Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2 p.m. ET

The Washington Wizards

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Ivan Carter and Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 24, 2007; 2:00 PM

Washington Post staff writers Michael Lee and Ivan Carter were online Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 2 p.m. ET to field your questions and comments about the Wizards and all the latest NBA news.

From The Post:

Wizards Coverage

The transcript follows.

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1900 L St.: Has Coach Jordan stated his philosophy when it comes to using the younger guys? His rotation with them seems very random. For a while it was Andray getting the run (and performing pretty well I thought), now he's been going to Roger Mason first and even sprinkling in Donell Taylor (who was MIA the first half of the year). Blatche only got 3 minutes last night after a stretch in which I thought he'd established himself in the main rotation a bit. What's the deal? I'm confused.

Ivan Carter: Here's the deal: Eddie can't consistently count on anyone off of that bench. That's one reason why this team has the lowest scoring bench in the league. To me, that explains why he goes with a: "well, who has it going a little bit tonight?" philosophy. Granted, Roger Mason hasn't played enough to really warrant criticism and he has made shots when he has played. Thing is, Antonio is always going to get the bulk of minutes as the first guard off the bench and Eddie is going to stick with Jarvis because he can play the 2 and 3. Donell and Andray and too young/inexperienced to be counted on for night in/night out contributions. That's why Darius Songaila practicing for the first time today is so huge. This team will need him in the final month and in the playoffs.

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Michael Lee: Hey, everybody. I'm running a little late since I had awhile after practice to talk to some players. But I know you don't care about my plight. You want answers. I've got questions. So, let's go!

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D.C.: I think last night was a good reality check for the Wizards. I'm a big-time Wizards fan, but I feel that the No. 1 ranking in the East is a mirage considering how bad the East is. The best of the West came in and treated them like a son, and it ought to send a message how far the Wizards still have to go to be among the best in the NBA. My impression is that certain players on the Wizards seem a little too happy with the relatively modest amount of success they've had, individually and as a team. The team does not have a tradition of winning (in the last three decades at least), and it tends to show sometimes.

Michael Lee: I had a recent talk with a scout a few weeks ago on this subject. He was of the opinion that there are arguably only four teams in the NBA that were truly hurt about losing the championship last season - Dallas, San Antonio, Phoenix and Detroit. Combine them with Miami, and you have five teams that seriously entered this season thinking that they actually could win a championship. Everybody else is just talking about it, but those teams are serious about it. You can see it in the offseason and mid-season moves they are constantly making. They are always striving to improve. They rank in the first class.

That being said, the Wizards are in that second class of NBA teams, that are not content with just making the playoffs, but would be happy going to the second round and elated to advance to the conference finals. The goals are different for everybody else (like Golden State would just be happy with the playoffs). The Wizards can't be considered a championship contender at this point, so you just have to have an understanding where everybody else fits in.

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Fairfax, Va.: Owwwweeee, that hurt. Daddy, why does the bad man make us play Western Conference teams?

Ivan Carter: Well, they won at Phoenix and at Los Angeles (Lakers) and beat Dallas at home so they aren't that bad against the West. Bottom line: no team in the league would've handled the Suns the way they were knocking down shots last night. Plus, the ball movement was beautiful. One of those nights.

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Rockville, Md.: How do you account for the Wiz lethargy at the beginning of last night's game? And, was Jamison's invisibility due to a bad knee or other causes? He always seems to say the right thing, but his actual performance sometimes doesn't measure up to his words as a "team leader."

Ivan Carter: I spoke with Antawn after last night's game and he admitted that the left knee is "sore." I actually thought it was hurt worse than it was after Delonte West fell into it the other night and then, the same thing happened with James Jones last night. Antawn didn't practice today but said he'll go tomorrow and be fine for Detroit Friday night. I think he'll be okay as long as no more opponents fall directly into that knee. They really missed his rebounding last night (three).

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Pau Gasol to the Bulls??: Fellas, please tell me that's a bad rumor. Gasol's a good player, but worth Ben Gordon and Luol Deng?!? The Bulls top two scorers -- NO! Your thoughts....

Follow up question. What's the feeling about Scott Skiles around the league? Can he coach a star player, 'cause the last one he had, Jason Kidd, still hates him. What's the deal?

Michael Lee: The Bulls have had discussions with Memphis about Gasol, but they aren't really interested in giving up Deng and Gordon to get him. That's just too much, I think. But they are serious about addressing their needs of having a low post scorer. They live and die by the jumper and that won't cut it in the long haul. Gasol has made it clear to Memphis that if it wants to rebuild with young players, then maybe they should move him to a winner. Gasol isn't a bad guy for wanting to win. He really didn't want all of this to get out, but now that it is, believe that the Bulls will try their best to bring him East to play alongside Ben Wallace -- without mortgaging the future. It's just a matter of what Memphis is willing to take back.

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Mount Pleasant: Do you see Ernie making any trades? What do you think about a deal involving Kirilenko and Jamison?

Michael Lee: Why would Utah make that trade? Seriously.

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Clinton, Md.: I read with interest the other day that the Wizards were "upset over their VICTORY" against the Celtics. Has this team and town made a 180-degree turn on the Bullets/Wizards to the point you start complaining about the way you WIN games? Do you find the players and coaches to be more upset now when they lose or have bad wins?

Ivan Carter: After a loss, Arenas is typically analytical and Jamison and Butler are ticked off. As a whole, I sense that this team expects to win more than it did last season, so the losses and bad wins tend to bother them more.

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Tysons, Va.: Hi,

That was a tough lost last night but the Wiz did win one up in Phoenix.

Do you think the Wiz have the current personnel make a run at the Eastern conference finals? I think Agent 0 with his supporting cast can definitely make a run in the East.

Michael Lee: I agree. I said it in my blog a few weeks ago, that the East is really up for grabs and the Wizards are just as good as anybody in the conference. They can compete with any team because they have three players who put up 20 or 30 a night. If they add more depth, with Songaila or whatever, they can definitely make it to the conference finals. I just don't see them going any further.

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D.C.: What was the vibe from the crowd after last night's embarrassing blowout?

Ivan Carter: I sensed that everyone was in awe over how well the Suns played. As I said earlier, that ball was humming around, shots were fallin' Marion was getting out on the break and Nash played a near perfect game. Sometimes you just have to appreciate a great performance. There were a few boos directed towards the Wiz in the first half and the crowd tried to get rolling the second half when Caron Butler led a mini-comeback but the Suns had an answer every time.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Ivan,

Thanks for all your work on the Wizards beat. I took my girlfriend to her first live Wiz game last night, and she asked a question that I couldn't answer: "Why are those turkeys open again?" She was referring to Bell and Barbosa on the wings, after about the thirtieth time that Nash drove, Butler or Jamison collapsed for the double-team, and Nash pitched it out for the three.

Why is it so hard to defend the Suns? Or, perhaps a better question, why is it so hard to imitate what they do?

And, finally, do you think last night was just a night of mythic shooting by the Suns or terrible defense by the Wiz?

Thanks -- we went up to you after the game to say hi, and you were very gracious and kind even as you worked furiously on your story.

Ivan Carter: The Suns would have drilled anyone last night but it is also true that for the Wizards, that was the worst possible kind of team to play for this reason: if you pass the ball three or four times against the Wiz and have any kind of drive and kick game (think of what the Bulls do when they hurt the Wizards) you can get any shot you want. Gilbert can't get over screens and as ateam, these guys simply don't close out on shooters like good defensive teams do. One reason is that Eddie has emphasized not getting beat off the dribble so guys come out under control so they don't get pump-faked. Still, the Suns were moving the ball so nicely and making shots so well, nothing mattered. Not many teams are going to go 11-of-19 from three-point range in a half like that. Plus, Nash is the NBA version of an option quarterback. And thanks for the kind words about the end of the game. I try not to blow people off but it can be tough when deadline is looming.

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Fairfax, Va.: Did we get clowned last night or what? I'm sure next time we get a big win, we won't be screaming "hibachi!!" As the cliche goes, act like you been there before, and no other team out there needs any added incentive to beat you, or for this case, embarrass you at home.

