- The Washington Times - Friday, November 11, 2005

Following a brisk and upbeat practice yesterday at MCI Center, Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan tooted his whistle and the team converged at the center of the floor.

Jordan didn’t mince words.

While he encouraged the Wizards not to linger over their first loss of the season the night before at home against a much-improved Los Angeles Clippers team, this was not a milk-and-cookies speech designed to soothe egos.

That’s because while Jordan began in a rah-rah tone, he finished by admonishing the team’s poor communication, bad decision-making and defensive lapses, mistakes he promised to one and all would keep them on the bench if they weren’t eradicated.

“I told them that we’ve been dodging bullets for three games and it finally caught up with us,” Jordan, referencing the Wizards’ uneven performance in Wednesday’s 102-97 setback.

The Wizards went into that game surprisingly playing the best defense in the league, leading the league in both opponents’ points scored (83.3) and opponents’ field goal percentage (34.8).

But it was clear from the start the Clippers — one of the league’s early surprises — were up for the challenge and had a point to prove. When it was over the Clippers, who beat Atlanta last night to improve to 5-1, became the first team to both shoot better than 40 percent against the Wizards and score more than 100 points.

But Jordan said he can live with the loss. After all, nobody expected the Wizards to win all 82 games.

However, what Jordan had a problem with was what he saw in the Clippers that he did not see in his own team: communication.

Jordan used the Clippers’ chatty Sam Cassell as Exhibit A.

“I talked to them after the game about having more verbal communication,” Jordan said. “You see a guy like Sam Cassell out there, a guy who goes 3-for-11, but he’s pretty much out there directing his team. That’s what we needed and we didn’t get more of that.”

Though it is unlikely anyone on the Wizards roster talks as proficiently as does Cassell, Jordan believes he has enough veterans on the roster so on different nights one player or another might fill that role.

The advantage of having a player do this, according to Jordan, is that it picks up the team’s mental toughness and the players become more involved in every play.

Jordan said 6-foot-4 veteran Antonio Daniels, who missed Wednesday’s loss with a mildly sprained left ankle, has filled that role before. Tonight when the Wizards play host to Daniels’ former team, Seattle, they will have their full complement of players for the first time this season.

“I’m a vocal guy, and if you watch me on the floor, you know I’m a vocal person,” said Daniels, who started the first three games of the season. “I agree that the communication wasn’t as high as it should have been. Sometimes the communication in practice is better than it is in games, so we have to find a happy medium.”

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