An Unofficial Washington Wizards Blog

No Your Statlines
By JakeTheSnake
Posted on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 10:13:31 PM EDT

Dude, you're getting a Ledell.

Mr. I's latest Cardboard Icon got me thinking about BF's favorite curiosity again and now armed with my new favorite toy, I was able to dig up some old info on him.  All of these are new to me since I'm a whipper-snapper, so I'll start with the one that's probably the most well known and work my way towards obscurity.

First we start off with a quote regarding LeDell's incident with a Roman candle from Wes Unseld:

It was illegal, ill-advised and just plain stupid.
Burn! (No pun intended...well, maybe just a little)  When the guy that passed over Michael Redd for Mike Smith calls you stupid, you're pretty stupid.  (Sidenote: If you type in "Ledell candle" into Google, We Rite Goode is the first thing to come up.  No foolin'.)

Wes wasn't the only one that had to deal with Ledell's antics, just think how tough it was for his college coach:

A new coach's first priority is dealing with a returning star. Though Brandenburg recruited Dembo out of his own hometown of San Antonio, the coach was not always in sync with his prized player. Dembo, a 6'5", 215-pound forward, had a mind, not to mention a mouth, all his own. But Dees has been down that road before. New Orleans's Ledell Eackles would run beside the scorer's table during games, asking, "How many 'bounds I got?"

Winner!  I don't really get why he was so focused on rebounds though, I'd be checking my points totals if I was this unguardable:

When three solid independents (New Orleans, Southwestern Louisiana and Pan American) and three Southland schools with high hoop profiles (Lamar, Arkansas State and Louisiana Tech) succumbed to an urge to merge, the American South was born. Its winner won't get an automatic NCAA bid for three seasons, but that won't keep New Orleans out of the tournament. The Privateers' new coach, Art Tolis, once drove a car down the steps of the Superdome, and Ledell Eackles, star of the team's gutbucket backward low-five pregame intro routine, will drive up, around or through anything between him and the basket. Says Louisiana Tech guard Kelvin Lewis, "The CIA can't cover him."

How Bullets management decided that he wasn't worth two million per year in '92 is beyond me.  The man is worth his weight in (comedic) gold.

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If I was on a team that could beat the Pistons by double digits, I'd want to play too
By JakeTheSnake
Posted on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 05:46:51 PM EDT

Box Score
Game Flow
Post Recap
Times Recap
Live Blog
Need4Sheed Recap
Pistons Nation Blog Recap, blames loss on Brendan's nose
Wizards Insider's Monday Update

Highest Plus/Minus: Antawn Jamison & Antonio Daniels (+12)
Lowest Plus/Minus: Dominic McGuire & Oleksiy Pecherov (+1)

Kelly Dwyer nails it again with his analysis of the game on Behind the Boxscore:

Detroit never really put the hammer down in Washington on Sunday night, the Wizards didn't really ease into the 12-point win, but it's safe to say the Pistons lost this one just as much as the Wizards (who, again, played hard and played well) won it.

Washington shot ridiculously well from the floor (52.8 percent), and Detroit was telling reporters after the game that they were trying out new and different offensive schemes. Great.

That's going to be my lasting impression from last night.  Sure, the Wizards played excellent all around, but I don't think you can use it in and of itself to say that the Wizards are a legit Eastern conference contender.

There was still a lot of things that were very good about last night, including:

  • The Frontline!:  Aside from McDyess' owning the boards for the first six minutes, the Wizards really owned the inside.  Haywood had a great scoring game, Jamison had another 20-10 game, and perhaps most impressively, they kept Jason Maxiell from dominating the bench.  I'd talk more about their dominance last night, but I'd rather not get on Sheed's bad side.
  • Darius the Great: Okay, that's a stretch but the dude is playing his best ball as a Wizard right now.  I'd rather not see it at the expense of Andray Blatche, but he looks like he might be coming back around as well.  Blatche's 4 points and 4 rebounds weren't anything astounding, but it wasn't abysmal either, which is step in the right direction.
  • Stewie's sunburn: jvflail brought it to everyone's attention during the Heat game, but it bears repeating.  That boy is COOKED.  The only downside is that I can't find a picture of it.
  • 6 out of 7 ain't bad: With the western swing looming, they had to take advantage of this easy stretch and save for a stinker against Atlanta, they succeeded in doing that.  They still can't sleep easy, but there's some more breathing room than there was before.