Ivan Carter: One man's take on last night's events.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: I know that the Suns are definitely a better team, one of the best in the league, but I know they are not 22 points better than the Wizards. Phoenix brought their A game while the Wizards played probably one of their worst games of the year. Looking back on this night, I think we're all going to realize that it was an aberration. Getting a split with Phoenix (and Dallas for that matter) is still pretty impressive.

Ivan Carter: And another take on last night's events...

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Dallas: The Spurs seem to be stuck in second gear. What's the problem, can they make it to the Finals? Any news on K.G. going to S.A.?

Michael Lee: Wow, Dallas. Kevin Garnett to San Antonio? I got it, maybe the Spurs can offer Jackie Butler, Fabricio Oberto and Robert Horry for KG, right? Yeah, I can see Minnesota doing that. At least that's what I heard -- from the IRD (Idiotic Rumor Department).

Anyway, the problem with San Antonio is that Beno Udrih has been a disappointment as Tony Parker's backup, Brent Barry is a good scorer but a liability on defense, and Manu Ginobili hasn't been the same player since he came thisclose to being MVP of the 2005 NBA Finals. The Spurs are lacking youth and athleticism. They are looking geriatric with Horry, Michael Finley and Bruce Bowen out there. They realize that they won't be able to keep up with Dallas and Phoenix until they address their weaknesses at backup point guard and/or the swingman position.

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Re: Kirilenko: Maybe because Kirilenko is a max contract player averaging 9 points a game, feuding with his owner, and Jamison has an opt-out after this year?

Michael Lee: Again, why would Utah give up on Kirilenko? Yeah, he's having a bad season, but c'mon people. Let that pipe dream go. He ain't coming here.

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Washington, D.C.: One takeaway I had from watching the game last night is that the Suns are not only well-coached, they are well-put together. All the pieces seem to fit (though I imagine Nash helps that greatly). And good organizations like Phoenix strive for continuity, which lets pieces that almost fit grow until they do fit. I don't think the Wizards are there yet.

What conclusions did you take away from last night, comparing the Wiz to the Suns, etc.?

Ivan Carter: The thing that makes the Suns so dangerous is that they can consistently put five players on the court who can score and four of those players can stroke an open three pointer. Think about that for a minute. How many teams can do either of those things? You can't double Nash because if you do, he'll find the open man. If you misplay the pick-and-roll, he'll either burn you with A) a jumper B) a drive or C) a perfect pass to a rolling or cutting teammate for shot or dunk. Also, that group has played together now for three seasons and has has really formed a nice flow. Raja Bell has grown into a nice two-way player and Barbosa is a really nice player coming off that bench. That said, I still believe that Dallas will beat the Suns in the playoffs. Wilbon disagrees with me. Then again, he probably thinks that the Bears are going to win the Super Bowl.

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Washington, D.C.: Ivan and Mike, thanks for doing these chats. I didn't see much of the game last night, but after watching Jarvis Hayes play this season it seems like he is always taking the most difficult shots he can. To me it seems like he barely drives to the basket anymore and would rather go the baseline and take a difficult jump shot over a defender. If these shots were falling on a fairly consistent basis you wouldn't be reading this. Unfortunately, they are not. Do you agree with my opinion? Is this a result of JH's knee problems? If Jarvis went to the hole more, defenders would back off him more and that would give a little more space for his jumpers.

Michael Lee: You know, I've been saying that all year. Great comment. Jarvis is really struggling because he has settled on being a stationary shooter. I'm not sure if the knee is the sole reason why he doesn't attack the basket, but I know just from my limited experience playing high school and pickup basketball, that if your jumper isn't falling, you need to get some easy hoops. I know that doesn't compare to the NBA, but basketball is still basketball no matter where you play it. Jarvis has a bad shooting percentage because he takes low-percentage shots. He has the athleticism and quickness to do more, but does he have the mindset? That's been the problem unfortunately.

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Northeast, D.C.: I was at the game last night and couldn't for the life of me understand why Gil, when Nash was guarding him, didn't go hard to the basket to either draw fouls or set up his teammates. Nash has never been a good defender, but Gil just dribbled a little and passed the ball most of the time.

Further, why do the Wiz seem to be a shoot first team and not set up their offense? With three legitimate scorers, they just need to pass the ball around and utilize the dribble penetration for scoring and setting things up.

