Jordan Experiments With Wizards' Rotation

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 12, 2006

CHICAGO, Oct. 11 -- To understand how Washington Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan feels about a particular player or lineup during a game, one simply has to observe him as he works his way up and down the sideline.

When second-year forward Andray Blatche finished a strong drive with a pretty layin during the fourth quarter of Wednesday night's 87-86 preseason loss to the Chicago Bulls and followed that play by making a long jump shot, Jordan nodded in approval.

When Donell Taylor, who finished with 12 points, hesitated before getting to his prescribed spot as the Wizards ran a play in the second quarter, Jordan stamped his foot, barked instructions and later counseled Taylor when the second-year guard came to the bench.

Jordan's reactions summarized the state of his team on a night when the game's outcome was secondary in importance to the Wizards' search for a playing rotation. As was the case with Monday's loss to the Toronto Raptors in the preseason opener, Jordan continued to explore his options.

Forward Caron Butler was in uniform but did not play and forward Darius Songaila, who remains out of action with a pinched nerve in his lower back, was in Washington. Jordan said Butler did not have an injury, only that he plans on giving each of his starters a game off during the preseason.

"Originally I was going to sit Caron and Antawn [Jamison], but then Antawn said he wanted to get some work in, so we went with him," Jordan said. "We'll look to rest our vets at times and that's a good thing because it will give us a chance to see some of the other guys."

Jarvis Hayes made his first start since Dec. 16, when he re-injured his right knee against the Los Angeles Lakers. Hayes, who scored 14 points of 6-of-11 shooting Monday night against Toronto, looked sharp again, hitting 4 of 7 shots and scoring 11 points in 19 minutes.

Etan Thomas started at center, and 14 players saw at least 11 minutes of action.

As was the case Monday night, the starters got the Wizards off to a strong start but the reserves struggled to maintain the momentum in the second quarter. Defensively, the Wizards forced the Bulls into taking long jumpers most of the night and as a result, the Bulls shot 41.3 percent.

"I thought you saw both teams play good defense," Jordan said. "This was a good test for us because of their pressure defense and I thought our starters did a good job of handling it and getting us into our offense."

The game's outcome was decided by Chicago reserve Andre Barrett, who made a jump shot with 17 seconds remaining to give the Bulls a one-point lead. The Wizards had a chance to win, but Roger Mason Jr., who is scrapping for a role as a backup guard, was long on a 19-foot jump shot at the buzzer.

"The funny thing is that I hit a game-winner here two years ago when I played with the Raptors," said Mason, who finished with five points and two assists in 24 minutes. "Those are the moments you look to seize. I got a good look at it, it just didn't go down for me."

Wizards Note: The Wizards noticed that the Bulls aggressively moved to upgrade their roster this summer. Several players, including Butler, commented that the additions of Ben Wallace and P.J. Brown will add to a growing rivalry.

The Wizards won a first-round playoff series between the teams in 2005, a series that is remembered for Gilbert Arenas's game-winning jump shot in Game 5, and the Bulls won last season's regular season series, 3-1.

"I would say it became a real rivalry when Gilbert hit that shot," Butler said. "You can really feel that extra energy when we play one another. We had some great games last year. Now, with Big Ben over there, they are one of those teams we are going to be fighting with for playoff position late in the season."

Jordan certainly has heard all of the talk about the Bulls being a dominant defensive team with Wallace. When asked about his goals for Wednesday night, Jordan smiled.

"Man, I just hope we can score in double figures," he said, with a hint of sarcasm. "I keep hearing how tough they are defensively. I just hope we can score a little bit."

The Wizards continue preseason play Saturday night in Cleveland.

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