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Where a wig turning into an effigy happens
By JakeTheSnake
Posted on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 12:30:39 PM EDT

It's nice to see that a wig won't derail Metro some of the Pistons' fans are taking last night's loss well:

Well, it looks like it's been pulled down now, sorry folks. Brief synopsis: Fan in a Billups jersey kicks a Wizards' wig on to the tracks where it's run over by a train. It's not ha-ha funny, but I thought it was cool in a "beating the Pistons makes this cool" kind of funny.

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Open Thread: Regular Season Game 68
By JakeTheSnake
Posted on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 02:40:54 AM EDT

The Essentials:
Pistons (49-19) at Wizards (35-33)
8 p.m.
Verizon Center

This Year:
January 2: Pistons 106, Wizards 93

Notable Pistons numbers this season:
2nd in expected winning percentage (.741)
30th in pace factor (86.6 possessions per game)
6th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating
4th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating

Key Links (drop any others in the comments)
Detroit Bad Boys
Pistons Nation Blog
Full Court Press
Pistons Insider
Wizards cope with losses by their alma maters
TAI recaps the Florida sweep

Starting Lineups:
PG: Chauncey Billups
SG: Rip Hamiltion
SF: Tayshaun Prince
PF: Antonio McDyess
C: Rasheed Wallace

PG: Antonio Daniels
SG: DeShawn Stevenson
SF: Caron Butler
PF: Antawn Jamison
C: Brendan Haywood

Tonight's Lines
Pistons at Wizards: Pistons by 3
Over/Under on Total Scoring: 196

Let's get all the jokes out now: What's up peeps?  I hope you're all having an "eggs"tra special Easter today.  I know most of you are going to ham (Ham?) it up with friends and family today, so I'll try and keep this brief.

Fingers crossed: Ivan sez Gilbert hasn't ruled himself out for tonight's game, but he hasn't said that he has ruled himself in either.  If you read the whole article you get the feeling that it's more likely that Gilbert will make his return during the Western road trip which starts Tuesday, but you never know.  He's a master of the dramatic moment and it's hard to see him not wanting to start his comeback in D.C.

Giving props, Part 1: Truth covered it well in his recap, but I think it's definitely worth a mention.  Here's what a scout had to say about Eddie Jordan's coaching to Ivan Carter:

"He's one of the best in the business at getting his guys to run and execute that system. I mean, they are very good. A lot of teams try to emulate what they do but they can't do it. I think he's doing a great job. They are one of the most organized teams in the league at both ends of the floor."
This blatant homer couldn't agree more with the scout's analysis.  Sure, Eddie can mess up his rotations sometimes, but there's only a handful of coaches in the NBA that could keep this team in the thick of the playoff chase with the injuries they've dealt with this year.  I'm not sure if his performance will get him any Coach of the Year votes, but he should be commended for the job he's done this season.

Giving props, Part 2: Last year we bashed Jarvis a lot around these parts, whether it was his dreadful shooting or his inability to set a pick, but with Detroit, Jarvis has managed to find his niche.  He hasn't had a dramatic turnaround, but his numbers are up just about all across the board and he's been a key cog to one of the best benches in the NBA.

Empty the Bench has a great look at Jarvis' role on the Pistons.

Key to the Game: In going along with talking about how Jarvis' role on the bench, the key to the game is going to be bench play.  You probably remember in the first meeting that Prada noted that the Pistons had a clear advantage in bench play:

When it was our starting five versus their starting five, I think we did fine keeping the game within reach.  It was when both teams went to their benches that this game turned.  Jason Maxiell, as I feared, completely dominated Andray Blatche on the glass, and Roger Mason and Nick Young took turns getting abused by Richard Hamilton
I know bench play has been a cop out key to the game most of the season, but especially against a team like Detroit, bench play is critical.