Ivan Carter: Gilbert clearly has not been attacking the basket the way he has in many of his big scoring games. Remember the Lakers 60-point game? He went into the paint at Andrew Bynum the way a shark goes after a surf board. Not sure why but he does tend to ebb and flow with his love for that three ball.

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D.C.: Hey Ivan, what was the mood in the locker room last night? Do you expect a more motivated Wizards team to come out tomorrow night in Detroit

Ivan Carter: Gilbert: respect for Nash and the Suns. Caron: polite as always but obviously ticked off about losing -- the way he always is after a loss. Daniels: "that's why I keep telling you guys (media) that we can't afford to be thinking about the best record in the East, or All-Star games or any of that stuff. we have to play every night. Things can change that quickly."

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Washington, D.C.: It occurred to me last night that whoever put together the Phoenix team is a genius. Marion and Stoudamire were No. 8 and/or No. 9 picks, Nash was about No. 16 (all three drafted by Phoenix), Diaw was No. 21, and Bell was undrafted. Who needs top picks in the draft? And even though Marion was projected as a lottery pick, whoever had the guts to pick a guy that high with such an ugly shot deserves special credit.

Ivan Carter: How about the wise decision to dump Marbury at the first opportunity and then overpay (at the time) for Nash? That worked out pretty well. Also, as with many of the good teams, they had the wisdom to tap into in the foreign market. The Hawks gave up on Diaw and they landed Barbosa.

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N.Y., N.Y.: Hey guys, I'm part of a group of crazy Wiz fans, thanks for doing these chats. Question is about Coach Jordan's in-game strategy. There are more than a few examples of how bad it's been. What set us off were the Knicks/Celts games, when he took Brendan out and they went on huge runs. Made me think of Ivan's chat from last week (about how you said Brendan's coming in, watch us go on a run vs. Bulls). So it was a bit enraging to see Ivan's article after the Celts win describing the Wiz as "befuddled" as to why the Celts came back and Eddie admitting his small ball strategy didn't work. WELL THAT'S WHY YOU STOP IT AFTER 5 MINUTES. Brendan sat until 4 in the 4th and from that point, we outscored the Cs by 11. Question: why don't you call him out on it? (The exact same thing happened in the Knicks game -- we thought Brendan was hurt until he checked in with 2 minutes to go.) We're not Brendan fans, we refer to him as Brenda for trying to take charges instead of blocks. But you can't argue with results. Also, is it Jordan's vendetta vs. Brendan that is keeping him on the bench?

Thanks.

Michael Lee: Actually, I was the one who said that last week (Feel free to check out who writes the answers). Brendan does makes a difference when he is on the floor. The most successful trio the Wizards have put on the court this season has been Gilbert, Caron and. . .Brendan. You can look it up. When those three guys are on the floor together, the Wizards outscore their opponents.

I don't think it's a vendetta as much as Eddie tries to match up with his opponents more often than the other way around. I often disagree when Eddie decides to go small instead of playing to his strengths, but sometimes it works. It did last week against Utah, when he put Jarvis in for Brendan and Jarvis hit a big bucket in the final seconds.

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400s section: So, all these people in my section were howling anytime Haywood tried to do anything with finesse on offense. This one guy kept saying, basically, that if you have a frame like Haywood does, you have to attack the rim and not be afraid to get banged up. Haywood got two dunks last night, but should have had at least three or four more on offensive rebounds, etc.

Is there a way to get Haywood more aggressive on the offensive end? Have the Wizards exhausted their options on this one?

Ivan Carter: My take on Brendan: He works his tail off before, during and after practice. I can tell you from experience that no Wizard shoots more free throws every day. However, one thing he lacks, other than a complete arsenal of post moves, is "lift." Ever notice how long it takes him to get off the ground when he has the ball in his hands after a rebound? Forever, right? He's not a "springy" jumper and that gives opposing big men the chance to gather themselves and block his shot sometimes on those putback dunks attempts. Brendan is what he is: a solid center who can help this team win 45-50 games. And, thanks to Ernie's wisdom in offering that extension two years ago, he's paid accordingly.

