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Wizards’ practice not translating into game performance
Andray Blatche was singing along with a tune that only he could hear.
The Wizards forward wore a pair of oversized headphones in the visitors locker room following Washington’s 103-85 loss to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night, and they were a symbolic gesture: He didn’t want to answer any questions. He had nothing to say.
But several other Wizards had plenty to say, and strangely enough, they all seem to be on the same page regarding their franchise-worst 0-6 start. Unfortunately, by game time, they all seem to be reading from a different book.
“We definitely had a game plan at shootaround. To me, nobody came out and competed,” Wizards forward Rashard Lewis said. “We didn’t play near as hard as we did in the Boston game, where we were horrible, but was in that game. Nobody had any energy. Nobody came out ready to play. I don’t know why. We went out there and went through the motions.”
The Wizards quickly are discovering that a group of individuals does not a team make. The things they work on during practice and shootaround are not translating when it comes to game time, and coach Flip Saunders sounds like he’s seen just about enough.
“I don’t know,” Saunders said bluntly, when asked about the struggles of the team’s starting lineup. “I don’t know what they’re going through, if it’s about two weeks into training, the legs or whatever.
“We’re going to have to do something with our start, whether it’s personnel-wise, we have to add some juice to start the games.”
The Wizards have a familiar pattern — they get off to a dreadful start, shooting an average of 20 percent, then throw away the game plan in an effort to make up ground and come back quickly. They have been able to make a second-half run in most of their games, but the Magic never gave them a chance.
“We got embarrassed,” Wizards guard John Wall said. “What we went over about defense in shootaround, we did not do out there.”
Washington has a three-game homestand coming up against New York, Minnesota and Toronto. The Wizards start out Friday with the Knicks, who have dropped four of their past five.
The Wizards have an extra burden — no team wants the distinction of being the first to lose to them, and guard Jordan Crawford isn’t convinced that being at home will make any difference.
“Right now, we’re playing as individuals and we got to turn it around,” Crawford said, glancing around the locker room at his teammates. “It’s dead around here as you can see.”
Asked how the Wizards can do that, Crawford sighed, shook his head, and said nothing for several awkward seconds as he searched for words.
“We got to keep working. [Being home] ain’t going to change nothing if we keep playing the same way,” he said. “We could still go out and lose them games, too. A homestand ain’t got nothing to do with it. It’s all us.
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About the Author
Carla Peay keeps you up to date on the Washington Wizards and the NBA.
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