when the team only missed four total. I know Abe paid Gil over $100 million last summer to keep him in D.C., but I think Jews all over the world are saying "Oy Vey" after seeing Arenas perform this season. His turnover set up the 76ers to shoot the final shot of the game, and it was most likely the spirit of Pollin which kept the ball out of the hoop. Philly was in the midst of a run which brought them within one point with less than a minute left in the game after the 76ers had rallied from 15 down, which would have devastated everyone inside the arena on this already solemn night. But the Wizards prevailed 108-107 behind 32 points and 14 rebounds from the REAL captain of this team, Antawn Jamison (always consistent), 14 points from Andray Blatche and a +15 player rating from the only starter NOT to score (Fabricio Oberto). The Wizards did what they have been expected to do all season...WIN. And with so much emotion inside each player wearing a Wizards jersey, the team that is not used to winning so far this season, or playing good defense, finally did both of these things and brought a bit of happiness to Washington during a sad, sad time...for one night at least.
R.I.P. Mr. Pollin.

Monday, November 23, 2009

  • No chemistry
  • No ball movement
  • The offense is too complicated
  • Too many turnovers
  • Gilbert Arenas

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Eleven? .....oh, why not.

For the 11th year in a row, the Wizards have lost to the Spurs in San Antonio. I don't know why this is, but I can surely say without any objections that tonight's game was nothing short of ugly...again. Though I had to watch the game on the internet due to a television outage, I was still watching the same Wizards team who seems to be in a continuous battle with something I call "Basketball Bi-polar." On some nights they decide to play like a team without a glitch in their game (i.e. against the Mavs and Cavs) and other nights they come out the way they did tonight -- where I actually look forward to watching the Redskins lose to their opponent because they aren't good enough rather than watching the Wizards lose to themselves (i.e. Miami and Detroit), which seems to have become a habit of theirs. But, of course! Losing to yourself is much easier than losing to someone else! Turning the ball over is so simple! So is setting a moving screen (which I had never seen done so many times by one team as the Wizards have so far)! Oh, why not throw in a bunch of missed free throws while we're at it?! It's not like we need points to win basketball games or anything! There are all explainable reasons for the Wiz' troubles so far this season and can only be fixed by one solution...FOCUS. Focus on executing passes to your teammate. Focus on keeping your feet set during a screen. Focus on making every free throw. Focus makes winners! Kobe focuses on his shot every time he shoots...and he is a winner! Gilbert Arenas focuses on how many people follow him on Twitter....and he is not a winner. Tim Duncan focuses on getting rebounds and hitting his trademark bank shot...and he is a winner! JaVale McGee focuses so much on perfecting his "Salute" after he dunks that he can't find enough time to get playing time and actually dunk in a real game...and like Arenas, he is also not a winner. But how could anyone explain these injuries? Just this season alone, "Fallen Wiz" have included: Jamison, Butler, James, Crittenton, Foye, Oberto and now Mike Miller, who went down with a strained calf early in the game tonight. The team's record is now 3-9. Pretty bad, huh? Well, think of it this way: The Wizards would completely dominate the All-Injured Team if there was one. Congratulations! Maybe if they had enough healthy players playing well all game, every game then their record could look more like 9-3 instead of the reverse...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ahhh...I always love beating Cleveland.

Watch this shot, LeBron........*clank*

It's Gotta Be The Shoes

I noticed Gilbert Arenas wearing some unusual shoes tonight when he walked out onto the court. They were his specially designed shoes, but in black; Something I had never seen before on him. And they changed his playing, alright...for the worse. He shot horribly, with some fans even booing him, and only scored 2 points in the entire first half of the game. Apparently noticing a completely different look in his play, he came out with his usual white-colored shoes in the second half. He also came out with a different attitude, finally hitting some shots and possibly even becoming smarter, realizing that every time he drove to the hoop, he would either a.) Get fouled b.) Make a layup c.) Make a layup AND get fouled. Let's hope it continues into the next game, too.

"Antawn Jamison is back...Thank God."

