Dave Johnson: Wizards Lose And Now Look Ahead

Dave Johnson: Wizards Lose And Now Look Ahead
October 20, 2010, 1:52 am
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 9:52 p.m.By Dave Johnson
Toledo, Ohio---Prime time and the season opener in Orlando is still more than a week away. The pre-season finale in Toledo, a 98-92 loss to the Detroit Pistons, served as reminder of the Wizards need for that extra time to prepare and make decisions.

The Wizards have not settled on a starting five as head coach Flip Saunders weighs options and considers the opening night opponent the Orlando Magic. In addition Gilbert Arenas once again was on the sideline with a strained right groin, but should be ready by the season opener on October 28.

"We do have decisions to make in the next couple of days, " said Saunders. "We have put ourselves in a position to take a day or two and then gear up for that first game. We can really lock in at practice. "

Arenas' absence has prevented Saunders from continuing to experiment with a smaller lineup that also features Kirk Hinrich and John Wall. Hinrich and Wall started in the back court against the Pistons, while Al Thornton joined Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee in the front court.

In addition there is the difficult call to make on the additions or addition to the 12 players already under contract on the Wizards roster. The NBA allows teams to carry 15 players, but it's possible the Wizards might carry fewer than the 15 players.

To that end, Adam Morrison, Hamady N'Diaye, and Lester Hudson all played extended minutes against the Pistons. Cartier Martin is also not under contract, but he started against the Knicks. Sean Marks is still with the team, but did not get in any pre-season games because of a hamstring injury.

Along with the non-contract players, rookies Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin were also given the platform to perform. Booker and N'Diaye impressed with their energy and aggressiveness, while Morrison received 26 minutes of playing time and finished with 8 points on 2 of 5 shooting from the field.

Booker is pure blue collar and lunch pail. The 6'7" rookie from Clemson sets screens on offense and makes up for his lack of size on the boards with raw strength. Booker grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds in 18 minutes of playing time including five offensive boards.

The Wizards did not have an answer for the Pistons Rodney Stuckey who led all scorers with 34 points. Stuckey had 23 points in the first-half alone and was not settling for jumpers but getting free off pick and rolls and driving to the basket.

Kirk Hinrich and Andray Blatche each had 17 points to lead the Wizards. It is becoming clear that Hinrich likely will be the "glue guy" to add stability to a young Wizards team. Hinrich's play sets the tone and his tenacious defense produced three steals.

It was another night of development and dazzle for Wall. At half-time Wall only had two points but had six assists. Two of his assists were on the break and were finished by demonstrative dunks by Blatche and McGee.

In the second half Wall was more in attack mode and ended up with 13 points to go with his 7 assists. On one play Wall beat Pistons rookie guard Vernon Hamilton on a cross-over dribble from the right wing and proceeded to slalom through two more defenders before scoring on a layup.

That was the dazzle, but the need for continued development showed up in six turnovers by Wall.

"We have played very well at times and executed properly, " Saunders added. "At times we have also been undisciplined and not played with a purpose, but in general we have played hard and done a better job of rebounding. "