A Different Perspective On George Karl

Last Saturday, while I was in Dallas, I had the opportunity to meet Denver Nuggets coach George Karl. Karl was slated to be the coach of the Western Conference All-Star team, but on this particular day he was doing meet and greets with members of the media. I wanted to interview him and speak to him about basketball matters, but I couldn’t seem to catch up with him. Either the crowd around him was too big, or he was talking to friends about non-basketball matters. Eventually I had to move on and talk to other available players and personalities.

But towards the end of the media session, I looked over in a corner somewhere, and I noticed Karl was signing an autograph for a little kid. And after the autograph, he kept talking to the kid about who his favorite player was (Carmelo Anthony), how he was enjoying Dallas so far, and what his grades were like in middle school. It was a warm exchange, and it was done away from the cameras and most of the media. As he ended his conversation with the kid and headed back to his hotel, I caught up with Karl, and I was ready to ask him some basketball questions, when I noticed he had teared up a bit.

I asked him if he was ok, and he said yes, but he really didn’t want to talk basketball, which I understood. I just told him I admired him as a coach, and I admired his battle with prostate cancer back in 2005. He shook my hand, thanked me, patted me on the shoulder, and then walked away slowly, and I felt honored to have shared a brief, tender moment with him.

Yesterday, Karl announced to the media that cancer had again showed up in his body, except this time it skipped his prostate, and it was in his throat and neck. His plan was to take a leave of absence, get treatments, and then hopefully come back for the playoffs. His press conference was emotional as you might imagine, and at one point he told the media, “You never get used to having cancer,” and then he broke down again. The entire Denver Nuggets team was standing behind him in support. He admitted that he knew during All-Star weekend that the cancer has come back, but he wanted to wait until after that weekend so he could tell his team the news first.

This morning, as I watched the press conference again, I told my lady, that you just never know what someone is going through. I saw Karl just a few days ago, sharing a tender moment with a kid, thinking he was just emotional by the interaction–meanwhile he was probably thinking about how few of these moments he could have left.

In The Scrum With Paul Pierce – All-Star Edition

After winning the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce enthusiastically met with the media.  He discussed how much much this victory meant to him, his antics during the contest, his preparation strategy, and the overall importance of All-Star weekend.

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Catching Up With Jonny Flynn – All-Star Edition

Fresh off of his nine point, seven assist performance during the Rookies’ 140-128 victory over the Sophomores, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jonny Flynn took some time to have a brief chat with Hoops Addict.  He talked about having fun during All-Star week, what he needs to improve upon, and the challenges of his rookie season.

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In the Scrum with Stephen Curry

After his Rookie squad defeated the Sophomore squad, Stephen Curry talked to the media about the upcoming 3-point challenge, his confidence level at this point in the season, and how he can help the Golden State Warriors build momentum for the second half of the season.

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In The Scrum With Kevin Love

Despite his team’s loss in the Rookie/Sophomore Challenge, Kevin Love was especially upbeat after the game when he met with the media.  He discussed Patrick Ewing’s (the Sophomore coach) abilities as a coach, how he’s soaking up the All-Star atmosphere, what he can carry from this experience back to the Timberwolves, and his “frustration” with breaking the Sophomore’s winning streak against the Rookies.

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In The Scrum With DeMar DeRozan

Just minutes after winning the first ever Dunk-In that earned him the right to compete in tomorrow’s Slam Dunk contest, DeMar DeRozan held court with the media here in Dallas.  He talked about the importance of making dunks, his plan to have Sonny Weems assist him tomorrow, and how he’s counting on Toronto’s support.

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Hoops Addict Podcast: All-Star Edition

In this eighth edition of the Hoops Addict Podcast, Rashad and Ryan discuss:

  • Who did and did not deserve to make the 2010 All-Star game
  • The MVP candidates
  • The best  and most disappointing teams so far this season
  • The best coach so far
  • The rookie of the year

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Click here to download the MP3 of this podcast.

Foye’s Frustrating Night

Whether the Wizards win or lose, the post game journey from the media room to Randy Foye’s locker is usually a pleasant one.  He usually does not officially talk to the media until he’s close to fully dressed, but if you happen to be standing near him before then, you can hear him crack a joke, talk sports, and just let loose before its “official.”

Once the recording devices and cameras are on, Foye shuns the usual hubris displayed by so many athletes, and he is diplomatic, selfless and introspective with his answers.  It doesn’t always make for good stories, but he’s consistent.

