- The Washington Times - Friday, November 13, 2009

Another loss, another compromised joint. That apparently is the lot of the Wizards, hurting both mentally and physically.

The only break the Wizards have been able to catch is the one to the left hand of Mike James.

Randy Foye is the latest member of the team to succumb to the injury curse.

Curse? If it is not a curse, what is it?

The ankle turn of Foye brings to three the number of point guards left to cheer on the bench. At least one of them is not Gilbert Arenas, coming off what might have been the worst game of his professional life.

He finished with a career-high 12 turnovers, seven in the third quarter, when the Wizards could not complete the most elementary functions on offense and faded from the competition.

This kept with an unexpected trend. The Wizards are playing well enough on defense to win games. It is their once-vaunted offense that is mired in turnovers, forced shots and the clank of the orange cylinder.

The Wizards are holding the opposition to 98 points a game and a 43.7 shooting percentage, respectable enough numbers considering the source.

The inertia on offense starts with Arenas, who is learning that a high-profile trainer cannot circumvent two seasons’ worth of inactivity. He needs several months of NBA games to find his legs and stamina.

That explains his meager production and turnover proclivity in the second half of games. Fatigue is the mother of mental breakdowns.

If Arenas finds himself in a funk, his teammates often follow.

They always have taken their cues from him.

That is Caron Butler passing up yet another open shot.

He is trying to measure the defender, rocking one way, feinting another until he either pulls up to take a shot with a hand in his face or puts the ball on the floor and makes his way to a crowded basket.

This is not the Butler of two seasons ago. That Butler was an efficient scorer. That Butler kept defenses guessing with his vision and passing ability. This Butler is saddled with tunnel vision. He is going to score. Or else.

The “or-else” part comes to a 39.3 shooting percentage, four assists and 19 turnovers in seven games.

The urge to overcompensate with calamity all about is understandable, especially if you are a two-time All-Star.

But Butler did not become a two-time All-Star by forcing the issue. He became a two-time All-Star because of a stat-stuffing propensity that featured the touch pass.

Now he has become predictable on offense and far easier to defend. He does not catch and shoot the ball. He catches and waits on the defender, even if the defender is three steps removed from him and no threat to contest the shot.

So instead of taking the open 18-footer, Butler often winds up with a shot closer to the basket but one with a much higher degree of difficulty.

NBA scouts already have taken notes and passed them along to the suits on the sidelines.

The news is not all bad.

Antawn Jamison is talking of taking the floor Saturday. So, too, is Mike Miller.

Jamison is an inside-out scorer, and Miller has shown himself to be a drive-and-kick sort.

Their versatility should ease the onus on Arenas and Butler. Their return also sends nonscoring threat Fabricio Oberto to the bench.

That might help with those mind-altering third quarters.

It would be too early to panic if this were any team but the Wizards, their history littered with the broken and busted dating to the ‘80s, when the franchise was set back by injuries to two franchise-type players, first Jeff Ruland and later John “Hot Plate” Williams.

The sight of Earl Boykins in uniform was not part of the plan either.

But these are the Bullets/Wizards.

Their best plans always end up in a crumpled figure on the floor.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

blog comments powered by Disqus

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide