Wiz finish preseason tonight

Ivan here in shockingly cold Atlanta. Thought I'd put together a blog entry before catching a flight to Detroit for tonight's final preseason game. The Wiz won 110-105 last night in what turned out to be one of the most entertaining preseason games I've seen in a long time. Even though the cavernous Philips Arena had maybe 5,000 people in it, the teams got after it from the opening tip until the final buzzer.

The final box score looked a lot like boxes from last season: Gilbert Arenas cruised and I mean, cruised, his way to 29 points on 8 of 11 shooting. He made 4 of 7 from three-point range and appeared to be teasing the Hawks at times because it was so easy. At one point in the third quarter, Gil squared up on Josh Childress at the top of the key, dribbled back and forth between his legs three or four times and then released a smooth shot without really jumping. All net. He skipped down the court giggling like he was the only guy in the building in on a really good joke. Later, in the third quarter, Gilbert attempted, and made, a free throw with his eyes closed. Again, it's so easy for him sometimes.

Antawn Jamison made 10 of 22 shots and scored 22 points with 8 rebounds. His biggest basket was a nifty layup he made after cutting back door and taking a crisp bounce pass from Antonio Daniels with 2:31 remaining. If Antawn is bothered by the extra wear and tear that came with playing for Team USA this summer, it hasn't shown. His shot has been on the mark and he appears to be making a real effort to defend his man at all times.

Caron Butler scored 15 points on 5 of 11 shooting and had one of the game's biggest plays: shortly after Jamison's big layup, Butler came up with a steal, pushed the ball in transition and threaded a nice bounce pass through traffic to Daniels who was hustling down the wing. DeShawn Stevenson made all four of his shots and scored 11 points while Jarvis Hayes scored 14 and Daniels 7 off the bench. Brendan Haywood was extremely active early and wound up with 7 points and a team-high 9 rebounds in nearly 22 minutes.

From what I've seen so far, that will be a typical box score for the boys in the blue and white this season. One of the truly noteworthy things so far has been Stevenson's shooting touch. He's not reputed to be any kind of any outside shooter but in the preseason, he's consistently buried the 13-18 footers he will always get while playing in tandem with Arenas at guard. In six games, Stevenson has made 15 of 21 shots and 9 of 12 free throws. He doesn't take dumb shots from way out of his range, he's shown an ability to post up and take advantage of smaller guards such as Chicago's Ben Gordon and he can get out and fill on the wing in transition.

Defensively, Stevenson really got after Atlanta's Joe Johnson. Now, Johnson wound up with 28 points on 9 of 17 shooting but most of his damage was done when Stevenson was on the bench. I saw Stevenson get down in a good, aggressive stance, he moved his feet well laterally whenever Johnson tried to put it on the floor and Sevenson seems to be able to defend closely without fouling. In the modern NBA, that's essential.

Eddie Jordan was not happy with many of his reserves after the game and he really hasn't been thrilled with them all preseason. Last night, Donell Taylor played only two minutes, Andray Blatche played only 6, Roger Mason played 5 and James Lang played 8. From what I can see, Blatche may be starting to get frustrated. He's made only 13 of 50 shots, including 1 of 12 three-pointers and he has a whopping 27 fouls in 132 minutes. After a real nice drive and lay in last night, he was called for a dubious offensive foul. As he walked to the bench, Blatche whipped off his head band and tossed it on the floor. Shortly after that, Blatche was out of the game for good and he watched the remainder of the fourth quarter from the bench.

The main issue, as far as Jordan is concerned, is defense. Like a lot of young guys, Blatche gets out of position really easy and he's prone for just about any kind of head fake. For instance, Atlanta's Marvin Williams, himself just a couple of years removed from high school ball, earned a trip to the line by freezing Blatche with a pump fake and then driving hard at his right shoulder moments after Blatche checked into the game in the fourth. There is a ton of talent there but it's going to take some time.

Also, a quick note: for the first time this preseason, I saw Jordan experiment with Calvin Booth at the power forward spot. Booth was on the floor with Etan Thomas for a stretch of the third quarter. With Michael Ruffin out again tonight with a sore right foot (he said he'll be fine), it will be interesting to see whether Jordan tries a similar lineup again.

