- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 3, 2006

So the Wizards have shown themselves to be the more complete team after four games with the Cavaliers.

The Wizards don’t have control of the series to back up the claim, only a sense that the series should be theirs, whether in six or seven games.

The Wizards have three significant weapons in Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. The Cavaliers have LeBron James and the hope that another party will emerge in each game.

The latter seems almost a designed failing.

The Cavaliers don’t have an offense as much as they have a reflex response to give the ball to James and let him do all the dribbling, passing, decision-making and scoring. This is an Allen Iverson Lite approach to the game, although James sees the floor far better than Iverson at a comparable age.

The Big Three of the Wizards have a considerable advantage over James and the other two, if you are inclined to count the Amish-looking center and Larry Hughes as the other two.

Hughes is waiting to make a genuine appearance in the series.

The person wearing No. 32 with the Cavaliers bears an uncanny resemblance to the player who averaged 22.0 points and led the NBA in steals with the Wizards last season.

The resemblance ends with the facial features.

The intent of No. 32 going into the series was to show the Wizards made an accounting error last summer. That intent was a lost cause from the start, for he already missed 45 games this season.

Hughes lives with the reality that he is a part-time player who draws a full-time salary.

Even as a full-time player in the series, he has part-time numbers: 10.3 points a game and a .319 shooting percentage.

The absence of a hierarchy left the Cavaliers dependent on Donyell Marshall in Game 1, Drew Gooden in Game 2, no one other than James in Game 3 and Flip Murray in Game 4.

The Cavaliers seemingly function on the basis of James and whim.

Both Eddie Jordan and Mike Brown have wondered about the quality and consistency of the officiating, which is fair enough.

That perhaps explains the free pass from Stu Jackson, the NBA’s deportment czar.

Jackson has been especially busy this spring.

He even was required to deal with what is believed to be the first X-rated action ever in the playoffs the crazy decision of Reggie Evans to fondle Chris Kaman.

There is no fondling in basketball, only the one-time bussing between Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas.

The officiating in the Wizards-Cavaliers series has been lacking at times, if not prejudicial.

Brown has less reason to complain than Jordan because the most egregious oversight of the referees led to the game-winning basket of James in Game 3 after he was allowed to take 10 steps and several hops undeterred by the act of dribbling the ball.

That crime against basketball is the great equalizer of the series at the moment.

The referees are believed to take notes from the hometown newspapers before each game, which is why Brown decided to speak one game after Jordan talked his team into the good graces of the referees.

The power to persuade is liable to go against the Wizards in Game 5 tonight, when LeBron’s witnesses will be motivated to register jet-like decibel levels.

The Wizards ought to respond with the purpose, energy and desperation that proved favorable to them in the second half of Game 4.

That is not the nature of their personality, of course.

The quality of their conviction is on the day-to-day list, induced in part by a frontcourt that could drive Jordan to pull out his hair if he had hair.

Jordan has resorted to small ball, playground ball and bawled to the referees to good effect in the series.

He could be prompted to dig ever deeper into his bag of psychological and basketball tricks before this series is decided.



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