This is an open thread, so see how many player you can find in this boxscore that went on to become GMs.


Update [2008-3-23 20:17:37 by Pradamaster]: Arenas is out, thanks to a last-minute decision by the Wizards' doctors to not clear him to play. Frankly, I understand his anger. Why couldn't the team doctors have been more communicative with him, so that he would know for sure when he was coming back? Why did they pull the plug on him late in the process?

Frankly, why are we still waiting for his return in the first place? Can't we let him go out there and see how he feels? What's the harm in doing that?

HT: Aldo.

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No Your Links: 3/22/08
By JakeTheSnake
Posted on Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 04:03:33 AM EDT

Here's some links to read up on while you try and figure out what the governor of California is doing in Florida.

  • First things first, let's talk about this whole LeBron vs. DeShawn feud.  First, DeShawn called LeBron overrated, and then LeBron came back by comparing him to Soulja Boy.  Then DeShawn came back with part 3 after the Orlando game:
    "I hope we play Cleveland," Stevenson said. "I'm going to get Soulja Boy courtside seats and have him wear a DeShawn Stevenson jersey. Maybe (James) can have Jay-Z there since LeBron's all on his (shorts) anyway."

     Stevenson wasn't done.
     "And tell LeBron to cut that beard off and stop copying me."

    So this little feud isn't going to end anytime soon.  As the feud continues develop, everyone is throwing their two cents in on the issue:
    • Matt Watson on FanHouse:
      I've always thought LBJ's sycophancy for Jay-Z was a bit embarrassing given his arrogance toward everyone else. And if he actually gets Soulja Boy in his jersey, well, double point DeShawn. The beauty of this feud is that it has to take place in the papers since Stevenson is so far out of LBJ's league talent-wise that no one in their right mind would expect it to be settled on the court.
    • Bethlehem Shoals at the Sporting Blog:
      I really wasn't that enthused about this story, and couldn't quite get why everyone else was. The daring it took to besmirch LeBron? A rough approximation of Arenas talking from his own silly putty throne? The facile pop culture comparison? No, it's far more serious than that. After consulting some scientists, I've determined that this one-sided beef could, in fact, quite possibly bring about the end of the world.
    • Dan Steinberg at DC Sports Bog:
      I went on a podcast this week saying I just don't want to go back to Cleveland for Part III of this playoff rivalry, because it's kind of played-out [Ed. note: Whaaaaaaaaaat?!?], but now I've officially changed my mind. Also, DeShawn Stevenson has officially gone off his rocker. Here are some people you don't repeatedly call out: Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Kimbo Slice, LeBron James. But DeShawn never got that memo.
    Is there a part of me that's afraid that LeBron is going to go nuts and destroy the Wiz if they meet in a playoff series?  Of course there is, but you know I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.  The last match-up had a playoff-like atmosphere and it didn't seem to elevate LeBron's game to some unguardable level.  If DeShawn can play games with LeBron's head and trick him into doing things like giving away his late game plans, I say keep doing it.

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Open thread: Regular season game 67
By Pradamaster
Posted on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 03:39:00 PM EDT

The Essentials:
Wizards (34-33) at Heat (12-55)
7:30 p.m.
American Airlines Arena

This Year:
December 13: Wizards 104, Heat 91
December 30: Wizards 96, Heat 72

Notable Heat numbers this season:
28th in expected winning percentage (.244)
15th in pace factor (89.8 possessions per game)
28th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (103)
26th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (111.7)

Key Links (drop any others in the comments)
Ira Winderman
Crazy From the Heat
Post: Wizards wary of Heat
Wizards blog: Game Day Miami
Advising Gilbert to hire an agent
Awkward O-Pec.

Starting Lineups:
PG: Chris Quinn
SG: Daequan Cook
SF: Ricky Davis
PF: Mark Blount
C: Earl Barron

PG: Antonio Daniels
SG: DeShawn Stevenson
SF: Caron Butler
PF: Antawn Jamison
C: Brendan Haywood

Tonight's Lines
Wizards at Heat: Wizards by 13.5
Over/Under on Total Scoring: 193 points.

