HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU – After 12 days of the 2011-12 NBA season, the Washington Wizards remain the only team without a win. In fact, the only other team with less than two wins is the New Jersey Nets, who came back from 21 points down to beat the Wizards on opening night.
The Wizards’ schedule has been tougher since then, with road games in Atlanta, Milwaukee and Orlando, and a home-and-home with the Celtics. But they’ve had little chance to win any of those five games.
Offense has been problem No. 1 for Washington. They rank dead last in the league, scoring an anemic 89.5 points per 100 possessions. They’ve also been an awful rebounding team, ranking 26th in defensive rebounding percentage, 28th in offensive rebounding percentage and 30th overall.
Things have been bad enough after an 0-6 start that veteran forward Maurice Evans felt the need to call a players-only meeting on Thursday.
“We have to be real with ourselves,” Evans said. “The sense of entitlement that’s here sometimes, I’ve never seen before.”
So the players hashed things out for 15-20 minutes or so, discussing leadership and players’ roles. Evans, who has seen a lot playing for seven teams over nine NBA seasons, felt teammates needed to be reminded that playing time is earned, not given.
“I almost got a sense of relief from the players that it was finally said,” Evans said. “It was almost like something that was taboo or Pandora’s box and no one’s never really touching or addressing the issue. It was just enough dancing around the issues, enough of going through the motions.
“You could tell just in our actions that the guys are competing and they want to get better and they want to win … but one thing goes wrong and we’re so fragile at that point that we’re not on the same page.”
Leadership and accountability are certainly lacking in Washington. They’re also lacking in Sacramento, where Chuck Hayes organized a players-only meeting on Thursday as well, according to Matt Kawahara at the Sacramento Bee:
At the meeting, said DeMarcus Cousins, players “had our heart-to-hearts, we all discussed what we need to do better, we all held each other accountable. Chuck, he got on the bigs. I got on the bigs. (Francisco Garcia) got on the guards.
“It showed tonight,” Cousins said. “We went over film and showed our mistakes, just rotations and how in the offense we catch (the ball) and just stop. So we went over a lot and we got a good thing out of it.”
Francisco Garcia said he addressed the team, not just the guards, about the need to play together on the defensive end.
Guard Marcus Thornton said the main message players took away from the meeting was that better effort was needed.
Will Evans’ meeting similarly help the Wizards? On Friday, they host the New York Knicks (7 p.m. ET, League Pass), a team that’s dealing with its own crisis. They’re two desperate teams who feel like they can use a weakened opponent to get back on track. It will be bad offense vs. bad defense, so something’s got to give.