Wizards Notebook

Haywood Is Missed On Defensive End

By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 10, 2008

Through the season's first five games, the Washington Wizards are discovering how difficult it is to replace a veteran 7-footer. The team knew that Brendan Haywood's absence with a right wrist injury would pose problems -- especially on the defensive end, where Haywood protected the paint, covered mistakes and helped put his teammates in the proper spots on the court.

The void was especially apparent against the Orlando Magic on Saturday, when all-star center Dwight Howard posted 31 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks against centers Etan Thomas, Andray Blatche and rookie JaVale McGee.

Howard has had dominant performances before, but the 7-1 Haywood helped hold the 6-11 Howard to an average of just 13 points in his first 16 career meetings against Washington. Howard's previous career high against Washington was 22 points. "We're a little bit smaller on the front line. We're a little bit non-physical on the front line," Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan said, when asked about the problems his team has faced this season. "And that's pretty much just on the surface."

The Magic outscored the Wizards 48-20 in points in the paint. The Wizards failed to record a block against Orlando, and they rank near the bottom of the league in that category with 3.8 per game. They averaged 4.8 blocked shots last season, with Haywood averaging a career-high 1.7 blocks.

"Not having him back there is probably the worst thing for this team right now -- no disrespect to anybody," guard DeShawn Stevenson said. "He helped me out a lot. He talked. All the little things that he [did]. It hurts."

UP NEXT Wednesday vs. Utah8 p.m. Comcast SportsNet, WTEM-980 Friday at Miami7:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet, WTEM-980

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