Why is Gilbert Arenas always so ready to give up a foul after he or his team commits a turnover?
Why is Caron Butler always shuffling/switching his pivot foot when he catches the ball, leading to a travel?
Why are the Wizards entrenched in bad communication, often running into each other on pick and roll defense?
This team is surrounded by a lot of questions, these are just some examples. The quandary of this bad Washington Wizards team won’t simply be resolved by ‘when Mike Miller becomes healthy’, ‘when Gilbert Arenas gets his mentality back’ or ‘when Flip Saunders is able to reign in his players to properly run his offense’.
I seriously contemplated whether I should ever watch the Wizards-Suns game. It’s not like I didn’t know the 121-95 outcome or was unable to witness the Wizards constructing a Brick City that would make Redman proud. Instead of dedicating my Saturday night life to the Wizards at home, I ventured out in the D.C. snow to meet some friends at a bar for drinks, darts, and sports on TVs. Between the activities, I couldn’t concentrate on watching the Wizards much, but the futility was made crystal clear in the glances I was able to get.
This team has no moxie. With the persistent problem back-to-back games pose, there’s ever-increasing skepticism and little hope that they will ever change course for the better. There are a ton of excuses for why this team is falling way short of expectations, a lot of them seem to stem on more time and patience. But how do you get a team to play with energy and focus like they care?
So, I put my blues collection on shuffle and spent the better part of my Sunday watching the Wizards-Suns with focus … and boy did I learn a lot about this team. I was able to capture the essence of the game in the nine frames below, but I’ll have much more to come in the future about the less desirable aspects of the Flip Saunders’ team.
One thing I didn’t to mention in my post-game write-up … and I’m not sure if it had a proper place there anyway … was the “mood” of Gilbert Arenas after the Suns game.
I’ve only been around the new, media unfriendly Arenas at media day, practices, and home games. And he’s only talked once after a practice (to my knowledge), the first one after he got fined. I also haven’t been to every practice, but his routine usually has been to say, “They said I don’t have to talk to you guys today … only on game nights.”
Most are still getting acclimated to the melancholy, aloof Gilbert Arenas … the one who has become so jaded by the media that he started putting on a rendition of himself that’s a far cry from the entertaining Arenas of old. A seemingly 180-degree turn, but still 100% quirky.
Well, the Wizards certainly played better against the Suns than they did against Indiana last Friday. But this time, they simply lost to a better team. It’s another day, another loss … the Wizards’ fourth in a row with their record now standing at 2-5. One would hope that this doesn’t become routine, but that didn’t keep members of the media from groaning “feels like last year” as they made their way to the media room to wait for Flip Saunders’ press conference.
Of course, I wasn’t operating under an “official” media capacity last season, but I can imagine letting out a sigh, shrugging my shoulders, and wondering what to ask Saunders as I did on Sunday. But this isn’t like last year. There isn’t a sense that losing is inevitable. This team conveys a strong belief that everything will come together with time, health … and more trust on offense.
The Wizards started against Phoenix not necessarily lacking energy, but were plagued by defensive mismatch problems … a theme that’s not unique to this one game. While Fabricio Oberto concentrated on Amar’e Stoudemire, Brendan Haywood had to worry about Channing Frye and his three-point shooting, spreading the court ways. Frye finished 4-8 from deep.
Haywood seemed to have trouble moving his feet fast enough to cover all the offensive looks from the Suns. At times, the spinning and turning Haywood was doing on defense looked to be some sort of interpretive dance in the paint. The Wizards center was curiously limited to 11 and a half minutes in the first half, but finished the game as a rebounding (10) and shot blocking (5) presence in his 32 total minutes.
Reporting today from the Verizon Center for a 1 pm start between the Wizards and the Suns. So … I’ll be missing out on the Redskins-Falcons game … not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Considering I’m a Wizards fan first and foremost (and the Redskins are likely to lose), it’s probably a good thing. However, confidence in this Wizards team is a bit waning right now. How they respond after a horrid, horrid effort in Indiana will be extremely key.
Randy Foye and Fabrico Oberto will start today … along with Arenas, Butler and Haywood.
