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Terps, Hoyas, and Wizards

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With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to start spreading some seasonal cheer and nobody in the NBA needs the love more than our Washington Wizards. Currently sitting at 3-16, the Wiz started the season with a franchise worst 12 game losing streak before finally knocking off the Blazers, Heatles, and Hornets in their last 7 games. With games against the struggling Lakers tonight and a rematch in South Beach Saturday, than 4 games in 5 nights before Christmas, the Wiz have a chance to build some positive momentum going into 2013.

The team has been hit with all sorts of adversity already in the young year, but I’ve been impressed with their effort level and fight. Sure, we haven’t won many games, but we aren’t rolling over for anyone either. We’ve missed Nene for over a month, still haven’t seen our franchise player, John Wall, lace it up this year and have lost spark-plug AJ Price, the overpaid Trevor Ariza, and hard-nosed Trevor Booker for different lengths of time, but Randy’s bunch continues to fight night in and night out. The reality is the Wizards don’t have the talent to sustain these types of extended injuries to our best players and stay in the playoff hunt as fans all hoped going into the year.

The season may be disappointing, but that doesn’t mean the whole team lands on Santa’s naughty list. We at the DC Dime have collected a list, and checked it twice, and are happy to publish the holiday wishes from our favorite team.  All we want for Christmas is some wins, guys, but we hope all your season’s wishes can come true too.

Jordan Crawford: All I want for Christmas is some 4th quarter help. As much as I like having the green light to do my thing, it’s getting frustrating doing it all myself. Santa, when are  all the guys getting back?

Bradley Beal: All I want for Christmas is a healthy Point Guard that can help make my life easier on offense. I’m a shooter and scorer, and a certain pass first guard that hasn’t played with me yet this season would be the ultimate holiday gift.

Jan Vesely: All I want for Christmas is to develop a semblance of an offensive game. I know I can make an impact for the team on the defensive end, but my offensive offense has kept me firmly on the bench.

Kevin Seraphin: All I want for Christmas is the starting nod. Sure, I’m not a tough defender/rebounder, but I am the team’s only player creating offense in the paint. I’m a bit inconsistent, but I’m also only 23! Santa, I just want coach to let me play through it and learn, I’m a big part of this team’s future.

AJ Price: All I want for Christmas is to get back into the lineup. I’ve been able to showcase what I can do for the first time in my career here in Washington. With Wall coming back my minutes will definitely decrease. I want to continue to show my worth to help this team win. Hope the hand heals fast, Santa.

Chris Singleton: All I want for Christmas is a little recognition. I’ve been one of the team’s most consistent performers all year, but I feel like our fans barely know my name. Hell, Sam Presti wanted me as part of the Harden trade, that makes me a somebody right? A loud cheer is all I need to make my holidays complete.

Nene: All I want for Christmas is for this pesky foot problem to go away. It’s been two years, it’s really getting old.

Trevor Ariza: All I want for Christmas is to get cut a little slack, Santa. It’s not my fault I’m overpaid and incapable of performing up to my contract. I’ve quickly become a fan-favorite to hate, don’t they realize I can hear their groans when I run an isolation and force a bad jumper. I’m trying hard guys, when I get back into the lineup I’ll show you.

John Wall: All I want for Christmas is my two healthy knees, my two healthy knees, my two healthy knees. All I want for Christmas is my two healthy knees for this to be a Merry Christmas. (And John that’s all we want too)

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The Washington Wizards, with the help of a furious rally starting in the third quarter and stretching into the fourth, were able to make the Atlanta Hawks nervous last night after falling behind by 18 before ultimately falling to their division rival 104-95. Washington cut the Hawks lead to 84-82 before Atlanta finished the game on a 20-13 run ending any hope of another Wizards comeback. Kevin Seraphin and Bradley Beal led Washington on offense with 19 and 18 points respectively. Beal was the only starter to crack double digits as the other four Wizards starters (AJ Price, Chris Singleton, Martell Webster and Emeka Okafor) could only muster 20 combined points on the evening going a combined 10-23 from the floor and 1-2 from the foul line.

Washington simply did not put a full 48 minutes together on the road in Atlanta like they did at the friendly confines of the Verizon Center earlier in the week against Miami. While the comeback is admirable this team simply does not have the level of talent to constantly dig themselves out of double digit holes. It feels like a broken record when I say it but the story remains the same in a majority of these losses. Until this team can put a full 48 minutes together and compete on at an NBA level these results will continue. Quite frankly, even whenever this team finally gets back to full health it would still be rough to continue playing this way night in and night out and expect to compete for victories.

