The Washington Wizards returned to work Thursday morning after a disjointed, 95-85 season-opening loss to the New Jersey Nets. As he addressed his players, coach Eddie Jordan reminded them of three areas that ultimately led to the defeat.
The 37 percent shooting performance, lack of flow on the offensive end and weak defensive execution down the stretch were a result of a lack of harmony, effort and trust, Jordan said. To bring to light the remedy for Wednesday night’s ills, Jordan brought back a memory from training camp.
“I reminded the team about what [former Celtics great and training camp guest coach] K.C. Jones taught us in training camp, which was very profound to me. When they won championships in college and with the Celtics, they had team harmony,” Jordan said. “Harmony - meaning they accepted roles, they knew how to communicate, they had positive energy and it wasn’t about ‘I want the best shooters to score, to shoot.’
“If I’m a defender first, I’ve got to get into my man, concentrate on defense. If I’ve got to run the floor just to clear out space, that’s what I have to do just to create harmony, to establish harmony and to retain harmony. I thought that’s what was missing last night.”
Jordan said improving individual effort is contagious and ultimately leads to improved play. If the Wizards can revert to the form they displayed in training camp, he said, they will bounce back in time for Saturday’s game at Detroit.
“I think there were some cases of not trusting what we’ve done for a month,” Jordan mused. “Not trusting the defensive spacing, not trusting the principles, not trusting the offensive rhythm. So there was a lot of non-trust there - well, not a lot, but more than we would have liked. Even a little non-trust can hurt you.”
Jordan did draw positives from the game, citing six double-digit scorers and strong effort from his post players. The Wizards entered the opener with uncertainty at center because last year’s starter, Brendan Haywood, is out up to six months while recovering from wrist surgery.
But the Wizards received a strong performance from the center-by-committee approach used Wednesday. The combination of Etan Thomas (10 points, eight rebounds, one blocked shot), Andray Blatche (13 points, six rebounds, one block), JaVale McGee and Darius Songaila produced 23 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks.
“Etan is tough - he’s gonna get rebounds for us every night and blocks - [and] I’m going to do the same,” Blatche said. “So we know, with Brendan out, it’s up to us and we’ve got to get it done.”
After an inconsistent preseason, Blatche played well enough that Jordan stuck with him late in the game, hoping his playmaking ability would give the Wizards a boost. Although Jordan’s decision gave him confidence, Blatche said, he knows he can improve.
“I’m encouraged. It was a good game for us - the rims just got tight in the end,” he said. “But I’m going to blame some of it on me. I had five turnovers, and I can’t afford to have five turnovers off the bench. But we’re going to be all right.”