Friday, January 25, 2008

Wiz Look to Remedy Blues Against Memphis

The Wizards took a shot in the mouth Wednesday night in Cleveland, plain and simple. They got outplayed from the opening tip and were never able to make it much of a game at all. The 121-85 blowout was Washington's worst loss of the season by far in a game in which the Wizards had hoped to make a statement to their Eastern Conference rivals.
The Cavs played a game for the ages, and while Washington struggled, the Wizards likely didn't have a shot in this one anyway with the way the shots were falling for the home team. Seriously, when
Zydrunas Ilgauskas goes 10-for-10 from the floor for 24 points (and he didn't even play for the entire fourth quarter!!!), what can you do? Add to that the fact that the Cavs had 39 assists to just five turnovers, and you've got a recipe for a drubbing.
LeBron James
had 23 and Drew "My Beard Is Much Longer than DeShawn's" Gooden added 18 for Cleveland which shot 56 percent from the floor and outrebounded Washington by a whopping margin of 24 (53-29).
Meanwhile, the Wiz shot just 39 percent from the field and
Brendan Haywood was their leading scorer with 11 points...which is not a good thing. Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Roger Mason each had 10, but after trailing 52-46 at the half, the Wiz were run out of the arena in the third quarter. The Cavs stormed out of the half and put up 43 in the period to put the game well out of reach.
All in all it was a terrible loss for a Wizards team that came into the night as one of the hottest in the NBA, having won 7-of-9 with biggies over Boston (twice) and Dallas.They left the Q with their tails between their legs and now have to figure out how to regain their composure for tonight's match up with Memphis.


  • "It was a major league butt whipping. We ought to be completely embarrassed." -- Antonio Daniels on the loss.
Next Up
The Wizards welcome the Memphis Grizzlies to the Phone Booth tonight, looking to erase the memory of Wednesday's loss and get back to their winning ways. The Grizz (12-30) have lost 3-of-5, including 112-85 blowout to Orlando on Wednesday. Second-year sensation Rudy Gay leads the team in scoring with 19.6 points per game and the big Spaniard Pau Gasol isn't far behind at 19.1 and 8.9 rebounds. Washington will need to clamp back down on the defensive end and do a much better job on the board to beat a Memphis team that has more talent than its record indicates. With rookie Mike Conley running the point and Mike Miller and 2002 Wizard draft pick Juan Carlos Navarro both averaging double figures from the perimeter, the Grizzlies can hang with Washington if they shoot the ball well from the outside.

Key Match Up
  • DeShawn Stevenson v. Mike Conley, Jr. - The Wizards allowed Cleveland's backcourt to carve up their defense all night on Wednesday, leading to an insane 39 assists. The Locksmith needs to live up to his billing in this one by shutting down Memphis at their point of attack. Conley averages five assists to 1.6 turnovers per contest, but look for DeShawn to hound him on the perimeter and try to prevent penetration to free up their shooters on the outside. The Wizards also need a better night from Stevenson on the offensive end. When he scores in double figures, they have fared quite well this season. Before his seven-point stinker against the Cavs, Stevenson had reached double-figures in six-of-eight, including 18 against the Mavs on Monday.
Washington needs to bounce back with a strong showing at home to get their confidence up before a tough stretch that features dates at Toronto, and home against Utah and the surging Lakers. Now is the time for the veterans on this team to get the young guys focused and put the Cleveland game behind them. I'm expecting big nights from Tough Juice and Antawn and a tenacious defensive effort from everyone who takes the floor. Here's hoping Navarro doesn't go off for one of those, "this is why you should be sorry for dealing me away" kind of games. The Wizards get it done, 97-85.

All photos AP/Getty

-- The Tar Heel

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