- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2007

We know what it takes to put the Wizards in a stupor.

If you are the opposition, you scratch a bunch of starters from the lineup, sign a bunch of illegal aliens to 10-day contracts and roll to victory.

It apparently is against the principles of the Wizards to take advantage of the anonymous and vulnerable.

Or perhaps it is against their religion.

Whatever it is, the Wizards inevitably are found deficient against the infirm, bedridden and handicapped.

Not even referee Tony Brothers could have helped the Wizards in Atlanta.

Brothers may be mentally challenged, to paraphrase Don Nelson, but he would have been hard-pressed to negate the powerful force known as Zaza Pachulia.

That is how bad it was.

A player named after Zsa Zsa Gabor was allowed to take indecent liberties against the Wizards, and nothing personal against anyone named Zaza or Zsa Zsa.

It is a fine name for a poodle or a Hungarian-born actress who beats up Beverly Hills police officers in her spare time.

But it is an absolutely curious name for a professional basketball player.

So you know how discouraging it must be to the team that falls victim to the aura of Zaza.

The Wizards had three All-Stars on the floor. The Hawks had Zaza. It was no contest.

Zaza whirled his way to a career-high 27 points, and Brendan Haywood was unable to do a darn thing about it.

This one hurt, assuming the Wizards consider themselves a serious playoff contender.

You just cannot allow someone named Zaza to beat you in March, when the jockeying for playoff position is under way in earnest.

Alas, the Wizards have made a habit of losing to wheelchair basketball teams.

They lost to the day laborers of Denver in December, when Carmelo Anthony was serving a suspension for backpedaling in fear of the rabid Jared Jeffries.

They then lost to the displaced citizens of Oklahoma City the next month.

Now they have lost to Zaza.

What’s next — losing to Peter John Ramos?

We understand it was the second of a back-to-back imposition on the schedule of the Wizards.

We understand that Zaza did not play the previous night and was well-rested.

And we understand that odd stuff happens in these situations, such as Caron Butler claiming an offensive rebound before dribbling the ball off his foot out of bounds or Jarvis Hayes coming down with Jahidi White’s hands of stone.

What we do not understand is how a team can make it look so easy and then, in a matter of minutes in the third quarter, lose the momentum, confidence and capacity to convert the most rudimentary plays.

This baffling condition certainly was not induced by the energy of the several hundred fans in the arena, most being the family and friends of Hayes and Donell Taylor and the rest hostages. To be honest, Atlanta is believed to have the only neutral court in all of basketball.

The Wizards are puzzling to even their most ardent supporters, including the ones who plead to have the 10-day-old burrito that has been handled by thousands of servers before the Chipotle Burrito Dash promotion is held at each home game.

The Wizards can beat the Mavericks at home, the Suns on the road or take two consecutive games from the Pistons.

They also can lose to the decimated, the wobbly or Zaza.

They can blast the Raptors one night and then go gaga over Zaza the next night.

If it is not one thing with the Wizards, it is Zaza.

The Wizards could have gone 10 games above .500. They could have maintained their four-game lead on the Heat.

Instead, Zaza showed up to work, and that was it.

This is one the Wizards are apt to rue if they land an unfavorable seed or lose homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

They can point to the Zaza game, among others.

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