The Washington Wizards held perhaps their most open practice of the season since training camp today, allowing the media access to the last 30 minutes of practice in which the team ran 20 minutes of broken down scrimmage followed by ten minutes of full scrimmage which pitted the starters against the bench players.
Black Team: (John Wall, Nick Young, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, Rashard Lewis, Al Thornton)
Grey Team: (Kirk Hinrich, Yi Jianlian, Cartier Martin, Lester Hudson, Hilton Armstrong, Kevin Seraphin, Hamady N'Diaye)
Notably, scrimmage was especially intense today to the point that the media was wincing as Wizards players went down hard every minute or so during play. I would be remiss if I did not mention that John Wall took at least five spills during this period, four on crazy John Wall drives to the basket and once after getting body checked by Hamady N'Diaye. Wall had to helped up by teammates at least twice and one has to hope that he learns that he can play through practice at 80% rather than the 110% he appears to give every possession. Andray Blatche also took a nasty fall towards the end of practice when attempting a breakaway dunk, but seems to have fully recovered when he approached the media later.
Practice notes and quotes after the jump.
One thing that the media saw today that we normally don't see during practice was Flip Saunders giving more detailed instruction to his players. One of the points that Saunders was hammering home to his charges during practice was the need to set hard picks to defenders and the need to rotate faster off of screens. Saunders got on JaVale McGee during practice (as an illustrative point, not to dog him out) about being too slow to rotate on offense and breaking the flow of the offense.
Another point of coaching is that both Saunders and the assistant coaches were encouraging the guards to get right up on the opposing point guard and force to the player to immediately pass off or attempt to drive past the defender. Each time that Wall or Hudson slacked off on playing up to their man the entire coaching staff would immediately scream for more pressure on the ball handler
Saunders also appeared to have no time for malingering, forcing Blatche to take his two foul shots rather than pull himself out of practice. I found this interesting to note as Saunders did the same thing in the game against the Hornets, forcing JaVale McGee to play through an entire possession in pain rather than calling an immediate timeout to remove him from the game.
- Kirk Hinrich was wearing a pair of protective sports glasses throughout practice which were recommended to him by doctors. Hinrich said that the glasses were unrelated to vision or the shiner that he is currently sporting and would not elaborate on why that protection was needed.
- Yi Jianlian also returned to practice today and looked noticeably rusty and slow while wearing a knee brace. He may see time during Wednesday's game against the 76ers but based on his current movement I would move his return date out at least a week.
- Josh Howard did not take part in practice and his return date is unknown.
- Both N'Diaye and Seraphin practiced extremely hard today and were active on the boards. For those of you wondering why Hamady is not sent to the NBDL it has become obvious that the coaching staff values him as a practice player.
On Hinrich's Glasses
Well, no comment
On having the team healthy
The only guy that really didn't go today was Josh. He is still a little sore so he can't get out there. Yi is definitely rusty from not playing much.
On Kirk Hinrich coming back
I know it's good to get him back. He is one of the better defenders in the league and he has been through a lot, and he will steady you.
On the elusive road win
Well, whatever I said last time I'll say it again...I think that if we play hard and play error free and turnover free we will put ourselves in a position to win. Hopefully Kirk can help us down the stretch because you need veterans to make plays.
On Andray Blatche
He has done a pretty good job, he did a good job on Scola in Houston and he did a good job as far as defensively on West who has been a 20 point scorer. So I think he is still in the situation getting in shape, when he has the ability to exert energy that's when he has done good. The other games when he was good offensively he struggled defensively. Now we have to work to get that balance. Today he played really hard, probably the hardest I've seen him practice.
The key to Blatche getting better
It's probably getting into the shape. He has been playing catch up since day one.
On play the last couple games
Um, y'know I find myself in a bad groove. That's when I start thinking about my mistakes and my misses. It's like a burden on my back, the more I think about it the more I mess up. So I'm going to try and come out with my mind clear and play basketball. Couple of the coaches came to me and said that I have to fight through it.
On any pressure from Lewis coming in
No no no. That's my teammate. There is no pressure on me as far as that go. There is no negative pressure, I'm just in a bad groove. I just need to come in and get some shots up.
On defensive effort
When I'm playing poorly on offense I make it my main focus to pick it up on defense. I don't want to be there on the court not doing nothing.
On how healthy he feels
Aw man, all the nicks and bruises man. I'd say about 85, you're right. I just need to pick it up, my offense.
On whether the rumors of a trade bother him
Yeah it bothers me some. But that's the name of the game, you just gotta keep trucking along with it.