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Laurel, Md.: With Arenas's recent emergence based on his actions on the court and off the court with his birthday bash, there has been something else that has impressed me. Caron Butler who is a great player in his own individual right, has made it clear that he is not content with being the "supporting cast," unlike other teams in the past with MJ, "Batman and Robin," Reggie and the Miracles, etc.

He's made confident statements many times that other people on this team can and will step up. That is what has impressed me about Caron, but do you foresee friction as was the case with "Batman and Robin?" Arenas clearly wants this to be his team and him the leader.

Michael Lee: Trust me, no truly confident man wants to be referred to as a member of a supporting cast. I wouldn't misinterpret what Caron is saying. It's nothing against Gilbert, but more of thing as, "Hey, I'm here, too." This is Gilbert's team and Caron understands how this team works; he's learned from playing with Kobe and D-Wade that he can find his spots and still be effective. But look, Caron has never had a better season than this one, playing with Gilbert. I wouldn't worry about any time of friction. These guys like each other and get along great. You can tell by the way they joke with each other off the court and play off of each other on it.

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Washington, D.C.: Ivan and Michael:

What do you think about Eddie Jordan's use of a "smallball" lineup? Do other coaches around the league use such a lineup, and in what circumstances? What do coaches think of such an approach (I assume there are some that like it, some that don't)?

Thanks as always.

Ivan Carter: I've been ripped pretty hard on my blog for not calling Eddie out more for his small ball tactics. Folks get particularly mad at me when I don't rip Eddie for not playing Brendan every minute of every game: here's the deal, the Wiz have experienced success and failure with small ball and the difference between the two pretty much depends on one thing: Is Gilbert on or off? If he's on, it works. If he's off, it doesn't. I hate to make things sound that simple but when your team is built around a defensively weak point guard who takes more shots than anyone else on the team (by 300 on the season so far) the team's performance is going to fluctuate with his.

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Scottsdale, Ariz.: I hope people out East got a chance to see how truly great Nash is. Whoever finishes with a better record out West between Dallas and Phoenix will have the MVP. Dirk or Nash. Sorry Gil.

Michael Lee: You're right. The way Dallas and Phoenix are playing, it'd be really hard to look anywhere else than Dirk and Steve. Those teams are just blowing by the rest of the league.

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D.C.: How did Songaila look at practice today? When he is activated, who do you think will take his place on the inactive list?

Ivan Carter: He's rusty as you would expect from a guy who hasn't played in an NBA game since last May. Remember, he missed the last 20 games and the playoffs with Chicago last year with a fractured foot. He did play some with Lithuania in the Worlds this summer but that's when he hurt the back. My guess is that we won't see him active until sometime after the All Star break. The inactives will be Booth, Lang and either Blatche/Donell Taylor or Roger Mason on a nightly basis.

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Scottsdale, Ariz.: It seems like the Wiz could run a Suns-lite type system, why even bother with bigs like Haywood and Thomas? Ditch them, try to find a more athletic type 4/5 and fully embrace the run.

Make the system fit the pieces, not the other way around.

Ivan Carter: Careful, some of my blog readers will freak out if they read that. Seriously though, that's where I see Songaila coming into play. If/when he rounds into shape, the Wiz can play him at the center spot and pick-and-roll teams to death with him and Antawn. They would be able to have five players on the court at any given time who can score. Suns-like if not exactly the Suns.

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Arlington, Va.: I was a bit disappointed by last night's game, but to see a superb team at the top of its game is a thrill in and of itself. My concern, rather, is with significant shortcomings in our experience at Verizon Center that ruined the evening far more than the game did.

Late last week I got an e-mail from the Wizards offering $10 upper level seats to the Wizards/Suns game. Who could resist? Apparently the reaction was overwhelming. I was originally told the seats were gone, but later received an e-mail saying I had purchased the requested 4 seats and could pick them up at the Will Call window last night.

I arrived about 6:45, which was admittedly cutting it close. I reached the window about 7:05, where the attendant had no record of my transaction even though I had printed out my receipt, which had my seat location and transaction number. I, along with seemingly hundreds of other ticket holders, were sent to the regular windows. The cashier disappeared with my photo ID, credit card used to charge the tickets, and my printed receipt and returned 25 minutes later with my tickets. Not every one was so lucky.

