Friday, November 16, 2001

The Wizards list 14 players on their roster, either to be charitable or helpful to the economy.

An asterisk does not go by the names of the charity cases, only a notation by the two injured parties, one old and one young. The Wizards could use both: 7-footer Brendan Haywood and 3-point shooter Hubert Davis.

Prayers could be useful as well, particularly in the second quarter, when coach Doug Collins goes to the bench and chaos ensues.

The guilty do not wear burqas, if only to hide their faces in shame, just blank expressions.

The Bucks outscored the Wizards by 17 points in the second quarter Wednesday night. The trend was well-established by then, following the clues provided by the Sonics and Warriors. Each team outscored the Wizards by eight points in the second quarter.

“We have nightmare second quarters, and we have to fight back,” Collins said after the latest retreat. “The rotation is going to be tightened, that’s for sure.”

That is one way around it, assuming it is too late to clone Michael Jordan.

Nearly every blowhard who follows the NBA already has traded Charles Oakley from the Bulls to one of the other 28 teams, the Wizards included, after Oakley questioned the brainpower of Jerry Krause’s fishing partner, Tim Floyd.

The proposal is said to involve Jahidi White, which doubles as wishful thinking from Washington’s end. The talk serves a limited function, unlike White’s hands, if the talk arouses a certain vigor in the subjects.

To be fair, this is a team effort, as the 2-6 record suggests. An anemic bench is one part of it. The lack of an inside presence is another part.

It also is this or that. The this or that is consistent, as is the absence of resolve on defense.

The basketball sins mount, along with the disappointing footnotes: The team was outrebounded 45-27 by the Warriors. Jordan produced a 5-for-26 shooting accident against the Sonics. Paul Pierce blocked Jordan’s shot in Boston, along with the hopes of the Wizards. The team took a powder in Detroit.

Six losses, five of them in a row, are tugging on Collins and Jordan. They are reevaluating the personnel, trying different starting lineups and calling out the culprits one at a time.

The idea to play Richard Hamilton at point guard in spots is fanned by Tyronn Lue’s attempt to lead the team in brain-dead maneuvers. It just so happens the Wizards already are amply represented in that regard, both with the brain dead and just the dead, plus a 19-year-old rookie from Brunswick, Ga., still trying to recover from prom night.

Kwame Brown is not absolved, even if he is only 19, just out of high school and can’t always remember where he is supposed to be on the court. If it helps, the court is only 94 feet long and 50 feet wide, as he is about to learn from a seat on the bench.

The Wizards still don’t know how to behave around Jordan. They resent the initial charge that they stand around and let him do all the work. The other extreme is not too smart, either, if the alternative is to ignore him.

The Wizards tried that against the Bucks, permitting a tie game after 12 minutes to dissolve into a 17-point deficit before Jordan took his first shot of the second quarter.

He made the shot, and the Wizards made the effort to be competitive. Fatigue eventually overwhelmed the effort, as Jordan saw it, the hole too big and the opposition too good.

The prospect of relief is up with the once-proud Jazzmen in town tonight. Their 3-6 record is well below their customary standards, their 32-point loss to the Hawks the latest sign of an expired shelf life.

That is John Stockton to Karl Malone, two fogies who can relate to Jordan. The three have a history, the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals, along with the film that shows Jordan pushed off on Bryon Russell.

The nostalgia is merely the appetizer. The desperation of both teams is the main course.

Are the Wizards desperate enough to hold their spot on the floor against Malone?

It is essential they consider the thought before another double-digit deficit is hanging over them.

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