- The Washington Times - Monday, March 14, 2011

With just under five minutes left in the second quarter, the Wizards committed two turnovers that lead to two Thunder fast break slams. Coach Flip Saunders called a timeout and the Wizards left the court; some players shaking their heads.

The Thunder went on a run, beating the Wizards in the transition game, while the Wizards put up a plethora of bad shots, and trailed 68-47 at the half. It was the moment that the momentum swung, and the Wizards started the second half, once again, by trying to dig themselves out from a 20-point-plus hole.

They would be unsuccessful, losing to the Thunder 116-89, to fall to 16-49.

“We got throttled tonight,” Saunders said.

The Wizards have no time to regroup after this loss, as they head to Chicago for a back-to-back against the Chicago Bulls and MVP candidate Derrick Rose on Tuesday night. Three straight games, three straight superstar opponents.  First it was Blake Griffin and the Clippers, then Kevin Durant and the Thunder, and next, Rose. Talk about no rest for the weary.

“Going in, we knew it would be tough. At this point, we’re just outmanned, physically. You try to look for silver linings. Book played well. The thing that’s disappointing is our young players, our rookies, in the last two games at home are the ones that are competing against the other teams. It shouldn’t be that way. I guess that’s the one thing that’s somewhat positive,” Saunders said.  

The Wizards finished the night with an all-rookie lineup on the floor - Booker, Jordan Crawford, Mustafa Shakur, Kevin Seraphin and Hamady N’Diaye - and although the fourth quarter could best be described as garbage time, Saunders likes how hard this group plays.

“Seraphin came back and competed well in the second half; Jordan Crawford played well in the second half, so those guys went out there and played hard and they did some positive things,” Saunders said.

Josh Howard started and played 11 minutes, but aggravated his knee and was unable to go in the second half. Howard, along with Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis, will all be out of the lineup on Tuesday.

Washington D.C. native Kevin Durant gave the hometown crowd what they came to see, scoring 32 points on 9 of 16 shooting, including a couple of breakaway dunks. All-star guard Russell Westbrook added 18 points and 12 assists.   

John Wall had 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists; center JaVale McGee added 14 points. Rookie forward Trevor Booker provided a spark, as he played a team high 41 minutes, and had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

“I felt like we fought hard for some of the some of the game, but some of the game, we took off. In this game you have to play 48 minutes. I feel like I did a decent job; I did okay on the boards. I missed some shots I should have made but overall, I did decent,” said Booker, who was 4 from 11 from the floor and two-for-two from the line.

The Wizards were ice cold from the three point line, going 0-9, to the Thunder’s 12 for 21. The Wizards shot 39.4 percent while the Thunder shot just under 49 percent. Amazingly, the Wizards won the turnover battle, but just barely, with 18 to the Thunder’s 19.

“We just have to step up and do a better job. We have to fight from the beginning. We know people are hurt and it’s a rebuilding process, but you still should not have no heart and not fight, not compete and not be into games,” Wall said. “We’re not looking for no excuses. It’s just us not playing hard and not competing and teams come in here and put on a show and our crowd is cheering for them. No team is going to back down. If they’ve got you by 40, they’re going to try and get you by 60.”

Both Wall and Saunders received technical fouls in the first half, arguing for fouls that should have been called. It provided a display of passion from the head coach and the point guard that seems sorely needed during this string of difficult games and blowout losses.

“It’s tough to look at. It’s tough to coach. Growing pains are extremely difficult,” Saunders said.

“We knew there’d be night like this. You’d just hope there wouldn’t be as many.”



Click to Read More

Click to Hide