Doug Collins is becoming familiar with the incredible degree of frustration that comes with coaching the Washington Wizards.
In a game that the Wizards fell behind by 21 points in a second quarter that saw them outscored 29-12 and ultimately lose to the Milwaukee Bucks 107-98 at sold-out MCI Center last night, Collins began naming players he can trust and made it clear the ones who are on the outside looking in.
“The rotation will be tightened, that’s all, if we have to play eight guys,” Collins said. “I just can’t continue to put guys out on the floor and have them collapse on us in the second quarter, I can’t do that.”
The reasons for his frustrations are clear. In a league where scoring 100 points has become somewhat of a cause celebre, all but one of the Wizards’ last five opponents have scored at least 100 against the Atlantic Division cellar dwellers (2-6). And that one team, Seattle, missed it by just one point.
So after the Wizards latest loss, their fifth in a row with No. 6 possible here tomorrow night against Utah, just whom does Collins intend to play?
Obviously, he’ll continue to run Michael Jordan out there. Jordan scored 31 points and shot 50 percent from the field for the first time this season (12-for-24) to lead all scorers. And Chris Whitney, who played on a sprained right ankle, is likely a given. But last night things were so bad that even players who have been in and out of his doghouse, such as Christian Laettner and Richard Hamilton, were once again in good graces.
“Rip was great tonight and I can bring him off the bench and play him in a couple spots,” Collins elaborated. “Bobby Simmons was solid as a rock out there. You can trust him. And Christian and Popeye [Jones] played well. But I’ve got to find a big man who will play for me so that I can have three guys that I can rotate in.”
That probably doesn’t include one-time starting center Jahidi White. White did not play at all for the second time this season and he’s not injured. Rookie Kwame Brown started, played 12 minutes, made one of five shots from the field and finished with two points. And Tyrone Nesby, who has two starts under his belt, played all of 13.4 seconds.
Sam Cassell led the Bucks (6-1) with 27 points. Ray Allen, who played Jordan most of the night, finished with 22 points and nine assists. Glenn Robinson guarded mostly by Simmons, who was making the first start of his career finished with 13 points.
Jordan led five Wizards in double figures. Hamilton finished with 15 points. And Jones played strong, making all five of his field goal attempts to finish with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Both teams shot 49 percent, but the Bucks got too many open looks at the basket on the way to making 10-of-21 3-pointers.
The Wizards turned the ball over seven times in the quarter compared with just one for the Bucks. All of this conspired against the Wizards.
The Bucks opened the second quarter with a 12-0 run capped by backup guard Michael Redd’s jumper to put them ahead 41-29 with 6:23 to play in the half.
This was just part of a 21-4 Milwaukee run that left the Bucks on top 50-33 with just under four minutes to play in the half.
Milwaukee’s lead would eventually swell to 58-37 with under a minute to play.