Searching For A Moral Victory in Beantown: A Run-Down | Truth About It.net

Searching For A Moral Victory in Boston: A Wizards Run-Down

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Updated: March 7, 2010

Note: I’ll be chatting/answering questions on ESPN’s Sunday Dime Live during tonight’s Wizards-Celtics game. Join me for the start at 8 pm eastern, keep scrolling for more on the Wiz.

The Wizards play the Celtics tonight … on ESPN. “Great.” Words like “bloodbath” have already been thrown around. The WaPost’s Michael Lee is baffled that the game continued to be on the national television schedule after the dismantling of the team, including Josh Howard’s knee injury. But Boston is a big ticket market, so probably still worth including on the NBA Sunday slate. The only other game that will be going on at the same time will be the Thunder and Kings, which starts at 9 pm eastern. I’m sure people would love to see Kevin Durant and Tyreke Evans, but again, it’s Boston.

So Wizards fans, I guess you have to choke down the embarrassment of the forthcoming unwanted national attention and how the pundits will likely be talking bad about the franchise you love. And if you’re a Wizards fan watching the game at this point, you do have a true love for the team.

I have two hopes: 1) that Hubie Brown is calling the game, and 2) a moral victory.

Hubie Brown is my absolute favorite analyst. He’s knowledgeable, reasonable, and tells you about the intricacies of the game as if he were a grandpa telling his grandson (or granddaughter) a story.

So what does a moral victory entail? I’d guess the following:

  1. Keeping the game relatively close, i.e., a final deficit within 12 points.
  2. Topping the 20 assist mark while limiting turnovers to 10 or less, something which the Wizards have only done five times all year. So that may be asking for a lot.
  3. A strong performance from Andray Blatche, meaning at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting over 50%. Again, could be asking a lot.

Tonight Blatche faces his former role model Kevin Garnett, someone whom Flip Saunders has compared Andray too countless times before. I say “former” role model because when I asked ‘Dray about K.G. back in December before the Wizards faced Boston at home, he said (lightheartedly):

“I don’t know who you’re talking about brotha! That was back in the day … Listen, that was my role model growing up, but this is a whole new age, ok? I’m just going to do what I do, alright?”

That night, in a loss to the Celtics, Blatche scored double-digits (17) in a game against Garnett for the first time in his career. If Andray is able to help the Wizards control themselves offensively with his ability to shoot and pass (as in being able to handle any double teams the Celtics run at him), then his recent success and potential for future growth might be more real than I thought.

And now, the run-down on all things Wizards …

{Goodbye Mike Harris, Hello Alonzo Gee}

Today the Wizards announced that they signed Alonzo Gee to a 10-day contract. They did not offer a second 10-day to Mike Harris.

Harris didn’t get too much of a chance, playing 1:21 versus Memphis, 3:06 versus New York, 0:28 versus New Jersey, 4:27 in the first game against Milwaukee and 4:09 in the second game. However, in his limited time he wasn’t especially noticeable. You also must consider that Harris might not have shown much on the practice court, an important evaluation process that fans don’t see.

Regarding Harris, Mike Jones once wrote, “I’m told by two league sources that the Wizards see this as a chance to evaluate Harris as part of their future.”

So much for that. I guess newcomer Gee is now under the microscope.

Speaking of …

Gee is a 6’6″ athletic slasher who can find ways to score. He’s a D-League All-Star who was called up from the Austin Toros.

For more on Gee, go check out what Scott Schroeder has to say on the D-League blog, Ridiculous Upside. Andrew A. McNeill of Spurs blog, 48 Minutes of Hell, also has a bit on Gee.

Gee will be in uniform tonight and will wear #24. The last Wizard to wear #24 was (J)arvis Hayes. Other notable 24s with the franchise include Tom Gugliotta and Jeff Malone.

{Booing History}

Little did the fans at the Verizon Center know that they were booing history on Friday night. It was only the fifth time in Wizards franchise history that the team failed to score 20 points in all four quarters — 19-17-19-19 went the final tally.