The Hawks absolutely blitzed Washington last night as all five of the Hawks starters scored in double digits led by Josh Smith and his 23 points and 15 rebounds. Al Horford made his presence felt as well as he notched another double double finishing the game with 14 points and 14 rebounds on 7-11 from the field. Washington had no answer for these two players last night and when you let them go off and allow all three of their starting guards to score at least 15 points like the Wizards did last night you really stand no chance.

It was an0ther rough road lesson for a team still searching for their first taste of victory away from home. The only saving grace is that there is no time for the Wizards to think about this loss as they find themselves right back at it this evening against the Golden State Warriors in D.C.

The Teams: Golden State Warriors (12-7) vs. Washington Wizards (2-14)

The Time: 7:00 PM

The Place: Verizon Center (Washington D.C.)

TV/Radio: Comcast Sportsnet DC/106.7 The Fan DC

Why You Should Watch:

Stephen Curry might put on a shooting display. The Warriors come to the Nation’s capital having won nine out of their last twelve games as Curry and David Lee have been leading the way for the Warriors for the most part. Andrew Bogut continues to struggle to get healthy making the Monta Ellis trade from last season look more and more questionable with every game Bogut misses which certainly wasnt the plan when the Warriors made that trade last year. On the season Golden State is 6-4 on the road and are coming off of back to back wins on the road over Detroit and Brooklyn respectively.

Why The Wizards Can Win:

This game is being played at home. So far, and especially of late, the Wizards have shown they are playing much better basketball at home than they are on the road. This isnt overly surprising as most teams do better playing in their own arena than when they have to travel throughout the country. Golden State is in the middle of their longest road trip of the season and could be primed to be picked off by a team they could potentially be taking lightly. Should the Wizards be able to slow down the Warriors duo of Curry and Lee then they should be in this game at the end with a chance to get their third win at home in as many tries.

Pick:

I think both teams will come out sluggish as both played in different cities last night. As the game bores on look for Bradley Beal to build off of last nights 18 point effort and for Kevin Seraphin to continue to be the Wizards best offensive big man as Washington takes the game at home over the streaking Warriors.

Washington: 94

Golden State: 89

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The Teams: Washington Wizards (2-13) vs. Atlanta Hawks (10-5)

The Time: 7:30 PM

The Place: Philips Arena (Atlanta, GA)

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet, 106.7 The Fan DC

Tonight the Wizards make a return trip to the arena known as the “Highlight factory” to take on their divisional foe the Atlanta Hawks. This marks the second trip by the Wizards to Atlanta on the year as their first visit ended with a crushing last tenth of a second defeat. Thankfully, the Wizards have been playing pretty decent basketball as of late winning two of their last three games. Hopefully this road trip goes a bit better than the last trip the Wizards took away from home when they were blown out by the New York Knicks.

If you read the preview for the game against the Heat on Tuesday night you noticed that I stressed the effort level that the Wizards needed to exude to have a chance to win. The Wizards outworked the Heat on Tuesday night and that is why they were as successful as they were against the defending champions. Any loose ball or rebound was aggressively gone after by Washington and it helped propel them to victory. Randy Wittman stressed that the Wizards needed a “Statement game” against Miami and that is exactly what he got out of his team.

The Hawks come into tonight’s matchup having won seven of their last eight games with a two point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers being their only blemish on the current run they are on. Al Horford, who had 25 and 12 in a win over the Nuggets on Wednesday night, will be the Hawk to keep an eye on as he has posted a double-double in three straight games. Emeka Okafor, Kevin Seraphin and Nene will have their hands full with the Dominican center by way of the University of Florida this evening. If Horford is allowed to go off and have a big game a la the likes of David West, Roy Hibbert and every other opposing big man that has given it to Washington this season the Wiz Kids will have a steep hill to climb to win their second game in a row.

As has been the theme of the season so far, the Wizards will need a big game out of Jordan Crawford in order to remain competitive. With John Wall still out of the lineup without any indication of when he may return from his knee issues Crawford’s importance to this team has increased significantly. Despite coming off the bench and averaging only 30 minutes per game Crawford has proven to be the Wizards most reliable scoring option. Tuesday, Crawford led the team in points and assists coming off the bench. If he were to have a similar performance tonight in Atlanta I like the Wizards chances at winning back to back games for the first time this season.

Prediction:

Washington Wizards: 94

Atlanta Hawks: 90

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The Wizards have won three games in a row versus the Miami Heat stretching back to last season, let that sink in for a second.

This is the third longest winning streak against the Heatles for this franchise since Miami’s inception in 1989. For some perspective, the last time the Wizards/Bullets won at least three games in a row against Miami was the 2007/2008 season. The time before that? How about the first four meetings between the two teams all the way back in 1989/1990.

