- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Washington Wizards center Brendan Haywood isn’t going to make a big stink about playing time in the postseason — or lack thereof.

Instead, the former starter wants Wizards coach Eddie Jordan to know he’s ready tonight if needed.

Haywood played just five minutes at Cleveland on Sunday when the Wizards dropped Game 1 97-82. The Cavaliers exploited the Wizards’ small-ball lineup by feeding 7-foot-3 center Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the post.

The 7-foot Haywood has had past success against Ilgauskas.

“I know him well enough,” Haywood said of Ilgauskas, who scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. “It’s not a secret to what he’s going to do. He likes the hook shot, and I’ll challenge the jump hook. I think I’m long and athletic enough to give him problems.”

Jordan mainly used Antawn Jamison (6-9) and Darius Songaila (6-8) on the lengthy Lithuanian on Sunday, but it didn’t work. And the Wizards got nothing from starting center Etan Thomas, who filled his 20 minutes with just two points and five rebounds.

Jordan said Haywood will get his chance tonight, and if he’s productive, he will play significant minutes.

“Brendan has been the first big off the bench, and we want him to play with a lot of energy, intelligently and let’s see what happens,” Jordan said. “That’s how it goes. You make your own minutes. If you can get it done, you get it done. If you don’t have a high rate of success, then we’re going somewhere else. It’s as simple as that.”

To have a shot at winning tonight and knotting the series, the Wizards will have to be more disciplined than they were in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game.

Despite making just 36.7 percent of their field goals overall, the Wizards were within striking distance early in the fourth quarter.

But Jordan said his team got away from what it was trying to do, causing the game to slip away.

Jordan indicated yesterday the Wizards haven’t altered their game plan much. Instead, he said, they spent the better part of two days tweaking things.

“We thought the pace was right [in Game 1],” Jordan said. “They got a little bit of jump in the first quarter, and then we got back in it. In the fourth quarter I think we just got a little bit too undisciplined, and that hurt us.”

In the days leading up to the playoffs, the Wizards talked often about how the intensity level is amplified in the postseason.

To that end, guard DeShawn Stevenson said he and his teammates — especially the big men — must raise their level of physicality.

“We need our centers to go out there and at least give some hard fouls and let them know that we’re here,” Stevenson said. “They have to go out there and try to be a beast.

“But it’s not just them. I think the whole team needs to send a message. I’m not saying hurt nobody, but … these are the playoffs. I think there were too many layups.”

Whether Haywood patrolling the middle tonight will prevent LeBron James and Larry Hughes from slicing to the basket remains an unknown.

What isn’t is Haywood’s professed desire to contribute.

“It’s frustrating any time you don’t play in the playoffs, especially when you are used to playing,” Haywood said. “But at the end of the day you have to realize it’s not about you. It’s about the team. And if coach feels that what he has out there is the best lineup and it doesn’t include me, then he has to play it.”

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