Tuesday December 7, 2010 12:15 p.m.
By Frank Hanrahan
WIZARDS PAGE WIZARDS VIDEO
Hampered by injuries, inconsistent play and focus, the Wizards head into tonight's game at the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers still in desperate search of an identity. Even in a self proclaimed"rebuilding" year, Wizards coach Flip Saunders still isn't really sure what he has and how he can shape this 6-13 team but he knows what he would like to see. "Ideally, we'd like to be a team that would be able to create turnovers defensively, score in the open court some, and with our length, we were hoping to really protect the inside paint," Saunders said
Effort has also been a season long issue for Saunders who has openly questioned his team's heart after disappointing losses. "Especially with a young team you are going to lose some games at times maybe you should win but the one thing you cannot do is not give an effort," Saunders said. "We have an obligation to your teammates, everyone to give everything we have when you're on the floor. Whether you're on the floor for 40 minutes 25 minutes or ten seconds you got to give your all."
With rookie sensation John Wall nursing ankle and knee issues for the past few weeks and forwards Al Thornton and Yi Jianlian also missing games due to injury, Saunders finally got to see his full compliment of players in another blowout road loss this time at Phoenix on Sunday night. "We are hoping to get some continuity, its tough. Hopefully we will start working into getting into some type of rotation," Saunders said.
Finding and creating chemistry is key at any level of basketball and the Wizards are trying to find the right mix. Even swing man Alonzo Gee who was on the street a few weeks ago after getting cut by San Antonio was thrust into the starting lineup just two games into his second stint with the Wizards.
No identity yet but one thing is for sure, the Wizards can't win away from D.C., falling to 0-10 on the road after getting pasted 125-108 by the Suns. After holding Portland to a measly 79 points last Friday, the Wizards re-dedication to defense fell by the wayside as Steve Nash and Co. ran a clinic on Washington as the Suns shot 58 percent from the field. The Wizards are giving up astonishing 112.8 points per game on the road -- hardly a recipe for success away from home.
Speaking of a clinic, the Lakers led by Kobe Bryant have won 8 straight over the Wizards. The last time the Wizards won in L.A. was that memorable 60 point performance by Gilbert Arenas in the 147-141 overtime win way back in 2006. Arenas will likely come off the bench tonight. Amazing, what a difference four years can make.