- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2000

VANCOUVER, British Columbia It was perhaps the ultimate confirmation of the depths to which the Washington Wizards have sunk this season.
They were trailing another NBA doormat, the Vancouver Grizzlies, by 14 points with less than three minutes left in Wednesday night's game when a portion of the announced crowd of 11,510 began to serenade the Wizards.
"Wizards suck! Wizards suck!"
Well …
The Wizards (5-21), losers of 11 of their last 12 games, eventually lost to the Grizzlies 118-104. That output by the Grizzlies (8-17) represented the best offensive performance to date by a team that had lost six straight and 16 of its last 19.
Vancouver also used the game to break out of a season-long shooting slump. After making just 41.5 percent of their shots from the floor all season, the Grizzlies hit 56 percent from the floor. From behind the 3-point line with many of the shots uncontested the Grizzlies were 5-for-9.
Following their latest bastardization of basketball, the Wizards appeared at their lowest point all season in the locker room.
How low?
"This is the lowest I've ever been," forward Michael Smith said. "I don't know what's going on. We've tried to change it around, but it seems like nothing has gone our way."
From Smith, who played for bad teams in Sacramento and Vancouver, that's an impressive statement. In the lockout-shortened 1999 season, the Grizzlies went 8-42. The year before that, Smith was traded from Sacramento to a Vancouver team that went 19-63, which is just about where the Wizards might finish if things don't right themselves quickly.
Smith said the situation is worse with Washington, perhaps because the Grizzlies were and still are a young team. Their top player then and now is Dream Team member Shareef Abdur-Rahim. They have added such promising backcourt players as point guard Mike Bibby, who roasted Washington for 26 points and 12 assists, and Michael Dickerson, who has played well enough to get his name on the All-Star ballot.
The Wizards, on the other hand, are an old, bad team that is getting less bang for the buck than any other team in the league. Their salary cap total, $59 million, is fourth highest in the league, but only Chicago has a worse record. And at the moment, no one is interested in making a trade of any consequence with the Wizards.
"Something needs to happen," Smith said when asked about the effect a trade might have on the team. "Some changes need to be made. We're [expletive] 5-21. That's the worst. We're what, one game ahead of Chicago? That's pitiful. That's real pitiful. That's real pitiful."
Smith is not alone in his assessment.
Sitting motionlessly, elbows resting on his knees and face buried in his hands, point guard Rod Strickland was in no hurry to get dressed and board the bus that would shuttle the team to the airport for tonight's game in Seattle. After all, the odds are overwhelming that the game will end in another Wizards loss. Washington is 1-19 at Seattle since 1980.
"Yeah," Strickland said, agreeing with Smith's definition of pitiful. "Definitely. Without a doubt. It's frustrating for everyone here. We just don't play well together. It can't get any lower than this I hope."

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