Going into last nights contest I said that for the Wizards to be successful in their quest for a second victory on the season they would have to out work Miami in every facet of the game. To be honest, that is exactly what happened at the Verizon Center Tuesday night. Washington came out with a lot of energy, as I thought they would, in response to the beating the Knicks handed them last Friday at the Mecca of basketball in New York City and took it to the South Beach trio all night long.

Washington was able to put up 60 points in the first half, a season high, on 58% shooting (21/36) from the floor. This was the first of many impressive stat lines for this team on the evening. Washington outrebounded Miami 44 to 43 on the evening led by Kevin Seraphin who pulled down 10 rebounds off of the bench. The Wizards were uncharacteristically unselfish last night as well setting a season high for assists in a single game with 31. When you can have assists on 31 of the 38 total baskets you score in a game more times than not you are setting yourself up for success.

It was going to take an inspired effort by multiple Wizards players to take down the defending champions last night, thankfully there were plenty of Wizards who stepped up to the plate…mainly Jordan Crawford and Kevin Seraphin. Crawford was feeling his jump shot early on and, in typical JC fashion, Crawford filled it up leading the Wizards with 22 points and 6 assists. Kevin Seraphin provided another massive boost off the bench for the Wizards as well. The French big man finished the evening with 16 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes. What was so special about Seraphin’s performance last night was how lights out he was from the floor. Seraphin took 12 shots and converted on 8 of them, shooting 75% from the field against the defending champions is one solid night at the office.

It needs to be noted that the Miami Heat did not just roll over and give this game away to Washington as some would assume. There was not a comfortable Wizards fan in the arena last night until the clock showed 0.0 and the Wiz Kids had officially doubled their win total on the 2012/2013 season. LeBron had a triple double, Chris Bosh went 8/11 from the field and Dwayne Wade finished with 24 points so the big three certainly showed up. The entire Heat roster probably didn’t play their best game by any stretch of the imagination, as most NBA teams couldn’t hang with them were they clicking on all cylinders, and that was good enough for Washington to creep up and earn the upset victory. Wizards players. coaches and fans alike had to withstand a furious comeback by the Heat as Miami closed what was a 10 point cushion down to a one possession game with less than 10 seconds remaining before they were finally able to do some celebrating.

A win is a win and for Wizards fans they have been few and far between so far this season. Washington has won two out of its last three including its last two games at the friendly confinds of the Verizon Center. Washington has a chance to stretch their win total to three as they travel to Atlanta this Friday to avenge a one point loss at the buzzer to the Hawks. Check back later in the week as we will have a full preview of Friday’s contest.

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Its game time here at the Phone Booth y’all. The Wizards are taking on the defending champion Miami Heat in, what one can only hope, will be a competitive matchup for 48 minutes. When we have credentials we like to live blog the game so for your reading pleasure I present Heats vs Wizards…Round 1.

Pregame Intros: LeBron James and Dwayne Wade receive major pops from the crowd as they are announced in the Heats starting lineup. No such love for the rest of the players on Miami or any of the players on the Wizards unfortunately…Share the love DC!

First Quarter:

12:00: Miami wins the opening tip and Chris Bosh starts the Heats off with their first bucket of the evening…Here we go!

10:57: Thought more fans would be booing Rashard Lewis but I guess I cant blame them, most Wizards fans probably forgot what he’s looked like since he never took the floor here.

9:11: Bradley Beal to the bench after picking up two early fouls and two early buckets…Not a good combination.

7:32: Dwayne Wade is going to have a field day with Jrodan Crawford guarding him 12-10 Heats.

6:10: Holy Crap RGIII is here AND the Wizards are winning?!?!?! Wiz 15 Heats 12.

5:21: We got a timeout on the floor and after that lukewarm reception for RGIII and a Wizards lead we find ourselves at Washington 15 Miami 14.

4:44:  Ariza to Seraphin for a one handed slam to the portion of the crowd that is here to support the home teams delight. Wizards 17 Heats 16.

3:29: We have our first Nene sighting of the evening as he is at the scorers table ready to check in…RGIII definitely flinched as the Brazilian walked by so its safe to assume Nene means business tonight. Wizards 21 Heats 18

2:34: At the under 3 tv timeout the Wizards lead the Heat 23-18…Whats going on here?

0:00 Wizards lead after one 30-25

Second Quarter:

9:30: Jordan Crawford nails another three putting the Wizards up 37-32…Jordan is feeling it tonight and that is always a good sign for the Wiz Kids.

9:00: We have a Miami timeout on the floor as Washington stretches their lead to 39-32…Spo visibly upset from the Hockey Press Box.

6:26: Martell Webster with the drive and the and 1 putting the Wizards up on the Heats 46-39. Miami without any PG right now as Chalmers hurt his hand. Time for Washington to take advantage.

4:50: We have a timeout on the floor as the Wizards lead Miami 50-44 with the home team about to get two free ones from the line.

