Wizards go back to 'minicamp' after worst start in 15 y ears Print
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Sunday, 04 November 2007 12:53
NBA Headline News

 WASHINGTON (AP) -The fluid buildup on Gilbert Arenas' knee, a troubling sign unto itself, isn't the only reason the Washington Wizards are off to their worst start in 15 years.
A team that is supposedly all about stability looks surprisingly ragged, as if these were the first days of training camp - not the first week of the regular season.
Arenas and the Wizards aren't hitting their shots - there's even been an 0-for-22 stretch from 3-point range - or running the offense with any sort of efficiency, even though all the starters are now very familiar with coach Eddie Jordan's schemes.
Jordan said he was going to treat the next few days as a ``minicamp'' after his team shot 35 percent in Saturday's 94-82 loss to the Orlando Magic, falling to 0-3.
``We can bounce back,'' Jordan said. ``If this was three in a row in January, there wouldn't be red flags. Since it is three in a row in the beginning of the season, we aren't in a rut. We are feeling good and we will bounce back.''
Jordan's point is well taken. Players pointed out - correctly - that other teams have started 0-for-worse and rallied to make the playoffs with room to spare. A year ago, the Wizards opened 4-9 but recovered to lead the Eastern Conference at the halfway mark.
But that doesn't mean there aren't issues. The Wizards lost their opener to an Indiana Pacers team missing Jermaine O'Neal and Troy Murphy. They were then routed at Boston - a forgivable loss given the hype surrounding the Celtics debuts of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen - but against Orlando they started so slowly that the sellout crowd was lifeless less than 6 minutes into the game.
Washington rallied to take a second-half lead against the Magic then blew it, making only five of 25 shots in the fourth quarter.
``Right now, we're not playing team basketball,'' guard Antonio Daniels said. ``And I think that shows.''
t link in the lineup.
The consensus is the Wizards, who for several years have lived and died on their scoring prowess, went a bit overboard in preseason with their vow that they would finally take defense seriously this year. The result is a team that still isn't very good defensively, and is rusty on offense.
``Maybe we should have offensively wise put a little bit more into it this preseason,'' Jamison said. ``It feels slow.''
The schedule gives the Wizards a break. They don't play again until Thursday, giving Jordan time to do some refresher courses on basics, such as setting screens and sharing the ball.
``We have to trust the offense a little bit more,'' said Jordan, who will have to deal with rumblings about his job security if the Wizards underachieve this season. ``Maybe there's a little bit of distrust in it.''
Arenas also could use the extra time to rest his surgically repaired left knee, which the two-time All-Star injured seven months ago. Arenas had a hitch in his step in the locker room after Saturday's game and said he might have to have his knee drained for a second time.
``It feels like a 5-pound weight is on it,'' said Arenas, who is 1-for-17 from 3-point range over three games. ``It doesn't hurt. It's just stiff.''
In an ideal Wizards scenario, Arenas' knee will get better over time, and the Big Three will shoot their way out of their collective slump. It's only November, but that day can't come too soon for Jordan and his players.
``When Gil gets his mojo back, Caron gets his swagger back and 'Tawn starts hitting his 3s, that opens stuff for everybody else,'' guard DeShawn Stevenson said. ``But right now, when nobody's hitting nothing, it's kind of tough.''
 

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