{Rebuilding Without Rookies & With Undrafted Players}

Ok, so the Wizards are in full rebuilding mode … great. But did you know that of the 21 players who have suited up for the team this season, none have been rookies? Only three other NBA teams have the same condition, the Lakers, Magic and Heat. Of course, Alonzo Gee, player #22, is a rookie, so this distinction could end against the Celtics tonight.

Did you also know that the Wizards have five undrafted players on their roster? Earl Boykins, Mike Harris, Alonzo Gee, James Singleton, Fabricio Oberto and Quinton Ross would be those five. Mike James was the sixth before he was bought-out and waived. Only one team can best the Wizards in the undrafted players count; the Golden State Warriors have seven undrafted players on their roster.

{Remembering ‘Sheed}

As you probably know, current Celtic Rasheed Wallace started with the franchise, drafted by the then Washington Bullets with the 4th overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. Since leaving the team (in the July ’96 trade that netted Harvey Grant and Rod Strickland from Portland for Wallace and Mitchell Butler), Rasheed has gone on to score 15,049 points for other NBA teams (Portland, Atlanta, Detroit and Boston).

In fact, Wallace leads all those in NBA history in points scored after playing for the Washington franchise. After Wallace, the next four are: Walt Bellamy (11,921), Chris Webber (11,408), Richard Hamilton (10,631) and Don Nelson (10,479).

{Top Quotes from Game 58 vs. The Bucks}

[Michael Lee: Bucks 102, Wizards 74 - Wizards Insider, Washington Post]

The few fans remaining for the closing seconds of the Wizards’ horrific 102-74 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday appeared to be sticking around for the sole reason to boo the team. The Wizards gave a pathetic effort – making lazy passes, failing to box out and rotate on defense – and perhaps fans had become spoiled by this bunch of energetic overachievers.

[...]

Saunders may have to consider something radical, such as inserting Livingston into the starting lineup and letting him share ball-handling duties with Foye. He could move Mike Miller back to small forward and have Thornton come off the bench, where he appears to be more comfortable, at least in the early going.

[Craig Stouffer: Bucks 102, Wizards 74 - Washington Examiner]

But with that initial energy wearing off, no Howard, and only a brutal and busy final month and half in front of them, the Wizards have dropped four of their last five games. The last two losses – the latest tonight’s 102-74 junk show – have come in back-to-back games against Bucks, who are going in the opposite direction as a franchise – namely, straight for the playoffs – while Washington faces a stark reality that shouldn’t come as a surprise but still isn’t easy to digest.

[Mike Prada: Wizards get blown out by Bucks: Final wrap, where growing isn't easy - Bullets Forever]

The bottom line is that Saunders is realizing he’s banging a square peg into a round hole.  Foye can’t be the point guard Saunders wants him to be.  He doesn’t have the passing instincts, nor does he have the ability to get into the lane.  He’s a jump-shooter in the Jamal Crawford/J.R. Smith mode, not a point guard.

[Dave Johnson: Bucks Stop Wizards Again - CSN Washington]

The Bucks did not allow the Wizards offense a chance. Like they did in their win on Wednesday, the Bucks put heavy pressure on the Wizards guards and the result was an offense lacking in flow and execution.

As a team the Wizards only had ten assists. The Bucks had 11-assists in the first quarter and finished with 27 for the game. The Wizards were also held to 37 percent shooting from the field and were outscored in the paint 44-28.

[Frank Madden: Recap: Bucks 102, Wizards 74 - Brew Hoop]

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that on Skiles’ 46th birthday his players not only beat the Wizards in Washington, but did so in dominating fashion.  The Wiz are most definitely a rag-tag bunch right now, a group that has looked more interested in getting theirs than playing team basketball. But 28-point road wins aren’t gift-wrapped for you in the NBA either.


[Note: some stats/notes courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau]


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