That Randy Foye was nowhere to be found on Monday night.

The Wizards were defeated by the Boston Celtics tonight, 99-88.  After a strong first three quarters, they were outscored 25-10 in the fourth, and they weren’t able to survive their putrid closing output.  Even team captain Antawn Jamison, who was coming off a 21 point, 23 rebound effort on Saturday night against the New York Knicks, struggled on this night with a 2-for-17, eight point, eight rebound effort.

Foye, in 18 minutes of play, had the following line: 0-for-3 from the field, four assists, two fouls, two turnovers and just two points.  He was relegated to bench duty for all but five minutes of the second half.  His backup, Earl Boykins,  put up a much more impressive 14 points in 30 minutes.

After the game, Foye shunned his usual humility, and seemed to blame Coach Flip Saunders’ substitution patters for his lack of a rhythm, instead of his own play.

“Early on I felt good.  I got three assists right away, and then I came out of the game and that was about it,” a glum Foye said while barely making eye contact with reporters.  “I was just trying to get my teammates the ball.  Usually, if you watch me early on, I take what the defense gives me..I found Mike [Miller], I found Brendan [Haywood], but after that, I got taken out.”

When asked if the coach said anything to him about his play, Foye was even more succinct with his response.

“He ain’t say nothing…he ain’t say nothing..”

Although Coach Saunders said nothing to Foye directly after the game, he did take the time to tell media what he thought went wrong with Foye against the Celtics.

“He struggled so bad in both of his stints in there, and the only time we seemed to have any pace to the game is when Earl was in there.  And Earl did a better job as far as on Rondo, ” Saunders explained.  “Rondo was getting wherever he wanted early in the game, and in the third quarter, and Earl was getting better angles so we decided to go that way.”

To his credit, Earl Boykins was in no mood to gloat about his extended playing time, or even talk about what he did well.  He begrudgingly admitted that his quickness gave Celtics’ guard Rajon Rondo (17 points, 12 assists, six turnovers) a difficult time, but he was quick to also say that the team as a whole did not get the job done.

When Hoops Addict asked him what advice he had for Foye, or what he thought Foye was possibly doing wrong from his vantage point, he again chose to take the high road.

“Flip makes the decision of who plays and how many minutes they play, and its just my job to be ready, ” Boykins told me quietly.  “I did notice some things about Foye’s play, but I’d much rather talk to him individually about those things, rather than tell you and the media.”

Foye was complimentary of Boykins’ play in the Wizards’ loss, but his body language, his facial expressions, and his tone of voice displayed a frustration that rarely seen from the man who is supposed to be replacing Gilbert Arenas.

When asked about his mind state about not playing during the fourth quarter, Foye gave his usual politically correct answer, but he lacked his usual sincerity.

“I just try to be ready, you know? I don’t think that I’m not going to be put back in or when I’m going to put back in.  I just try to always be ready and try to keep myself as warm as I can, so when I get back out there I’m loose.”

After those words were uttered, a reporter asked Foye if he’d be available to talk tomorrow after practice and he quietly said that he would be.

Then, Foye capped his frustrating night by putting on his New York Yankee hat cocked to one side, picking up his shoes without bothering to put them on, and slowly walking out of the locker room with his head down.

We’ve Seen This Script Before

Last weekend Peyton Manning and his Indianapolis Colts defeated the New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game, and advanced to the Super Bowl, and to some the outcome was not a surprise. The true surprise was how the Colts achieved that victory.

For 28 of the game’s first 30 minutes, the Jets proved they not only belonged on the same field as the Colts, but they could pull off the upset. Their defense frustrated Manning; Mark Sanchez made precision passes; and their running game was seemingly unstoppable. The final score was 17-6.

Then, as if Manning gathered his team together, and said, “Ok, that’s enough,” the Colts put together an efficient drive towards the end of the first half .  They cut into both the lead and the Jets’ momentum, and the score was cut to 17-13. In the second half, the Colts capitalized on the dominance, they flashed towards the end of the half.  Manning threw two touchdown passes, and they outscored the Jets 17-0 en route to a 30-17  final score.

After his team’s loss, a dejected Jets coach Rex Ryan said to the media, “You have to give credit to the Colts. Obviously they’re the cream of the crop right now.”

