Raptors 113, Wizards 108

Mac G's supposed to post a photo-blog of some kind later, and mistersean already posted his own first-hand experience, but I might as well add some quick thoughts.

First off, this was an awful game to lose, and that's not just because of how it ended.  The Wizards did not play one of their best games.  They did not defend well at all, and they weren't exactly lighting it up on the offensive end.  Unlike their victory over the Raptors earlier, they were outrebounded, and they let Chris Bosh dominate inside.  But despite all this, they were still in position to win because they forced turnovers, got to the free throw line, and hit big shots down the stretch (none bigger than that Arenas shot).

But two things really hurt them at the end of the game.  First, Antonio Daniels, who I guess was in there for defense, got completely lost on an off-ball screen, allowing Juan Dixon a clean look from the corner to cut the lead to 1.  Then, of course, there was Ruffin's play, but beyond that, once the ball went in the air, NOBODY MOVED.  Everyone stood still except for Morris  Peterson, who naturally caught the ball and hit the shot.  You'd think that, after realizing the ball slipped out of his hands, Ruffin would try to jump for it like a cornerback.  But no, he instead just stood there.  That's arguably just as egregious as throwing the ball into the air in the first place.

But the truth is, Peterson hit a ridiculous shot, and we wouldn't be talking about this if he didn't.  He basically flung it at the rim from 31 feet away with Caron Butler in his face, and it somehow went in.  That's just unlucky.

Far bigger news is that Brendan Haywood is really sulking...again.  From Ivan's recap:

"When he was taken out after a 41-second stint at the start of the fourth period, Haywood did not hide his displeasure. He shook his head while walking to the bench, mumbling all along the way, and then angrily tossed a towel off to the side after taking a seat.

Haywood, who has totaled three points and 13 rebounds in the last four games, remained seated while his teammates huddled during a timeout and Jordan said he never considered putting him back in.

"I saw a little bit of low energy pretty much, that's about it," Jordan said. "Low energy will disallow you to do the things you need to do at the NBA level."

He went into more detail on the Wizards Insider blog.

He didn't cheer on his teammates as the game went on and when it was over, he was the first player off the court and had a big smile on his face. Not hard to read into that one.

In the last four games, BH has given this team zero points, 13 rebounds and no blocks. At least one of his teammates is getting tired of his act and didn't appreciate tonight's antics. "Put that (blank) in the paper," said the teammate, who shall remain nameless because it was not an on-the-record conversation. "Let people read that."

Said another: "That's for that man to deal with right in there (pointing to Eddie Jordan's office)."

My guess: you'll see a different starting center at Milwaukee on Sunday.

Yikes.  As valuable as Haywood is compared to anyone else on this team, that type of behavior really isn't acceptable.  

Does Haywood have a point?  Yes, certainly.  Eddie has a remarkably quick hook for him, and taking him out for extended periods really hurts their defense.  Dribble penetration is at the core of the Wizards' defensive issues (and it was again tonight), but not having Haywood's length makes that problem even more pronounced.  However, this is not the right way to go about proving your point, and if there seems to be discontent with the rest of the team this late in the season, it's a big problem.  

With Milwaukee and Charlotte coming up, I think it would be wise to bench Haywood for a couple games, have a sit-down meeting to hash out all the concerns, and put him back into the starting lineup in a couple games.  It worked earlier in the year, so hopefully, it'll work again.

Update [2007-3-31 18:18:30 by Pradamaster]: More from Wizards Insider, which confirms a possible change in the starting lineup. There's also a section where Haywood did not appreciate what was written about him, and while that really doesn't mean much in terms of the team, I wanted to mention it to side with Carter. He did the right thing in writing about it, and he did the right thing in presenting himself after it was written. Kudos to Carter for a great reporting job. Bullets Forever salutes you.

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