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Ariza's adjustment period taking some time


Ariza's adjustment period taking some time

The Shirelles, a girl group back in the early 1960's, sang the dejected line, "There'll be days like this my Mama said."

One wonders if Trevor Ariza's IPod has been playing this R-and-B classic on a permanent loop. His struggles since the start of his first training camp with the Wizards up through the first two regular season games have been glaring.

"It's never been this long to adjust to something for myself," said Ariza, an eight-year veteran with previous stops in five different NBA cities before being acquired by Washington this summer. Blatant misfiring, whether from near or far, is the obvious issue, though the career 43 percent shooter has never been considered a marksman.

The concern is not mechanical, but rather one of confidence - and then made more apparent because the funk is occurring at the start of the NBA season.

Asked for his take on his early struggles, Ariza recited a laundry list of frustrations that currently lack a solution. "Just trying to pick my spots. When to shoot the ball, when to drive the ball, when to pass the ball, when to do a little bit of everything. Just trying to get comfortable with what we're doing here."

Even how he acquired the shiner currently sported under his left eye is apparently unanswerable.

"We were in practice, I don't know" a shrugging Ariza said following Tuesday's practice, "Somebody hit me."

The 6-foot-8 wing forward isn't the only one offensive offensively right now for the slow starting Wizards, but perhaps the one most obviously fighting through his woes.

"He's going through that now," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "It just so happens to be the first two games, the start of the season. Guys go through tough periods, whether its physically or mentally, not making shots, every you seem to do isn't right. Fight through it."

As for the solution, Wittman talked of Ariza simplifying his on-court agenda.

"He can defend multiple positions, he can rebound and he can run. That's all I care about seeing him do right now. I think if you just concentrate on that rather than so many other things, then you get into a rhythm."

Getting into a rhythm has clearly been an issue when targeting the basket.

Ariza: "I'm getting open shots, getting good looks at the basket. Just got to figure out a way to stay confident and not worry about the next one."

Even the easiest of shots are not falling, including the chippie Ariza missed against the Celtics from point-blank range.

"I've never been in that situation where I was so close to the basket and missed a layup," said Ariza, reflecting on the attempt that hung on the rim before rolling off. "That was unbelievable."

Let's not forget that Ariza is also tasked with guarding Boston's All-Star forward Paul Pierce for a second straight game. The Wizards play at Boston on Wednesday. That aspect alone keeps would-be defenders up at night, though it's also where Ariza typically shines.

The good news is obvious: the season has just begun, which means plenty of chances for better days ahead.

"Of course it's frustrating a little bit, but my teammates, my coaches have been great with keeping me in it, telling me to stay in it, keep working hard," Ariza said. "I'm going to do what I do and work hard every day. It's going to come to pass."

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 

The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall remains out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.


The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.

The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home-court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.


By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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