Apparently the whole system was erratic. The man in the next line was picking up tickets left for him by Caron Butler, but those tickets had similarly disappeared.

My seven-months pregnant wife had been standing over an hour with nothing to lean on or support her, being jostled by the massive crowd. Then, when we got to our seats, they were occupied by other people who refused to leave! Would you believe, there were no ushers on the entire upper (400) level? Since the game was such a blowout, a kid in the row behind us checked this out. People occupied the handicapped seats by force, without proper tickets. It was "catch as catch can" for most seats, and we mild-mannered types came in last. Several people went to Guest Services to register complaints, only to be told that "your usher will work things out." But there were no ushers! What a mess.

So our overall experience was not positive. I'm e-mailing the team as well, but imagine they probably, almost certainly, read these chats. If this becomes a regular experience people will avoid the games, no matter how good the team.

Ivan Carter: Just running this one so the folks at Verizon know what went down last night. Sorry you had such a brutal experience.

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Washington, D.C.: Since everybody seems to propose trades featuring Jamison in exchange for (fill in your favorite future Hall of Famer), what do you think the Wizards could get for Jamison, if it chose to trade him? I assume they could get a young player who is somewhat promising (random example -- Al Jefferson) and a bad contract or two. Your thoughts?

Michael Lee: These Jamison trades are hilarious. I love them. I want somebody to send me a list of more ridiculous Jamison trades so that I can keep laughing to myself. I'm in stitches over here. I should make it a contest: Craziest Jamison trade in exchange for a pack of bubble gum from the Wizards locker room. Anyone?

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Larry, N.C. : You surprised the way the national media is totally ripping the Wizards between last night and today?

Ivan Carter: Not really. Ours isn't even a 24-hour news cycle anymore. Gilbert scores 60! MVP! Gilbert goes 4-for-20 and scores 23. He's not a real point guard and you'll never win with him! I blame pro football. That sport has conditioned us to overreact to every quarter, half and game. The NBA is different. That's why they play 82. If the Wiz wind up winning 49 or 50 games, we'll all look back and say, they split with the Mavericks and Suns, not bad.

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Agent Zero leads league in scoring?: Gilbert is about to lead the league in scoring! Last I saw he was like No. 2. With Carmelo and AI together, they are bound to drop in average. I think AI already has. That leaves Gilbert right there to inherit the lead!

Michael Lee: It might. But after seeing Carmelo the past two nights, I don't know if he's going to give up the scoring lead anytime soon. He's scored 62 points in his first two games back and he cannot hit a jumper consistently yet. Carmelo is playing like a man determined to finish the season on top. Of course, that may lead to him bumping heads with George Karl before anything goes down with Allen Iverson, because I think Iverson is really happy to let Melo do his thing. Gil is in the running, but Carmelo looks like he really wants it right now. Plus, he's truly fresh after the 37-day layoff.

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Re: Clinton, Md.: The Wizards should be upset with that victory. They gave up a 21-point late first half lead to a pathetic team that was without its best player. This town and the team needed a 180 on their expectations...otherwise we'd be satisfied with being losers.

Ivan Carter: Good point. He's referring to the tight win over the injury-depleted Celtics. However, I will say this: if Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Rondo and Allan Ray play like that every night, that team should trade Pierce and Szczerbiak for whatever they can get and start over. They have some nice young pieces up there.

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Bethesda, Md.: Simple question, are the Suns that much better than the 'Zards?

Michael Lee: They were last night. I mean, you have to remember that Phoenix played on tired legs in the first meeting and they checked the standings and saw that the Wizards were atop the East. They brought their "A" game last night. The Wizards weren't ready. That first game in Phoenix, the Wizards were ready for whatever. The Hibachi was on.

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Phoenix: Why weren't the Wizards fans cheering "MVP" for Arenas last night? You could almost hear a pin drop.

Ivan Carter: Your boy Nash was putting on a hoop clinic, that's why. I'll say this about D.C. hoop fans: They are generally a hoop educated bunch who can appreciate it when an opponent comes in and plays beautiful basketball. Actually, I'd say that about most NBA arenas. I've been in a lot of places when the Wiz have it going and the fans genuinely seem to appreciate the effort. Not that way with football where the 16-game schedule (and 5,000 beers consumed before kickoff) make it into something like war.

