The return from the all-star break hasn’t started out well for Nick Young. He shot poorly and got benched in the second half in Milwaukee, then came off the bench against Orlando only to injure his right knee after an awkward landing in the fourth quarter.
Young missed his second practice in a row on Friday and will be out when the Wizards host Cleveland at Verizon Center on Saturday. The best news he has heard this week was that an MRI revealed that there was no structural damage in his knee
“I just came down on somebody’s foot, twisted it a little bit,” said Young, who immediately asked out of the game. “I’m happy it’s nothing bigger than I thought. Been working on it. I pretty much felt like I couldn’t plant as hard as I wanted to, and it just felt like something was wrong.”
Young, the Wizards’ second-leading scorer at 16.5 points, is optimistic that he won’t miss too much time. “I’m going to try to get back as soon as I can,” he said. “Probably Golden State.”
At the very least, Young would like to be back in uniform against his hometown Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Young has historically played well in Los Angeles, but his struggles of late actually began when the team faced the Clippers on Feb. 15. The night before in Portland, Young scored a season-high 35 points and matched his career-high with seven three-pointers.
But in his past six games, Young is averaging just 9.8 points while shooting 27.7 percent overall (23-for-83) and 28.1 percent from beyond the three-point line (9 of 32). He admitted that the slump – which allowed John Wall to surpass him as the team’s leading scorer – has gotten him down and probably led to Coach Randy Wittman going with Jordan Crawford as the starter instead.
“At times I let it get to me,” Young said. “It’s a part of the game. I got to get in the gym, get some shots up, really just get my confidence right.”
Young had been the starting shooting guard since the second game of the season and was playing well before hitting the drought, scoring at least 21 points in 12 of his previous 18 games. He spoke with Wittman about the benching and isn’t confused about his demotion like teammate JaVale McGee, who claimed that he expects to get the message “sooner than later.”
“I understand what he’s trying to do,” Young said, so I’m just going to play my heart out if I come off the bench or start. I’m just going to get out there and play, try to do my best to get the team a victory. He just wants me to get out there, just play harder. I been missing a couple shots, and he said I can’t let that affect me out there.”
Young said he feels he’s going through one of those “little stretches” and expects to find his rhythm again. “I’ve got to get back, my mind right, get confidence again, and just play the game I’ve been playing for a long time. I’m going to wait until I get over this hump. Once I get those shots going, it’s going to be a good time again.”
Rashard Lewis (sore left knee) also didn’t practice and Wittman said Ronny Turiaf is not with team and is out of the country to address problems with his U.S. work visa. Turiaf has been out since Jan. 1 with a broken left hand and visited a hand specialist on Tuesday in New York. Wittman doesn’t expect Turiaf to be back with the team for a few days.