Although the stakes were not as high, the Los Angeles Lakers 115-103 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night played out in almost the exact same way as that AFC Championship game.

The Wizards, who frequently struggled with slow starts during the month of January, started off playing brilliant basketball in the first quarter.  All five of their starters scored; everyone seemed to be making the extra pass; and even the cold shooting DeShawn Stevenson came off the bench to hit some big shots.  They weren’t blowing the Lakers out, but they were able to build a 22-16 lead.

And then Kobe Bryant, much like Peyton Manning did against Jets, decided to take over.

First he drew a Mike Miller foul and hit two free throws. His next time down the floor, he hit a three-pointer.  The Wizards tried to keep pace by hitting shots of their own, but the Lakers (specifically Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown) seemed to be energized by Bryant’s play, and they would not go away.  With 0.9 seconds left in the quarter, Bryant drilled an 18-footer to give the Lakers a 30-29 lead.

They would not trail again.

Much like the Jets didn’t seem to put up a fight in the second half of their match against the Colts, the Wizards effort in the second quarter was feeble at best.  They shot 36% from the field (after a 54% first quarter); they committed six turnovers (after one in the first quarter); and they were only able to score 15 points total.  Bryant’s late first quarter heroics had seemingly stolen the Wizards will to win in the second quarter.  The score at the end of the first half: 60-44 Lakers.

Coach Flip Saunders spoke about his team’s second quarter struggles after the game.

“In the second quarter, we struggled to get some quality shots.  Brown and Farmar came in and really put a lot of pressure on and they made shots.”

Captain Antawn Jamison agreed with Saunders’ assessment.

“One bad quarter was a difference maker for us tonight,” Jamison said while standing in front his locker. “If you take away the second quarter, things would have been easier. That’s why the game is 48 minutes.  They took advantage of our mistakes and we weren’t able to come back.  That team continues to stay poised.”

In the second half, the Wizards made less mistakes, scored more points than they gave up, got strong contributions from seven players (six in double figures, with Stevenson narrowly missed with eight points).  Still, they were unable to offset the last three minutes of the first quarter, and then their poor performance in the second.   That proved to be the difference in the game.

Center Brendan Haywood talked about the frustrations surrounding that one weak quarter of basketball.

“I think that we had a couple of possessions where we didn’t get the shot that we needed to get,” a disappointed Haywood said while icing both knees. “That led to them getting a lot of transition buckets and getting fouled in the open court. With a team like the Lakers, that’s all it takes is a quick four or five minutes of you not playing your best and they take advantage of it.”

But of all the post game quotes from the Washington Wizards’ side of the locker room, the one that stuck was the most came from Coach Flip Saunders.  Unlike past games when he seemed visibly annoyed at his team’s effort, his body language and tone sounded like a man who knew the better team had indeed won.

“They’re a very good team.  There’s a reason they are the world champs.  Every time we’d get close, Kobe would take over and be a facilitator scoring-wise or getting Gasol involved.  You can see they don’t panic in situations.”

Replace the names Kobe and Gasol with Manning and Garcon, and Rex Ryan couldn’t have stated it any better.

Arenas And Crittenton Suspended For Remainder Of Season

The NBA has suspended both Javaris Crittenton and Gilbert Arenas without pay for the remainder of the season.   This suspension comes after both players had face-to-face meetings with NBA Commissioner David Stern.

David Stern’s official statement, as well as the official response from the Washington Wizards can be seen here.

Catching Up With Jonathan Bender

When you’re 18 years old, 6’11”, 200lbs,  and you can play basketball, there will definitely be some attention thrown in your direction.  When you break Michael Jordan’s scoring record in the McDonald’s High School All-American game, you will attract even more attention.  And when that performance serves at the catalyst for you to be drafted with the number five pick in the 1999 draft by the Toronto Raptors (later traded to the Indiana Pacers), not only is much expected of you, but it is expected rather quickly.

But when you never average double figures in points or rebounds, you are dogged by knee injuries, and  you’re forced to retire at the age of 25, things change drastically.  Expectations fade, the word “bust” gets thrown around, and you’re grouped with the likes of Kwame Brown and Sam Bowie.

That was the first seven years of Jonathan Bender’s NBA career.

After his retirement, Bender focused on philanthropy, and he created the Jonathan Bender Foundation, that assisted youth in both the Southern Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast areas .  He also dedicated a tremendous amount of his time and money to rebuilding those same areas who were hit hard by Hurricane Katrina.  Still, the desire to play basketball never died and the “what if” questions still swirled in his mind.

