No energy. No result. The Wizards dropped their 45th game of the season, this time in a home meeting with the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers. TAI’s Rashad Mobley (@rashad20) and John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) have the reaction.
Posts for category ‘Cleveland Cavaliers’
[The DC Council -- After each Wizards game: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the bench, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is over the table. Click here for cumulative DC Council 3-star ratings over the course of the season. Game 36 contributors: Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis) and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) from the Verizon Center, and Rashad Mobley (@rashad20) from the television screen.]
Wizards wins are starting to feel like buying a $5 lottery scratch ticket and winning a dollar back. Hey, a dollar! I won! Yea, but I invested five. No, this feeling doesn’t involve tanking for lottery balls, as getting upset with wins that hurt chances doesn’t matter to me. Although, not relishing in the loss doesn’t necessarily mean my apathy toward the Wizards winning has nothing to do with the fact that it might help. Essentially, I want winning when it matters. This season, it doesn’t. That said, close losses due to low-IQ basketball plays or blowouts due to the absence of hustle are disturbances. Emotion is involved.
Then comes the difference between me having a rooting interest in the Washington pro basketball franchise, versus covering the team, versus the players and personnel who are stopping through at this point in time. Beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 101-98 on Saturday night was good for them, especially the players. Locker rooms after losses can be fractured, and it goes past what the media sees. Some of us have been apart of this on various levels. Winning unites in more unspoken words than a picture. Good-natured locker room scenes provide much needed boosts to morale, on top of being a reward for the hard basketball work.
The Washington Wizards since the All-Star break, now with one win and two losses, have put on more consistent displays of good basketball, especially the sharing part. The 26 assists against Cleveland is tied for the second most this season (21.7 assist average in the last three games, up from 17.7 before the break). Shooters are finding open shots, percentages are up (eFG% in last three games at 0.502, was 0.456 pre-All-Star break). Plus, partially thanks to Roger Mason and Mo Evans, they are making more 3-pointers — 27 team 3-pointers (12 from Mason and Evans) in the past three games represents 15.3-percent of the season’s total. The Wizards still show bad habits, drop packs of cigarettes on the floor as Randy Wittman says, and are still susceptible to being “fragile,” as Flip Saunders used to say.
Where they will go with the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, at San Antonio Spurs and at Dallas Mavericks as the next five games on the schedule (followed by four more games of a six-game road trip), we will see. But at least on this Saturday night, the pendulum of locker room moods, personality, and clowning swung to the home side of the Verizon Center. The Wiz Kids felt a little better about themselves, and that’s a good thing. They needed it. Six game losing streaks get old. But the suits, they can always be new, just as long as they don’t smell like cigarette smoke.
[Editor's note: This is the TAI debut of Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) -- long-time reader, retired anonymous blogger, and the best pound-for-pound rebounder in DC -- (Dan's claims, not mine). Dan is here to discuss Cavs rookie Kyrie Irving, who's just 19-years old and having fun. For instance, as his coach, Byron Scott, spoke with the media at the Verizon Center tonight, telling them how Irving would be in the starting lineup (after missing last night's game with the flu), Irving jumped on a nearby service cart and honked the horn. Verizon Center security got tough with him, let Irving know that he shouldn't do that. The kid played tough, too, at first, but the exchange ultimately ended with smiles. Later, in the locker room, as Luke Harangody related the story to another Cavs teammate, Irving explained that that's just who he is right now, a 19-year old, and to check back when he's 22. I'll let Dan Diamond take it away. -Kyle W.]
Getting old isn’t fun, but there’s a silver lining for golfers: They can dream of one day “shooting their age“—a rare feat when a golfer’s age is the same or older than his day’s score.
[Antawn Jamison ponders the Wizards - photo: K. Weidie]
Tonight, the Cleveland Cavaliers travel to Washington for a marquee match-up between struggling teams and former rivals. Though Soulja Boy is not expected to be in attendance, Antawn Jamison will be, playing in his first game in Washington since he was shipped out. Both teams look to snap losing streaks. Three questions, three answers, from three of your favorite people– John Krolik (@JohnKrolik) of ESPN TrueHoop blog Cavs: The Blog, and TAI’s Sam Permutt (@sammyvert) and Kyle Weidie (@truth_about_it) — right now.
#1) You’re Antawn Jamison, consummate professional and former All-Star power forward. The NBA has decided to merge the Cleveland and Washington teams. You get to pick four other players (point guard, shooting guard, small forward, and center) to start alongside you for the new and improved Wizaliers team. Who are you running with? And even with this merger, how successful can the Wizaliers team be? Are they a playoff team? Championship contenders?
Tension arises from the final Washington Wizards game of the season. Many fans were content with the loss to Cleveland. The 100-93 defeat on Wednesday means they stand-alone with the fourth-worst record in the NBA, and not tied with two other teams (New Jersey and Sacramento) for the fifth worst record, which could have had major implications on the NBA Draft Lottery. Other the other hand, they lost to Cleveland and looked pretty terrible in doing so.
