|'Mr. Fifty' and rest of Wizards still looking for Cavs' number|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 26 April 2007 11:09|
On Thursday, Stevenson humbly walked off the court as Mr. Thirty-Two.
That's his shooting percentage since Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler were both sidelined with injuries, a fallout of the different roles all the Wizards have had to adopt without their two All-Stars.
Stevenson went a meager 3-for-12 in each of the first two games - both losses - of this week's playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and that's why he was taking all those extra shots long after the other players were done with practice.
``I'm not getting the rhythm like I used to,'' Stevenson said. ``It's tough because it's the playoffs. I'm not shooting the ball well, but the only way to go through that is to shoot a lot of shots.''
Stevenson then declared that the series will be a Cleveland sweep unless he or Jarvis Hayes starting scoring more to take the load off Antawn Jamison. Jamison had 31 points in Wednesday's 109-102 loss in Game 2, while Hayes and Stevenson combined for 13 points on 5-for-25 shooting.
``We're not going to win a game - point blank - if 'Tawn is scoring all the points,'' Stevenson said. ``We need another person to go out there and score 18, 20 points. ... It's me and Jarvis. Point blank.''
While the Cavaliers took the day off, the Wizards held their light workout to start preparing for Saturday's Game 3 and did their best to conjure up scenarios that would give them a realistic chance to win the series. Much to their credit, the severely undermanned squad hasn't been a pushover. The team has been scrappy and has shown plenty of heart - but it's just hasn't been enough to beat a Cleveland team that, to be perfectly blunt, looks at times like a big disinterested bully that is doing just enough to stave off a pesky, annoying brat.
``This is a learning process for us,'' Cavaliers guard Larry Hughes said after Game 2, when the Wizards rallied to make the game close in the final minutes. ``We definitely got the win, but I think we made it harder than what it needs to be.''
The Wizards can take inspiration from the fact that both games were close in the fourth quarter. They can also state the familiar refrain that all the Cavaliers have done is hold serve at home, and now it's time for Washington to do the same. The Wizards, in fact, beat Chicago in the first round two years ago after losing the first two on the road, although coach Eddie Jordan sees that as a comparison of apples and oranges.
``Two years ago,'' Jordan said, ``we had Gil.''
``Look, we know what's guaranteed - it's two there and two here,'' Jordan said. ``And the way we've been playing, hopefully we can get our crowd into it and play a little bit better. That's the advantage of playing at home, and hopefully that's the difference in winning.''
After two games, it's easy to look at the series from several different vantage points:
- If the Cavaliers keep playing this way, the Wizards might win a game or two and get back in the series.
- The Wizards are in trouble because the Cavaliers are playing this way and still winning.
- The Wizards are in serious trouble because the Cavaliers will eventually hit all cylinders, not to mention the fact that LeBron James is due for a monster game.
Still, there's no hiding the fact that the difference in the series is that the Cavaliers have a full roster and the Wizards don't. James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas led Cleveland to victory in Game 1. James and Drew Gooden were the winning partnership in Game 2. For the Wizards, it's Jamison and not enough of anyone else - because Arenas and Butler aren't there.
That's where Stevenson and Hayes come in. A big game from either or both could be enough to take the pressure off Jamison - and put more than just a scare into the Cavaliers.
``It's very exhausting after the games, very frustrating, knowing we were right there at the end and we couldn't get over the top,'' Hayes said. ``But we'll keep fighting, keep fighting.''