The Wizards — following back-to-back road blowout defeats — had today off from practice, and that’s probably a good thing. Maybe the time away will give the players a time to cool off and take a better inventory of the cause for their continued struggles.
Last night after the 108-86 loss to the Spurs, frustrations were boiling over. Brendan Haywood said, “It’s very frustrating because our talent is not winning out over our egos. If you want to win you have to check your ego at the door. Bottom line. If you normally score 20 and you don’t get your 20 but the team wins, who cares? If you average 15 and you don’t get your 15, who cares? Check your ego at the door. Let’s try and win. I watch the Celtics, and that’s what they do. Paul Pierce can have 12 in the fourth quarter if they’re up, he don’t care. That’s what we gotta do. Check your ego at the door, move the damn ball, play some defense.”
When asked what the Wizards need to do to get back on the same page, Haywood replied: “I already said it! Ego! We’re 3-9, and we’re still doing the same things we did the first couple games of the season. Ego!”
Now, who do you think he was talking about when it comes to an ego problem. Flip Saunders after the game admitted problems are brewing inside the locker room.
“Players were playing tight, players are frustrated, players that aren’t playing feel they should be playing,” the coach said. “We’re very much in a bad situation right now.”
But Haywood indicated this problem is with the players with the ego problems are on the court for the Wizards and rather than playing within the system and spreading the ball around, they’re trying to play one-on-one ball and do it all themselves.
Gilbert Arenas said he’s not the problem. “I think the only person who actually had to sacrifice was me. Everybody else can just play their game.”
Now, Arenas took 18 shots last night (double Caron Butler’s total for the game, and seven more than Antawn Jamison despite having the worst shooting performance of the ‘big three’). But he said the 18 shots taken represent a change.
“That’s what I’m averaging. About 18 shots,” Arenas said. “Before, I would’ve taken 27 shots on a night like this to keep us in the game. But I’m not trying to revert to that. Before, I’d look at Eddie and he’d say, take over the game. But I’ve got trust in these guys that eventually Randy’s going to start hitting shots. He’s coming off of injury. That Caron’s going to start catching and shooting, that we’ll start getting production out of Dray again. But it’s only so many nights, so many games before I’m going to have to start doing what I do.”
Arenas laid the blame at the feet of other players.
“Hidden agendas,” he said. “You can’t win like that. I have no idea why. I’ve never been on a team where you have eight free agents next year. I’ve never played on a team like that. I’ve never seen it turn out well. Sometimes it works out for the best because everybody’s hungry and everybody’s fighting. Sometimes it works out for the worst when everybody’s out for their own.”
Boy, it’s getting messy already. I’ll be writing on this more for my off-day story today, so stay tuned… .