Tonight’s game will be an emotional one for head coach Flip Saunders, as he coaches tonight for the first time since the death of his mother Kay, 90, who passed away early Friday morning.
“You get back to your team and with guys you’re familiar with; you’ve been through a lot so it’s a way to maybe escape a little bit if you can. This is something she’d want me to do, come back and coach, and I’ll leave tomorrow and take care of things,” Saunders said.
Saunders’ mother’s funeral and wake will be in Cleveland on Sunday. The team will play Sunday in Detroit. Saunders said he’s received about 200 messages from friends offering their condolences.
Tonight, Saunders faces his former team, the Minnesota Timberwolves (15-48), and his roster will be a bit shorthanded.
The Wizards (15-45) will start an all rookie backcourt with Jordan Crawford and John Wall. Nick Young is out of tonight’s contest with the flu, and Josh Howard will be sidelined as well due to a hamstring injury.
“We’re going to start Jordan [Crawford] tonight, so he’s going to have a good opportunity, and a lot of our young guys are going to get opportunities to play, so I’m excited about seeing what those guys can do,” said Saunders said. Rashard Lewis is also in the starting lineup.
High on the to-do list will be to try and keep all-star Kevin Love from posting yet another double-double. Love has 49 double-doubles this season, including 10 games with 20 points and 20 rebounds.
“I was thinking someone could roll into his knee, maybe knock him out,” Saunders joked.