Washington Wizards Waste Opportunities, Lose Momentum

Matthew Brown@mlb923Correspondent INovember 22, 2009

The Washington Wizards silenced a few critics with a big win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second meeting of the season. The honeymoon didn't last long as the Wizards lost by 19 points a mere 48 hours later.

So much for Antawn Jamison's return making all the difference.

The win over the Cavs was, by any other name, an apparition. Cleveland was without Shaquille O'Neal and Anderson Varejao, or 18 points and 15 rebounds.

Stats aside, Cleveland lost a decided size advantage, and had to rely on the ever-aging Zydrunas Ilgauskas to fill the void.

In the absence of Shaq and Varejao, the Wizards out-rebounded the Cavaliers 49-35.

The Wizards may have made the most of the opportunity presented to them in Cleveland, but had no answer for the youth, and full health, of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The game was a showcase of offense, young talent, and absolutely no defense. All three facets went the Thunder's way.

By no means did the Thunder play a pretty game, but they did more with the opportunities given to them. As a team, the Thunder shot 53 percent from the field, 52 percent from beyond the arc (11 of 21) and 84 percent from the free throw line.

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The Wizards did not slack on offense, but couldn't compare to the Thunders' three-point and free throw percentages. The team shot 70 percent from the free throw line and made just seven three-point shots.

Defense has never been a strong suit for the Wizards, but they have added an inability to hold on to the ball or take quality shots.

The Wizards have turned the ball over at inopportune times in all of their losses and given opponents too many second-chance opportunities. These were supposed to be the new and improved Wizards, but it seems they're just more of the same.

The season is still young, but a few things need to change. With everyone healthy, the Wizards are finally able to put some interesting line-ups on the floor.

The starting five is just the beginning of the possibilities. Head coach Flip Saunders could experiment with Gilbert Arenas at shooting guard and Randy Foye running the offense. It would play to their respective strengths without causing a hit in production.

It wouldn't hurt to get some of the younger players involved, either.

Andray Blatche's minutes have been more than cut in half since Jamison's return and Nick Young, JaVale McGee, and Dominic McGuire haven't seen any significant time on the floor at all this season.

Blatche is more deserving of minutes with what he has done in Jamison's absence, but the Wizards need to do something to put them on the winning track. Why not put some of the young guns to the fire every once in a while?

It makes more sense considering that injuries always hit the Wizards hard. If they expect to have Caron Butler, Mike Miller, Brendan Haywood, Jamison, and Arenas for an entire season, they would be wise to lighten their loads a bit.

There is nothing wrong with averaging a high amount of minutes, but the health of the Wizards starting five has been a major question already this season, and dating back to the last two.

There is always more to winning than just one player, and Jamison's return is no exception. It is going to take more than just a few games to right the ship for the Wizards.

The Wizards have the look of a season-long construction project. It is too soon to look toward next season, but it is too much to expect an instant return to the playoffs.


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