The Washington Times - November 4, 2009, 06:54PM

     The Washington Wizards are aiming to rebound from last night’s 102-90 loss in Cleveland with a win over the visiting Miami Heat, in what is their first of three meetings with Dwyane Wade & Co. this month.

     Last night after the game while Brendan Haywood hinted at bad calls as a reason for the Wizards’ drop-off, and Mike Miller pointed to a lack of composure, and Gilbert Arenas pointed out a poor shooting performance in the second half, Andray Blatche had a different, rather coach-like view of what the Wizards’ problem was.


     7-Day-Dray highlighted a lack of trust among the Wizards, and said that caused them to go away from what had worked well.

     If you remember, Blatche said: “[Bad calls were] not one of our bigger problems. We have to play more as a team, fight through things as a team. We’ve got to stick together, no matter what. Everybody has to trust everybody. Fouls are going to come, but you have to fight through that. After a while, everybody tried to make their own plays when we got down. We stopped sticking to the things we were doing. That kind of messed our rhythm up.”

     Tonight, Flip Saunders agreed with 7-Day-Dray’s assessment, and said that that trust-factor is something that the Wizards must develop in order to succeed, but that it will take time.

     “I told them they have to trust our execution, trust what they’re doing and trust their teammates,” Saunders said. “That’s something thats going to come in time. You can talk a lot about it but you just have to go through it and learn it on the fly.

     “Our players want to have success and when the team is struggling, they believe some times that they’re going to be the one to get you out of it, and so maybe they’re trying to do too much,” Saunders continued. “And by doing that, when the next guy gets it, he’s like ‘I’m going to do that, because I might not get another chance.’ And when that happens, you start to play more me- than we-ball. You just have to continue to make sure you play we-basketball.”

    One last note about last night’s game: You remember the vicious foul Shaquille O’Neal put on DeShawn Stevenson in the second quarter, when the Big Fella clobbered D-Steve as he drove down the lane. Shaq just before the start of the third quarter appologized to Stevenson for the viciousness of the hit, but the league took note of the play, and according to a league source, the foul will be upgraded to a flagrant foul.

     “Yeah, I heard that, too,” Stevenson said this evening. “Man, I’m hurting today! He did appologize though, so it was cool. But man!”

     On to tonight’s game: The Wizards are playing their second back-to-back in the last week, and will need a boost from their bench to help keep the starters fresh.

     Coach Erik Spoelstra and the Heat are bracing for a much different Wizards squad than the one they beat all four times last season. They’ve done there best to prepare for Flip Saunders’ system, but know that given the return of Gilbert Arenas (who with a 26.5 ppg average enters this game tied with Dwyane Wade for second in scoring in the Easter Conference), there’s only so much gameplanning you can do.

     “They have a dynamic, healthy player, Gilbert Arenas, who can take your plans and effectively throw them out of the window, a little bit like what we saw with Steve Nash last night,” said Spoelstra, whose team got torched by Nash for 30 points and eight assists in a 104-96 loss last night. “You can work on so many things, and there are variable factors with guys like Steve Nash or Gilbert Arenas. But there’s the unpredictable. You’re not really sure what’s going to happen. He turns the corner, gets in the paint, he’s very athletic and he looks as quick and as explosive as he did three years ago. It’ll be a nice challenge for our team.”

     Starters are as usual Arenas, Miller, Butler, Oberto and haywood for Washington. And for Miami, we have PG Mario Chalmers, G Dwyane Wade, F Quentin Richardson, F Michael Beasley and C Jermaine O’Neal.


                                                                — Mike Jones


                                                                      Twitter: @MikeJonesTWT