So Bender got himself into shape, did extensive training with former Olympic high-jumper Charles Austin, and when former Pacers, now New York Knicks general manager, Donnie Walsh offered him a second chance, he did not turn it down.  On December 13, 2009, a little more than 10 years after his NBA debut, Bender returned as a New York Knickerbocker.  Through 17 games, Bender is averaging 12 minutes, four points and two rebounds per game, as he slowly works his way into the Knicks rotation.

Prior to the Knicks/Wizards matchup, Bender had a quick chat with Hoops Addict about what made him come back to the game, how he thinks he’s progressing, and if he will stay in the NBA beyond this season.

Rashad Mobley:  Are you able to do all the things you did prior to your temporary retirement?

Jonathan Bender:  Um, as far as what?

RM:  Physically

JB:  In spurts.  Sometimes I feel it, sometimes I don’t.

RM:  Did you play at all while you were away from the NBA?

JB:  Yeah off and on.  A lot the last year, but mostly just training.

RM:  So ultimately, what made you decided, ok I’m going to come back or at least try to?

JB:  Just as soon as I stopped [playing] I knew I was going to try to come back…you know throughout my lifespan before I got close to 30.  So I knew I was going to attempt it again.  I was thinking of doing it last year, but I held off another year and decided to make it happen this year.

RM:  So you’re going to come back next year too?

JB:  We’ll see.

RM:  When you say we’ll see, what exactly will determine whether you’re going to come back?

JB:  Me. Myself.  I’ve accomplished my goal of getting back here.  That was my goal to get back here.  I don’t think too far in the future, I just take it day by day, keep up with my training, keep in shape, keep feeling good about the whole situation and that’s where I’m at.

RM:  So if the Knicks or another team says, we like we what we saw, we really want you to come back, how much would that play in your decision?

JB:  I’m not even thinking about that, I’m not thinking that far.  Understand that for today, I’m in this moment right now.  Not thinking about later on…day by day.

Exclusive Interview With Rafer Alston

Since Gilbert Arenas was suspended by the NBA, the Washington Wizards have been forced into a point guard by commitee situation with Randy Foye,  Earl Boykins and Mike James.  Foye is a self-professed combo guard, but prior to Arenas’ absence he primarily played the shooting guard position.  Boykins, although almost always the smaller player on the court, is primarily a shooter (and a streaky one at that), who scores in bunches.  He can handle the ball, he can bring it up the court, but he struggles in certain offensive sets.  James is also a combo guard who can run the point, but prefers to shoot the ball on his own.

To his credit, Foye has played well as of late (18 points and five assists over the last 10 games), Boykins continues to provide his customary late game spark, and James finally got out of head coach Flip Saunders’ dog house this past Sunday against the Clippers. 

Still, none of these guards would be considered a pure point guard (although Foye may make me eat words very soon).

So when the Washington Wizards took on the Miami Heat last Friday night, I took a cursory glance  at the roster and saw that Rafer Alston was now on their squad.  Alston began his second stint with the Heat (he also played with them during the 2003-2004 season) on January 7th of this year, and he was quickly inserted into the starting lineup over Mario Chalmers.

Since Alston is a traditional point guard who has been around the league (this is his sixth team) and is fresh off an NBA Finals appearance with the  Orlando Magic, I thought I’d ask him about some of the nuances of playing point guard, the adjustments from college to the professional ranks, and how he dealt with Mario Chalmers.

Rashad Mobley:  Last week when Portland was in town, I got a chance to ask Nate McMillan about Jerryd Bayless, and he mentioned that as a young player, he was struggling to learn how to play point guard.  And then on this Wizards squad, we have Randy Foye now running the point, after mostly playing the “2” guard all year.  Which do you think is the bigger adjustment?
Rafer Alston:  They both have major adjustments.  GM’s and coaches need to understand when you draft these guys, it needs to be explained that the pro game has different rules as far as playing the point.   There’s recognizing illegal defense, the way you can guard a guy, then how you get into sets, how you set people up, feed the hot guy and all that.  So it’s definitey an adjustment, but these guys are so talented, I think they can do it. You know Gilbert wasn’t a point guard in college, he was primary a shooter, but he was able to play the point here in Washington.

