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Lack of Effort Irks Wizards Veterans

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 13, 2008

To a few Wizards veterans, the most humiliating aspect of Thursday night's 122-88 home loss to the Boston Celtics was not the ugly final score, or even the sight of so many Celtics fans cheering for their team as it left the floor long after Wizards fans hit the exits. It was the lack of fight displayed by some of their teammates.

Those frustrations spilled out after the game in the locker room, where yelling could be heard from the hallway.

Specifically, some veterans did not like the effort, attitude and body language of some players, particularly a few of the younger ones.

"That was unacceptable," Caron Butler said yesterday in reference to the loss and the casual reaction a few Wizards appeared to have to it. "To be sitting here at 4-16 and acting like it's okay, that is not going to happen. No way."

After dropping three games to the Wizards last season, the Celtics clearly wanted to send a message Thursday night, and they succeeded with a resounding victory on national television.

"Knowing who we were playing, knowing what happened last year -- they wanted to come in and whip our [backsides] last night, and they did it," Antawn Jamison said. "If that doesn't make you upset, then we don't want you on this team, I don't want you on this team. If you don't take it personal and play with a lot of pride, you are wasting our time. That was the message. Guys were definitely upset."

They had plenty of reason.

The Wizards suffered their worst defeat of the season and were bullied by the defending champions in the process. The Celtics not only won by playing better basketball -- they shot 55.7 percent, held a 41-26 rebounding edge and a 23-11 advantage in fast-break points -- they also played with more energy and passion, while at times physically manhandling the home team.

On one possession late in the first quarter, Boston's Kendrick Perkins posted up against Wizards forward Andray Blatche, received a pass, backed Blatche down, and easily scored to give Boston a 13-point lead.

"The thing that really upset us was the effort that we played with: Those guys pushing us around, being physical. And we just sat back and took it, even me," Jamison said. "We just took it. They hit first and we didn't do anything about it. . . . Right now, we're not bringing it like we should."

If the Wizards were even a .500 team, such a loss could be labeled just a bad night in a long season. However, the Wizards have matched the 1966-67 Baltimore Bullets for the worst start in franchise history, they're still looking for their first winning streak and they've lost six games by double digits.

All of that boiled over in the locker room Thursday night.

"We're sick of it," said guard Juan Dixon, who finished with 17 points, 7 assists, 4 steals and 4 turnovers in his fourth start of the season. "We've got to start taking things personal, man."

Guards Mike James and Javaris Crittenton, who were acquired in a trade that sent Antonio Daniels to New Orleans on Tuesday, barely had time to learn all of their new coaches' and teammates' names before witnessing Thursday's beatdown.

James played a little more than 10 minutes but missed all of his shots and finished with one point, one assist and one rebound while Crittenton had four turnovers while playing the game's final six minutes.

Both players should have a better chance to contribute after going through their first practice yesterday. Interim coach Ed Tapscott said he and his staff put together a few basic offensive packages for James and Crittenton and will steadily add more as they get more comfortable.

At the end of a scrimmage session yesterday, Crittenton nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to lift a unit of reserves to victory.

"Right now, it's just a matter of soaking it in, taking baby steps and getting comfortable with the offense," Crittenton said. "This was a good, hard practice."

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