Caron Butler had his eye on the ball
I’m not sure how well my Twitter to blog post updates worked out … random tweets were posting double, triple, and quadruple times (I’ve since cleaned up on the post). So, we’ll see what happens in the future. In any case, below are some leftovers from Tuesday’s preseason game against Memphis that didn’t make my recap.
“Shoot it boy!!”
At around the 8:11 mark in the first quarter, Arenas could have taken his first shot. He didn’t. Left wide open at the top of the key, the ball was kicked out to Gil, and he turned it down. C’mon dude, is that what the team is paying you to do now?
Instead, Arenas tried to drive and turned the ball over. “Shoot it boy!!” Jamison yelled to him as O.J. Mayo was taking his steal to the other end for a dunk. The next time down the court, Arenas did, in fact, shoot … but it was an off-balanced, ill-advised miss.
Although I didn’t exactly phrase the question as I would have liked, I asked Jamison about it after the game. Here’s a portion of his answer:
“It’s been awhile since he’s played, now he’s healthy … so gotta iron some things out. But he comes off screens, he’s supposed to shoot that. That’s who Gilbert is.”
Jamison didn’t make a big deal out of yelling out to Gil, explaining that’s what teammates do sometimes. And being on both sides of the coin when playing basketball myself, he’s exactly right. When it comes to Arenas’ “new” game, his teammates probably love getting passes, but they’ll also be more comfortable with themselves as players, and as a team, with him being assertive on offense like they’re used to. But I’m not worrying too much, Arenas’ instinct and decision making will come along just fine (I believe).
Iverson sat out with a sore left hammy (aka, likely out of shape — of course, Iverson claims: “If it was Game 7 of the (NBA) Finals, I wouldn’t be able to go.”). I didn’t noticed him on the Grizzlies’ bench once. Then again, I didn’t find many reasons to pay attention to a baffled Lionel Hollins & Co. … evidently A.I. was there for the first half, but he definitely wasn’t around for the second half.
After the game, us media folk/bloggers turned off our internet machines and headed to the locker room area to mill around. As soon as we were able to get over there (about three minutes), Iverson immediately emerged in jeans, a white-T, doo-rag, hat, and a plastic basket of nachos. Bless Iverson’s damn heart. I seriously hope that guy gets buried in this outfit (sans nachos), ’cause I’m betting that he wouldn’t have it any other way. BTW … I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture of this.
Locker Room Hova
Jay-Z’s latest album, The Blueprint 3, had a strong presence amongst the pregame locker room listening. Most players had their designer headphones turned up loud enough for us to hear. At one point, Gil Arenas went from Jay-Z’s ‘Already Home’ to Big’s ‘One More Chance’ (Remix), walked out the locker room and returned to the sounds of Jay-Z’s ‘Hate Jay-Z’. Antawn Jamison was also pumping the Jigga Man. And even DeShawn Stevenson got ready for the game by listening to the friend of LeBron James who once used his name in a diss track … “Thank you, thank you, thank you … You’re far too kind!” ironically emitted from Stevenson’s pink headphones.
Oberto’s current hamstring issues can clearly be attributed to a lack of conditioning due to the heart surgery he had this summer. He said he had to sit out about two and a half months and couldn’t do much aside from walking and perhaps some light jogging here and there. Not only is he used to being able to keep himself conditioned in the offseason, but he’s usually played in international competition as well. So, a pretty different summer than any he’s had before.
He did look a bit sluggish during his eight minutes of floor time on Tuesday … save for taking it right through Hamed Haddadi for a bucket once. But I’m going to cut the guy some slack. Before the game, Saunders said Oberto would be limited in a similar fashion to Arenas. Of course, we all saw how “limited” Arenas was in terms of his initial 8-10 minute estimate. But it was important that Oberto, no matter how lost he may have looked, reach Flip’s goal amount of time for him. With JaVale McGee looking more and more like he has a ‘ways to go’, it’s important that Oberto be brought along with caution, but at a consistent pace so that he seamlessly gets his court familiarity back.
Flip On The Replacement Refs
“I didn’t really notice it very much. When you have younger referees who haven’t been there, they’re trying to get their perception of everything. So, I think … they’ve been cleaning some things up on the weak side, some three seconds. And that’s one of the reasons they pounded us on the glass (Wiz got out-rebounded 60-45). They put their big guys around the bucket a lot, so you’re begging all you can to try to get those guys out of there. Overall, I didn’t notice much of a difference.”
And I’ll agree with Flip in this regard. I remember one bad call that didn’t go the Wizards’ way (which was a hard call to make … a Grizzly actually knocked a loose ball out of bounds). And to not notice the refs that much, I’d say they did a pretty decent job (in the one game I’ve seen so far).
