First step a good one for Wizards, 104-86

Young team routs Knicks in preseason opener

October 08, 2003|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Heading into last night's NBA exhibition opener, new Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan had modest desires, perhaps allowing for the youth of his squad and the introduction of a new and fairly complex offense.

All Jordan wanted was for his team to get through the first three possessions without a turnover, but the ball ticked off Kwame Brown's hand in the first possession.

From then on, however, the Wizards provided evidence, in a 104-86 pasting of the New York Knicks at MCI Center, of understanding Jordan's motion offense, as well as being on the way to maturing faster than had been expected.

Granted, the Wizards' success last night has to be placed in the context that the Knicks didn't provide the most rigorous of tests. The Knicks were without forward Antonio McDyess, who continues to come back ever so slowly from a knee injury that forced him to miss all of last season, as well as guard Allan Houston, last year's leading scorer, who is returning from offseason arthroscopic knee surgery.

Still, the Wizards, who travel to Toronto tonight to face the Raptors, were glad to test their new system against external competition after a week of training camp in Charleston, S.C.

"We were excited to play," said guard Jerry Stackhouse, who had 13 points. "We had been in training camp for 10 days and we have been going at each other. Having the opportunity to go at another team was fun. We weren't as sharp as we'd like to be. We'd like to make some improvements in our offensive flow. Offensively, we were out of position too many times, and hopefully we'll get better and better game by game."

Nine of the 10 players who entered the game in the first quarter scored, and 10 of the Wizards' 12 first-quarter baskets were assisted. For the game, all but one Washington player scored, and the team dished out 26 assists while committing 18 turnovers.

In other words, Jordan, who replaced Doug Collins, got both the ball movement and distribution he was looking for, even if it wasn't midseason smooth.

"We didn't play to our capabilities," Jordan said. "We tried to do the right things on the offensive end. How do I measure it? It's just too early to say. The idea is there, but the specific execution that we're looking for is not. But I have no problems with what we tried to do."

Larry Hughes, who opened last season at point guard, led all scorers with 17 points, and moved one step closer to nailing down the starting shooting guard slot.

Former Maryland point guard Steve Blake drew a rousing ovation at the three-minute mark of the third quarter when he entered the game for the first time. Blake, a second-round draft choice, was re-teamed with Juan Dixon, his former Terps teammate, and scored for the first time with 44.4 seconds left in the third, off a steal of New York's Matt Carroll.

Forward Jared Jeffries, who is still recovering from a torn right anterior cruciate ligament, was the only Wizards player on the 15-man roster not to see action. Jordan said before the game that he just wanted to give Jeffries a little more time, and ruled him out of tonight's game as well.

New York 22 24 17 23 - 86

Washington 29 31 27 17 - 104

NEW YORK-K.Thomas 2-6 1-2 5, Van Horn 4-9 2-2 10, Doleac 2-5 0-0 4, Eisley 1-8 2-2 4, Anderson 5-10 2-2 13, Weatherspoon 0-3 5-6 5, Ward 2-7 2-2 7, Knight 0-0 0-0 0, Carroll 1-4 2-2 4, F.Williams 1-2 1-2 4, Lampe 7-14 2-2 16, Sweetney 4-7 4-5 12, Blackshear 0-2 0-0 0, Adams 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 30-79 23-27 86. WASHINGTON-Brown 5-11 3-6 13, Stackhouse 5-7 2-2 13, Haywood 3-6 0-2 6, Arenas 4-7 2-2 11, Hughes 5-8 6-6 17, Laettner 2-3 1-2 5, Dixon 1-6 0-0 2, E.Thomas 4-6 3-4 11, Whitney 2-3 0-1 5, Hayes 1-8 1-2 3, Butler 0-0 2-2 2, White 4-5 1-2 9, Blake 3-6 0-0 7, A.Harrington 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 39-77 21-31 104. 3-point goals - New York 3-16 (F.Williams 1-2, Anderson 1-3, Ward 1-4, Adams 0-1, Blackshear 0-1, Lampe 0-1, Eisley 0-2, Van Horn 0-2), Washington 5-11 (Hughes 1-2, Stackhouse 1-2, Arenas 1-2, Blake 1-2, Whitney 1-2, Dixon 0-1). Fouled out - None. Rebounds - New York 46 (Weatherspoon, Van Horn 5), Washington 55 (White, E.Thomas 7). Assists - New York 19 (F.Williams 6), Washington 26 (Stackhouse 6). Total fouls - New York 28, Washington 24. A - 12,141.

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