In reference to Foye, Saunders said he was looking for “offensive consistency”, i.e., what Nick Young does not provide.
Before the game Saunders said Oberto is an excellent pick-and-roll defender — so, it will be interesting to see if Fab matches up against Amar’e Stoudemire while Haywood chases the 3-point shooting Channing Frye around the perimeter.
ENERGY! – The Wizards need a heavy dose of it. When I asked Flip how, aside from Antawn Jamison speeches/tirades, this team gets themselves going today, he essentially said, “We’ll have to wait and see.” He went on to express concern about this being an afternoon game saying that NBA players always have trouble with day games where they have to wake up and play without the normal routine.
Gilbert Arenas surpassed 10,000 career points against the Pacers — Today, DeShawn Stevenson needs two points to surpass 5,000 career points.
In terms of Caron Butler’s game against Indy (24 points, 8-21 FGs) where he seemed more aggressive, but not particularly effective, Saunders was asked if that was the “balance” he was looking for out of Tuff Juice. Flip simply answered, “I didn’t like anything I saw on Friday night.”
The Suns are 5-1, beating the T-Wolves and Warriors at home and the Clippers, Heat, and Celtics on the road. Their one loss was at the hands of the Magic in Orlando.
Final Quote, Flip on Friday’s Pacers game: “I was searching, I was searching for a lot of things. Couldn’t find anything, but I was searching.”
Getting caught in an awkward moment, say…cheating with a coworker, is bad enough in an arena filled with 18,000 (well this year in DC, 10,000 or less) — no need to broadcast to a much wider audience on TV.
But the game changes when the Big Aristotle comes to town. Late in the first quarter, Shaq tied up Caron Butler for a jump ball and the cameras were there.
It could have been a tension filled moment between the two players who were once traded for each other. But the Big Diffuser stepped in to give Butler a smooch on his head, letting him know that all was copacetic.
[Upside and Motor] (check the great picture too) The Warriors jumped the shark.Two seasons ago they were a darling, last season they took a slight step back (but enough of a step to fall just short of the postseason), and now they’ll find themselves struggling to reach 11th place in the West. Welcome back, lottery balls; the Bay’s missed you. Predicted Record: 30-52
Pre-Wizards-Suns Game, UNC vs. Clemson The end of the 1st overtime in the Clemson-North Carolina game: With about 1.2 seconds left, game tied, the TarHeels tried to float a pass from a side-out on the opponent’s side of the half-court line. Clemson got a steal under the UNC basket and the Tiger player threw the ball to the other end, a shot attempt. Now, I’m not sure if he got the shot off on time…..they didn’t show a replay. But the referee, upon seeing that the ball was falling short of the basket, snatched it off the first bounce.
I know this about the game of basketball: If a shot, or rebound, goes off someone from the defending team and into the basket, it counts. I’ll go on to assume that if the ball bounces off the floor hard enough and by chance goes into a basket, that counts for points as well. So, what’s to keep me from thinking that a shot taken from the opposite basket, which leaves a player’s hand before the buzzer, and is not touched by any other player on the court, should count if it bounces off the floor and through the net?
Basically, should the referee have caught that ball? —-
Well, the Wizards are in the midst of a brutal February where they’ve lost their first 5 games of the month, 6 losses in a row overall, as well as in 8 of the last 10 games. And while their early season play without Gilbert Arenas has surprised everyone, for some to the point of questioning the value of Arenas, this latest futility is no surprise. What has become evident is that no squad can overcome the level of injuries felt by the Wizards, and that dangerous NBA teams need a guy who is able to command points in the hoop.
With 5:41 left in the 4th quarter, as Linas Kleiza was hitting two FTs to push the Denver lead to 12 at 96-84, Carmelo Anthony, who at the time had 40 points, checked back into the game.
Normally, I would not blame a team for bringing their superstar back to the court with a 12 point lead. Five minutes and forty-one seconds is a lot of time….we know this is the NBA. But, it’s the manner in which the Nuggets carried out the remainder of the game that makes me object. Denver’s intent was not so much to put away the game as a team, rather so ‘Melo My Man could put on an individual show and go for an individual achievement.