Tuesday February 15, 2011 2:02 p.m.
By Frank Hanrahan
The Wizards played like a humbled and desperate team in picking up their first road win of the season at Cleveland on Sunday night. Now, if they could just have that approach to every game they may actually pick up a few more wins after this weekend's All-Star break.
Here are some things I would like to see the Wizards accomplish in the unofficial second half of the season.
Wheel and Deal: Come the trade deadline, the Wizards should be very active and be willing and able to trade a veteran player like Kirk Hinrich for a late first-round pick. Contending teams surely need guard help and Hinrich would fit in nicely as backup for several teams. As the Wizards continue to rebuild, they need all the draft picks they can acquire. The Wizards are not going to ship John Wall, Javale McGee or Nick Young but everyone else is and should be fair game to think about shipping out for picks.
Get Healthy: Easier said than done but it would be nice to get all the veterans on the court together at one time to see what they can do. Just when swingman Josh Howard got back from a knee injury, forward Rashard Lewis had to sit because of a knee as well. Make no mistake, when Howard and Lewis are playing they bring much needed leadership to this youthful team.
Let Wall Loose: Coach Flip Saunders should just scrap the playbook and order players to just get the ball to point guard John Wall and let him go. Wall is the most dangerous when he has the defense on their heels with his blow-by speed and lately we have seen less of a speedy Wall and more of a concern towards getting into a half-court offense. The Wizards should think get it and go with Wall rather than slow the pace down. The Wizards should play to Wall strength's and not shy away from it.
Streak: Hard to believe, but the Wizards have only won two games in a row once all season. It came in mid January when Washington beat Toronto and Utah in back-to-back games. The Wizards have yet to build off quality wins like the one they had over Boston. After the Washington beat the defending Eastern Conference champs 85-83 in late January, the Wizards followed that up with a season-high eight straight losses.
The Wizards have shown the propensity to be satisfied with a win and not use that as a springboard at all to more wins. For the remainder of the season, the Wizards can't be happy with just a win. Dare the Wizards -- dream and put together an actual winning streak?
Road Toughness: Players have admitted that for some reason, the approach to a road game is different than one at Verizon Center, evidenced by the 1-25 road record heading into Orlando on Wednesday night. At times on the road, certain players look like shells of themselves, compared to how they play in D.C. where they have a respectable home mark of 14-13. The mindset from here on out somehow, some way has to change and they have to pick up a few more road wins before this season is history.
Become Relevant: I was stunned by how few fans booed the Wizards' effort in the blowout loss to San Antonio last Saturday in the 118-94 loss. Either the fan base doesn't care anymore or they just have come to expect losing and they are now numb to it. The more the Wizards lose, obviously the less relevant they are. Even with top pick John Wall, there is little buzz about this team because they are....losing. In this latter half of the NBA season, the Wizards have to find a way to show fans, that despite the lousy win-loss record they are getting better and the future is bright.