- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 16, 2008

MIAMI | As the Washington Wizards limped away from another blowout loss to an Eastern Conference rival, captain Antawn Jamison didn’t mince words.

The Wizards’ 97-77 loss to the Miami Heat on Friday night didn’t come as a result of the team having a poor game plan, the veteran forward said. The Wizards (1-6) knew exactly what they needed to do, Jamison said, and they were perfectly capable of executing.

It wasn’t because they remain short-handed, Jamison said, as guard Gilbert Arenas, center Brendan Haywood and point guard Antonio Daniels remain sidelined. True, those veterans would significantly lighten the load, but Jamison was adamant that the Wizards should have been able to put themselves in position to win with the 12 players who did suit up.

“Nothing is missing; guys have just got to take pride in what they’re doing,” Jamison fumed. “I can take guys playing hard for 48 minutes and the other team finding a way to get it done, but we’ve got to have some pride. To let them play as physical as they did and outrebound us the way they did … that’s not what this team is all about.

“So, nothing is missing - guys just aren’t doing it. Nothing is missing at all - and that comes not from the coaches, not from the front office. I have to get these guys to play night in and night out.”

The Wizards had hoped to carry the momentum they built in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s win against Utah into Friday’s game. Instead, they came out flat and trailed by 13 points at halftime. But a poor shooting night - the Wizards shot 41 percent - wasn’t the issue for Jamison. Once again, a lack of energy and effort from the Wizards’ young bench players was what vexed Jamison the most.

Like in a Nov. 8 blowout loss at Orlando, the Wizards didn’t get a boost from their reserves, who have done a good job supplying a spark in other games. Both drubbings came on the road; Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said he expects his young players to be more erratic on the road.

But Jamison said he is tired of youth being an excuse.

“This is the same locker room as last year when we had certain guys injured, and the same guys with a year under their belts should improve and contribute more to the team,” Jamison said. “We’re going over what we need to do in the morning, and then we get out there on the court and we don’t do it.”

No team is immune to poor shooting nights, but the Wizards could have compensated for that by increasing their defensive intensity, focusing on cutting off drives to the basket and contesting shots at the rim.

“It was tough for anybody tonight shootingwise. But even if we have those nights, we have to play defense and give ourselves a chance to win the game,” guard DeShawn Stevenson said.

The Wizards had Saturday off, but they are slated to return to practice Sunday and hope to redeem themselves Tuesday when Miami visits Verizon Center. Jamison is hopeful that the effort will improve dramatically the next time around.

“I just want to see guys play with a sense of urgency and a sense of pride,” he said. “This is a veteran team; certain guys come in and you expect the level of play not to change, and it does. I expect all 12 guys to play at a high level.

“I have to find a way to get it done - get these guys onboard and find a way to get it done and get this thing turned around quickly.”