- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Wizards will face the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night in Philadelphia in their second and final preseason game, and Washington is looking to erase the memory of the 25-point loss to the 76ers on Friday night.

Flip Saunders, the Wizards’ normally even-keeled coach, let more than one expletive fly at the conclusion of that game, and promptly got his team in the film room and on the practice court. His message was clear: A performance such as that will not be acceptable.

“Oh, we’re going to watch film. Film doesn’t lie,” Saunders said. “It’s the truth serum.”

The Wizards are young, with eight players under age 23. Friday night’s performance made it clear why this team needed some veterans.

Washington brought back former Wizard Roger Mason Jr., 31, a D.C. native who wanted to play for his hometown team again. The Wizards also signed Ronny Turiaf, 28; held onto Rashard Lewis, 32; and re-signed Maurice Evans, 33, to a one-year deal.

There is a lack of trust with some of the players on the team, Saunders pointed out. It’s a problem that has to be corrected, or losses such as Friday night’s debacle will happen again.

“The one thing you have to watch is that when you go into games as an individual, and you think about trying to get yourself going, that becomes very contagious,” Saunders said.

“I think that first group [the starters], it’s like everyone that touched the ball, it stuck. It didn’t move. So one guy passes to somebody, he takes a shot and when the next guy gets it, he thinks ‘I’ve got to shoot it because if I pass, I might never get it back.’

“That group had no trust level with each other.”

After a film study and practice session Saturday, the Wizards took Sunday off and will practice again Monday before heading to Philadelphia to close out the preseason. Their regular-season opener is Dec. 26 against the New Jersey Nets.

“You can search around for answers [after a 25-point loss], but you just have to try to encourage everyone,” Mason said.

“The fact that the second unit played so hard, that’s encouraging. It’s not always about talent. That first group is talented, but they didn’t compete well enough.”

Mason said he didn’t want to make excuses, but he pointed out that the team has only been together for a week. He also was candid about its strengths and weaknesses and what it will have to do to win.

“We don’t have any superstar guys on this team. This is not that team,” Mason said. “In order for us to win, we’re going to have to do it together, both on defense and on offense.”