- The Washington Times - Monday, November 9, 2009

The Wizards already are immersed in self-doubt. They are out of sync and out of sorts, found wanting in purpose and cohesiveness.

They are not a pretty sight, whether it is Caron Butler missing three shots at the rim or Randy Foye, inexplicably, making an ill-advised move to the basket before halftime that allowed the Suns enough time to sink a 3-pointer.

The latter prompted assistant coach Sam Cassell to give Foye a quickie lesson in time management as the players made their way to the locker room.

That snapshot is emblematic of a team that is exhibiting a low basketball IQ and lacks a sense of urgency.

It is a team that provided only minimal resistance in succumbing to the Suns 102-90 on Sunday.

The Wizards never gave the impression that they were a threat to the Suns, even as they cut their deficit to 89-83 after Andray Blatche converted a layup with 6:11 left. Soon enough, the Suns were back on top by 13 points and cruising to the final horn.

Coach Flip Saunders knows there are no quick fixes to what bedevils the Wizards: poor shot selection, poor ball movement and a lack of trust.

“It’s never-ending,” Saunders said after the Wizards dropped their fourth consecutive game. “Our offense is stagnant. It’s one of those things where we’re going to have to keep on grinding.”

And keep preaching the basics, too.

“The formula is easy,” Saunders said. “The ball is sticking sometimes.”

The Wizards often are neglecting to make the extra pass. That is the pass that results in an open look at the basket. As it is, the Wizards are taking too many contested jump shots, with predictable results.

Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Foye combined to make 19 of 56 field goal attempts - 33.9 percent.

The lack of ball movement was one of the principal concerns in the locker room.

“As far as we go, we have to move the ball and trust one another,” said center Brendan Haywood, who finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots.

That was the sentiment of DeShawn Stevenson, mired in a shooting slump that goes back to last season.

“We have to move the ball,” Stevenson said. “We have to pass the ball. If we don’t pass the ball, we’re not going to win.”

Suns point guard Steve Nash finished with 17 assists, two more than the Wizards.

“When you shoot 39 percent, you’re not going to get assists,” Saunders said.

And you’re destined to shoot 39 percent if all too many of your shot attempts come about with a hand in the face.

The Wizards found it necessary to dwell on the offensive tenets of the game because, defensively, they actually were fairly solid. The Suns fell nine points short of their scoring average, induced in part by their 20 turnovers and the nine blocked shots of the Wizards.

“I told our guys that holding them to 102 points is not that bad,” Saunders said.

Otherwise, the Wizards are left to wait on the recovery of Antawn Jamison and Mike Miller. That seems to be the lot of the Wizards, always waiting on the injured.

“We had pretty good team chemistry,” Stevenson said. “Then we lost Mike.”

Miller has what Foye does not - a 6-foot-8 body that discourages shooting guards from trying to post him up. If Arenas and Foye are on the floor together, one or the other sometimes finds himself being backed down to the basket by a taller opponent.

Blatche delivered another solid performance before becoming fatigued late in the game. He dismissed the notion that the Wizards are in desperate trouble, reminiscent of the disaster last season.

“This is nothing like last year,” he said. “We just have to keep pushing, keep fighting. We’re going to get there. There’s no doubt in my mind. And once Mike and Antawn get back…”

Until then, the Wizards might want to spend part of their next practice being reintroduced to each other.

For they are playing as if they were picked off the street hours before the tipoff.

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