Wizards Lose In Dallas, But Let's Take The High Road | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wizards Lose In Dallas, But Let’s Take The High Road

Updated: February 1, 2011

When the name Denny Green is mentioned, the first image that comes to mind is the one you see above, and with good reason.  He’s flustered, he’s angry, he’s mumbling, and after 40 seconds or so, he stomps away from the podium.  But five years before that outburst, Green had every reason to be just as angry when he was fired by the Minnesota Vikings, despite leading them to the brink of the Super Bowl just three years earlier.  However, at his I-just-got-fired press conference, Green displayed nothing but class (with a splash of third person):

“If you’re looking for Denny Green, look on the high road, because that is where I’ll be.”

The same concept applies when examining the Washington Wizards 24th straight road loss to the Dallas Mavericks last night. It is easy, and dare I say lazy, to focus on the list of errors that led to their 102-92 defeat.  Everyone saw their 61.3-percent free throw percentage (Dallas shot 67.6-percent), the poor shooting nights for Andray Blatche and Nick Young (a combined 10-37), and the lack of a consistent go-to guy in the fourth quarter.  Those shortcomings, and others very similar to them, have been present throughout this road losing streak.

That being said,  there were plenty of positives to take away from last night’s loss, and if they are bottled up and carried into tonight’s game in New Orleans against the Hornets, perhaps the Wizards can get a win before they get loss number 25.  So join me on the high road as we examine a few positives a bit closer.

John Wall.

Michael Lee of the Washington Post said it best early in the second quarter, via his twitter account:

“John Wall is rolling right now. He’s got 10 pts & 4 assts. Hasn’t looked this energized & electric in weeks.”

It was not simply that Wall put up 17 points, four rebounds and 10 assists to two turnovers on the night, it was the way he did it.  Wall looked to be a bit more comfortable with his outside shot, he sped up and down the court at a much more controlled pace (with a few exceptions), and successfully found the open man when he needed to.  This was especially on display at the start of the second quarter, when the Wizards held their largest lead of 12 points.  Wall started off driving to the basket, drawing a hard foul on former Wizard Brendan Haywood and hitting two free throws.  The next time down the court he led the fast break, dribbled to the middle of the floor, and hit Al Thornton with a perfect bounce pass in stride for the basket and the foul.  After the Wizards and Mavericks traded missed shots, Wall led yet another fast break and found Rashard Lewis for yet another basket and the foul, and just like that the Wizards were up nine — and Dallas was forced to call a timeout.

After a sluggish December and an inconsistent start of January, Wall seems to finally be healthy, which means he’s able to get where he wants on the court again.  Now if only Flip Saunders would run some plays for him towards the end of games … sorry, high road comments only.

Flip’s Technical.

With 6:51 left in the fourth quarter, Dirk Nowitzki scored a basket and was fouled, but Saunders disagreed with the call and decided to share his displeasure with the referees.  He was promptly given a technical foul and Dirk converted.  Saunders was pretty vocal with the refs all night, and he’s lucky he did not get thrown out of the game, but still it was nice to see him show some sustained emotion.

It is no secret that coaches all over this league (former Cavs coach Mike Brown, current Buck coach Scott Skiles and former coach Larry Brown, to name a few) use the I-will-get-myself-thrown-out-of -the-game method to motivate their players when they seem to lack motivation.  Some of the Wizards writers/bloggers have suggested that Saunders needs to do the same, especially with their futile road record, and he took one step towards that by getting a technical foul last night. After the tech, TAI’s Kyle Weidie was not convinced:

“Flip got a technical? Not sure it’s the type to fire up his players nor does he have players who will necessarily get fired up.”

I agree with Mr. Weidie that one technical will not fire his up team sufficiently.  But if Flip gets two technicals in succession, allows himself to be restrained by Sam Cassell and Josh Howard in street clothes, someone on that Wizards roster will get fired up.  Last night, Saunders took the first step, and perhaps tonight in New Orleans — the second of a back-to-back and fourth game in five nights — would be the time to unveil that move.

Yi Jianlian.