Thank God, indeed. Those were the words of someone standing behind me in line waiting to get into the Verizon Center tonight for the much-anticipated game vs. LeBron and his fellow Cleveland Cavaliers. With Gilbert Arenas (once again) struggling for the majority of the game, shooting just 6-22 field goals, and Caron Butler (once again) not completely himself, as he struggled early but was able to boost the team with some second half energy and scoring, Antawn Jamison exemplified just why many call him "Mr. Consistency."
Scoring 31 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, he brought the team some much, much, much needed help. Without Jamison, I highly doubt the Wizards would have been able to win this game...but I'm sure glad they did. Jamison scored some early buckets in the game, keeping it close for most of the 1st quarter. But then it got ugly. Real ugly. No ball movement. Missed shots. Missed free throws. Turnovers. LeBron James dunking all in the face of the Wizards and Wizards fans. And in the blink of an eye, the Cavs were up by 17, with the fans groaning and growing more impatient as the game clock ticked away and hopes of shutting down LeBron fading quickly.
But Jamison stole the show from King and ruined his plans to rule over D.C....with some help from a supporting cast, of course. Brendan Haywood was a defensive force, swatting 3 shots and snatching 13 boards and Earl Boykins was a pest defensively and also scored 9 points, all in the 4th quarter, quieting the fans next to me who were screaming, "Get the midget off the court!" DeShawn Stevenson, who surprisingly made his first appearance of the game in the 3rd quarter, locked down LeBron like I've never seen anyone do before. On one possession he stuck to him like glue, forcing him to make a tough cross-court pass, while poking the ball away from LeBron on another. He also stayed close while James drove to the hoop and forced him to shoot (and miss) a difficult fadeaway jumper.
But the man who changed the game was Mike Miller. On a couple occassions, he clapped his hands and screamed for the ball as he set up to drill a three or hit a midrange jump shot when the Wizards were in need of someone to pick up the poor play. He finished the game with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Not bad for a ponytailed white boy.
So thank you Wizards, and thank you Jamison in particular, for giving a helluva team effort and for giving the Cavs another loss in D.C. as LeBron cried his way back to Cleveland.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Will The Slide EVER End?

After a dreadful season in '08-'09, the Wizards came into this one with much, much higher expectations. They traded players, traded their #5 draft pick, and finally have a healthy core group of star players. But they are 2-7 and have lost six straight games after an extremely promising start, blowing the Dallas Mavericks away in the season opener. And guess what? It won't get easier one bit. They play LeBron tomorrow. Then the young, exciting and energetic squad from Oklahoma City on Friday. And no, they don't get a break the next day. They have to go to San Antonio to play all-star forward Tim Duncan, former Wiz, Roger "I-Don't-Miss-Three's" Mason and the rest of the Spurs who love to feed on the Wizards whenever the two teams meet head-to-head.
But Arenas is back.  And so is Caron Butler. And Antawn Jamison is, too, so they should be fine...right?Think again. First off, Jamison hasn't played in a game all year due to his shoulder dislocation, but should be back against the Cavs tomorrow night in D.C. Though he has been solid throughout his entire career, it is difficult to assume that he will be his usual self after suffering the injury only a few weeks ago and playing in his first game action tomorrow against the team from Cleveland, who have high expectations to win the NBA title this year. But at least he'll be back.
And Arenas, well, he IS on the court every night...but is he really "back"? Having watched games for years now, I am positive that he is not really back. He can't be. Arenas always hit the game-winners in past years. Now, he slips up. He was always quick as lightning, crossing over to either nail a three, hit a midrange jumper or drive to the hoop for a beautifully executed layup between opponents. Now, he seems to move slower, settling for jumpers that always leaves the crowd moaning once it clanks off the rim. The free throw shooting is awful now. It used to be that when he went to the free throw line, it was an automatic two points. And he went there a lot. Now, I honestly can say that I don't remember him hitting two free throws in a row more than twice all season. And he doesn't get there as much, either. Is it the new offensive system set up by Flip Saunders? Is it the weight of the team that he feels he needs to carry on his shoulders? Or is it hardly passing the ball, yet not making much happen? Whatever it is, it needs to be fixed and he needs to get back to being an all-star like he used to be.
Now to Butler. Like Arenas, he hasn't been himself all season. And even he admits its because of the new offensive system that gives Arenas the ball most of the time and not him. He isn't himself, either. He isn't hitting shots. He isn't hitting free throws. He isn't getting the assists or steals like he used to. Maybe the return of his co-captain will help ease some pressure, but then again maybe it won't. They really need to sit down and focus on the job at hand and doing what they need to do to WIN. Yes, win. I know Washington isn't used to winning but it really needs to happen. Fast. Why can't it happen? We have those three former all-stars "back," shooting/passing/rebounding expert Mike Miller on the floor, team MVP of the young season Andray Blatche, sharp-shooter Randy Foye and now little Earl Boykins joining the team, a sparkplug and talented ballplayer. So what do they need to do to become a great team? What's stopping them becoming this? Well, as much as it kills me to say it, maybe they should just look at the team across the court tomorrow night to get a glimpse of what they really need.

