Rashard Lewis was none too pleased last month with the performance the Wizards gave in his first game at Amway Center since the Orlando Magic traded him for Gilbert Arenas. Lewis criticized his teammates for “going through the motions” during an embarrassing loss in which the Wizards had to score the final 10 points of the game to lose by a more respectable 18-point deficit.
Any positive feelings Lewis may have had from a raucous ovation from appreciative Magic fans were lost by the time he entered the locker room.
“Most definitely upset,” Lewis said. “Not only just ’cause of personal reasons, but we’ve got to play harder than that and I want to win ball games. We came out and didn’t play at all. I thought we went throught the motions.”
In recent weeks, Lewis’s former team has been going through its own funk, with Howard’s continuing trade saga and some lackluster efforts leading to Orlando losing five of six games. Howard recently ripped into his teammates at halftime of a road loss in New Orleans, telling them that if they didn’t want to compete then they should stay in the locker room.
Lewis said he doesn’t expect the Magic to stay down for long. “They’ve been struggling lately, but I’ve played on that team, where we struggled at times and Stan Van Gundy has always found a way for his team to bounce back. I’m sure they’ll be looking at this game as a bounce back for them. So I’m sure they’ll come out and play hard.”
But Lewis also expects the same from the Wizards, who have made some changes since that first meeting. They replaced Flip Saunders with Randy Wittman and made a few modest improvements, going 3-5 in their past eight games.
The Wizards (4-17) have averaged 94.4 points in their past nine games and actually outrebounded the Chicago Bulls — the NBA’s best rebounding team — 44-40 in their 98-88 loss on Monday at Verizon Center.
That has given Lewis encouragement for the rematch. “I think it’s going to be different this time around,” Lewis said. “We’ve been playing hard on both sides of the court. Looking forward to going out there and playing them, just because I know we have been playing well for the last week, week and a half. I know we’re going to play hard. Regardless if we win or lose, I’m sure we’re going to play hard.”