By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 27, 2009
The Washington Wizards enter tonight's game against the Chicago Bulls with a 13-44 record after two straight home losses, so it's safe to say interim coach Ed Tapscott is seeking inspiration anywhere he can find it.
That's why Tapscott said President Obama, a pickup basketball junkie who is expected to attend the game, has an open invitation to offer some presidential advice if he would like.
"He's the first man so if he wants to draw up a play, I'll certainly take it," Tapscott said. "I know he's a Bulls fan, but I figured he has to be professionally neutral. He is a resident of Washington, D.C., now. So that will be terrific. Obviously, that adds great atmosphere for the fans and for our franchise and even our players. That would be great if it happens, but at this time, I'm just trying to win a game."
Judging by the way the Wizards played in Saturday's 31-point home loss to the San Antonio Spurs and in Wednesday's 106-98 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Wizards could use some presidential help.
The latest loss was the product of sloppy play that included 21 turnovers and far too many defensive breakdowns. After the game, Tapscott questioned his team's focus and pregame preparation and suggested that changes could be coming.
By yesterday, Tapscott had cooled off and put his team through a practice that was heavy on five-on-five scrimmaging. As he has all season, Tapscott continued to balance criticism and encouragement of his team.
"If we play game situations, then we really practice," Tapscott said. "It's about letting them compete. Let's get in there and mix it up. At this point in the season, you are sometimes better off taking that approach."
Forward Antawn Jamison credited Tapscott and his coaching staff with taking the correct approach to a team that has been riddled with injuries and has several young players who are trying to find their way in the NBA.
Tapscott "has done everything possible to have everybody, not only the vets, ready to play basketball," Jamison said. "It's a time when certain guys have to be professional and treat it as their job and be mentally and physically prepared when they're out there on the court."
The Bulls (26-32) have beaten the Wizards twice this season and still have hopes of making a playoff run.McGee Must Improve
Rookie center JaVale McGee played less than six minutes Wednesday night, continuing a season-long trend in which his playing time has fluctuated. Tapscott has repeatedly said the talented but raw 7-footer will have to earn everything that comes to him.
Specifically, Tapscott wants McGee to do a better job of rotating defensively, particularly in the pick-and-roll game.
"Flow of the game," Tapscott explained when asked why McGee saw such little time Wednesday night. "Just didn't think there was enough effectiveness there doing the things we need. A flashy dunk is not necessarily playing well. You have to look at what is being given up on the other end. He wasn't alone tonight. He had some struggles, along with a bunch of other guys. We needed execution, and I went with the guys I thought would be able to execute best."No Loan Needed for Wizards
League and team sources confirmed yesterday that the Wizards are not among the 12 NBA teams that are dipping into a loan the NBA has taken out to augment an existing $1.7 billion credit facility that uses the league's media contracts as collateral.
Teams can use the loans for any purpose.
Despite the rough season and a dip in attendance, ticket sales and concession sales, the Wizards are in solid financial condition. On Wednesday night, season ticket holders were offered free upper-level tickets to give away to friends and family.