Gotta make this quick.

Lingering Magic/Wizards thoughts: In lieu of a recap, here are a couple quick thoughts about the huge Orlando victory.

If anyone wasn't already aware of Brendan Haywood's value to this team, last night sealed his improvement.  It wasn't just his defense on Dwight Howard, but it was also his rebounding.  Yet again, we see the perils of relying on individual rebounds per game.  Haywood had only six defensive boards, but he held Howard to 0 offensive rebounds.  That's pretty unbelievable.  He was getting a body on him while letting other guys like Antawn Jamison (8 defensive rebounds) and Caron Butler (7) grab the actual board.  I'd venture to say Haywood won us that game more than anything.

Of course, Jamison was unbelievable as well on both ends.  Obviously, he was scoring and rebounding, but he teamed with Butler to stop Rashard Lewis (2-13, 7 points).  Orlando's two forwards are so good that if you stop one, the other goes off (as Turkoglu did), but you can survive if only one of them are hurting you.  

And how about Butler, gutting through his wrist injury and putting in the big shot that put the Wizards ahead.  His numbers aren't great, but it never ceases to amaze me how he can take any roll and fill it.  He's the type of guy every good team needs, and I know that's a cliche, but how can you say it isn't true?

Anyway, huge road win against a very good team.

Automatic win: Everyone's saying all the right things, but this should be a blowout.  In Miami's last game, they scored only 54 points in a loss to the Raptors, the second-lowest total ever in the shot clock era.  I don't envy Miami Heat bloggers like Crazy From the Heat.

When you think it can't get any worse, the Miami Heat find another way to reinvent the term `misery'.

There's absolutely no silver lining to draw when a team comes out and gets thoroughly dominated to this extent.

How in the world does a team that won the ultimate prize in the sport only two years ago fall this far into oblivion?

More Gilbert: I strongly encourage everyone to read this thought-provoking Jones on the NBA post advising Gilbert Arenas to hire an agent.  A year ago, I would have been very nervous about this possibility, because usually people only hire agents if they are strongly thinking about switching teams.  But like Jones said, things have changed.  I doubt Ernie Grunfeld would immediately offer Gilbert the max contract like he would have before, and with that, it's important for Gilbert to get smart advice.  I also think that smart advice will have him staying in DC instead of bolting somewhere else, but more importantly, Gilbert needs someone to help him be more careful with his words.  His sprouting off could be more controlled, and an agent could do that.

Anyway, it's a good read.

What do we do if we lose: Jump off a cliff?  Pull a Gus Ferotte?  Hopefully neither.


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We're not saying, we're just saying...
By JakeTheSnake
Posted on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 11:40:07 PM EDT

With tonight's win putting the Wizards one game over .500 at 34-33, would it be rude to bring something like this to everyone's attention?

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The BF NCAA Tournament pool
By Pradamaster
Posted on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 06:40:15 PM EDT

Note: Scroll down for the game thread.

This is just a notice that I created a Bullets Forever March Madness pool on Yahoo.  ID is 166747, password is wizards.

Sign up.  Winner gets a free ticket to the Steinz/Wilbon backyard brawl.  

I'll have a diary for anyone to post tournament-related thoughts (picks, observations, guys you'd love to see on the Wizards next year, etc.) up soon.  It'll run throughout the duration of the month.

Sign up!

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Open thread: Regular season game 67
By Pradamaster
Posted on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 06:21:58 PM EDT

The essentials:
Wizards (33-33) at Magic (45-24)
7 p.m.
Amway Arena
Comcast Sports Net

This year:
November 3: Magic 94, Wizards 82.
March 2: Magic 122, Wizards 92.

Notable Magic numbers this season:
T8th in expected winning percentage (.684), third in the East.
10th in pace factor (92 possessions per game), second in the East.
3rd in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (113.8), first in the East.
11th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (107.8), fifth in the East.