4:07: WIZARDS UP 10!!!!! Webster with a top of the key three puts Washington up 54-44.

2:24: Under 3 TV timeout and the Wizards…Yes, the Wizards…lead 56-46 over the Heat.

Halftime: Wizards lead the Heats 60-54…Furious rally late by Miami is answered by the WizKids to keep it a two possession advantage after 24 minutes.

More Halftime: Wizards shot 21/36 in the first half and lead by 6…They better keep this pace up.

Third Quarter:

12:00 Wizards going with Beal, Price, Okafor, Singleton and Ariza

Heat going with LeBron, Bosh, Wade, Lewis and Harris

11:05 Wizards strike first as AJ Price hits a baseline jumper from about 18 feet.

9:21 AJ Price pulls up from FedEX Field and hits a deeeeeep three putting the Wizards up 67-58

8:29 We have a timeout on the floor and the Wizards lead the Heat by 10 once again 69-59

5:57 Washington still controlling play as they lead Miami 73-65 with the Chipotle Burrito Dash taking center stage. LeBron James also just truck sticked some poor kid sitting court side while attempting to get a steal. Im sure he’ll get some nice shwag out of it.

4:13 We have our first LeBron James Phantom Foul Call Alert!!! James hits the FT to cut the Wiz lead to 6 at 77-71

2:26 Udonis Haslem steps in and takes the charge after LeBron is rejected to the delight of those in attendance…Wizards lead Miami 80-73.

1:19 Crowd booing a Mike Miller foul…Because, Wizards. Reported that Trevor Ariza has suffered a strained calf muscle.

0:00 After three quarters the Wiz Kids are clinging to an 82-78 lead over the Heats

Fourth Quarter

12:00 Livingston, Nene, Seraphin, Webster and Crawford in for the Wiz…Miller, Allen, LeBron, Haslem and Bosh for Miami.

11:16 Wizards strike first as Martell Webster knocks two down from the line after a Haslem foul on a dunk attempt.

11:03 Fourth Quarter means Chick-Fil-A time for those in attendance…Chris Bosh has none of it however knocking down both from the charity stripe.

9:25 LeBron getting to the rim far to easily so far in the fourth, Washington needs to stay in front of him or this lead will be gone. Wizards up 86-84.

8:56 At the under 9 TV timeout the Wizards lead the Heat 86-84.

6:47 And the lead is gone as Chris Bosh beats everyone to a loose ball off a jump to tie the game at 88.

5:33 At the under 6 TV timeout the Wizards lead the Heat 93-89. Miami ball out of the break as LeBron blocked a shot off a Wizards player.

3:43 LeBron officially has his triple double…Wizards lead 97-95 as the arena is going nuts.

2:42 Timeout Miami as Jordan Crawford hits an elbow jumper to put Washington back up by 4 at 99-95.

2:28 LeBron misses two FT’s free Chick-Fil-A for everyone!!!!!

53.3 Timeout Washington off of the Mike Miller miss, Wizards lead 101-99 with the ball.

10.9 LeBron misses a three point attempt and the Wizards get the rebound. Foul on Miami sideline out of bounds for the WizKids up two.

6.9 Jordan Crawford knocks down two from the line after Miami got right to the rim out of the timeout to cut the lead to one. Miami takes another TO, one remaining, down 104-101. Sidelines out of bounds on the way.

2.2 LeBron misses a corner three…Nene with the rebound and Miami immediately fouls. 99.99999999% sure the Wizards are actually going to win this game.

0.0 WIZARDS WIN! WIZARDS WIN! WIZARDS WIN!

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The Teams: Miami Heat (12-3) vs. Washington Wizards (1-13)

The Time: 7:00 PM

The Place: Verizon Center (Washington, D.C.)

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet, 106.7 The Fan DC

The defending champions travel to the Phone Booth tonight to take on our Washington Wizards in what I will imagine will be an arena more full than usual due to all of the Miami Heat “fans” that will be in attendance.

Miami has won six in a row coming into tonight with sights on keeping that string of victories going. LeBron James and Chris Bosh have been shooting lights out this season as both are right around 55% on the year. While Dwayne Wade isn’t faring quite as well from the field as the other two, shooting a measly 49%. When you add Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) and Rashard “I found the fountain of youth in South Beach” Lewis to the fold it makes the Heat a more dangerous offensive team. It will be tough for this undermanned Wizards squad to keep pace with the Heat without playing close to a perfect game.

This is Washington’s first chance to take the floor against someone else since last Friday’s 21 point drubbing by the New York Knicks. Ideally the Wizards come out tonight hungry to get that bad taste out of their mouth but they are running into one might tall task. Randy Wittman will have to do his fair share of coaching tonight to beat the Heat for the third straight time stretching back to last season.