RM:  Well depending on who you talk to, Gilbert didn’t do all that well running the team at the point…
RA:  But Flip [Saunders] and Eddie Jordan started him there, and they had confidence in him, so he must have been doing something right, otherwise they ‘d have brought a pure point guard like me in here.

RM:  Maybe…
RA:  No, definitely.  There are some people who can convert and there are some people who struggle with it.  I remember when Damon Bailey was drafted.  He was a shooting guard in college, but in the pros he was a guard who couldn’t handle the ball.  He had to learn how to play the point, but it was tough.  Guys can definitely do it, but these guards have to put their mind to it and keep working at it.

RM:  So what was your biggest adjustment or challenge at the point guard position coming out of Fresno State?
RA:  Me? Man, I had no adjustments whatsoever, I’m a natural point guard, baby!  My biggest thing was getting stronger, understanding the pro sets, and getting into the sets quicker becuase of the shot clock difference from college to the pros.  So as a point guard, I had to do that and be more demanding of my teammates too.  In college, everybody knows the plays and sets, but in the pros, you’d be surprised.  Not everyone knows what they’re doing, so its my job to push them along.

RM:  So why do you think you’ve bounced around the league so much?
RA:  Well, as my career moves along, I think I’ve always gone to teams that really need point guard help.  In other years, I was pretty much stationary.  I spent three years in Milwaukee, then I bounced around two years (two stints in Toronto and one in Miami), then three and a half years in Houston.  I think now in my career, I go to teams who really need help.  I was in Orlando when they didn’t have a point guard after Jameer got hurt, and I was able to help them get to the Finals.  And then I came here when they needed help, depth and some overall assistance with their young guards.

RM:  How long does it usually take for you to adjust to a new team?
RA:  For me it happens rather quickly, but I think for guys that come in different positions, it takes them longer.  For me, I’m coming into my natural position and I basically know this offense.

RM:  You basically came in and took Mario’s [Chalmers] job, so what did you say to him when you got here?
RA:  I just told him he needed to get back to being the old Mario, the Kansas Mario, NCAA title game Mario, you know?  He needs to work on getting that confidence.  He’s trying to be something he’s not right now.  He needs to play within himself, learn the extra nuances of the pro game and be the next Aaron Brooks, who struggled at first too.

RM:  But you realize that if Mario succeeds at getting back to who he is, you could be back on the bench or maybe shipped to yet another team, what happens then?
RA:  Hey, if that’s the case so be it.  I won’t stop teaching him to be a point guard and a better ball player.  And I definitely won’t stop playing hard.  There’s always room for an experienced point guard in this league, I’ll be just fine baby.

Catching Up With JamesOn Curry

When you’re surrounded by players with guaranteed contracts and guaranteed playing time, it is quite easy to forget that playing in the NBA is a privilege, not a right.  There are thousands of players who set out to secure a spot in the NBA, and for whatever reason they fall short.

JamesOn Curry had that shot when the Chicago Bulls drafted him with the 51st pick in the 2007 draft.  He played in the summer league, he played in preseason, but he was sent to the NBA Developmental League.  Although he was recalled by the Bulls twice, he never once played in an NBA game.  The Bulls waived him in July of 2008.

After stints in France and Greece, Curry was drafted by Springfield Armor in the 2009 NBA D-League draft, and he was the first draft pick in that franchise’s history.  In 20 games this season (including 19 starts) Curry was averaging 16 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

Then on Friday, January 22nd, the Los Angeles Clippers called Curry up and signed him to a 10-day contract.  Hoops Addict caught up with Curry prior to his first game as a Clipper, against the Washington Wizards and he talked about his emotional roller coaster over the past few days, the advice Springfield Armor head coach Dee Brown gave him, and the challenges the speed of the NBA game presents.

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The Fading Patience of Flip Saunders

Last season, during the Wizards’ dismal 19-63 performance, I got a chance to closely to watch the emotions of then head coach Ed Tapscott. Initially his press conferences were light, humorous and insightful–much like Tapscott himself.  As the losses mounted and the frustration set in a bit, he was more serious, humor was only peppered in occasionally, and he became more critical of his team.

After the All-Star break, there was a stretch where Tapscott became fed up with how his team was playing, and his press conferences were just plain angry.  Later in the season, as it became apparent that he would not return for another season, and the injury riddled Wizards had peaked performance wise, he returned to his normal light, humorous and insightful self.