On a night when Trevor Booker and JaVale McGee had nothing, and when Blatche struggled to find his shooting touch, Yi Jianlian came up big with season-highs in points (14) and steals (4) to go along with 11 rebounds in just 29 minutes of play.  In recent games, Yi seemed to be comfortable with taking jumpers from the elbow, with no regard for the flow of the offense.  Against Dallas, Yi still took a few of those, but he also mixed in some aggressive post moves (against Brendan Haywood no less), and some follow up dunks.

Like Wall, Yi has struggled with injuries as of late, but if last night is any indication, he’s ready to be a more consistent contributor off the bench. (Kyle has a further video breakdown of Yi’s game.)

So if we are sticking with this high road theme, we will forget about the Wizards loss to the Mavericks last night, and look forward to the Hornets game tonight.  Washington will get a major contribution from Yi, Flip will get thrown out in the second quarter, and Wall will take over from there to get the Wizards their first road win of the year.  If not, they will be who we thought they were … 0-25 on the road.

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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.

  • Sharon

    Yea right. They will lose in New Orleans as they have loss in all of the other towns. Then problem now for the Wizards is that NO TEAM wants to let this group win on their turf and will do WHATEVER they have to do to not let the Wizards win. Ask Deshawn. I find it quite laughable really. We are the laughingstock of the NBA along with Cleveland and that is sad.

  • Wow Sharon. You clearly aren’t buying what I’m selling in this article. I’ll admit the propects do look a little dim right now, but Emeka Okafor is out for the Hornets, so there’s hope.

  • John Wall at least provides hope for the future. Averaging nine assists per game is no small feat.

  • Patrik Trimmer

    Wiz break the slump tonight Wiz beat Hornets +7 with big nights from AB,NY and Kirk

  • szr

    I got a chance to see the Wiz in person for the second time this year (the first was the preseason game). And in the spirit of keeping things positive:

    (1) Wall is amazing. He looked fast during preseason, but if John Wall of last night had played against John Wall of the preseason, it wouldn’t have been close. Seriously, it is almost impossible for me to fully articulate how fast that guy looks in person. Fast and under control. There is a reason he’s the Wizard’s leading assist man, but I cannot fathom how he is so good with the pass while being so fast. Did I mention he’s crazy fast?

    (2) Yi looked pretty good! I’m still not sold on that guy, but mostly because he usually isn’t productive. I have no reason to be down on him tonight. He played solid defense, was a monster on the boards and had a strong offensive outing. It is more impressive since it came against a team with one of the best inside defenses in the league.

    (3) Nick Young made a great defensive play. He had a beautiful block on Jason Terry, then dove out of bounds and saved the possession for Washington. There, I said something positive about him. I’ll leave it like that.

    No wait, NY also displayed some pretty funny trash talk. Like after hitting a shot he turned to the Dallas bench and said “all day, baby!” Well, at least the Dallas bench seemed to find it funny.

    (4) Lewis had a great game too. He has been criticized by Orlando fans for not showing any emotion. And he didn’t tonight. His poise and professionalism are the perfect compliment for Wall’s and McGee’s freakish athleticism.

    (5) McGee continued to be a strong defensive player. I lost count how many blocks he had.

  • Wall is healthy and will be a franchise star with the Wiz for life. Next year he’ll be hitting threes and jumpers just watch. We have a center in McGee he just has to get stronger and better IQ he will he’s only 22 . He’ll be contending for defensive player of the year in a few years now we just need a 3 who can d slash and shoot the 3 and a 4 that can bang and just add to the bench

  • The pieces are in place just need to add to the bench I like nick off the bench in the manu role because he can come in and be a spark and we need that dimension earlier we had it and it was amazing or somebody like Nick. Go Wizards!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • szr

    Okay, I hate to go into the (arguably) negative terrain, but here is what I would do were I GM:

    Build on the core of Wall, McGee, Hinrich and Lewis. Get a decent power forward (I’m not sure who is available) and trade Blatche and Nick Young. Young’s value will probably never be higher than it will after this season, and some contender will be lured into thinking he is what they need to win. Blatche, at this point, I would trade for draft picks.

    The Wizards bench is still pretty weak, but an above-average starting power forward would really make that a nice core.