I'll check back in later from Detroit where I imagine nobody will be thinking about a Pistons/Wizards preseason game seeing as how the Tigers are playing in the World Series tonight. I wonder who many folks will come out to the Palace?

By Ivan Carter |  October 24, 2006; 5:59 AM ET
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Comments

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Michael/Ivan - you need to post to Jason's blog to get people over to this one. You have been providing great info about a team with a lot of hope and real possibility. That's a great thing in this town.

Posted by: BulletsFan | October 24, 2006 8:35 AM

Thank you so much for your articles. If it weren't for you and Wizards web-site we the fans would not know anything about basketball. Also heard your interview last nite, thanks for that too.

Posted by: PamelaBrandy | October 24, 2006 9:09 AM

Dear God, let us never see Booth and Etan on the floor at the same time in the regular season...

Posted by: tp | October 24, 2006 9:28 AM

Ivan/Michael,

These posts are wayyyyyyy too long to be considered blog entries. they're more like articles.
let's shrink it a lil bit and keep it short and sweet, rather than long and sweet.
how about enstating a 3-4 paragraph (5 sentences each) limit on each?

nevertheless, I did read the whole entry, so don't fret.

and a message to fellow Wiz-kid blog readers...Spread the word on this blog, we gotta make this thing blow up like we did J-La-C's, especially cause the Skins aren't worth talking about until they fix their act.


yours truly,

k-man

Posted by: K-Man | October 24, 2006 10:56 AM

wow, i'm not sure wether to be impressed there are people on this blog or shocked at the low number. either way, great analysis. i know jordan wants to get his rotation set, but it seems like with this being preseason and all, blatche should be in there playing a lot more, what he needs is experience, not more bench time.

Posted by: hello? | October 24, 2006 10:57 AM

i wrote my entry before i read the other comments....and i do agree with them: you guys give damn good information about this team, and you surely make it more interesting to follow the Wiz.
Thank you.

Posted by: k-man | October 24, 2006 10:59 AM

people are reading the blog, but just dont have comments yet. Pollin does not have Comcast or anybody else show the preseason games so no one really knows how they look. The article or blog is great. folks in this town are still consumed with the 'skins. until the Wiz win in the playoffs consistently, the radar will be solely on the Skins in this town. but i look forward to a good season. the key is how big man play is throughout the league. Will the power play of players like Shaq be dominant or worthless, or will the game be about offensive skill and scoring. the latter bodes well for the BULLETS!

Posted by: robgreg | October 24, 2006 11:09 AM

Ivan,

Any news on who is going to be cut? By when must the cut be made?

Posted by: Ledell Eackles | October 24, 2006 11:13 AM

Ivan/ Michael,

DO NOT restrict the length of the posts, If you've got something to write, then write it. I really enjoy the blog as do many others.

You mentioned that coach Jordon experimented with Booth at PF and Etan at center, well, how did it work? Any word on when the final cut will be made to the roster?

Posted by: Wizzy | October 24, 2006 11:13 AM

Thanks for the update on da Wiz. From your point of view, what's it going to take for Blatche to get his defensive legs?

You and other folks have talked about how he can ball, but if he's falling for head fakes on D, this is not good.

Overall, is the defense better at shutting down passing lanes, stopping penetration and boxing out this year? Those were all some glaring weaknesses that haunted the Wiz last year -- people could score on them at will without the Wizards getting a hand on them, much less a body or giving a solid foul.

Posted by: iceberg | October 24, 2006 11:17 AM

I for one have just about thrown the towel in on the super dissapointing 'Skins this season so I am getting into Wiz-mode earlier than usual. I am real pumped for this season. I like what I am hearing about Stevenson, sounds like a great addition!

Posted by: Tony | October 24, 2006 11:25 AM

Don't shrink your blog man, they are really informative. You're our eyes and it's highly appreciated.

One more week to go, I'm very excited about the Wiz this year. After years of frustration we have a team that can finally compete!

I still think they are a year away but it's a long season so you never know.

Let us know how Detriot looks without Big Ben in the middle ok?

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | October 24, 2006 11:38 AM

Definitely don't shorten the length of your posts...the season hasn't even started yet and we want all the info we can get!

Go Wiz!

