Wizards Link Run-Down & Award Nominations | Truth About It.net

Wizards Link Run-Down & Award Nominations

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Updated: December 23, 2009

In the previous entry, I touched on the Wizards post-game locker room atmosphere after beating the Sixers. Thinking about the game again last night and this morning led me to pause … they were really, really close to losing another heart breaker. Momentum really could have shifted had Lou Williams hit that wide open corner three, which would have given the Sixers a 100-98 lead, potentially capping a 10-2 Philly run since Eddie Jordan called a timeout after Caron Butler’s big dunk.

But thankfully, Williams’ shot was off, the Wizards made their free-throws, and the Sixers made some mental errors (fouling down three with 34 seconds left? … what was that?). It could have been a much different locker room, one that wasn’t seemingly so naively content with a single win.

And that’s why I’m a tad excited for tonight’s game in Milwaukee, just another chance to see what the Wizards are made of. I’ll have more on the Philly game to come. But until then, below the video highlights are several links of interest.

{award nominations}

Truth About It.net has been nominated for a couple blogger awards by the Basketball Fiend blog at DavisSportsDeli.com.

This site/blog as a whole has was nominated for the Best Individual Team Blog award. Voting on that one ends at 10 pm est today … and TAI is severely lagging behind the competition. But it’s one of those ‘just glad to be nominated’ things because the other nominees (Sactown Royalty, Blazersedge, Red’s Army and Golden State of Mind) are very good and very well established.

But also, I, personally, have been nominated for the Best Breakout Blogger award. Voting for this one ends on Thursday at 10 pm est. Again, a lot of excellent competition here … and I’m just glad to be in the conversation. But if you feel like heading over to vote, by all means, please do so.

{links}

[Caron Butler's HoopsHype Blog: "This is not over"]

Even though my numbers are a little down this season, I know I can be an effective player for the Wizards and do whatever I’m asked for. I still can give you 20 points, 7 rebounds and some assists while guarding some of the best players in the league. I know I can do that. I’m not concerned about the trade rumors.

I’ve been traded a couple of times before in my career. That did nothing but give me extra motivation. Look at my track record… Every time I was dealt, I had better years with my new team than I had with the old one. You don’t want to get traded, but you can turn it into a positive. I know I did.

[Jarrett Carter of Stet Sports wonders about Flip Saunders]

So you look to the head guy and wonder when the offensive fireworks and defensive accountability we all hoped for kick in.  The Wizards’ 3-8 start to this season is far more digestible than last year’s 1-10 start under Eddie Jordan; but it’s uncanny how the drama, injuries and questions of this season parallel those circumstances that surrounded Jordan’s dismissal. And perhaps what makes it digestible is that we expected this team, like its best player, to rebuild into a respectable brand of basketball.

[Mike Prada of Bullets Forever contemplates rebuilding]

I’m not sure we’re quite at the rebuild stage yet, but we need to start thinking about it.  Once we do, we got to do it right, meaning make unbalanced trades in the short term and take our lumps with a roster that won’t win many games.  Just a word of caution to those who want to pursue this route: it’s going to be a long road back.

{wizards – sixers run-down}

[Craig Stouffer - Washington Examiner]

What’s left to say after the 105-98 win over Philadelphia? Again the Wizards hauled themselves into a dogfight against an inferior opponent. They led, 22-11, in the first quarter on the second three-pointer of the night by Gilbert Arenas but it was down to four by the time the 76ers scored on their first possession of the second period. They led by 11 again, 44-33, after Nick Young hit a three midway through the second period but barely crawled into the locker room ahead by three.

[Mike Fratto - Washington Times]

The combination of Earl Boykins, Nick Young, Dominic McGuire, Andray Blatche and Fabricio Oberto played the final 7:58 of the third quarter and picked up the intensity. Boykins directed the unit and ended up staying in for the fourth quarter. Young hit a pair of 3-pointers. And McGuire grabbed three offensive rebounds.

“The younger guys had been down a little bit, and it was an opportunity to step up and be a part of this team,” Young said. “It just shows anybody can start.”

The group couldn’t close the gap, however – Philadelphia led 79-72 entering the fourth – but then Arenas and Butler took over as Washington outscored Philadelphia 33-19 in the final quarter.

