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Dave Johnson: Wizards Losing Streak Reaches Eight

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Dave Johnson: Wizards Losing Streak Reaches Eight

Monday, March 15, 2010 11:38pm

Wizards vs. Jazz Game Highlights & Postgame

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comSalt Lake City----The game was played at Energy Solutions Arena and the Washington Wizards could have used one. Instead with Deron Williams running the offense and Carlos Boozer finishing at the basket the Jazz extended the Wizards losing streak to eight games with a 112-89 victory.We lost some close ones and we have lost ones when we got out butt kicked, Wizards coach Flip Saunders said of his teams slide. If they think it is just going to happen and get better, its not. We have to play accordingly and we cant play loose or have throw- away type possessions.A game that was tied at 25 after one quarter turned into a one-sided affair in the second quarter when Williams penetration into the lane and his ability to run the screen and roll proved to be too much for the Wizards to handle.Boozer was the biggest beneficiary of Williams playmaking skills as he led the Jazz with 23 points including nine in what turned out to be the decisive second quarter. Williams finished with 17 points and 11 assists and helped the Jazz outscore the Wizards in the second quarter 34-20.He (Williams) pushed up the tempo in that stretch at the end of half and extended their lead to 14,said Wizards coach Flip Saunders of the games sudden turn in the Jazzs favor.The Jazz then put the Wizards away by opening the second half on a 12-2 run to take a 71-47 lead with 7:18 left in the third quarter. During this stretch the Wizards even missed four shots close to the basket on one possession only to have the Jazz score with ease in transition on a 23-foot jump shot by Mehmet Okur.We came out of halftime and did not have energy, Saunders added. I told our guys I was disappointed because we really didnt seem to compete again until there was seven minutes left in the game and we were down by thirty.The Wizards did compete early. In the first quarter Mike Miller was making cuts and looking for his shot and scored 12 points to help the Wizards get off to the necessary good start on the road against the Jazz.While the Wizards did hang around in the first half of the second quarter, the offense sputtered. After Millers early surge, he only finished with 14 points. Andray Blatche once again led the Wizards in scoring with 24 points.The Jazz offense was just too efficient. Again with full credit to Williams leadership the Jazz were able to get 52 points in the paint, place seven players in double figures, and collect 28 assists.There was a change in the Wizards starting lineup. Shaun Livingston, who had his best game since being signed by the Wizards in an 18-point effort Saturday against the Magic, started over Randy Foye at the point. It was Livingston first start in an NBA game since April of lasts season with Oklahoma City,Livingston only had six points and three assists against Jazz, but Saunders saw positives in his play on a night when the Wizards played poorly as a team and only shot 36 percent from the field for the game.We put Randy in a situation because we havent had a choice, Saunders said of his decision to make a switch. The point is not his natural position. He is good to play there for a ten minute period where you can run some plays for him and run some pick and rolls. I think he is more suited to play off the ball.As the Wizards try to move forward, they can look to the Jazz for a model of how to get better. They (Jazz) have done a good job with personnel, Saunders noted. They went through a bad stretch and they were able to get a marquee player in Deron Williams. When you go through a bad stretch somehow you have to reload.You have to do it through free agency, the draft, or both. They went out and got Boozer and Okur and then Williams through the draft. They used their cap space and they used their draft picks wisely. Hopefully we will be able to do the same.

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Austin Rivers getting cut by Suns may change perception of Trevor Ariza trade to Wizards

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Austin Rivers getting cut by Suns may change perception of Trevor Ariza trade to Wizards

When the Suns traded Trevor Ariza for Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers, the thought by most was that Rivers, though not a perfect fit, would slide in at point guard to fill their biggest need. Instead, on the day the trade became official, Phoenix opted to waive Rivers and make him a free agent.

The Suns will pay about $8 million to let Rivers go, according to ESPN. He is now free to sign with any team except for the Wizards. That means he can return to the L.A. Clippers, where he played last season, if he wants.

Rivers, 26, has had a dramatic fall in a matter of months. In July, the Wizards sent starting center Marcin Gortat to the Clippers to acquire Rivers, who was coming off a career year. They believed he could solidify their backup shooting guard position and become an asset off the bench.

Rivers, though, proved a poor fit. He struggled with fewer shots and fewer minutes, averaging only 7.2 points while shooting 39.2 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from three. 

Rivers arrived in Washington with numbers that suggested he could score efficiently. But his stint with the Wizards showed he may need more volume to sustain a rhythm.

The Suns cutting Rivers makes the trade between the teams from a Suns perspective essentially an Ariza-for-Oubre swap. Phoenix wanted to clear some money and part with Ariza, who was wasting away on their last-place roster. Now they can see what they have in Oubre over the course of the rest of this season before he hits restricted free agency.

From the Wizards' side, this move shows how far Rivers' trade value had dropped, as one of the league's worst teams has cut him loose. That they were able to unload Rivers' salary while prying away Ariza may change slightly how the trade is viewed.

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With Trevor Ariza now in store, Wizards begin new phase against Hawks

With Trevor Ariza now in store, Wizards begin new phase against Hawks

The Wizards have undergone a midseason roster renovation over the past week-plus, culminating with a trade over the weekend to acquire Trevor Ariza. On Tuesday in Atlanta, a new phase will begin for the Wizards as they take on the Hawks at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

Ariza has joined the team on the road in anticipation of his debut. With Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers now out the door, the team brought back guard Chasson Randle. Those two will help make up a new-look rotation for Washington, as they try to recover from a 12-18 start to this season.

Ariza will likely slide into the starting lineup, certainly in the short-term as Otto Porter Jr. recovers from a minor knee injury. The changes should also present opportunities for a few players who otherwise may not have played.

Sam Dekker, for one, will clearly be in the mix. He has averaged 13.5 minutes per game since coming over in a three-team trade last week. On Sunday against the Lakers, he put up a season-high 20 points. Even when Porter returns, he should have a role, as his path to play was carved by Oubre's departure.

The adjustments should, in theory, also clear the runway for rookie Troy Brown Jr. The 2018 first round pick has only appeared in 13 of the Wizards' 30 games this season because of a logjam at his position. 

But on Sunday, the first game since Oubre and Rivers were dealt, he played 15:21 against the Lakers. It wasn't in garbage time, either. He entered in the first half and made an instant impact with three steals and two rebounds.

Though Tomas Satoransky has played an important role this season as a backup guard and temporary starter, his standing was made even more secure when the Wizards traded Rivers. They have Randle and two-way player Jordan McRae, but Satoransky is now their primary backup guard. Barring a trade or another signing, they have no choice but to rely heavily on him to spell John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Speaking of Wall and Beal, they will bear watching despite nothing changing in their roles with the Wizards. They, along with Markieff Morris and Porter, have been the core of this team throughout the tumultuous last two years. The Wizards brought in Ariza to help compensate for their shortcomings in defending the perimeter, rebounding and - this year, at least - three-point shooting. 

If Ariza's arrival has a domino effect on teammates, if it lights a spark and brings the best out of the Wizards, those are the guys to watch. The Wizards want consistency from them, more of what they saw against the Lakers. And Ariza's commitment on the defensive end, the team hopes, can rub off on others.

The Wizards have already played one game since trading Oubre and Rivers, but now that Ariza is in store and ready to debut, the Wizards can officially hit the restart button. Will this trade prove the catalyst and help get them back on track? Tuesday night will give the first answers to that question.

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