The common refrain from the Wizards' locker room last night was that it was time for the team to stop blaming others for mistakes and take responsibility on their own shoulders. Most concerning of the quotes to emerge was that one of the few vocal leaders to speak up during the loss, Josh Howard, was not listened to in his efforts to exhort his teammates to at least perform with a modicum of focus. Most concerning was the fact that the phrase "pointing the finger" was mentioned by no less than three players. Likely, this was the theme of Flip's postgame address to the team and they were sticking to the talking points. If not, then there should be some concern that the stress of a losing season is getting to the team.
Focus and effort were questioned by all player's throughout the postgame interview session, but there appeared to be a split between opinion in the locker room as to whether changes were needed in the starting line up.
On effort and focus:
Guys didn't bring no effort. Y'know they outworked us for every possession. For a minute out there it seemed like guys didn't care otherwise. Y'know we just gave in to a team that we definitely much than if we compete. But y'know nobody brought heart with them.
They played harder on rebounds and we kinda shied away. We got to harder and get more nasty out there.
On finger pointing:
We keep making the same mistakes over and over again and we gotta learn from those mistakes. We got to hold each other accountable. We've got to look at ourselves in the mirror and not point the finger. Everybody got to look at themselves in the mirror and see what they can do to make the team better
Its the same stuff I've been saying all year. Its just time to play. Stop looking to point the finger elsewhere and just look at yourself. Basically, just hold yourself accountable. That's what I said.
On Josh Howard speaking up:
Josh definitely spoke up today. I don't think guys responded well to it and at that time it was kinda late.
Its the same stuff I've been saying all year. Its just time to play.
On changes to the starting lineup and Flip Saunders:
He's just coaching. His message to the team was that the five are not out there performing or guys not getting the job done. If they not getting it done he's going to find guys who at least play with effort....The least we could have done was play with effort.
I can't comment on that. I'm a player. That's coach's decision. So whatever he says and whatever he does goes. That's it.
Flip is a coach. He is a great coach. He have a great background behind him. Whatever change he think need to be done, then he needs to do it. He's our coach. We gotta follow behind what he say and what he do. Whatever chance we have guys can't mope and complain about it.
and the final word:
We didn't have no fight at the beginning. San Antonio did this to us, Orlando, and then here tonight.
Obviously, the record setting assists and amazing dunks of All-Star weekend did not carry any momentum over to last night's game. However, this team appears to have a serious crisis of leadership at the moment. I'm not sure who is going to grab the reigns as both Rashard Lewis and Kirk Hinrich are lead by example guys much in the mold of Antawn Jamison. The onus therefore falls on John Wall, which be a bit much to expect of a rookie attempting to adjust his game to the NBA as well as shepherd his collection of mediocre teammates to a decent effort.