Wizards fall to 0-8 in loss to T-Wolves
There's no telling how different the Washington Wizards would be if they had drafted Ricky Rubio when they had the chance. Surely they couldn't be any worse than what they are now: a winless team running out of ways to express its humiliation.
''There's really not much to say,'' Washington coach Flip Saunders said. ''Disappointment. Embarrassment. I don't know if words can explain. My job over the next two days is to try to find five guys who can play the right way and can play with some heart. ... It was bad to watch. It was bad to coach. It was bad to play.''
Added forward Andray Blatche: ''It's frustrating. It's sickening. Embarrassing. They booed us; we deserved it. I don't know what to say.''
The Timberwolves selected Rubio with the No. 5 overall pick in 2009, a selection they acquired from the Wizards for guards Randy Foye and Mike Miller. Foye and Miller are long gone from Washington, while Minnesota waited patiently for Rubio to play two more years in Spain before making his impact as a rookie this season.
Rubio had 13 points, a career-high 14 assists - one fewer than the entire Wizards team - and six rebounds Sunday, controlling the game during much of his 30 minutes off the bench. He entered with 1:30 remaining in the first quarter and quickly hit a 22-foot jump shot to start a 17-2 run that gave Minnesota the lead for good.
''We're happy to have him now,'' said Love, who had 20 points and 16 rebounds. ''Today's just an example of how good he is - and how good he can be. Who's to say? He's still working on his jump shot. He's still working on his game.''
The Timberwolves opened their first set of three games in three days without forward Michael Beasley, who will miss all three after spraining his right foot during Friday night's loss to Cleveland.
Nick Young and Trevor Booker scored 14 points apiece to lead the Wizards, who extended their franchise-worst start to a season by scoring their fewest points since Feb. 21, 2009. Washington has already lost four games by 18 or more points.
John Wall again struggled with his shot, going 3 for 10 from the field - and that included two dunks. Blatche was 5 for 16, and Jordan Crawford went 3 for 11 to contribute to Washington's 34 percent shooting.
Rubio said the scouting on the Wizards was that ''they play a lot of 1-on-1.'' He might be a rookie, but he knows what's he talking about.
''We tend to panic when we get down by seven to nine points,'' Blatche said, ''and everybody wants to be the guy to get those nine points back.''
Owner Ted Leonsis took it all in from his front-row seat, and there are now inevitable questions as to how long he or team president Ernie Grunfeld can wait before making some sort of change. Saunders wants the players to re-examine their approach, and he plans to do the same.
''I'm going to go home tonight and I'm going to say as a coach, `What can I do to get us better?' Because evidently right now I haven't done a good enough job,'' Saunders said. ''Because we're not totally getting through to some guys.''
Saunders said the players aren't doing their homework, even though the coaches are emailing extensive scouting reports the day before every game.
''Flip, definitely, he's doing his job,'' Blatche said. ''I don't feel like everybody's listening and following behind what he says and what he wants us to do.''
Wall said it's becoming a matter of self-esteem.
''It's a pride game now, to start this bad,'' Wall said. ''It's nothing but pride to see if you've got the heart to play.''
Rubio, meanwhile, has to be overjoyed that he isn't wearing Wizards red.
''Minnesota was the team that drafted me. I don't want to think anything else,'' the rookie said before the game. ''They were the ones who trusted me. I'm so glad that they did.''
NOTES: With Beasley out, Wesley Johnson started at forward and Wayne Ellington moved into the starting lineup at guard. ... Wizards F Rashard Lewis sat out with a sore right knee, giving rookie Chris Singleton his first start. ... Washington first-round pick Jan Vesely, making his debut after not playing the first seven games with a hip injury, shot an air ball on his first NBA free throw attempt and finished with two points in nine minutes. ... Minnesota G J.J. Barea sat out for the first fifth time in six games with a strained left hamstring.