Washington Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan gave his team a day off yesterday and will hold a practice at MCI Center today before departing for Bakersfield, Calif., where the team will play the Los Angeles Lakers in a preseason game tomorrow night.
Several Wizards, including all-star Gilbert Arenas (groin and hamstring), Jarvis Hayes (knee) and Antonio Daniels (ankle) have been bothered by injury and Jordan wanted to give his players at least one day to get some rest following Saturday night's 104-79 loss at Memphis.
"We haven't had a day off since October 3rd and I thought we showed it out there," Jordan said. "I'm not going to take anything away from Memphis because they came back from Puerto Rico [Saturday] and it's credit to [Coach] Mike Fratello's staff and players that they responded that way. On the other hand, we didn't execute and we didn't defend well enough."
Arenas, who has been battling injuries since the preseason opener against Cleveland, said he will play tomorrow night. Hayes and Daniels will also play. Jordan will get a chance to see most of his players on the court together for the first time this preseason.
"We have a new team and we're trying to develop some chemistry," Jordan said. "It's hard to come by right now. Gilbert's been out for a while. We need our top end guys to play together to get some rhythm. That hasn't happened yet."
Rookie Has 'a Learning Experience'
When rookie guard Donell Taylor entered Saturday's game early in the second quarter, he found himself matched up against veteran point guard Damon Stoudamire, a departure from the first two games when Taylor got most of his playing time in the second half against less experienced competition.
At one point during the first half Saturday, Taylor came to the bench and cursed himself for making a defensive mistake. After a quick chat with Jordan and some encouragement from his veteran teammates, Taylor took a seat on the bench and calmed down.
"It was definitely a learning experience for me and I was a little down on myself because I know I can do better," said Taylor, who nonetheless scored 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting and had three steals and two assists in 24 minutes. "It's one thing to watch an NBA game on TV and see how the veteran guys play, it's a totally different thing to get out there and actually play. It looks slow on TV, but it's a lot faster when you're out there."
Taylor said the biggest adjustment is on the defensive end. "The guards up here are a lot stronger than college guards and way faster so if you get out of position, they know how to take advantage," Taylor said. "That's okay though, I'll get it."
Jamison Shakes Off Bad Night
There were two good things about Saturday's game: It was just a preseason game and it wasn't televised in the District.
"That's a good thing," Wizards forward Antawn Jamison joked. "Bury this one. Forget all about it."
Jamison had just five points on 2-of-15 shooting in 27 minutes while also struggling on defense against Pau Gasol and Mike Miller.
"We have to give a better showing than that," Jamison said. "I'm not worried about the offense. We know we can score. Give them credit, they hit some open shots, but we have to do a better job of getting a team out of their comfort zone, stopping their runs early. I know we were missing some guys and we're still trying to find ourselves but we have to play better than that."