Key links
Third Quarter Collapse.
Believing in Magic.
Truth's game preview.
Magic BasketBlog writer Brian Schmitz tears into Billy Donovan.  Wow, vicious stuff.
Corey Maggette in Orlando?
3QC game preview.
Third Quarter Collapse blog preview.
Believing in Magic blog preview.
Competition discussion: Orlando

Starting lineups:
PG: Jameer Nelson.
SG: Maurice Evans
SF: Hedo Turkoglu.
PF: Rashard Lewis.
C: Dwight Howard.

PG: Antonio Daniels
SG: DeShawn Stevenson
SF: Caron Butler
PF: Antawn Jamison
C: Brendan Haywood

Tonight's lines:
Magic at Wizards: Magic by 7
Over/Under on total scoring: 212 points.

Sans Gilbert Arenas, the Wizards march into Orlando, for a date with the formidable Orlando Magic.

He's not the only injured one: It's stuff like this that makes me wonder whether this franchise is snakebitten.  One game after returning from a hip injury, Caron Butler hurt his wrist, and while he will play through it, it clearly affected him against Atlanta, when he shot 4 for 13 and only grabbed three defensive boards.  Antonio Daniels is also nursing a left wrist problem, which also manifested itself Monday in a 27-minute, 8 point, 3 assist, -15 performance.  I assume both will play through the pain, and I'm confident Butler will recover like he did in 2006, but it sure would be nice if we had a healthy crew more often.

That said, I found AD's comments really interesting.  It almost seemed like he was taking a shot at a certain injured someone (emphasis mine).

"It is what it is," Daniels said. "If you can play, you go out and play. You do what you have to do to help the team win basketball games."

One can only hope he was, in fact, talking to Gilbert.

The missing kid: Once again, we're seeing a disturbing trend emerge with Eddie Jordan and his handling of Andray Blatche.  

Look, I know Blatche is not playing all that well right now.  After averaging 10.6 points and 7.5 rebounds on 48 percent shooting in about 29 minutes a game in February, he's down to just 6.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 39 percent shooting in 19 minutes a game in eight games this month.  Fine.  But for him to get just five minutes against an Atlanta team he dominated in a key win earlier in the year is just absurd.  I know there's more to a player than what he does in a game, but with so many guys banged up, Blatche needs a chance to show his skills.  The young bench, of which Blatche has been a big part, has made great strides since earlier in the year, so it must be used.

On Gilbert, again: I figured this post would generate more discussion, but since it didn't, thoughts related to Gilbert's potential return and impending free agency can go here too.

Let's not mince words, they're a contender: The Magic officially scare me.

They've won eight of their last nine, all in blowout fashion.  Sure, none of those wins were against a good team (except Cleveland), but they have been blowouts, which is how good teams are separated from mediocre teams.  They've improved their defense, surrendering over 100 points only three times during the stretch.  That officially makes them tough, because offensively, they're easily the best team in the Eastern Conference, and as the best shooting team, they can burn you no matter how well you guard them.  

I'd rather face Cleveland at this point, to be honest.  Cleveland has the playoff experience, but they're still getting acquainted to each other, and they haven't been the same defensively all year.  Toronto is fading, so the 5 spot is in reach.  We just have to find a way to win the games we should win.

This is an open game thread, so reflect on the nondescript career of former Magic and Bullet Scott Skiles.  Did you know he never made it out of the first round of the playoffs as a player?  Damn.


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Just play already
By Pradamaster
Posted on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 02:48:06 AM EDT

Before we get into the obvious subject of the post, I realize one could substitute the word "play" for "blog" and apply it to me.  I disappeared on Thursday because I was traveling to report on Brandeis' D-III NCAA Tournament run for our student newspaper, for which I edit the sports section (all my bylines are here).  Brandeis' run ended last Saturday in Plattsburgh, New York with a 65-55 loss to Amherst in the Elite 8, but it was still an unbelievable season, because the team lost their star player to a seemingly minor injury that got worse (sound familiar) and still managed to advance further in the tournament than any other Brandeis squad.    

I probably should have told you I was gone, but truthfully, this place is just as good, if not better, with Jake and Truth doing all the posting.  So I left it be, did my reporting, and now can devote the type of time to BF that you all deserve.  