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Jamison Trades: Hey Mike, maybe you could please let us know what Jamison's market value is, or are we not worthy of your inside knowledge?

Michael Lee: No. I'm not trying to make it seem like nobody here is worthy. I certainly don't know it all. Won't even act like I do. It's just that every week, somebody has Jamison being traded for Ron Artest or Zach Randolph or Jermaine O'Neal or Tim Duncan. I'm not Ernie Grunfeld. I cannot tell you what Jamison is worth in a trade. I just don't see why the Wizards would move him right now. I think Abe Pollin truly wants him to retire a Wizard. Does anybody remember what this franchise was before he got here?

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Office Cubicle, NW Washington: What's your stance on the future of Eddie Jordan? Hear me out. Grunfeld was hesitant to give him a contract extension during the last year of his deal. He was hesitant again over the summer. However, once Gilbert said something to the effect of, "if he's not here, I don't want to be here," Grunfeld gave in and gave him his extension. Grunfeld was chosen AFTER Jordan was hired as head coach.

I feel as if Grunfeld will wait for Gilbert to get locked up into a long multi-year contract after next year and then fire Jordan. That's my two cents. He knows we can't get anywhere with these defensive sets. Thoughts?

Ivan Carter: This team is on pace to win 49 or 50 games. Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison have all had All-Star seasons under Jordan. This season, he's been asked to coach with a bench that includes one guy who can't shoot an outside jumper (Daniels), another who shoots a bunch of long range shots but has made only 38 percent of them (Hayes), two puppies who are learning their way and have not definable NBA skill as of yet (Blatche and Taylor) and he's been without his preferred center for a chunk of the season (Etan Thomas). On top of that, his GM spent a first round pick on a 19-year-old who is playing in Ukraine (Pecherov) and his big offseason acquisition (Songaila) has yet to play. The Wiz have wins over the Suns, Mavericks, Lakers, Cavaliers, Jazz, Nuggets and Bulls. Call me crazy but I think Eddie's done a solid job with this team.

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Washington, D.C.: While I know it's just "Gil being Gil," but today's blurb stating that Arenas thinks his next 50 point game will be against Portland is troubling. Great players worry about winning games, not how many points they will score. As a youth coach who tries to make his players understand that rebounds, assists and defense win games and are as important as scoring points, I could only cringe at Arenas's me-first comment. Clearly there is still some growing up to do.

Michael Lee: You're right. Gilbert has some more maturing to do, but lighten up. He's just trying to have fun. Gilbert is very refreshing because he says what he feels and more often than that, backs it up. I would consider it a "me-first" statement if it were a detriment to the team. He said he'd have 50 against the Suns in the first meeting and the Wizards needed all 54.

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D.C.: Who does Agent Zero look up to as a player? I've never heard him talk about this at all, but I'll bet Nash could use the quote that CWebb used on Barkley back in the day:

"Steve, I don't believe in role models, but you mine..."

Ivan Carter: Kobe Bryant.

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Ivan Carter: Thanks for coming in with so many many good questions today folks. I have go write my stories for tomorrow's Post. Keep reading and we'll chat again next week.

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Anonymous: The second half of the NBA season is typically more competitive. I think the Wiz may be in for a wake up call. Are they prepared for how the game takes a step up in the second half as teams jockey for playoff position? I see teams kicking it up a notch and those games where the Wizards lose 15 points leads and eek out victories, as losses.

Michael Lee: I think Eddie will do everything in his power to have them ready. You have to remember, the Wizards are an experienced playoff team, they know what the second half of the season is about. If I'm not mistaken, they wouldn't have made the playoffs last season if not for a strong second half. Being the target, as one of the top teams in the East, in the second half will only make them better come playoff time.

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Bowling Green, Ohio: Please tell me Ernie Grunfeld is going after Pau Gasol, now that's a guy who can take this team to the next level

Michael Lee: I heard he offered Antawn Jamison (kidding).

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Michael Lee: Alright everybody. Once again, it's been fun. I hope you all can come back next week so we can do it again.

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