Monday, November 16, 2009

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Sorry, Flip. Once again your team, run by the former Hibachi, fell apart down the stretch after being improperly repaired this off-season following two years of inactivity, and has been sputtering all through this season.
With the seconds ticking away in the fourth quarter of a close game between the Washington Wizards and Flip Saunders' former team, the Detroit Pistons, Gilbert Arenas made sure he was the one holding the ball for the Wiz. He wanted be the hero and bring the team its first win in 6 games. Not an unlikely thought for any player, especially a former all-star who is on the level of LeBron James when it comes to needing and getting attention for his on-court play and off-court antics. And after a slow start without a single point in the first quarter, Arenas made some layups, hit some shots then nailed a three pointer near the beginning of the third quarter. I looked up at the jumbotron from my seat near the Wizards bench and realized that Arenas already had 14 points. But not only that...he was doing his infamous hand gesture which, according to Arenas, indicates when his shot and Hibachi grill are heating up. Maybe he began a little too early to be getting his on-court attention because as the game wore on and the score staying close, Arenas had his chance to prove he was really back and cookin'. But Ben Gordon, of the Pistons, seemed to be the one who was really hot. He made threes, hit clutch free throws and put the dagger into Washington's back with a floating jumper over Brendan Haywood to seal the win for Detroit. And during the final stretch of the game, the only thing that was making Arenas feel hot was Gordon, lighting up the Wizards on seemingly every possession.
Instead of bailing the Wizards in the fianl seconds of a close game -- which he hasn't done all season -- Arenas drove the lane and slipped up...something he's been doing a lot of lately. He lost control of the ball and it fell right to a Pistons player, giving them the game. Literally. But Arenas did sink a three pointer for the Wiz late in the game...and it was the last shot of the game with just one second left, as well. Too bad the Wizards were down six at the time.
The newly-acquired Earl Boykins was on the floor for the Wiz Saturday night though, and had himself a fantastic game. Twenty points. And in the third and fourth quarter, it seemed that Flip trusted Earl to run the team instead of Arenas. Maybe it should stay that way. Arenas is not the Hibachi anymore and who knows if he ever will be. All I know is that he needs a wake-up call and a lot of help fixing that troubled "Hibachi grill" of his.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Little "Boy" Among Large Men

Boykins is on-board!! The little man from Ohio has been all over the map, including stops in Los Angeles, playing for the "other" NBA team from that city, Cleveland, Denver, Golden State and even across the pond in Italy last year. But with the Washington Wizards in desperate need of a healthy body, carrying their injury-prone team over from last season (and the season before), they called on Boykins' 5'5'' frame to give them a huge boost at the point guard position. And they will need it. He may be small, but he has been one of my favorite PG's for the past few years. He has a bundle of energy inside of him and let's just hope it can come out when he steps on the court for the Wiz against the Detroit Pistons this Saturday night. The Wiz are really struggling after such a strong opening night against the Mavericks. With Randy Foye spraining his ankle against Miami the other night, Mike James breaking his finger, Javaris Crittenton having surgery this off-season on his foot, Mike Miller possibly coming back Saturday from a sprained shoulder and Nick Young just striaght-up sucking, they really need someone to bring the crowd to their feet. And what a perfect way to do this by bringing one of the smallest players in NBA history to the court to spark the team and light a fire coming off the bench. Who knows what will happen. All I know is that I'm excited like crazy and hope he can really get the team going! Let's go Wiz!!