Ok, to the issue at hand, and that is the wavering Gilbert Arenas.

He originally targeted March 3 for a return date, but in typical Wizards fashion, that return was delayed.  Last Saturday (that's March 15), Gilbert said he was getting an MRI, and announced he could have played in tomorrow's game against the Magic (that's March 19).  He then had the MRI Monday (that's March 17), but didn't go through a full practice, instead insisting he was told to "ramp it up" in practice and play more of what he deemed an "assists game."  Now, according to Mike Jones (who!), Gilbert won't play tomorrow because practice was cancelled.

Gilbert, who as you know plans to opt out at the end of this season, said he still wants to come back and play this season, but is wrestling with himself over whether its worth it.

"That's what I keep trying to run through in my mind," he said. "If we weren't in the playoffs, it wouldn't even be a discussion. But we have a chance of being pretty good in the playoffs, so it's tough."

Of course, with Gilbert out, what better time to speculate as to his destination this summer, as Sam Amico of Pro Basketball News did Monday.

A high-ranking Western Conference executive with knowledge of the situation has told Pro Basketball News that both the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers plan to "strongly pursue" Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas this summer.

Well jeez, why not throw in a few more qualifiers?  This quote by fellow SB Nation comrade Steve from Clips Nation definitely applies.

So whom could it be?  He has intimate knowledge of both the Lakers AND the Clippers off-season plans!  If it were a Clippers' executive, why would he know what the Lakers were planning?  If he works for the Lakers, how would he know about the Clippers?  Furthermore, if he worked for either one of them, would it really be in his interest to leak their plans?  So maybe he works for a third team.  But if that were the case, why would he know about either of them?

Then, of course, there's the killer statement of the Amico article that is probably getting everyone all concerned.  

While the Wizards would be able to sign him to a longer deal than any other team (seven years compared to five),  the source told PBN they may be hesitant to offer him the maximum contract--mostly because they've managed to stay in the playoff race without him.

"They value (Caron) Butler and Antawn Jamison at least as much, probably more at this point," the source said. "They want to build the team around them."

The source added, "That doesn't mean the Wizards will let Arenas walk for nothing. But if the Lakers and Clippers push for him as much as expected, it's likely to result in a sign-and-trade."

Wait, so he has an intimate knowledge of the Wizards too?  And since when is simply "staying in" the playoff race a reason to ditch Gilbert?  I don't think I need to say anymore, because Ivan covered it already, but this just strikes me as the first of several strange Arenas rumors to come.

But let's get back on point.  Separating all the rhetoric, Arenas' story seems pretty simple.  He just needs to go through a full practice, like Caron Butler did, and then he can play.  That right, Eddie?

"There is no timetable for Gilbert. He's showing improvement, we're going to pick up his workouts a little bit more. A little bit more intense and then we're going to take a reading of his reaction after each workout and see how that goes but, we like the fact that he's improving remarkably well."

So now, I guess we're back at square one, except with Gilbert, square one could lead to several different square twos, depending on what is going through his head at the time.  One minute, he'll assure Ivan Carter that he loves the game too much to not play, but a few hours later, when Mike Jones calls, Gilbert will open the question again.

"That's what I keep trying to run through in my mind," he said. "If we weren't in the playoffs, it wouldn't even be a discussion. But we have a chance of being pretty good in the playoffs, so it's tough."

So basically, I and most others probably don't know how to respond.  One approach would be to do what Gilbertology did and use a good news/bad news paradigm.  Another would be to take a stand, which I suppose I'll do right now.

If it were up to me, I'd have Gilbert go through one practice and then have him play, no matter the opponent.  He's scared about the injury, sure, but you can't play basketball scared, and somewhere in the back of his head, Gilbert knows this.  The only way to conquer that feat is to play.  Plus, what's the long-term risk, really?  Worse-case scenario, Gilbert re aggravates it, misses the rest of the season like he would have had he sat out, and is better with his rehab this summer.  Best-case scenario, he comes back, feels much better, returns to his Agent Zero ways, and leads the Wizards in an upset playoff victory.  The reality is probably somewhere in-between, but you have to think the best-case scenario stamps his financial future, and the worst-case scenario might do so anyway.  

