- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2000

While the country searches for its next leader today, Washington Wizards coach Leonard Hamilton is on a manhunt of a different nature.
The nation's quest should be completed sometime this evening, but Hamilton's will last a bit longer. He's looking for someone on his bench other than Richard Hamilton to contribute on a regular basis. Right now that isn't happening.
Washington's bench has been outscored in two of its three losses, the lone exception against the Knicks. However, the Knicks used just three players off their bench in that game, in which the Wizards' bench outscored them 17-12. In Washington's only victory, the Wizards' bench went crazy. Hamilton outscored the Charlotte Hornets' bench by himself 23-21, and Washington's bench finished with 36 points.
But that hasn't been typical. The Wizards are not getting the production from their bench that Leonard Hamilton says they must have each night for even an outside chance of reaching the playoffs.
"We need everybody to contribute," Hamilton said. "Sure, I would love to say we can bring this guy in and maybe he can carry us. We all have to be accountable to carry our load. If one guy's not hitting, somebody else has to fight through the screen. Somebody has to give us energy. That's why I've said all along that we have to be a team that wins by committee. All the committee members have to be present. That's just the way it is."
When Hamilton took over the Wizards in the summer, he said he was going to take some of the burden of carrying the Wizards off of the shoulders of Mitch Richmond, Juwan Howard and Rod Strickland. Hamilton seems to have realized these three are not the cure for what ails the Wizards, and he understands that this team at least this season only can hope for marginal success unless everybody overachieves.
Maybe that's why Hamilton shrugs when he is reminded that last season the Wizards tended to beat teams like the Lakers and the Spurs and then lose to teams like tonight's opponent, the Chicago Bulls. After tonight the Wizards return home to face what appears to be a bad New Jersey team.
Hamilton says the Wizards can't take the approach that they are good enough to just show up and win.
"We have to get away from concerning ourselves with the names on the jersey," Hamilton said. "We have to concern ourselves with the Wizards and making sure that we are consistent in our approach. As difficult as it is to maintain our emotions for each game, we have to find a way to do that. We can't be any more emotional for the New York Knicks than we are for the Chicago Bulls. Goodness gracious. We don't have the luxury of taking anybody lightly."
Beyond Richard Hamilton, one player off the bench the coach expects to pick up the load is Gerard King. Before the loss to Toronto on Saturday, Hamilton said he was going to make sure the versatile, 6-foot-9, 250-pound King got on the floor. King played 34 minutes in reserve, most of them at small forward, contributed 14 points and blocked a pair of shots. King can play all three frontcourt positions, which he did last year in 23 starts. And with center/forward Popeye Jones out at least six weeks with a broken finger, King will see his minutes increase.
It helps that King knows exactly what Hamilton wants from him when he's on the court.
"I'm not going to go out there and try to do things that I can't do," King said. "I'm gonna make open shots, get rebounds. I'm not going to try to create because that's not one of my strengths. Whatever they ask of me I'll do."
King did these things as a member of the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs in 1999. That year he was mostly a practice body, but he knew his role well. He appears to know it here, too.
"People have to respect what their roles are," King said. "Otherwise it won't work."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide