Wizards constant changing of the guard

Wizards constant changing of the guard
December 27, 2012, 2:15 pm
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Evidence of the Wizards revolving door at point guard existed on both benches Wednesday night - not to mention during the game's decisive final minute.

Shelvin Mack and Garrett Temple made their season debuts with Washington. Shaun Livingston's 6,000 mile Christmas holiday odyssey brought him right back to the city he just left but also to the opposing locker room. John Wall talked about returning next month while his fellow No. 1 No. 1 Kyrie Irving scored and passed Cleveland to victory.

Playing their first game with the Wizards this season, Mack and Temple combined for 47 minutes. During the entire fourth quarter of a tight game, at least one of the former D-Leagues was on the court. Such is the state of the Wizards these days.

Despite some late miscues, Randy Wittman liked what he saw out of his new pieces.

"We found, they’re going to be my point guards," the Wizards coach said. "We had pace, we had movement, ball didn’t stick, ball didn’t dribble. I like that."

The reality is Mack and Temple are Wittman's point guards by default - and for the next six to 36 days, based on Wall's own timetable. A.J. Price also remains sidelined.

Before exiting late with a groin injury, Mack finished with seven assists, six points and six rebounds. The Wizards 2011 second-round pick also had three turnovers, two coming in the fourth quarter. Temple had two points and two assists, but also missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with nine seconds left.

"I wasn't real nervous, just played. Toughest thing was getting the right plays down, getting to know the guys. Obviously I wish a couple of shots had fallen."

Temple might not have been nervous, but Livingston was most definitely tired and not simply from his recent professional roller coaster ride.

Cut by the Wizards after Saturday's loss to Detroit, the veteran guard received a holiday present on Christmas Day when the Cavaliers claimed him off waivers. Just a travel bummer for Livingston the gift didn't come a few days sooner.

"It's been an interesting Christmas," said Livingston, who averaged 3.7 points and 2.2 assists in 17 games with the Wizards. "It's the business; it's how this thing works."

At least his Cavaliers tour started in the same city where the last one ended. As for what happened in between...

"Whew, I went to L.A.," the deep sighing and tired eye Livingston said. "I have a home out there. I haven't slept in my bed in months.  I wanted to go out there, get away, spend Christmas out there, see some family. Here I am."

After two nights in his So Cal bed, Livingston returned to D.C. Wednesday morning, though he did not play against his former team.

Even if a touch grumpy about his cross-country venture, Livingston proved understanding when asked why he felt the Wizards set him free.

"They had to switch things up. The results, end of the day. We weren't as bad as our record. I think they wanted to change up the dynamic, see if they could get a spark," Livingston said.

Wittman might suggest the newcomers provided said spark, but hopes of ending the latest losing streak flickered out late. Cleveland's starry point guard helped snuff any glimmer of hope.

Irving scored 20 points in the first half as Cleveland fended off an early Washington lead. When the Wizards pulled ahead 79-73 midway through the fourth, Irving's jumper started a 9-0 run. With the game tied inside the final 30 seconds -- in part because Irving started missing free throws at a Shaq-ian rate -- his penetration and dish to a cutting Tristan Thompson led to the decisive 3-point play.

"We tried to get the ball out of Irving’s hand," Wittman said.

They didn't, not until Cleveland's star decided where he wanted the ball delivered. The 7-23 Cavaliers have their own issues, but are now 2-0 against the Wall-less Wizards.

All the Wizards can hope for is that their floor leader delivers on a January return he suggested to Yahoo! Sports. Until then, more point guard hope and praying.