Jordan Seeks Button To Restart Wizards
Friday, November 25, 2005
Washington Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan stood outside of his team's locker room following Wednesday's 91-83 loss to the Orlando Magic and broke the evening's events down in a calm, analytical manner.
If Washington's fifth straight loss made Jordan want to go Bobby Knight and toss a few projectiles around the room, he certainly wasn't letting on.
"Sometimes freaking out is good and sometimes it's not good," Jordan said. "Sometimes remaining calm is good and sometimes it's not enough. I have to feel the pulse of my team and see if I need to give 'em a jolt or a pat and a hug. We do a little bit of both around here."
As the Wizards prepare for tonight's daunting task of trying to break out of their funk against the team with the best record in the NBA, the Detroit Pistons, one thing is obvious: Jordan's team desperately needs a win.
Detroit is 9-1, owns a 12-game winning steak over Washington and has a trio of former Bullets/Wizards in Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace and Richard Hamilton who would not mind adding to their former team's miseries.
For the Wizards, any good vibes that reverberated after a 5-1 start have disappeared, replaced by frustration and confusion about roles.
Jordan tweaked his starting lineup this week, replacing Antonio Daniels at shooting guard with Jarvis Hayes, and he shuffled his playing rotation with the hope of creating some kind of a flow on both ends of the floor.
During Wednesday's loss to Orlando, Jordan experimented with one lineup that included three smaller guards: Daniels, Gilbert Arenas and Chucky Atkins and also went with a lineup that included three bigger players: Caron Butler, Michael Ruffin and Etan Thomas.
Jordan liberally mixed man-to-man defenses with zones, and at the start of the third quarter had some success creating tempo with full-court pressure.
As has been the case throughout the losing streak, Washington played well in stretches but could not sustain an offensive run or string together enough stops to take control of the game.
"We had one group in there that can defend but didn't shoot the ball well," Jordan said. "We had another group in there that shot the ball well but didn't defend well enough. We had a small group in there that played pretty well and a big group that played okay, but the big group couldn't contain and the small group couldn't rebound. We're trying different things."
Pick up a Wizards roster, randomly select a name and you'll find a player who is struggling to perform with any level of consistency on both ends of the court. Since being named Eastern Conference player of the week following huge games against Seattle and San Antonio, Arenas has made just 30 of 79 shots (37.9 percent) and at times looked lost on defense.
When the double teams are coming at him and his shot isn't falling, Arenas can resemble an option quarterback who is suddenly asked to get into the shotgun formation and throw the football after his team has fallen behind.
"It has been harder now," Arenas said of handling the increased defensive attention. "That's why I'm trying to get out in the open as much as possible. Once we get in the offense, they're keying on me and I have to do a better job of finding my teammates."
In the last two games, big men Brendan Haywood and Jared Jeffries have combined to score 14 points and grab 12 rebounds. Newcomers Daniels, Atkins and Butler, who are being counted on to replace the production of Larry Hughes, are still in the process of blending in.
Atkins and Daniels are looking to find their shots while Butler, the team's third-leading scorer behind Arenas and Jamison, was 0 for 5 against Orlando.
"It's a totally different team," Arenas said. "In the first five games, the new players were adapting to us so they were content and the old players took over. Now that the new players are joining the team and ready to go, we have to get them involved. They don't know when we like the ball, where we like the ball and we're figuring out the same thing with them. We're stagnant out there. It's just that we're new and everyone is trying to click. It's just a little tweak and we'll get there."