Tonight, like every other night until Wall and Nene are both back, will be about effort. The Wizards needs to out work the Heat if they want to win this game tonight, simple as that. If the Wizards want it more than Miami does then they could find themselves with a shot to steal one this evening.

Prediction: The Wizards come out with energy but are eventually broken down by the three All-Stars on Miami in the second half.

Miami: 97

Washington: 88

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When noteworthy events happen in the land of the Washington Wizards we like to break down our opinions in a feature we call the “Pick and Pop”. Ending a 12 game losing streak to open the season and winning your first game in over 200 days seemed like as good a reason as ever to polish the old P&P off to share with you all today.

1) Thoughts on finally winning a game?

Willis: Celebrate good times, come on? How am I supposed to feel about winning one game in twelve? I’m a smorgasbord of emotion, mostly because we won a game in which no one played particularly well against a sub .500 team for the first time this season. We turned the ball over way too much (16), lost the rebounding battle (45-42), shot 15 fewer shots (86-71). The difference was literally that we made one more shot. If it weren’t for Jordan Crawford and the Trail Blazers missing nearly every shot they took, this is more than likely a loss.

But again, I’ll take it, because an ugly win is still a win. Kevin Seraphin got himself a double-double, and Damian Lillard was held in check by A.J. Price (who had himself another bad shooting night). I have a hard time being upset with the effort level, although blowing that 16 point lead shows clearly that we still have to work on some things.

Bohlin: IT HAPPENED!!!  WE DID IT!!! Last night’s win over the Portland Trail Blazers was much needed for this franchise and its fan base. In typical Wizards fashion, this win did not come easy as Washington nearly choked away a double digit lead in the fourth quarter as they finished the game just one for their last eleven from the field.

That one shot was massive though. Jordan Crawford’s three pointer late in the fourth quarter and some timely free throw shooting by Emeka Okafor are what solidified this victory for the Wizards. Until Wall and Nene are back and healthy, or in Nene’s case as healthy as he can possibly be, it will take efforts like the one from last night and a few lucky bounces going our way for the Wizards to continue to notch victories under their collective belts.
2) What do we need to do to win a second game?

Willis: Continue to have some bounces go our way for once. The clutch shots toward the end of the game started going in for the Wizards, and that really helped out a bunch. Washington finally went on one of those runs that end up being insurmountable for an opposing team, and that 16 point run was what decided things. The starter still have to play better, as Ariza is not going to be 6-of-9 every game for Washington. Someone has to continue to emerge as a scorer outside of Kevin Seraphin. We’re looking at you, Bradley Beal.

That being said, the bench should simply continue their strong play with Jordan Crawford igniting the offense. I said in the offseason that his ideal role is a sixth man who can command a second unit and beat up on “scrubs”, and that’s what Crawford does. Portland’s second unit was horrible, and the Wizards beat them down.

Bohlin: Compete. The fact of the matter is that right now the Wizards don’t have the talent necessary to win NBA games with any sort of consistency. When a team is lacking in that area their best chance to be successful lies in the amount of effort they put towards their goal, victory. Until the Wizards get John Wall and Nene back for the long haul this team is going to have to outwork every opponent they face if they want to continue to enjoy the feeling that was felt throughout the Verizon Center by the Wizards faithful last night.

3) What is your starting five and why?

Willis: Beal, Crawford, Singleton, Nene, and Okafor

I don’t care if this means the Wizards don’t have a point guard, but I think these five give the Wizards the best chance to win and score points. Nene can dish out to Bradley Beal at the point, Crawford, at times, has proven himself to be a talented passer, and Singleton is a defensive presence that can guard wing players effectively. Meanwhile, Okafor takes up space. You could argue that Seraphin should be in there, but Nene and him are very similar in nature and would not really mesh that well.

I keep Beal in there as a starter because he simply has to get minutes. Relegating him to the bench with scant minutes and pummeling his already fragile confidence is the wrong thing to do. Eventually, he’s going to figure out how to play the game, and that comes with experience. No, we don’t want to give him the experience of losing, but when Washington won that game he really had nothing to do with it. His play was poor, and he got benched. He should still start.

Bohlin:

1)      Shaun Livingston

2)      Jordan Crawford

3)      Trevor Ariza

4)      Kevin Seraphin

5)      Emeka Okafor

The rotation for the Wizards has been a point of contention for a couple of weeks now. Randy Wittman has tried just about every possible combination imaginable for this team through the first 13 games and until last night not a single one of them had proven to be effective enough to win a game. If I making the lineups for Washington night in and night out this is how I would start each and every game until Wall and Nene return.

