At least Zaza didn't go off for 27

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Highest Plus/Minus: Nick Young (+1)
Lowest Plus/Minus: Antonio Daniels (-15)

I think Ivan summed up my general feelings about the game better than I could have:

LeBron James's missed three-point attempt allowed the Washington Wizards to escape with a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, and clutch plays by all-star Antawn Jamison helped pull out an overtime win Saturday over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Last night, the Wizards asked too much of their basketball fortunes and the result was a 105-96 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks. The Wizards can blame only themselves: They came out flat, played shoddy defense most of the night and spotted the Hawks a 10-point fourth-quarter lead before trying to make a run.

If we were, say the Washington Huskies instead of the Washington Wizards, the effort put forth the last few games would have us all talking about how the team was floundering down the stretch and would be the most likely candidate (besides Notre Dame) to fall victim to the 5 vs. 12 matchup in the tourney this week.  Luckily this is the NBA so we don't have to fear losing to Southwestern Rhode Island Tech St. on Thursday, but if the Wizards want to avoid dropping to 7th or 8th in the conference, there are some things that need to change in a hurry.

1. A sense of urgency: I try not to be one of those guys that uses all the cliché buzzwords (since I'm bad at using them) when describing a team's performance, but the Wizards have just been playing entirely too casual the last few games.  Sometimes when you add someone like Caron back into the lineup, it lulls you into a false sense of security because the margin of error isn't as narrow as it had been before.  Normally a loss like this is the swift kick to the nuts that serves as the wake up call, so let's hope that's the case here.

2. A healthy wrist:  Sure, Caron's been putting up near triple-doubles since he came back, but if Caron's shot isn't falling, it just doesn't work the same.  Spence had a good take on Caron's play since his return:

Washington simply isn't good enough to beat many teams unless Butler is scoring 20 points per game. Caron is still doing other things, like rebounding and passing. Indeed, he has come close to a triple-double in both of the last two games. Unfortunately, that's not enough. Washington needs Caron to score more if they are going to beat any halfway decent team.

3. Get off of the milk carton: Has anyone seen Andray Blatche recently?  Just take a look at his split stats by month, almost every statistical category is way down this month.  It hasn't been a major problem so far because Darius Songaila has been playing reasonably well, but I'm not anticipating that to keep up forever.  Andray might be young, he might be soft, and he might not have the best taste in women that we've ever seen, but he still fills an important role on the team and we'll need his shot-blocking and rebounding more and more as we get closer to the playoffs.

Last night's loss should be the bottom of the valley for this little slump, but with Orlando coming up tomorrow they'll need to get back to the peak in a hurry.

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