Picture time …
I wish I’d taken more, but between Tweeting, taking notes, and watching the game, there was enough to do.
Gilbert Arenas Getting Seriously Serious
Blatche v. Grier
Blatche to the rack with Mike Miller’s hair watching
Vincent Grier dunks before he’s gone
JaVale McGee jets to the rack
Epic Vale Woos The Rim
Arenas cherishes the rock
Segregation: white guys at the end of the bench
DeShawn Stevenson vs. A Replacement Ref :
A Four Part Series of Faces
(wonder if ref was more intimidated by DeShawn’s face or Abe Lincoln’s)
Flip Saunders vs. A Replacement Ref
Arenas Icing, Mike James Chillin’
Haywood tosses the game in the books
Choice Cuts From The Web
Arenas certainly showcased his skills as a facilitator, dishing out 10 assists, but at times he seemed like a lighter version of the player who played two games last season. His passing and decision-making are there, but he is still searching to recapture his ability to put the ball in the bucket. Saunders said that shouldn’t be a problem as Arenas rediscovers his rhythm and his body adjusts to the bumping and grinding of playing more often. He had no problem getting to the rim but Arenas struggled trying to finish, as missed about three point blank layups. Another pullup jumper barely grazed the rim. Had Arenas not missed those shots and six free throws, Saunders said he had “a 20[-point], 10[-assist] game right at his fingertips.”
You could tell he was making a real effort to set up his teammates and get them going. All of the Wizards that played alongside Arenas (other than Haywood) had double digit scoring nights. There were times when Arenas was probably too passive, turning down scoring opportunities to set up his teammates.
But as Saunders said, he’ll continue to get more comfortable with the pace of the games again, he’ll eventually start attacking offensively. Saunders wrote Arenas’ six missed free throws (and his teammtes’ misses as well) off as tired legs from long training camp and abundant practices.
I didn’t think Nick Young played great, but his final line (11 points on eight shots) was pretty good. He played very good defense on O.J. Mayo (though I think that was more Mayo taking himself out of the game), but really got abused by Sam Young in the second quarter. He also had a couple plays where he tried to dribble too much and forced a shot. There was one fast break in particular where Nick tried launching a terrible fadeaway from 17 feet when Memphis had gotten back. Luckily, Young was fouled on the play, but it was a pretty stupid shot. However, I also didn’t notice him a ton, which is probably a good thing, because it means he wasn’t dribbling much.
Whatever the Wizards’ second unit ends up being, it could be formidable. Randy Foye and Mike Miller led the reserves on Tuesday and got more and more comfortable as the game wore on. Maybe it was the Memphis backups that weren’t exactly stellar – could that team be any more inexperienced? – but it was a nice start. The only member of Washington’s bench that didn’t come out with a plus was Fabricio Oberto (-2). Foye was +12, and DeShawn Stevenson was +10 despite some foul trouble.
Caron Butler on fitting in with Flip Saunders’ offense: It’s a real good fit. Coach, he goes to the hot hand, he’s gonna milk it, he’s gonna keep going to it. No knocks to the offense we had over the last couple of years, but that was an equal-opportunity offense, so if a guy came down and scored, it might be five or six more possessions before that guy got the ball again, because it’s the Princeton offense. That’s just how it worked. Everybody gets the opportunity to be aggressive. This offense is a little different and you saw examples of that tonight.
Sixty rebounds. Preseason or not, that is darned impressive, especially since the Wiz only had 45. Not just a number, either. The Grizzlies’ rebounding efforts last season were often just above abysmal, and sometimes, well, lower than whatever is just below abysmal. ZBo with 7 offensive boards, and the team as a whole seemed to have really heard the voices of the coaching staff that have surely been IMPLORING them to be focused about where that miss is going to bounce and to be focused about how to use feet and body to position properly. Haddadi, especially, seemed to have learned to use his gargantuan size to better advantage, although he needs to break camp in the lane-his turnovers due to 3-second violations are just way uncool.
Other suggested reading:
- Cheap Seats Daily: Would Dan Snyder Censor Dan Steinberg’s Photos of Censored Bags? [Dave McKenna - DC City Paper]
- NBA General Managers Appreciate Ernie Grunfeld’s Wizardry [Stet Sports]
- Pay No Attention to that Beat Reporter Talking Stats [The Secret Weapon]
- NBA Season Preview: Q&A with Wiz Examiner George Panagakos, and Michael Prada from Bullets Forever [Boston Examiner]
- 30 Teams, 30 Days: Washington Wizards Season Preview [Slam Online]
- Grizzlies do everything but win in preseason opener vs. Wizards [Memphis Commercial Appeal]