[Rashad Mobley - Hoops Addict]

Prior to the mass substitution, the Wizards were not playing well to start the third quarter.  They gave up and missed easy baskets, there were costly turnovers, and the offense lacked the fluidity that it had shown in flashes during the first half.  Despite a full and a twenty second timeout, Flip was unable to get a satisfactory effort out of his team.  Even Gilbert Arenas (31 points), who seemed to be the only Wizard playing well up to that point, agreed that something had to be done.

“We fell flat in the third quarter and needed that spark,” Arenas candidly observed after the game.  “We didn’t have the energy coming out of halftime.  The third quarter is the most important part of the game.  The second unit had to come in and get the job done.”

[Michael Lee - Wizards Insider, Washington Post]

Jamison had a rough night all around, as he shot just 1 for 6 and finished with seven points. He also appeared to start dragging at one point in the fourth quarter when he got caught fighting for a rebound with Brendan Haywood. In his contract year, Haywood is going hard after just about every ball he’s near — not that there is anythign wrong with that. The more rebounds, the merrier. But on this night — or is that every night? — he appeared to hit Jamison in the wrong spot on his shoulder.

“I’m used to it by now. We’ve played 30 games. Out of 30 games, he’s found a way to tweak my shoulder in 25 of them,” Jamison said, half-jokingly. “It’s just him being aggressive, going for the rebound. He said he didn’t know it was me, but it’s a good excuse. It’s him being aggressive. I like it. He was going for the rebound but I’m going to have to find a way to counteract it, find a way to prevent that from happening again.”

[Mike Prada - Bullets Forever]

Sure, it was the 76ers, who displayed pathetic half-court defense all night, but it was a won battle.  For that, we have two people to thank: Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler.

Both players took over the game in the fourth quarter, singlehandily erasing a seven-point deficit with smart, efficient plays.  The two scores 22 of the Wizards’ 33 points in the period, and the key was that they attacked the hoop with quick moves.  For Arenas, this is no surprise — that’s what he did when he was healthy, and that’s what he’s supposed to do now — but for Butler, it was a welcome change from the whole “pump-fake, jab-step, pump-fake, dribble, 20-foot jumper” play we’ve always seen from him.  They both played off each other well and both deferred to each other at the proper times.  I’m sure that I’ll find a chance to pick out specific plays when I’m not writing from an airport wifi connection, but for now, let’s just say they blended together unlike they really ever have before.

{the other side}

[Martin Frank - Full-Court Press]

Elton Brand did it in a calm, cool way, but it was clear that his frustrations bubbled over after the Sixers’ brutal 105-98 loss to the Washington Wizards tonight. They were outscored 33-19 in the 4th quarter, which Sixers coach Eddie Jordan called “a horrible defensive 4th quarter.”

Without naming anyone, it was clear that Brand was referring to Marreese Speightswhen he said: “Certain guys didn’t box out, didn’t rebound. Certain guys had a longer leash than others. They played longer and the mistakes showed.”

[Kate Fagan - Philadelphia Inquirer]

Arenas “was the catalyst, driving the paint,” Jordan said. “And it seems like if we don’t have Sam in there, we have nobody that can defend the paint or the rim.”

Was Jordan frustrated in his postgame message to the team?

“Not really,” Brand said. “Maybe because he said foul with 34 seconds left, maybe he was upset at himself for that.”

It was one mistake among many.

[Brian - Depressed Fan]

I’ve been beating this drum for a while now, the press is starting to catch on, the front office has to, absolutely has to be scratching their collective heads after tonight’s game. Eddie Jordan’s days on the Sixers bench absolutely must be nearing an end. I don’t know how anyone who cares about this team in the least can see what’s going on out there on the floor, read what he’s saying to the press, see what usually soft-spoken and classy veterans are saying to reporters and think anything other than, “Eddie Jordan needs to go.” It’s unfathomable to me that the discussions aren’t taking place. Tony DiLeo should polish up his whistle, or maybe Aaron McKie should start thinking about how he’s going to implement the triangle when he takes over. Frankly, I don’t care who the replacement winds up being, I only care that he gets here soon.