Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m THIS close to mailing it in.
There’s a blue, black and bronze envelope in the mail slot next to my front door, and it says “Washington Wizards’ 2005-06 season”. The only thing missing is a stamp, and I could get one on Friday if the guys lose again like they did in Milwaukee last night.
Once again, Butler was hurt and it shattered the Wizards’ spirit, and once again, the bench only contributed like seven points. The only real bright spots this time were Jared Jeffries having a monster (for him) game with a career-high 20 points and 8 boards, and Antonio Daniels stepping his game up a few notches with a 21 point, 6 assist outing. Etan Thomas, despite still having a bad back, sucked it up and played, he was a warrior last night.
I hate to say, “I told you so”, but I’ve been thinking, maybe we shouldn’t have cut Chucky Atkins. Think about it, on a playoff team, he’s a more than capable backup who can score and shoot the three. We have Donnell Taylor, who has skills, but is too young, and Billy Thomas who’s really nothing more than a training camp “feel-good story of the year”.
Alas, this is the bed we’ve made, and it’s really hard to sleep in it. Toughness was never a staple of Washington Wizards basketball and it shows. You play THROUGH injuries, especially if you’re paid to do so.
The eight seeded Bulls aren’t as talented as us, but you know what, they scare me right now. In the “No Limit Solider” moment of the night, Kirk Hinrich dislocated a finger, popped it back in, and kept on playing! Ben Gordon sprained an ankle previously and STILL notched 19 points for his team in a win. As much as I like Butler on this team, a sprained thumb shouldn’t hold you out for FOUR games. No awards for him anytime soon.
As far as last night’s game went, it was a typical Wizard’s loss: Let a team hang around for two quarters, fall behind using their patented “Third Quarter Collapse”, then try and play catch-up for the rest of the game. Gilbert played a sloppy game, and I honestly think the zebras have caught onto the fact that his game is %75 drawing fouls while driving the lane. He’s just not getting calls like he used to, and neither is Antawn Jamison, who’s been getting hacked with no justice.
But the refs didn’t get them last night, the 19 turnovers did. That and the fact that T.J. Ford played super lockdown defense on Arenas down the stretch. For a guy his size, he penetrates EXTREMELY well and did a lot of driving and dishing to open Bucks down low. He had a field day in the paint because our front line has been softened up by injuries. Andrew Bogut doesn’t seem like a rookie, because he had a quietly fundamental night with 17 points. He fits right in with Milwaukee, and adds to a long line of Bucks centers (Jack Sikma, Frank Brickowski, Paul Mokeski, Randy Breuer) who look kinda goofy, but get the job done. Michael Redd is still capable of lighting people up, but he’s actually better being a part of the offense and not the focal point of it, and Toni Kukoc still looks like someone’s dad in the local rec league.
Every crunch time cliché has been throw out there about the Wizards. They either want the playoffs or they don’t.
There’s a stamp on my table waiting, and I’m not afraid to use it.
By Brian Taylor @ HoopsAddict.com
Thu 04/13/06, 12:28 pm EST
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