Three days and two practices removed from their most recent defeat - a 20-point drubbing at the hands of the Miami Heat - a twinge of bitterness remained Monday for the Washington Wizards as they eagerly look for redemption.
They'll get that chance Tuesday night at Verizon Center against none other than the Heat, further stoking the sense of urgency that surrounds the club amid its 1-6 start.
"That was embarrassing, and the way we lost was kind of hard for everybody," second-year guard Nick Young said Monday. "So everybody's a little more motivated."
A win could kick-start a strenuous week, which features four games in five days. After four days between their last outing and Tuesday's game, the Wizards welcome the chance to string together some wins and develop rhythm - while putting an embarrassing loss behind them.
In Miami last Friday, the Wizards were outrebounded 52-33, shot just 40.8 percent and gave up easy drives to the basket. The Wizards also committed 13 turnovers and had only 12 assists. Washington had no answer for Dwyane Wade, allowing him to score 24 points on 8-for-10 shooting. Wade did most of his damage in the third quarter, scoring 12 points and leading a 20-3 run that blew the game wide open.
While all of the above statistics were disturbing for coach Eddie Jordan, the key area where he expects to see change is effort on the defensive end.
"We hope that we'll see, from our standpoint, a more spirited group, a group that's going to take care of the responsibilities they're supposed to take care of: defending the rim, protecting the paint and being unselfish offensively," Jordan said.
Jordan highlighted rebounding as the area requiring the highest priority, impressing upon his guards to get into the mix rather than letting the post players go after errant shots. Judging by the tempo of the past two practices, the Wizards said they feel more focused and energized as they prepare for a rematch with the Heat.
"We have to be patient on certain things, but one thing we can't be patient on is effort and determination," forward Antawn Jamison said. "The coaches and myself kind of got into guys, and we all realize the importance of trying to get this thing on the right foot sooner than later.
"It was good to reflect and pretty much get away from basketball on Saturday and then come in and get refreshed and refocused the last couple of days and get re-energized to turn this thing around and start doing some positive things out there."
In addition to Wade, the Wizards must be wary of his sidekicks, Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley. Marion crashed the boards in Friday's meeting, racking up 12 rebounds to go with 12 points and two blocks; Beasley had 19 points and six rebounds. The rookie from Frederick, Md., has had no problem scoring in the NBA after dominating the collegiate ranks with Kansas State.
"He's real crafty. That's one thing I like about him," said Jamison, who matched up with Beasley at times Friday. "He's a lefty, but he's a different type of lefty in that he can use both hands. I didn't know his first step was that quick and it's really kind of deceiving, but he plays with a lot of confidence. There's not too many rookies that play with that type of confidence and that type of swagger.
"That's going to be a key matchup [Tuesday]. He's coming back home, and you know he's going to want to play well in front of family and friends."
Note - Hobbled point guard Antonio Daniels again missed practice with a sore right knee and appears unlikely to play Tuesday. The 33-year old was inactive Friday in Miami.
'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
First over-the-counter column approved for fast and effective relief from even your worst media-induced headache.
Opinion, analysis, and musings on politics, pop culture, reinvention, and the resultant flotsam and jetsam floating around the right-of-center quadrant of the Left Coast.
Consummate traveler Todd DeFeo explores the unique stories that make destinations worth going to.
We welcome you to the intimate and personal thoughts on the news and events we, as editors, watch, read, and discuss with our writers every day.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall