- The Washington Times - Monday, December 30, 2002

Tyronn Lue was visibly shaken following his lone start of the season last month against the Indiana Pacers.
Lue, who started at point guard for the Washington Wizards in their Nov.26 88-84 loss in place of injured Larry Hughes (wrist), was uncomfortable from the start, something that was plainly evident from his 1-for-9 shooting performance (0-for-3 on 3-pointers).
"I didn't have any rhythm," Lue said. "It felt strange starting."
The Wizards hope that the rhythm Lue didn't have earlier in the season is beginning to come around. It was on display in stretches on Saturday when Lue came off the bench to make three of four 3-pointers and score 13 points in a key victory over Atlanta at MCI Center.
Lue played extensively in the fourth quarter specifically because his defensive quickness enabled him to harass Atlanta guards Jason Terry and Mike Wilks. Much of Lue's playing time in the fourth quarter cost Hughes minutes late. But Hughes didn't appear fazed by it, which was good news for Wizards coach Doug Collins.
"They had those two little guards in there and T was doing a very good job of pressuring them," Collins said. "I felt like I could leave him in the game. You always run the risk of, you know. I hope Larry's OK, he didn't get to play. I'm so ultra-sensitive with these guys' feelings right now. But the important thing is that we got a much-needed win."
The Wizards have gotten consistent play out of their point guards for most of the season. Hughes is not an assist machine but that is not his role with the Wizards. He has five double-doubles in the last month and has scored at least 13 points in 10 of the team's last 13 games.
Rookie Juan Dixon, out at least two more weeks with a sprained left elbow, was a pleasant surprise before he went down at the beginning of the month.
Lue, however, has had to make a number of adjustments this season, the biggest of which was not entering the game and playing alongside Michael Jordan for stretches after Jordan was inserted into the starting lineup on Nov.30.
"It was kind of hard because I was used to playing with MJ, and then MJ started starting," Lue said. "Then I had to come off the bench and I was playing with different guys. I think MJ and I had a great flow together at the start of the season together.
"Now he comes out at the four-minute mark and I go in to start the second quarter. But now I'm starting to get used to that. I'm finding my rhythm and now I'm ready to play some minutes.
This has become more evident in recent games.
When the Wizards defeated Atlanta 109-99 earlier this month, Lue scored 10 points and was 2-for-2 on 3-pointers. He followed that up with seven points and six assists in a win over Memphis.
And during the three-game losing streak that ended with Saturday's win over Atlanta, Wizards coaches acknowledged that Lue played well defensively and was beginning to feel more comfortable in the rotation.
On Saturday Lue had no problem taking shots at crucial times. His biggest of the game a 3-pointer with the shot clock about to expire capped a 10-2 run during a 3-minute span that gave the Wizards a comfortable 72-62 buffer with just under six minutes left in the game.
"That was a good shot for Tyronn," Collins said. "We know he can make that shot; it's good for his confidence and the team needed it to go in."
The Hawks spent most of the night in a zone defense, something the Wizards are seeing more and more these days. They'll probably play against for a good part of the game tonight when they try to avenge an earlier road loss to Orlando.
Lue said if teams continue to throw zones at the Wizards, he'll continue to try to make them pay.
"That's a challenge to us," Lue said. "If they challenge me to shoot it I have to show them I can make it."


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