Eddie Jordan exited the Washington Wizards‘ practice court Thursday at Verizon Center drenched in sweat and visibly fatigued.
He had just put his 0-3 Wizards through a brisk practice. Then the coach hit the treadmill hard.
“That was my stress-buster run,” Jordan said. “Right after practice I went to it.”
Jordan was more relaxed than the night before in Milwaukee, where he fumed over his team’s loss - and for good reason.
The Wizards squandered a 14-point fourth-quarter lead over the Bucks and fell 112-104 in overtime.
The starting backcourt of DeShawn Stevenson and Antonio Daniels continued to struggle. Stevenson is shooting 37.9 percent from the floor - including 29.4 percent from 3-point range - while averaging 9.3 points; Daniels is averaging 6.0 points and 4.3 assists.
The starting unit as a whole again got off to a slow start. Despite putting up decent numbers (19.0 points, 7.0 rebounds), team captain Antawn Jamison is shooting a career-worst 37.7 percent from the field through three games. The Wizards committed 20 turnovers, which led to 35 Milwaukee points, and missed 17 foul shots.
One of the few bright spots of the loss was rookie center JaVale McGee, who provided nine points and five rebounds in a little more than 13 minutes off the bench. Fellow reserves Nick Young and Juan Dixon also stood out. The guards led the Wizards on a charge that erased a second-quarter deficit and gave them the lead. But when Young and Dixon returned to the bench in the fourth quarter, the starting unit couldn’t maintain the surge.
“Yeah, we’ve all noticed [the trend],” Young said. “But that’s what we’re here for, to try to push the veterans and keep them going. Just trying to help push Caron and Antawn and get them going a little bit. … We get it going, always coming back, always starting off slow, have to come back. [On Wednesday] we had the game, I think. Just had some minor slip-ups down the end. We could’ve won Detroit, too. We’ve just got to get one, get over the hump.”
Following the loss, Jordan predicted that he and his staff would monitor the team’s personnel closely in the coming days and that changes likely would be coming.
But after half a day’s space, the coach said he isn’t ready to give up on his veterans - at least not yet anyway.
“Consideration is under evaluation. However, patience is a virtue, and patience is the key,” Jordan said. “I’ve always said, patience is when you’ve had enough. You’ve got to hold on a little bit longer. Everybody can bail out when you’ve had enough. Patience is holding on a little bit longer, and we’ll see how that goes.”
The hope is that Stevenson and Daniels can return to their forms from a year ago when they averaged 11.2 points and 8.4 points, respectively. If that happens, and if Young, Dixon and McGee continue with their strong play, then the Wizards can put this season’s disturbing start behind them.
Jordan said Wednesday’s loss didn’t come from a lack of trying. So perhaps the Wizards, who host the New York Knicks on Friday, are on the verge of getting over the hump.
“One thing I was happy about, we gave great effort,” Jordan said. “We didn’t really take a dip in the effort department. For 48 minutes, everybody played hard. Didn’t play smart, didn’t make plays, but in the NBA if you play hard you give yourselves a decent chance of competing and winning. And that’s what we did. We’re on the road, and we go to overtime. Look, we lost the lead and we didn’t play well, but we gave great effort, which is a good sign, and hopefully we can give great effort for 48 minutes and make NBA plays for 48 minutes or at least in crunch time.”