Wednesday December 15, 2010 2:15 p.m.
By Frank Hanrahan
With probably their best chance to date to get their first road win of the season at New Jersey Thursday night, the Wizards again will likely be without their top two scorers in guard John Wall and forward Andray Blatche. After missing the loss to the Lakers on Tuesday night, both due to knee injuries, Wall and Blatche sat out most of practice Wednesday, and Wizards' coach Flip Saunders doesn't expect either to play against the 6-19 Nets.
Forward Yi Jianlian won't face one of his old teams either, as he revealed he suffered a right MCL sprain in the Lakers' game, and could miss at least a few weeks of action. Saunders said rookie Trevor Booker and Al Thornton would see time at the power forward spot to replace Blatche.
Saunders is going to have to rely heavily on veteran guards Gilbert Arenas and Kirk Hinrich to step up their games and fill up the stat sheet, as the team will miss the 33 points or so Wall and Blatche combine to score on average.
"We're asking Gil, we're asking Kirk, to almost play perfect type games for us to win no matter who it is," Saunders said. Against the Lakers, Arenas and Hinrich were far from perfect, shooting 8-25 combined for just 17 points. "The biggest thing is our guards have to make shots and so if they make shots they take pressure off the bigs we have," Saunders said.
The 6-17 Wizards have lost 5 straight, including Tuesday's 103-89 thumping by the two-time defending champion Lakers. Washington is 6-5 at Verizon Center, but that 0-12 road record is staring them right in the face. They have a great chance to snap the skid against a just-as-woeful Nets team that has lost 8 in a row.
"We got to get a victory, get over that hump. Really, that's what we are fighting for, really," Wizards guard Nick Young said. "We aren't mad at each other. We're mad that we keep losing and we will find a way."
Saunders thinks the Nets are likewise looking at the Wizards as their best chance to snap their own losing streak.
"In this league there are not bad players. In this league there are bad teams but not bad players, and so when you and play anybody you got to respect those guys that they can go out and play," Saunders said.