This is the thing we always have to remember with Gilbert.  His transparency and little-kid sense of bravado have always been his two most endearing qualities, but it's times like these where it would be nice for him to just suck it up and make a decision.  We can't tell Gilbert not to be sensitive and worrying about his own career, because that same sense of insecurity has made him into the player he has become, but that sensitivity can be channeled more effectively so it only comes into play on the basketball court.

And what better way to eliminate his lingering mental fears than to give him a basketball, put him in a key game situation, and let Agent Zero take over.

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At least Zaza didn't go off for 27
By JakeTheSnake
Posted on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:32:52 PM EDT

Box Score
Game Flow
Post Recap
Times Recap
Live Blog (look down)
Did someone say Player of the Week?
TAI Game Preview
Les Bullez Recap
Update on Gilbert's MRI, with color-coding!

Highest Plus/Minus: Nick Young (+1)
Lowest Plus/Minus: Antonio Daniels (-15)

I think Ivan summed up my general feelings about the game better than I could have:

LeBron James's missed three-point attempt allowed the Washington Wizards to escape with a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, and clutch plays by all-star Antawn Jamison helped pull out an overtime win Saturday over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Last night, the Wizards asked too much of their basketball fortunes and the result was a 105-96 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks. The Wizards can blame only themselves: They came out flat, played shoddy defense most of the night and spotted the Hawks a 10-point fourth-quarter lead before trying to make a run.

If we were, say the Washington Huskies instead of the Washington Wizards, the effort put forth the last few games would have us all talking about how the team was floundering down the stretch and would be the most likely candidate (besides Notre Dame) to fall victim to the 5 vs. 12 matchup in the tourney this week.  Luckily this is the NBA so we don't have to fear losing to Southwestern Rhode Island Tech St. on Thursday, but if the Wizards want to avoid dropping to 7th or 8th in the conference, there are some things that need to change in a hurry.

1. A sense of urgency: I try not to be one of those guys that uses all the cliché buzzwords (since I'm bad at using them) when describing a team's performance, but the Wizards have just been playing entirely too casual the last few games.  Sometimes when you add someone like Caron back into the lineup, it lulls you into a false sense of security because the margin of error isn't as narrow as it had been before.  Normally a loss like this is the swift kick to the nuts that serves as the wake up call, so let's hope that's the case here.

2. A healthy wrist:  Sure, Caron's been putting up near triple-doubles since he came back, but if Caron's shot isn't falling, it just doesn't work the same.  Spence had a good take on Caron's play since his return:

Washington simply isn't good enough to beat many teams unless Butler is scoring 20 points per game. Caron is still doing other things, like rebounding and passing. Indeed, he has come close to a triple-double in both of the last two games. Unfortunately, that's not enough. Washington needs Caron to score more if they are going to beat any halfway decent team.

3. Get off of the milk carton: Has anyone seen Andray Blatche recently?  Just take a look at his split stats by month, almost every statistical category is way down this month.  It hasn't been a major problem so far because Darius Songaila has been playing reasonably well, but I'm not anticipating that to keep up forever.  Andray might be young, he might be soft, and he might not have the best taste in women that we've ever seen, but he still fills an important role on the team and we'll need his shot-blocking and rebounding more and more as we get closer to the playoffs.

Last night's loss should be the bottom of the valley for this little slump, but with Orlando coming up tomorrow they'll need to get back to the peak in a hurry.

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Game 66 Blog: Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks
By truthaboutit
Posted on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 11:15:17 AM EDT

flickr photo from ucumari

If you want to try your hand at interpreting Gil's comments as everyone else is obliged to, then go ahead. Arenas' injury status should probably be a post of it's own. I just hope Gilbert's very vocal concern doesn't affect the mental confidence he needs to get reacquainted with his knee and his game.

That is that, let's start the show......