With Livingston running the offense players such as Jordan Crawford have the opportunity to do what they do best, score, because Livingston’s first inclination on offense is to create for others as A.J. Price’s first inclination has seemed to lie closer to finding his own shot.

Jordan Crawford, to this point, has been our most reliable offensive weapon which is saying a lot considering his reputation of being a volume shooter. His best role with this team will inevitably be coming off the bench as the team’s sixth man, however, with the Wizards performing as woefully on offense as they have been early on this season his inclusion into the starting lineup had to take place.

Ariza and Okafor need to start as they are our best two options at their respective positions and also the fact that they are two of the highest paid players on the team which, more times than not (Sorry Rashard Lewis), equates to big minutes and many starts over the course of 82 games.

Kevin Seraphin is my last choice as a starter. Seraphin has proven that the offensive display he put on at times in the Olympics was no fluke. His baby hook shot move in the paint has been largely unstoppable this season as Seraphin has become highly effective when taking that shot. He has earned this distinction with his play so far and will likely continue to see big minutes as the Wizards ease Nene back from his foot injury.

4) MVP and LVP so far

Willis: MVP is spelled Nene in my book. He’s our best player when healthy, and Washington plays considerably better the second he touches the floor. Without him, we’re still winless. I know he only had a modest 6 points and 6 rebounds last game, but his impact is felt in so many more ways than just in the box score.

I think back to when he actually manned the point and dribbled the ball up court (in a very unsightly manner, however), and didn’t turn the ball over. He scooped up a rebound, couldn’t find anyone right away, but took the ball up the court to eventually find a man. It’s not even a huge deal, but it’s just the smooth, calm, do-whatever-it-takes manner in which he plays that gives the Wizards a big boost of confidence.

LVP – Jan Vesely for so many reasons. He’s not very good and his PER of 4 shows that. Outside of Nene, Crawford, and Okafor, everyone else has been below average on the PER scale (15 is average, everyone aside from those three is below it). Beal and Price sit around 10, Ariza and Singleton around 13, but Vesely? Four. FOUR. He’s done nothing to convince me that he won’t be out of the league in another year or two when his contract runs out, mostly because I can’t think of anything he can do particularly well aside from rebound.

His complete lack of an offensive game from anywhere on the court outside of dunking tells me that he really, really needs to find a mentor or be relegated to trying to deflect tip ins at the end of games (as he did against Portland last night).

Bohlin: MVP: Jordan Crawford

Could you imagine how uncompetitive this team would be were it not for Jordan Crawford? Honestly, I don’t want to and am glad it is not something that is worthy of discussion. The shooting guard from Xavier has been exactly what the Wizards need him to be so far as this team has struggled to put points on the board without him on the floor. It is very likely that Crawford’s role will change as the Wizards get closer to full health but he will remain a much needed weapon nonetheless.

LVP: Jan Vesely

As much as I want him to be good for this team the progression just hasn’t been there. David Aldridge said it best on Tony Kornheiser’s radio show in DC that Jan simply “Can’t play”. Aldridge went on to say how he doesn’t feel that Vesely will last five years in the league. That is the number six overall pick we are talking about here people. In last night’s win over Portland, Jan played a total of 0.2 seconds…and that was just so he could guard the Blazers last ditch inbound pass from half court. To say Jan has been a disappointment thus far isn’t doing justice to the word disappointment. He may turn it all around and prove Aldridge, Kornheiser, myself and thousands of other Wizards fans who feel the same way wrong, and I legitimately hope he does. I just don’t see it happening for him or this franchise any time soon. It’s really hard to take up for a guy who has five more fouls on the season than he does total points and is 3-13 from the foul line.

5.)  Bradley Beal – What gives?

Willis: He can’t shoot, that’s what gives. That is largely based on the fact that he has little confidence in himself, so that will hopefully change. But he takes a lot of midrange jumpers, and those are suicide for a rookie scorer in the NBA. That’s a veteran shot, not one for the young bucks like Beal. His tendency to be inanimate on the offensive end kills him overall, and he simply has to work more on being aggressive (while playing smart at the same time).

On a positive note, he can rebound relatively well for his position, and he knows how to move the ball around and not have the offense die as soon as he touches it. But until he can start to contribute on the offensive end, which is what he was brought in to do, his play will draw the ire of Wizards fans who watch Damian Lillard, Brandon Knight, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shine.

Heck, of all the rookies playing right now, Beal has been far less impressive than almost all off them. Harrison Barnes is starting to get it, Andre Drummond has been surprisingly effective, John Henson has done the same thing. Of the first ten picks, only Terrence Ross and Austin Rivers have had less of an impact. That’s not good.

