Dave Johnson: Lakers Extend Wizards' Losing Streak


Dave Johnson: Lakers Extend Wizards' Losing Streak

Monday, March 22, 2010 12:16 am

By Dave Johnson
CSNwashington.comLos Angeles--It was never going to be an easy road trip for the Washington Wizards. That reality was driven home with a hard finish to a four-game western swing in a 99-92 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.As hard as the Wizards competed in the second half, they paid the pricefor a bad second quarter and suffered their eleventh consecutive loss.It could have been worse, but the Wizards showed again the fight and determination that has become a hallmark of this revamped team. Off the bench, Nick Young led the Wizards with 22 points including 17 in a second half that saw the Wizards outscore the Lakers 59-40.The Wizards needed that response after only scoring 33 points in the first half. Instead of fading away the Wizards shot 61 percent from the field in the third quarter and started to make some real noise in the fourth quarter when theypulled to within eight points at 94-86 with 1:59 remaining in the game.While the Wizards second half surge made some Lakers fans squirm, the home team was very much in control. The Lakers were able to hurt the Wizards on the inside where Pau Gasol finished with a game-high 28 points and the outside where the Lakers were 9 of 17 beyond the arc.It also should be noted that the Lakers were able to still close the game even with Kobe Bryant, who was not hurt, on the bench for the final four minutes. The Lakers did fail to score 100 points and thus reward fans with free tacos.Underdogs on paper and undermanned on the court the Wizards, after a fairly competitive first quarter, were overwhelmed by the Lakers defense and Bryants shooting in the second quarter. Bryant scored 20 of his 24 points in the second quarter when the Lakers outscored the Wizards 35-15.Perhaps lost in all the glitter surrounding the Lakers is their strength on defense. Lamar Odom played the lead role in double-teaming Andray Blatche and Bryant blanketed Mike Miller. At half the Blatche and Miller, the Wizards top two scoring options, were 3 of 15 from the field.To both Blatche and Millers credit they found ways to get involved in the Wizards improved second half Blatche finished with 16 point and 12 rebounds and Miller added 11 points. The games and cities seem to blur together but what is clear is the Wizards desire to compete and the players eagerness to impress. The team certainly wants to win but this is also a time of discovery as the Wizards prepare for the start of a new future in the off season.Clearly Blatche has just seized the opportunity of more playing tome and is not looking back. Since the All-Star break when he replaced the departed Antawn Jamison, Blatches scoring production has increased by close to 15 points a game.Blatche has gone through growing pains with the increased time and has faced more double-teams, but he is getting better at dealing with that extra pressure. In addition Blatche is not just relying on his step-back fade-away in the lane and is driving more to the basket.The Wizards are learning more about Shaun Livingston who is still trying to resurrect his NBA career three-years after he suffered a horrific knee injury while playing with the Clippers.It was on this trip that Livingston replaced Randy Foye as starting point guard. Livingston does not have the explosive first step he once had but still has a calming influence while running an offense and his 67 size provides match-up challenges for opponents.The trip also served as breakthrough for Alonzo Gee. The undrafted rookie-forward from Alabama earned not only more playing time but a second ten-day contract. While it is too soon to think long term about Gee, unearthing potential gems that were passed over is part of a teams rebuilding.Gee, at 6'6, actually plays bigger than he is and not only rebounds but finishes not only with strong put-backs but explosive drives to the basket. Gee was also effective in defensive assignment against the Nuggets Carmelo Anthony and the Trail Blazers Brandon Roye.

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10 Questions in 10 days: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

10 Questions in 10 days: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No Redskins receiver broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2017, and bluntly, the receiver position did not unfold like the front office designed.

Terrelle Pryor proved a free agent flop, and while Josh Doctson flashed talent, the consistency did not follow. Jamison Crowder led Washington with 789 receiving yards while 34-year-old tight end Vernon Davis was the team's second leading receiver. 

The Redskins need more at wideout in 2018, and the front office acted on it. 

