- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Washington Wizards lost any momentum from Friday’s impressive win over the Bulls by falling to the Bucks and Hawks, and the news hasn’t gotten any better.

As they embark on a four-game, seven-day road trip that starts Wednesday at Oklahoma City, the Wizards are expected to be without second-leading scorer Caron Butler for a second consecutive game.

Butler, who missed Monday night’s game with tightness in his left hamstring, didn’t practice Tuesday. After receiving treatment, he walked with a noticeable limp as he left Verizon Center.

Wizards coach Ed Tapscott said Butler will travel with the team but he will start forwards Andray Blatche and Antawn Jamison, center Darius Songaila and guards Dominic McGuire and Mike James against the Thunder.

Despite the less-than-desirable circumstances, the Wizards tried to remain optimistic.

“Any time you go on the road, you win 50 percent of the games, that’s great road trip,” said Songaila, who has started the last 15 games at center because of injuries to teammates. “I think that’s realistic looking at the schedule.”

With a back-to-back at San Antonio and Dallas coming this weekend and the trip ending with a game at Minnesota, Tapscott said such an undertaking is trying because of the Wizards’ inconsistency.

“Every night is a difficulty for us until we learn how to play consistently,” Tapscott said with resignation. “There are some nights, like Friday against Chicago, when we just have it. … We had it for a little while [Monday] night against Atlanta, although we were playing short-handed again without one of our major scorers; we had it for a while and then lost it and couldn’t get it back.

“Then there are other nights where we just don’t have it, and that’s the nature of a team that relies so much on young players. Preparation, consistency - those are all values that it takes time to understand and make part of your routine every day. It’s a work in progress.”

The key for the Wizards will be balanced scoring. But they can’t afford to hit an offensive cold streak and slip into a defensive lull. The team addressed those shortcomings Tuesday in practice, but as this season has shown, how they will carry out those lessons is difficult to predict.

“That’s just part of coaching,” Tapscott said. There’s a great line from Sun Tzu that I read the guys that says, ‘If you know yourself and you know your enemy, you fear no battle. If you know yourself and know not your enemy, you will win and lose about equally. If you know not yourself and not your enemy, you will succumb every time.’

“So I at least know myself. So I’m fifty-fifty. I know some times, and some times I don’t. So in that regard I know who we are, but I keep pushing to make it evolve.”


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