Here’s where the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” conflict arises. During the game, Comcast’s television play-by-play man Steve Buckhantz mentioned multiple times how Flip Saunders instructed his players before the game that he wanted them to treat it like a playoff affair. But removing John Wall, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee from the fourth quarter equation (when Washington went into the final period with a 74-71 lead), and then later taking out Jordan Crawford three and a half minutes into the period (the Cavaliers having taken an 81-76 lead), clearly swings the philosophy from treating it like a playoff atmosphere to tanking for the lottery. Worth mentioning that Wall “tweaked” something or another during the game (didn’t look major, better to be safe than sorry), Blatche and McGee were playing like they didn’t deserve to stay on the floor (we’ll get to them), and Crawford was 2-14 from the field (the lackadaisical demeanor assumed by some on the team clearly having an effect on the unit as a whole).
Flip Saunders told the Washington Post:
“I thought our first, main group played really well. I probably would like to see them play the whole game, the way they were playing. We were moving the ball, we were really active and pretty much dominating in many aspects. But it was a good opportunity for us to see a lot of the young guys.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 115-107 defeat at the hands of the Washington Wizards last Friday was their 60th loss in 75 games and their 32nd road loss in 37 road games. Included in those depressing numbers is a 26-game losing streak, which represented the longest such streak in NBA history. Those numbers are a far cry from the 61 victories they amassed just one year earlier, and to say this has been a long season for the Cavs would be an understatement of epic proportions.
The reasons for Cleveland’s futility are well-documented. Big Bad LeBron James took his talents away from the Cavaliers and bolted for Miami, as did Zydrunas Illgauskas. Delonte West was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Ryan Hollins, Ramon Sessions and a first round draft pick. Anderson Varejao has not played a game since January 5 of this year because of a torn tendon in his ankle, and Antawn Jamison’s season also ended prematurely with a broken finger. Mo Williams, arguably the second-best player on the team after LeBron last year, and the best player on the Cavs entering this season, was traded along with Jamario Moon to the LA Clippers on February 24. In return, the Cavaliers received Baron Davis and a draft pick. The lack of continuity has just been just too much to overcome.
Due to injuries, trades, and flat-out inexperience, the Wizards have had similar frustrations during this 2010-2011 season. But the play of John Wall, Nick Young, Jordan Crawford, JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche (at times), has given everyone from Wizards fans to owner Ted Leonsis some hope for the future. The Cavaliers have also had occasional bright spots with an opening day victory over the Boston Celtics and a victory right before the All-Star Break over the defending champion Lakers. Perhaps the biggest moment of the year came last week when the Cavaliers defeated LeBron and the Heat 102-90 in Cleveland — Miami defeated the Cavaliers 118-90 back on December 2; LeBron destroyed his old team in his first return to Ohio by scoring 38 points in just three quarters.
Still, in a season full of losses and frustration, it would seem to be a difficult task for the Cavaliers to think positive, encouraging thoughts. I asked head coach Byron Scott, Ramon Sessions and J.J. Hickson what, if any, positives could be taken out of a season that has gone this badly. Read more »
Jordan Crawford does a little bit of everything…
Before tip off, I was curious how the Wizards would respond in a game that had all the trappings of an emotional let down. Gone were the Heat and the insanity they always bring to an atmosphere. Gone was the underdog mentality, facing a Cleveland Cavaliers team that had won three fewer games than the Wiz this year. And of course, gone was John Wall, suspended after trying to put his fist through Zydrunus Ilgauskas’s rib cage against Miami Wednesday night.
How would the Wizards respond in a game that, even without John Wall, one might actually expect them to win?
Said Flip Saunders, “in the pregame talk, after we got done, I told one of the assistant coaches ‘man I don’t feel that energy in that room tonight.’”
But Flip’s guys came through for game time.
Before San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich led his team against the Washington Wizards on Saturday night, and as his players were coming off an uncharacteristic loss to the Philadelphia 76ers the night before, I asked him if it was a situation where he’d rather play the very next night.
“Exactly. That’s always one of the great things we all talk about in the NBA, because another game’s coming pretty quickly. Even if it’s back-to-back, you’d rather get to the next game and play and forget the one you just were so horrible in,” the coach said.
After getting poked and prodded like worn leather by the Spurs, the Wizards found them in the same situation, on a flight to Cleveland not only with the motivation of ending a 0-25 road record on the season, but also with the bad taste of poor effort spread on their breakfast toast. The Australians call it vegemite.
Well, they did it. February 13 was long ago marked as a facetious scenario for the Wizards to get their first road win — against Antawn Jamison, in front of a Cleveland crowd previously ingrained to boo the Wiz a little more than other teams, and with a nice number like 25 straight road losses, 26 dating back to last season. With life’s little symmetry in tow, of course Washington won 115-100 on Sunday evening. Ted Leonsis should be dancing, but we’ll get him doing the “Dougie” for another reason.
A D.C. pic, links, commentary and tickets for free ….
The Portland Trailblazers are in D.C. tonight to take on the Wizards … and guess what? They’re giving away John Wall bobble-head dolls to the first 10,000 fans. So if you want one, you best show up on time. What else are you going to do on a cold Friday night in D.C.? Watch Miami (Ohio) take on 25th-ranked Northern Illinois in college football? Sure buddy. Plus, if the game sells out, there’s a chance you could see Ted Leonsis do the “Dougie” … which would most certainly be better than Wolf Blitzer’s “Dougie” (who did it on ‘Soul Train’ of all places? Weird).
In any case, check out my column at the DCist this week where I ponder if the Wizards are still worth watching?
And from the other side, Portland fans have it pretty bad too, Wizards fans — just admittedly not as bad as Wiz fans, at least according to one Trailblazers blogger. Check out what the Portland Roundball Society has to say about tonight’s game.