- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 12, 2006

Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan took notice when Utah coach Jerry Sloan told forward Andrei Kirilenko he didn’t like his shot selection. And when Larry Brown told Stephon Marbury he needed to pass the basketball more, well, Jordan noticed that, too.

“You see a lot of good coaches just coaching their players, making changes and trying to help their teams win,” Jordan said. “I see Larry Brown sitting guys down. Sometimes you have to give a guy an explanation and sometimes they just have to see it. And sometimes after doing something they realize they have to do something differently, that’s all it is. I admire those coaches and I want to be a good coach.”

Jordan essentially was attempting to put to rest the controversy that erupted in the locker room of the Wizards (14-19) after their 31-point rout of Atlanta on Wednesday.

After that game, in which Jordan benched both All-Star Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood, Haywood voiced his displeasure with the way the whole situation was handled.

Jamison received a phone call from Jordan following Tuesday’s practice informing him that the coach was going to start Michael Ruffin in his place. Haywood didn’t receive a phone call and found out during a pre-game meeting that he was going to come off the bench for the first time this season, spelling new starter Calvin Booth.

Haywood had harsh words for Jordan’s handling of the whole process following Wednesday’s game, and yesterday he didn’t appear to have softened his stance very much.

“Last night I said I’ll be ready to help this team anyway I possibly can,” Haywood said. “But I’m not happy about the situation. I’m not going back on that statement. That’s what I said, and that’s it.”

Happy or not with the move, the bottom line is this: With the new lineup, the Wizards posted their second-largest margin of victory of the season.

While Jamison entered the game in the first half and played almost 29 minutes, Haywood, who finished with 10 points — his first double-figure scoring game in the last nine — and six rebounds, didn’t enter the game against the lowly Hawks (9-24) until the second half.

Jordan did not say how long he would stay with Wednesday’s starting lineup.

“We’re still looking at it for a starting lineup for [tonight],” he said. “It could change. It will be a game-time decision. It’s a work in progress.”

The Wizards were facing the worst team in the league, so if Jordan was ever going to tinker with the lineup, Wednesday was the night. He’ll get a better understanding of that group’s abilities — Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Jared Jeffries are the three other starters — tonight at much tougher Indiana (19-14), which smoked the Wizards 111-87 on Dec.8 in Indianapolis.

But the most important thing, according to all sides, is that the change did produce an easy victory for the Wizards. In recent games against teams like Utah and Houston, the Wizards have fallen hopelessly behind and then tried to overcome a huge lead.

Not so Wednesday.

“We started off the game with a defensive mind-set and we got out to a lead early,” said Arenas, who scored a season-low nine points. “We weren’t fighting back. We got out 19-9 and we didn’t look back from there.”

Note — Reserve guard Chucky Atkins might miss tonight’s game. He has missed the team’s last two games while spending time in Orlando, Fla., with his family. His wife, Monica, recently gave birth to the couple’s third child, Joel.

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