The team signed Paul Richardson in free agency, and advanced statistics suggest he could make an impact right away. Richardson has vertical speed in a way the organization hasn't had since DeSean Jackson went to Tampa two seasons ago. 

Doctson could emerge as a true No. 1 WR, and Richardson's speed will help. Sources inside Redskins Park question if Doctson is the type of wideout that can beat cornerbacks off the line. Instead, the team believes Doctson is best when using his athleticism to go up and get balls. That skillset was best illustrated for Doctson in the end zone, where he grabbed six TDs last season. 

Crowder could again lead the Redskins in receiving yards. New QB Alex Smith likes to look to his inside receivers, and with defenses having to account for more speed on the field in Richardson, Crowder should get plenty of open looks. 

Ultimately, the question is if the Redskins will have a 1,000-yard receiver. The answer is an unknown, but the evidence suggests they won't.

No 1,000-yard wideout does not spell doom for Washington. In the last two seasons, eight of 12 NFC playoff teams had a receiver get into four digits. Among the teams that did not get that kind of production from one wide receiver: 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. Remember, that team won the Super Bowl. 

Further down the roster, Washington has contributors but unlikely a breakout star. Maurice Harris has great hands and Robert Davis has shown plenty of athleticism, but significant production would be a surprise. Rookie Trey Quinn could be a player that helps the 'Skins, particularly should Crowder get banged up this year like he did last year, but a 1,000-yard season for a 7th-round rookie seems pretty absurd. 



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Jeff Green hopes recent playoff success can rub off on Wizards

Jeff Green hopes recent playoff success can rub off on Wizards

Jeff Green's basketball résumé got a significant boost this spring and summer as his Cleveland Cavaliers marched all the way to the NBA Finals before they were swept by the Golden State Warriors. It was Green's first time going past the second round of the playoffs and the experience, he says, was invaluable.

Green has come about as close to winning a championship without actually winning one and he certainly hopes to get back in that position. Green believes his new team, the Washington Wizards, have the tools to make a deep playoff run and it's one of the reasons why he signed a free agent deal to join them.

"Being there last year myself with Cleveland, I know it takes a lot. It takes a lot of pieces. I feel like this team has them," he said. "We can get back to that point. When I got the call, I felt like it was the best opportunity for myself to get there."

The Wizards' franchise has not been past the second round of the playoffs since 1979, when they were known as the Bullets. That was before anyone on their roster was born.

But Green pointed to the open Eastern Conference and the talent on the roster as reasons to believe they can accomplish some things that they haven't in decades. They may be capable, but putting it all together is easier said than done.

Green hopes to be one of the glue guys necessary for the Wizards to reach their potential, in part by sharing the lessons he learned.

"Never take it for granted. There are a lot of greats that have never been there," he said. "Getting to the Finals and being part of that was beyond amazing. With the experience and seeing what it took, I can bring that here and get everybody on the same page of knowing what it takes and the sacrifices that you have to do to get to that point."

Green over and over mentioned how it takes a collective effort to go to the conference finals and beyond, but he did show some self-awareness and a sense of humor about his own experience in Cleveland. All teams are different and the one he just left was a unique situation.

"You can’t get there individually. I mean, you can, we did last year. I mean, LeBron [James] carried us all the way there," he joked. "But there’s only one LeBron, but to get there you have to have team unity. You all have to be on the same page and sacrifice to make sure you’re doing what it takes to get the team there. I think that’s the biggest key. It’s not an individual thing… unless you’re LeBron."

If the Wizards are to reach their goals and go to the conference finals or the NBA Finals, they will have to do it differently than the Cavaliers did. They do not have a player on the level of James who can do much of it by himself. But Green said the process of imparting his wisdom has already started.

"I talked to John [Wall]," Green said. "Knowing that he wants to get to the Finals, I was just picking his brain and what he thinks is needed to get there. And me sharing my experience of getting to the Finals and what it takes."

The Wizards have reached a point as an organization where they have urgency to reach new heights. Green believes he can help them get there.

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