Quarter One

11:39 | Textbook ball movement for the Hawks on the very first play gets Bibby an open jumper. What is wrong with that dude? He's just a funny cat….talks like Kermit the Frog, never will be an all-star, has some tats. Now he's got some brownish/blondish pubes on his chin.

11:06 | Bibby then shoots an airball.

9:30 | Only Wizards points so far are from a cut down the middle by Jamison (assist by Butler). Other than that, a couple turnovers, then Caron misses a long jumper 10 seconds into shot clock. Frustrating…why can't they try to go inside with that much time left? 4-2 Hawks

8:15 | Brendan Todd Haywood misses 2 FTs, Caron misses a put-back layup and then BTH gets a tip in off of that….should've been an offensive goaltending call against the Wiz. I hope this isn't a sign of things to come. 8-6 Hawks.

6:43 | Butler is going hard now…drawing attention….dropping dimes, initiating ball movement, and driving to the basket to earn 2 FTs which make it 13-10 Hawks.

5:40 | Brendan Haywood does his best Patrick Ewing impression and then some…not going the width of the lane, rather elbow to opposite block for the hoop. B. Todd was determined to get Al Horford back for making a strong baseline move a minute ago. 15-12 Hawks.

3:26 | The Hawks are actually moving the ball very well. Everyone talks about how great Joe Johnson has been playing lately, and they are right to do so. Look at the March numbers for J-Square: 25.9 PPG, 6.7 AST, 4.7 REB, 48.3 FG%. Josh Smith is also pulling 2 rebounds more per game in March than his 2008 average. 22-16 Hawks lead after a Josh Smith dunk.

The problem: Most of the Hawks ball movement is getting them good looks down low, and not from mid-range or long distance.

Josh Childress still looks like a light-skinned Pookie.

I was a big Acie Law fan when he was at Texas A&M. I knew he wasn't that tall (6'3") but he looks very smallish on an NBA court. I guess the 195 lbs. they list him at is soaking wet.

0:00 | To end the quarter, Nick Young cherry picks after his own turnover and is in position to hit a reverse lay-up right before the buzzer….when not getting back is a good thing. 29-24 Hawks after 1.

Josh Smith cleaned up with 10 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals. Both teams shot a high percentage (58.8 for the Wiz to 52.4 for the Hawks) but DC had 5 turnovers with just one coming from the ATL.

Quarter Two

8:50 | Struggling at the start of the second, the Wiz get a couple threes from Roger Mason and Antawn Jamison to cut into the Hawks lead, 36-32.

8:07 | Mason again….with a loooong two that should've been an And1. Down the court, Mason plays tough D on Acie Law forcing a turnover. Nick Young hustled to get the loose ball and Brendan Haywood ran the court to get the dunk. What a absolutely great team play from an odd mix of Wizards. 38-36 Hawks, Timeout Atlanta.

6:45 | Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby play an inside-outside game with each other. Nick Young, being unable to handle J-Square in the post, caused his teammates to focus too much of their effort inside. The Wizards just let the two Hawks work them until Bibby hit an open 3.

Steve Buckhantz says that Gilbert Arenas said that if doctors weren't at the Verizon Center for Cleveland game last Thursday, he would've played. Really? Hard to believe Eddie Jordan would've gone along with that.

5:22 | Haywood ties the game at 41. He's 5-5 with 3 rebounds, 3 assists and a block…showing no ill effects of the knee. I'm thinking that Eddie and Ernie just gave him the night off on Saturday…maybe a FT% reward?

The Wizards are able to scrap back into the game with their veteran savvy, but were unable to convert a chance to take the lead with the ball and the last shot.

Half Time

  • Score: Atlanta 54 - Washington 53
  • Both teams still shooting over 50% FG (WAS: 50, ATL: 58)
  • No turnovers for Washington in 2nd quarter, 3 for Atlanta.
  • Wizards have 2 more offensive rebounds and 2 more assists in the game than the Hawks.
  • Haywood shined with 14 points, 7 rebounds
  • Mason chipped in with 12 off the bench
  • Bibby followed up Josh Smith's 14 point effort with 12 points.

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