- The Washington Times - Monday, October 13, 2003

The Washington Wizards players aren’t alone in being forced to make an adjustment this season. The same is true for coach Eddie Jordan.

Credited with orchestrating the frenetic motion offense that has led to back-to-back berths in the NBA Finals by the New Jersey Nets, Jordan finds himself having to be patient as the Wizards take baby steps during the transition.

“The last two years, I had a team that really ran it well,” Jordan said of the Nets, where he was Byron Scott’s top assistant the last four seasons. “We had an [All-Star] point guard [Jason Kidd] who really got people in their spots and was adept at running the show. We have young players here. It’s probably a little more difficult because of what I’m used to the last couple of years.”

Jordan referenced the end of the 2002-03 regular season and the postseason to illustrate the degree to which the Nets mastered his offense.

Despite having a postseason berth locked up, the Nets dropped four of their last five regular-season games, played sloppily and, at least to Jordan, appeared to have forgotten how the offense worked.

“I told them, ‘Guys, we can’t just turn it on in the playoffs,’” Jordan said. “But when the playoffs started they turned it up. It surprised me a lot. I think everyone was surprised.”

After splitting the first two games of the first-round series against Milwaukee, the Nets won their next 10 games — the fourth longest streak in NBA playoff history — to reach the Finals, where they fell to San Antonio in six games.

While the Nets had Kidd — widely regarded as the best point guard on the planet — they were not altogether different from the Wizards in other areas, one of which is youth. Three of the Nets’ starters — Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins and Kenyon Martin — had three years or less experience in the NBA.

The biggest difference was New Jersey’s players were in the system long enough to have fostered a good understanding of it, so much so that they could in fact just turn it on.

So Jordan continues to be patient.

“It will come to [the Wizards]; they’ll get it. I like the energy they have shown; that’s not a question,” Jordan said. “Is it there now? No. But everything takes time.”

The Wizards will have to continue their learning curve minus the services of top scorer Jerry Stackhouse. Stackhouse sat out Friday’s 103-83 loss to Philadelphia in Greensboro, N.C., with a sore right knee.

Preliminary indications are that the knee, which will be re-evaluated today, will not need surgery. However, Stackhouse will not play tomorrow at New Orleans and could miss the remaining preseason games.

Note — The Wizards will have an open scrimmage with free admission today at MCI Center at 1p.m.

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