Washington Wizards Coach Doug Collins is contemplating a lineup change that would allow rookie guard Juan Dixon to spend less time at point guard.
Collins did not say Dixon, who was forced into the starting point guard role Saturday after Tyronn Lue suffered a separated left (non-shooting) shoulder and Larry Hughes remained out because of a sprained right ankle, would lose his starting job. However, he said he would use Dixon more as a scorer, meaning Michael Jordan or recently signed Anthony Goldwire will probably be the primary point guard tonight when the Wizards host the Toronto Raptors in a makeup of the snowed-out Feb. 17 game.
"I'm contemplating the best way to maximize what I have, like when I brought T. Lue in as a starter and Larry Hughes off the bench," Collins said. "With Juan, Jerry [Stackhouse] and Michael together, I've got three of my main scorers out there at the same time. Juan is a scorer and I don't want to take that away from him, so I have to figure something out. It's something I've had to do all year with injuries and all. It's been the story of our season."
The potential rotation change could throw yet another loop at a Wizards team that has failed to sustain a steady level of play. Washington finally seemed poised to make a major run when it won three of four games last week over likely playoff teams. However, a loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday numbed the confidence and positive feel the team had established.
The defeat against one of the NBA's worst teams came a day after Dixon, in his first NBA start, scored a career-high 27 points in a victory over the Chicago Bulls. He got many of his shots playing off the ball with Jordan setting the offense.
The tradeoff was that Jordan, who had run off five straight games with 20 points or more -- a spree that landed him the NBA's Eastern Conference player of the week honors -- scored just 17 points. Jordan did not have as many plays called for him because he had to call plays for others.
The Wizards tried to get Jordan back into his traditional role of coming off picks or posting up in Sunday's loss to Miami. Dixon was asked to be more of a playmaker, which kept him from taking some of the shots he made against the Bulls (Dixon made 1 of 7 shots). That adjustment not only stalled Dixon's game but he also had problems keeping the entire offense in a steady flow.
Leading scorers Stackhouse and Jordan thrive when the offense is clicking at a certain tempo. But with Dixon frequently trying to figure out whether to create his own scoring opportunities or pass against Miami, the shot clock began to tick away and players often were forced to hurry shots or make dangerous passes. Washington ended up shooting just 37 percent.
"I can't really change my game. I'm not a true point guard," Dixon said. "I'm never going to be that true point guard. Hopefully, I can come around and be a lead guard with an opportunity to score the ball. I'm going to be aggressive. That's when I play better on both ends of the floor. When I'm aggressive, playing with energy and attacking the basket. That's when everything falls into place. So I'm just going to play my game and take it from there.
"I'm a basketball player, a guard. I'm going to do whatever the coach asks me to do. But I know one thing -- I'm going to be aggressive. I'm never going to change that. That's what got me here so that's what I'm going to continue to do."
The Wizards aren't bailing on Dixon playing point guard, Collins said. However, the team is learning, as it did with Hughes, another converted shooting guard, that players accustomed to having plays run for them aren't always best when they have to run plays for others.
"Juan is still learning," said Collins, who added that so was he when it comes to his personnel.
Dixon wasn't solely to blame for the loss Sunday. Washington's defense was porous in the fourth quarter and the team was sluggish in the first half. The Heat turned 13 offensive rebounds into 16 second-chance points (Washington had just seven second-chance points).
The only time Washington functioned optimally on offense against the Heat was during an eight-minute third quarter stretch in which Goldwire, signed to a 10-day contract Saturday, led an 18-2 run that provided a 63-59 lead. Goldwire played a total of 20 minutes, scoring 10 points.
"It's not a situation where you get to come in and get a few practices," Goldwire said. "They expect you to make mistakes so it's no pressure on me. As long as I play hard, that's what the guys respect."