This year, I’ve had the pleasure of watching new head coach Flip Saunders and his varying emotions, and there are some marked differences.  Tapscott seemed to relish the pre and post game conferences, while Saunders treats them like jury duty; Tapscott would soften the media with a story, a joke, or a new word here or there, before delving into basketball related matters;  Saunders tells jokes here and there, but mainly keeps his comments focused on the game to be played or the performance of his team.

But there is one major similarity that Tapscott, Saunders, and probably every coach in the  NBA can relate to, and that’s the dreaded breaking point.  That’s the point where conventional wisdom and methods fall by the wayside, and pure emotion takes over.  After watching Saunders’ behavior both before and after the Wizards took on the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, it is clear that point may be quickly approaching.

Usually when Saunders gives his pre game presser, he speaks for at least five to six minutes on topics ranging from the effects of an early start, to how his team practiced, to what the starting lineups will be.  The media is in his face with microphones and recording devices, and Saunders casually looks at them, while focusing more intently on his players warming up behind them.

Prior to the Clippers game, Saunders cut that time in half, and only spoke for two minutes.  When asked if there was anything positive to be taken out of his team’s 24 point blow out loss at the hands of the Miami Heat, Saunders was brief and to the point.

“When you get beat by 25, there are no positives, ” Saunders said before abruptly ending the presser.

During the game, it was hard to gauge Saunders’ true emotions, because they rarely vary from that of any other coach.  He sat, he stood, he berated the refs, he slapped his players on the rear, he pulled them aside when they came out of the game, and he reacted negatively to a poorly run play.  This is nothing new for an NBA coach, as even Phil Jackson the Zen Master is prone to such behavior.  But there was one sequence during the game, that indicated that Flip’s patience is indeed dwindling.

Andray Blatche seems to be a guard trapped in a 6’11” forward’s body.  Instead of playing the post, shooting jump hooks, and utilizing drop steps, he prefers to shoot outside shots and dribble his way into the post.  But during those rare occasions when he does decide to venture into the post, he uses a behind-the-back move with varying degrees of success.   Sometimes he totally throws his man off and scores, other time he causes a turnover and sucks the momentum out of his team.

With 8:25 left in the second quarter, Blatche got the ball in the post, and attempted this behind-the-back move, and he turned the ball over.  Coach Saunders abruptly turned his back to the play and yelled something unpleasant to one of his assistant coaches.  35 seconds later, Antawn Jamison was checking in the game, and an unhappy Blatche sat on the end of the bench.

Saunders spoke about the play after the game.

“The only way they’re [the players] going to learn is to take them out of the game when they make mistakes.  Its the same thing I told Andray..I’ve seen enough of the behind-the-back dribble in the lane.  That might have worked on the playground, but it ain’t going to work here. And every time he does it,  he turns it over. ”

After the 92-78 loss to the Clippers, Saunders walked into the post game press conference with the stat sheet, and didn’t even wait for the media to ask him a question. He called the effort of his starters horrendous, and he mentioned that his bench players, who complain about the lack of playing time, also gave him nothing.  He briefly praised the effort of Mike James, who got his first extended playing time since November, but then he reverted back to his cranky self.

The one moment that indicated Saunders is completely frustrated, occurred when he discussed his usage of timeouts.  Over the past several games, Coach Saunders has had to call full timeouts, just two or three minutes into the game, because his team lacked energy.  He indicated that this is new territory for him.

“”We had to call a timeout 8:39 in the first quarter, that’s just ridiculous, ” a visibly irritated Saunders observed.  “I’ve called more timeouts..usually I very rarely in 15 years call timeouts before seven minutes in a quarter to start a game.  So that shows you that we’re not carrying thru as far as what we’re supposed to do.  It comes down to players, it comes down to staff, it comes down to everybody. ”

Shortly after that, a member of the media tried to ask Saunders a question, and he abruptly cut him off, and ended the press conference, much to the shock of everyone in the room.  Just a minute later, before I entered the Wizards locker room, one of my colleagues informed me that Flip made a beeline to his office after the press conference, and slammed the door with force.

Looking at the upcoming schedule, there is good and bad news for Coach Saunders and his patience.  The bad news?  The Los Angeles Lakers, NBA champions, are in town on Tuesday night.  The good news?  New Jersey Nets (3-40)  are their opponent right after that.