Bohlin: It has been an up and down start to young Bradley Beal’s NBA career. Being shoved into the spotlight without your starting point guard, John Wall, and one of the league’s best big men in creating space for shooters, Nene, has put him behind the 8 ball. Unlike Vesely, Bradley Beal has shown flashes of the skillset that many fans saw during his time at Florida. I said it over the summer before we drafted Beal that he will benefit more so than any other player on our roster from playing with Wall and Nene. The addition of those two to the lineup will provide Bradley with more opportunities to take open shots while not being the main focal point of the opposing defense. I still think Bradley Beal is going to be a very effective NBA player for a long time, it’s far too early to pass judgment on him otherwise.

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Heading to the arena, I knew last night was destined to be a night of firsts; I only could hope that one of those firsts include the Wizards’ finally landing on the winning side of things this season. Being new to this whole blogging thing (and being a player through college, not a journalist), I haven’t really experienced a “welcome to the media” moment until last night.

How was the game, a Pacers-Wizards matchup with the Wiz still desperate for the year’s first one, special you ask? The reason being it was my first opportunity of the season to take advantage of one of the Dime’s newest additions to our team, official Media Credentials. Entering the Verizon Center through the media entrance definitely made me feel pretty boss, but once I was presented with a personal badge for the game (name and affiliation included) I knew that not even another Wizards loss would be able to prevent me from having a good night.

Our next pre-game stop was the media lounge, where we would get a stats packet, our section assignments, and some pregame refreshments. The buffet surprisingly featured pork roast and leg of lamb, and even more shockingly at the table next to me sat David Alridge, a real NBA media vet. That’s when it all really sank in, and I realized that I was no longer just a fan, but a member of the media; during my career I never thought I would end up going this route, I always thought the media was a pain in the ass more than anything, but I can say that last night really validated the decision to start writing for me. After a short time, we headed up to our assigned section and prepared for the start of the game.

After an awkward set of player introductions where the loudest ovation may have been gone to the Pacers Roy Hibbert (a former Hoya), the Wizards came out flat as a board and got down big early. Hibbert, David West, and Paul George paced Indiana’s early scoring, and Washington stood offensively watching Jordan Crawford and A.J. Price force up contested jumpers. The Wizards fell behind 21-6 in the first quarter, and were never fully able to recover. It was not until the second unit, featuring Brad Beal, Shaun Livingston and Kevin Seraphin, hit the floor that the Wizards showed any signs of offensive life.

Lackadaisical second quarter effort from the Pacers and steady play from the bench unit was able to cut the lead going into halftime only down 9. The half was full of forced jumpers and bad isolations, but I liked the way the offense looked with Livingston at the point. With his size, we were able to use his post-up game and 1-on-1 ability against his smaller defender to get some good looks. His unselfishness, and the fact that as a PG he isn’t interested in leading the team in shot attempts (like our current starter does), makes him the clear best option for the team moving forward.

The second half started with the Wiz on a run, forcing Frank Vogel to call an early timeout. He was able to settle the troops, and they again opened up a large lead against our “starters”. Insert Beal and Livingston, and the game again turned around with another huge late 3rd quarter run. The Wiz trailed by 4 going into the 4th, and were able to draw even on a few occasions during the quarter. However, down the stretch David West hit clutch jumper after clutch jumper, the offense sputtered to get shot attempts, and we ultimately fell to a more talented opponent 96-89. Small consolation, but Beal had a huge second half tonight, continuing his emergence over the past few games. He scored 17 points during the half, aggressively searching for his shot from distance and not hesitating to attack the basket. I’m happy to see him continue to develop, and only hope he continues to shoulder the scoring load (even off the bench).

However, the story of course is the Wiz’s futility: with another game and another disappointing loss, the Wizards losing streak has now extended to a franchise-worst 9 straight to start a season. Ouch. The Wiz created enough chances for themselves with their comeback effort to pull off the win, but they were unable to get over the hump yet again. The slow start really derailed things, and our inability to defend the paint and rebound defensively cost us big down the stretch and throughout the contest.

After the conclusion of the contest, we headed down to the media lounge yet again for Randy’s post-game comments. He did not have much to say, in fact, he even admitted to having no idea what to do to improve, how to create rotations or get the team in a better position to be successful. Well without being able to establish rotations or style of play, he basically told us he had no idea how to properly do his job. Randy looked and sounded like a man who knew his days on the bench were numbered. Things certainly are not entirely his fault, our roster without Wall and Nene is the least-talented in the NBA, but the coach is always the first to go when things snowball downhill.

We moved from there to the locker room for brief player interviews before they headed off into the DC night. Seraphin, Beal, Crawford, and Livingston all expressed similar sentiments: the team is talented enough to win, they believe they can win, once they win one they will run off a few more, and they need to start better and play 48 minutes in order to win. Saying the right things sure, but the body language for some of the guys suggested they might not buy the story they’re selling.

