Wizards energetic effort results in a loss against the Heat

Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

Certain loses are easier to take than others and the Wizards eight point loss to the Heat is one of those loses. When you consider the way the Wizards played in their recent games against Orlando, Indiana and Philadelphia, that they were without Andray Blatche and Al Thornton who were nursing injuries, and that they were adding three new players into the mix (Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans and Jordan Crawford) – a beat down against the Miami Heat would have been expected. However, the Wizards elected to play with a little passion. And while they ultimately lost the game, it was a competitive and entertaining game throughout.

The Heat secured the win with an good game by Bosh (15 pts & 8 reb), great game by LeBron James (25 pts, 9 reb & 7 ast) and an incredible scoring performance by Dwyane Wade (41 points). They also received a little help by the officiating crew as the Heat shot 45 free throws versus 23 by the Wizards. (In fact, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade (28 FTs) attempted more foul shots that the entire Wizards team (23).)

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The Wizards will never be the Clippers-east, not while Donald Sterling is around

Donald Sterling (Source:Clippers.com)

As the Washington Wizards have struggled, it has been popular among some circles, to compare them to the Los Angeles Clippers.  Some, in fact, have even gone as far as to refer to them as some variation of the “Clippers-east.”  It is true that the Wizards have only made it to the playoffs five of the last 20 seasons.  And they have made it beyond the first round only once during that stretch.  (Well if you are counting the Clippers have made it to the post-season four times during that same period, and also made it out of the first round once.)

It is common to talk about the poor decisions that were made under the leadership of the former owner Mr. Abe Pollin.  I would humbly point out that, while I never met him, he appeared to be loyal to a fault.  Mr. Pollin put faith in his management team and let them run the day-to-day operations.  So while it is fair to question the decisions that were made and the qualifications of those making decisions, Mr. Pollin’s love for the city or his team cannot be questioned.

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How far away is Wizards Josh Howard from suiting up?

By the looks of this video, Wizards forward Josh Howard appears to be moving very well.  Now that we have entered the month of December, how far away are we from seeing Josh Howard suit up?  Currently Nick Young is banged up, Al Thornton is still trying to fully recover from his injury and a position that was once a strength has become extremely thin.

Refreshing Effort by the Wizards Results in a Win

Tonight’s win increased the Wizards win total to 18.  And while their overall record is still only a less than impressive 18-33, their overall effort was very impressive.  For the first time, in quite some time they actually seem to be interested in playing defense.  Consider that just a few weeks ago, this was a team that was crucified, and rightfully so, for its lack of defensive effort, or maybe more accurately in their lack of interest in putting forth an effort on the defensive side of the court.  (Truthaboutit.net details one example in painful detail.)

In other sports, like the NFL, we glorify the teams that seem to not have the best talent at every position, but manage to routinely find the hungry overachievers that form the nucleus of a successful team.  For example, how many Pro Bowl players do the Patriots and Steelers have each year, compared with other teams, but yet they are two of the most successful teams over this last decade.  Believe me; I am not letting myself get carried away by a couple of games.  I do not think that this team is going to make a miracle run to the playoffs – personally I rather they continue to play with energy and grit, while remaining in the lottery.

While not a perfect effort for 48 minutes, I was impressed with Nick Young diving for balls, players hustling back on defense, Josh Howard’s beer crunching attempt at a lose ball, the Wizards picking up their defense in the backcourt… THE BACKCOURT!  I liked the fact that this new collection of parts – or as a commenter on Bulletsforever put it, “The Replacement Killers” – are hungry!  They have something to prove and early into their tenure with the Wizards are playing like it.  I can’t remember a player on the Bullets/Wizards over the last 15 years playing defense on the other team’s superstar like Al Thornton did.

And on the offensive end of the court they made shots.  But just as importantly, they did not give up on plays and drift back up court, they actually fought for rebounds.  They fought for rebounds even with a CRAZY small lineup on the court – who was their center???  That was the craziest lineup I can remember seeing, but it worked.

An effort like this, win or lose, is great to watch.  However, it also elicits another emotion from me – anger.  It makes you wonder why this team with Gilbert, Antawn, Caron, Brendan and DeShawn couldn’t play with this same type of effort.  What could that team have accomplished if they truly played this hard?  I got used to the other team winning all of the “hustle plays.”  Today, the Wizards won those plays.  For much of this season the Wizards pretended to play defense, today they actually played some particularly when it counted most.  Could you imagine a Wizards team that actually held Carmelo scoreless in the 4th quarter?!?!?

Yes, this was a Nuggets team that just came off an emotional (and likely physically draining) overtime win against King Crab Dribble and the Cavaliers.  But this is also a Nuggets team that is deep and has superior talent.  The Nuggets were mostly playing against a collection of inexperienced young guys and cast-off role players.  I hope the Wizards learned an important lesson today.  If they play with this level of effort and passion, even as presently constructed, they can play with any team in the NBA (at least for the rest of this season).

For one game, I forgot that this was a 17 win team.  It was fun to watch this team go out and compete.  If they continue to play like this, I look forward to watching the rest of their games.

What these players offered tonight the Wizards need moving forward in 2010-2011.  Ernie and the coaching staff need to figure out how many of these guys to keep (and at what price).  But Thornton and Singleton in particular play with an edge that has been lacking in this team for quite some time.

Gilbert, I hope you were at home watching this effort tonight.