D.C. snowstorm forces Wizards to make do in Florida
Monday, February 8, 2010
ORLANDO -- The Washington Wizards discussed several options for leaving Orlando in order to make it to their game against the Atlanta Hawks at Verizon Center on Sunday, including flying into Richmond and taking a bus to the District. But with the blizzard refusing to relent and the game postponed, the Wizards elected to stay behind in Florida, practice for two days and then leave Monday for Charlotte, where they will face the Bobcats on Tuesday in their final game before the all-star break.
Although the weather in Orlando still required a jacket, there are worse places to be stranded, and the players weren't complaining. "It ain't too bad. It's definitely better than being under 20 inches" of snow, Randy Foye said after the Wizards practiced at Amway Arena on Sunday. "The biggest thing is, you always want to be with your family. But we got a job to do. We all understand the circumstances of trying to make the ride back to D.C., the dangers and stuff, but we stuck it out here."
Staying in Orlando actually worked to the benefit of DeShawn Stevenson and Antawn Jamison. Stevenson maintains an offseason home in central Florida and has been able to sleep in his own bed and drive his car around town since the team arrived on Thursday. Jamison had a prearranged trip to Miami, where he bought a suite to watch the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl. Jamison is a native of Louisiana but has no rooting interest in the game.
"I'm just going to have a good time," Jamison said.
Coach Flip Saunders said Jamison should be happy that the team got stranded: "If we went back, he might not have been able to get a plane to take him out there."
Some of the players and coaches spent Saturday afternoon at the mall, where they bought clothes and undergarments, since their four-day trip was extended to a full week.
The last NBA game postponed because of weather was a Hornets game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 13, 2007. An ice storm in Oklahoma City prohibited the Hornets from flying to Milwaukee. The Wizards had played the Hornets in Oklahoma City the day before, but managed to escape to San Antonio after a lengthy delay on the runway.
Saunders, who had previous coaching stops in Minnesota and Detroit, said that he never dealt with a weather postponement, but added that those areas may have been better equipped to handle severe storms. He had to chuckle because he was told before the season that winters weren't that bad in Washington. "We've got a lot of snow. Everybody is blaming it on us, like we brought it all," Saunders said.
Foye more aggressive
Caron Butler scored 14 of the Wizards' 18 fourth-quarter points -- including the game-winning jumper with 0.5 of a second remaining -- in their 92-91 win against Orlando on Friday. But the Wizards likely wouldn't have been in position to win if not for Foye, who outscored the Magic, 19-17, in the third period. In the fourth quarter, Foye had just one point, but it gave the Wizards a 90-88 lead with 19 seconds remaining.
Saunders benched Foye in the first period, when the Wizards fell behind by 21 points. "Coach pulled me, had me sit back and had me watch what's going on. In the third quarter, I just wanted to attack, attack, attack, as much as I can. That was my mental, my mind-set," said Foye, who shot 5 of 8 in the second half.
After Foye went 0 for 3 and finished with just two points in the Wizards' loss to Boston on Monday -- his worst outing since replacing Gilbert Arenas as the starter -- Saunders met with Foye to discuss his expectations and demands for a point guard. Foye has averaged 18.5 points and shot 46.4 percent (13 of 28) the past two games.
"We all know when you're doing something bad. We all know when you're taking bad shots or taking good shots," Foye said. "My main focus right now is just being aggressive, no matter what."