Going through losing streaks are extremely tough on any athlete’s confidence, and this type of historic losing is extremely troubling. We need to get the taste of victory and soon before negativity creeps in around the team to completely derail our season. After a short time, the small crowd of media was herded out of the locker room, and my first evening covering an NBA basketball game came to an end. Certainly an evening of firsts for me at the Phone Booth, and regardless of the result, it’s one I doubt I will soon forget.

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The Teams: Indiana Pacers (4-7) vs. Washington Wizards (0-8)

The Time: 7:00 PM

The Place: Verizon Center

TV/Radio: CSN (TV) 106.7 The Fan (Radio)

Washington gets back after it Monday night to attempt once again to right the ship after Saturday’s eighth consecutive loss to start the season. Tonight, the Wizards go up against the Indiana Pacers and their 1-6 record on the road. The Pacers come into this game having lost three of their last four contests, two of which were double digit losses on the road.

This will be the second time these two team have met this season with the first tilt going to the Pacers with an 89-85 victory. In that game Paul George was unstoppable, going for 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in 37 minutes of action. Unfortunately, as we all know, the Wizards blew a 2 point lead after three quarters. Washington could only muster 13 points in the final 12 minutes, being outscored by 6 in the last frame.

Why You Should Watch:

This should be another ultra competitive game. The Pacers come into tonight’s matchup with a lead than imperative road record and are still without, arguably, their best player in Danny Granger. Stars riding the pine in suits is something Washington can certainly relate to as John Wall and Nene still have yet to suit up for the Wizards on this young season. Washington could be catching Indiana at the right time and hopefully that translates into the opportunity for our first win.

Key Storylines and Questions:

1) Who Starts?

Randy Wittman played musical chairs with his rotation Saturday night as Jan Vesely and Jordan Crawford were inserted into the starting lineup. After the game Wittman stated how, ideally, there’d be “8-9 guys” who know that they’re going to play and are comfortable with their role on the team. As of right now, we don’t have anything close to that. The amount of different lineups Wittman has chose to close games with this early in the season is mind boggling. I expect a few more surprises this evening.

2) Who Steps Up To Shoulder Some Of The Scoring Load From Jordan Crawford?

Jordan Crawford has been exactly what most wizards fans have expected so far this season. He is a bit of a microwave on offense as he can get hot in an instant, but up until this point he hasn’t had much in the sense of a wingman on that end of the floor. Saturday night Crawford led the team in points (20) and assists (8) and Trevor Ariza pitched in 16 points of his own keeping Washington in the game after Al Jefferson went crazy in the third quarter.

With the way Bradley Beal was aggressive in attacking the rim against Utah I would hope he is given more of an opportunity to do what he does well tonight, score the basketball. Our first round pick needs to see the floor for more than 13 minutes and change for Washington to have a chance tonight. Should Beal get benched for an entire quarter at a time, see the third quarter against Utah, it could be another long evening for the Verizon Center faithful.

Prediction: Washington plays hard but is unable to put together a complete 48 minutes of basketball as Indiana doubles their road win total.

Indiana: 92    Washington: 85

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Washington Wizards (0-5) vs Charlotte Bobcats (2-3)

Time: 7:00

Place: Time Warner Cable Arena -  Charlotte, NC

Why you should watch: Its a division game!

The Wizards divisional schedule opens tonight as Washington travels to the Queen City to take on the Bobcats. Even though we didn’t do well against many teams last season the Wiz Kids essentially owned Charlotte. The Wizards need to keep this trend alive and well even though many of the parts have changed for both sides.

Ben Gordon has brought a new dynamic to the Bobcats offense that they severely lacked last season. He has filled it up for Charlotte in multiple games this season helping them to an early pair of wins. When he is in the game tonight the Wizards will have to, for lack of a better term, be all over him like a cheap suit.

Offensively I expect the Wizards to have a much needed breakout game. Charlotte is giving up 104 ppg on the season so far so that should give Washington a nice boost. I’m looking for Bradley Beal to continue his more inspired play this evening.

Key Storyline:

1) Which backcourt prevails?

The Bobcats get the bulk of their offense from the backcourt. If the Wizards can contain both Kemba Walker and Ben Gordon on the offensive end then they stand a good chance at notching their first victory of the season. Plain and simple, AJ Price and Bradley Beal need to out produce that pair to be successful tonight.

2) Which Trevor Ariza shows up tonight?

Ariza has been an enigma to me to say the least. I know he is a very competent and capable player in the NBA but for some reason he hasn’t put it all together in D.C. as of yet. After being a virtual no show the first few games it appears as if he’s beginning to see the light. I understand that learning a new system can be difficult but this team needs Ariza to a difference maker know order to win games.

Prediction:

Washington: 97

Charlotte: 92

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