Observation Deck (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday February 13, 2007 2:06PM; Updated: Wednesday February 14, 2007 12:43AM
The real problem here is that Washington let Portland, a team that walks the ball up at every opportunity and struggles to hit 90 points even when everything's clicking, score at will. The Trail Blazers turned the ball over 20 times, but were still able to move the ball and keep the Wizards' defense on its heels.
On the other end, Agent Zero missed a whole heap of shots he usually makes (3-of-15 from the floor), and probably should have looked to find his teammates after a while. Can't Arenas hear that last part from Jamison while he sits on the bench? Why does that veteran guidance have to come from someone in short pants?
This sounds more to me like a Wizards team -- one that was playing a little over its head for a while -- coming down to earth. This was a pitiful defensive team, among the league's worst, even when it was winning four times a week. As is usually the case, the reasons behind losing four of five games go a little bit deeper than the loss of a good-guy forward to a knee sprain.
No sound mind expects more minutes from Corey Maggette to even begin to completely solve the sorts of issues the Los Angeles Clippers are having. That said, though the 27-year-old is still too prone to bouts of goofball play, the man needs to start seeing extended action. The Clippers have averaged 82.2 points over their last five games (four losses), and the team is going to be locked in a dogfight for that last playoff spot in the West if it doesn't start handing this guy minutes and/or trying to make a deal to secure a little more scoring depth.
With Elton Brand out because of back spasms, Maggette started and played 37 minutes against the Pistons on Monday night. He wasn't great, but he was about twice as good as any other Clipper: 15 points (on 10 shots), eight boards, four assists and one turnover. Los Angeles lost by 18, so it's hard to call this night out the beginning of great things to come, but coach Mike Dunleavy needs to keep Maggette's minute allotment near 35.
Maggette's status in the "why doesn't this guy play more?" pantheon isn't as egregious as, say, New York's David Lee, San Antonio's Manu Ginobili, Indiana's Ike Diogu or Memphis' Brian Cardinal (please don't close your browser after reading that), but he's up there. And on a team that's as starved for points as the Clippers are (21st in offensive efficiency), it makes little sense for him to see as little action as he does, just because Tim Thomas looked great against the Lakers last May.
Adrian Griffin took in heaps of exposure last spring due to his turn as a starting guard on Dallas' Finals team. Bulls GM John Paxson didn't need any introductions when it came to the 32-year-old wing defender, as he'd spent the 2004-05 season as a key member of Chicago's rotation. But Griffin, all tact aside, more or less had his tail handed to him by Dwyane Wade in the Finals. No shame in that, but it was curious to hear Paxson mention needing wing defenders (like Griffin, apparently) to shut down guys like Wade ... in last summer's news conference that introduced Griffin as Chicago's newest free-agent signee.
No doubt Griffin has had a hand in keeping Chicago's locker room on the level, he knows the game and tries when he can, but soothing veteran presences aren't supposed to turn over the rock this much. He turns it over 20.5 percent of the possessions he takes part in, a mark that would rank third worst in the league if he played enough minutes to qualify. Throw in his suspect shooting and declining defense, and it's hard to justify that sort of "veteran presence."
Griffin's one uncanny contribution? He is an expert offensive rebounder of jump shots -- nearly one per game in just under 10 minutes -- which comes in quite handy on a team full of streaky jump shooters like the Bulls.