PHOENIX — The Washington Wizards finally snapped a six-game losing streak with a 118-109 win over the Golden State Warriors last night. Now they take on a team that has a similar run-and-gun style, but the Suns are much better and play with much more discipline.
Running the show is the great Steve Nash, who ranks second in the league with 11.3 assists a game (he trails only Chris Paul’s 11.4 apg).
The Suns are an explosive team that can light you up from 3-point range and boast three players that rank among the league’s top 10 in performance from beyond the arc: Jared Dudley (48.3 percent), Channing Frye (45.9 percent) and Nash (45.3).
The good news is the Wizards played an opponent with a similar style of play last night. The bad news is that the Wizards are banged up coming into this game. Antawn Jamison has a stinger in his neck from that collision with Stephen Curry last night. Gilbert Arenas has a badly bruised right hip from a fall he took last night, and this evening he struggled just to lift his right leg up and cross it across his left while sitting in the locker room. Caron Butler has a bad left ankle that is heavily wrapped, and he keeps switching shoes in search of something that will give him better support.
And there’s the fact that Arenas and Butler both played more than 45 minutes apiece last night. Flip Saunders said both players would have played probably only five fewer minutes apiece had they not been so hot and had the game not been riding so heavily on their performances. He said they will both be fine because although they played such a high minute total, since the game was on ESPN, there were more and longer TV timeouts, which gave both Arenas and Butler more breathers.
Flip said he will probably have to use his bench some more tonight, so hopefully that means more action for Randy Foye, who has basically been a spot duty player.
I asked Flip what’s going on there and what needs to be done to get more playing time, and the coach had this to say: “He’s had a couple tough things. 1, Earl has come in and played well and so he hasn’t gotten much time at [point guard], and 2, we went with DeShawn to get a defensive presence to make sure our main guys knew at beginning of games that they were going to get their shots, which I think has worked well. And then Nick has played well.
“You can continue to go into every game and say we want to try to get this guy going, but I told the guys that in my three years at Detroit and all my years at Minnesota, I never went into a game saying ‘I need to get this guy going.’” Saunders added. “As a team, you go out, you play as a team. If you make a move and you have a shot, you take a shot, if you don’t you move on. When you start trying to force-feed guys then you have turnovers and guys start thinking they’ve got to make shots and they end up taking bad shots and bad things happen. The best thing for a guy like that is to do the little things: defend, get a rebound, get a loose ball, get to the free throw line, you knock down a couple points. Doing little things will get you big results.”
Randy’s in a tough spot, getting hardly any burn, but I guess Flip wants to see more little things rather than seeing him trying to score. Hopefully tonight he gets a chance to get on the court and get comfortable out there.