The Washington Times - December 6, 2009, 10:20PM

     AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — If this tune sounds familiar, it’s because it is.

     The record is broken, the CD is scatched. The Wizards are stuck.


     The Wizards keep getting off to slow starts and find themselves having to scratch and claw their way back into games. They keep on turning the ball over too many times. And they continue to rain down 3-pointers when they’re not a 3-point shooting team and so they keep clanking brick after brick.

     In the first half, 11 turnovers did them in. Then they battled back to tie the score twice in the third quarter, then fell behind nine, came back, fell behind, came close, fell behind.

     You need to go to your All-Stars in the fourth quarter. And Caron Butler had 13 fourth-quarter points. But his other two running mates — Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas — were a combined 0-for-7 in the fourth quarter. Jamison was 0-for-4 (including 0-for-2 from the arc) and Arenas was 0-for-3 (0-for-2 from 3-point range).

     Earl Boykins had eight points in the fourth quarter, but the Wizards still lacked offensive flow. As in the other three quarters, there were far too many one-on-one plays. Here’s a stat for you: Arenas had nine assists. His fellow starters combined for … . ZERO. Butler, Jamison, Haywood and Young (who didn’t play much because Flip said he wasn’t where he was supposed to be on a few early plays) instead combined for eight turnovers.

     Butler said the lack of assists weren’t because of a lack of effort. He said “guys did some wonderful things out there tonight. … The effort was there.” Um, I didn’t see much wonderful out there tonight. And the effort? Well, it was in spots, but not from everyone.

     Gilbert Arenas’ effort was rather suspect. After looking more aggressive the last two games, he reverted back to his passive form and took only nine shots all game and had eight points. Since Flip’s offense relies on the point guard to attack and initiate things, you need more than that from Gil.He admitted that he didn’t have it tonight, never felt right. He was stretching his knee out a lot more than normal, and many times seemed disconnected.

     So, what was up tonight?

     “The building was cold tonight and I just didn’t get into a rhythm. I started off pretty good, but then I got two quick fouls and had to sit for a while. Every time I got ready to get a rhythm going, I got back on the bench. I never really got into a flow of the game and I didn’t really want to force anything because I wasn’t in the flow of it.”

     The Wizards needed more aggression from Arenas tonight, and more aggression from everyone. Flip Saunders blamed the lack of assists from his starters on a lack of aggression. He said players weren’t trying to swing the ball and attack the Pistons and instead settled.

     The Wizards are one game away from the 20-game mark, and this isn’t where they wanted to be at this point of the season. Yes, Mike Miller is out, but his absence isn’t the only problem. The Wizards need to find a way to flip the switch.