The Wizards were already preparing not to have John Wall against the Cleveland Cavaliers when they held practice on Thursday, using that time to get Mustafa Shakur and Othyus Jeffers more acclimated with what they are doing. The team found out later that evening that the No. 1 overall pick was suspended for one game following his altercation with Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
“We’re used to it -- preparing as if we’re not going to have guys,” Coach Flip Saunders joked.
In addition to Wall, Nick Young ruled himself out of the game with a bone bruise in his left knee. Young said he visited with a specialist in New York and “all reports was good” but he wouldn’t be available until Sunday, at the earliest.
“I’m just trying to get back, really,” Young said. “It’s kind of tough. I really haven’t been able to do anything with the team. It’s kind of hard to jump back into things.”
Andray Blatche said the team would have a difficult adjustment without their floor general in Wall. “But we’ll approach it like every other game. Now it’s time for other guys to step up. Definitely being out with our captain, our point guard, it leaves us without that quickenss and leadership. Just because somebody is out. You can’t change what we have done in practice and what we have set for us.”
Saunders said he hopes that the team can respond without Wall in the same way they did in the final three quarters against the Heat, as they pushed Miami until collapsing in the final five minutes. “I think we’ve grown from that. They’re not going to back down. When your leader. Your so-called team leader gets challenged. But I think it shows when something did happen, the guys backed John and they responded. After John left, they could’ve easily said, ‘It ain’t going to happen tonight. We got five our of our tip six sitting on the bench.’ But they didn’t do that. They kept on fighting and kept on fighting.”
Blatche said that kind of reaction should be expected, considering how the team has been undermanned for much of the month. “It says a lot about us. It’s been times we could’’ve just said, ‘Okay, a lot of bad things is happening, it’s not our night.’ But that’s not the type of team we are. Just watching them last week, they played with a lot of heart and a lot of emotion. I just wanted to come back and play the same way and help them out. That’s going to be title of our team: Effort and hard work.”
FROM THE POST
Flip Saunders believes that the altercation between Wall and Zydrunas Ilgauskas could’ve been avoided if officials had caught the first elbow that connected with Wall’s face. And that way, Hamady Ndiaye wouldn’t have had those embarrassing technical free throws.
People should really stop paying attention to this man’s grandstanding diatribes, but ESPN radio personality Colin Cowherd’s latest rant on Wall got Dan Steinberg to strike on the D.C. Sports Bog.
AROUND THE WEB
Peter Vecsey of the New York Post writes that Gilbert Arenas looks shot, pun definitely intended, but he also speculates about the futures of Ernie Grunfeld and Flip Saunders, believing Ted Leonsis will dismiss both.
Arenas is already making plans to workout with famed trainer Tim Grover in Chicago for the third summer in a row.
LeBron James believes there is a double standard when it comes to foul calls against him.
Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel catches up with District native and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley as he prepares to host his former team, the Miami Heat.
Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times looks at how the fireworks during the Los Angeles Lakers’ win over the Dallas Mavericks, and verbal sparring between Phil Jackson and Mark Cuban, sets up an interesting playoff series.
Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe looks into how Paul Pierce helped the Boston Celtics get back on track against the reeling San Antonio Spurs.