Posted by: Aaron | October 24, 2006 11:51 AM

k-Man is on point and for the love of Maverick and Goose from Top Gun, DO NOT restrict blog length. The knowledge is too tight for restriction.

Also, IC, loved the fact that I could see this shizzle on the homepage today. More of that!

I have decided, for fantasy league purposes, that if I have the 3rd pick (or lower and he's there), I'm drafting Gilbert Arenas. I realize it might be the hometown discount but I am not going through another season without that man on my squad.

Can we just take a moment and thank our respective higher powers that we have that guy? Remember when experts said we were stupid to give him that kind of $$$ and now its a bargain for 29 6.5 and 2 steals a night? He is the best thing going in DC right now.

IC, do you know if he drives a Bentley? I could have sworn I saw him pushing a supertight Bentley in Georgetwon and I go: 'I think that's Gilbert Arenas in a Bentley'.

Posted by: Bernard King | October 24, 2006 11:56 AM

One of your best posts this preseason. Blogs are successful because they are more conversational and allow you to say something you probably would write about the team..or at least not in the same manner.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2006 11:56 AM

Blog subject: Who will be cut... I say Donell Taylor... They like Mike Hall and think he can round into a good role player as soon as this season; Lang-well need we say more, he can give you all that B. Haywood cannot, albeit in spurts given his youth and inexperience, but I am sure he will give 10 and 10 by next year if he were to start; Roger Mason, can shoot, has experience, and can play D and the point. DT is pretty much out...

Give us your opinion and what you think they are thinking.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2006 12:04 PM

I was hoping last night's meltdown wasn't a harbinger of what's to come this season. It looked eerily familiar to what the team did last year: build a big lead and choke it away. I know a couple of starters weren't on the floor when the Wizards coughed up the 20-point margin, but Jamison, Thomas, Daniels and Butler were still out there, and that's a lineup that may be involved in late-game situations. I've been impressed overall with the team thus far this preseason, though. Maybe last night was simply an aberration and not at all indicative of what this team will do this year. I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited for Gilbert to come back and save the D.C. sports scene from the putrid Skins.

Oh, and I agree with some of the folks here: Don't reduce your blog length. I enjoy all the information.

What're you listening to these days, Ivan? Last year you were giving us some choice musical selections and expressing your well-found adoration for groups like Gang Starr. Hit us up, man. What's in the CD player/on the iPod?

Posted by: Colin | October 24, 2006 12:14 PM

Just wanted to chip in another "don't shorten the blogs" comment, and let you know how much the coverage is appreciated. I'm a transplanted Wiz fan now living in San Diego and I'm soaking up all the Wiz coverage I can get.

Posted by: Mike | October 24, 2006 12:28 PM

Ivan:
Thanks for these posts, and please don't keep them short for the sake of k-man's short attention span. Who knows, maybe after a season of reading your blog, k-man's attention span will be so strong he'll spend the offseason reading Ulysses, etc.
The final cut will reveal a lot about the direction of the team. The rotation seems pretty set with the top 9 or 10 guys, so with guys like Blatche, Taylor, Lang and Hall, you are looking at future development, not for help this year. If you keep Taylor, that's one more young guy in the backcourt -- does that impact whether Hayes is re-signed? If you keep Hall, is it because you think he can be Stevenson's replacement if he leaves? If Lang stays, do you need Booth anymore or have space for him?

Posted by: Carl | October 24, 2006 12:28 PM

Is Etan Thomas 100 percent? Can he, along with Ruffin, be the inside enforcer this team needs?

Posted by: George Templeton | October 24, 2006 12:48 PM

guys,
it's cool to disagree with me and all, but i dont see the reason to take shots (carl). really serves no purpose to look like a hard@$$ on a freakin online blog.

but yeah, i don't mind about the long posts, i just thought all along that a blog was supposed to consist of updates that are "short and sweet" and that you guys (ivan/mike) could save the lengthy info for the daily articles on the team.

nevertheless, i love this blog, and will strive to contribute to it as much as i can...

we all are wizards fans (i assume), and any info pertaining to our beloved wiz-kids will enlighten our days.

peace out

Posted by: k-man | October 24, 2006 12:54 PM

Any and all wiz coverage is good, no matter the format.

Go Mike and Ivan!

Posted by: Zonker | October 24, 2006 1:19 PM

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