- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 4, 2008

When the Washington Wizards returned to practice two days after slipping to 0-2, coach Eddie Jordan’s message was simple. Stay focused on improving defensively.

Despite falling to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday - and giving up 117 points in the process - the Wizards improved on their season-opening loss to New Jersey. After falling into an early hole, they went to a smaller lineup and, at the same time, grew stronger on defense. Detroit committed 18 turnovers; the Wizards, who had seven steals, cashed them in for 23 points.

The downside: Going small led to the Pistons finishing with a 49-24 rebounding edge. Avoiding a repeat of that, Jordan said Monday, will require greater effort and a focus on disrupting the opposition.

“We want to continue the philosophy of being disruptive defensively - pressure, traps, rotations, different sort of zone defenses, stuff like that,” he said. “The message we sent [Monday] was that we’re going to be in rotations and sometimes it’s going to be small boxing out a big or a big being aware of a small on the perimeter. So we have to rebound.”

Too small altogether?

Another problem: Detroit outscored the Wizards 17-6 in fast-break points. Poor rebounding was partially to blame, as was not being able to use speedy backup guard Dee Brown.

The Wizards acquired Brown this summer, hoping to use his quickness to push the ball up the floor quickly. But when Jordan went to his bench for a spark, he turned to Juan Dixon and Nick Young. Brown didn’t play at all.

Jordan said the factors against the 6-foot Brown included his size disadvantage against Chauncey Billups (6-3) and Richard Hamilton (6-7). Also, another undersized guard already was on the floor - Dixon (6-3) scored nine points on 4-for-5 shooting.

“Some guards you have to play against - they exploit you when you go smaller,” Jordan said. “It’s going to be hard for us to put Juan and Dee on the floor [at the same time]. We might try it, and it might be great for us. But we had [Hamilton], who can shoot over just about anybody, and Chauncey, who can post up just about anybody, so I didn’t want to put those two on the floor together. Since Juan was going pretty good, the rhythm we needed was with Juan.”

Pecherov stays positive

Second-year forward Oleksiy Pecherov has been inactive for the Wizards’ first two games. League rules allow a team to dress only 12 players; in both games, Jordan and his staff deemed Pecherov the odd man out.

Jordan said he has yet to decide whether he will play Pecherov - who, after being slowed by an ankle injury during the summer, had a decent preseason, averaging 6.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 16.1 minutes - against Milwaukee on Wednesday. But Pecherov’s chances could be improving.

“It’s agonizing to tell a guy he’s not going to play tonight,” Jordan said. “It’s always a heck of a decision. We like his size and his ability to make shots, and we like his rebounding. And I don’t like to leave a guy on the [inactive] list that long, so he could be ready to play Wednesday.”

Despite his inactivity, Pecherov is upbeat.

“It’s hard for everybody who’s sitting on the bench and watching your guys playing, and you want to go out there and help and play also,” he said. “It’s hard, but you’ve got to deal with it and continue to prove to Coach you can play and deserve a spot.”

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