The Wizards went into Brooklyn last night to play a game that would easily be mistaken for a Summer League matchup. With several key contributors from both teams sitting out the rest of the season, it was a battle between sloppy seconds, and sloppy it was — for the Wiz Kids at least.
Yes, I know the Wizards shot over 53% from the floor last night. Yes, they tallied 24 team assists, with half of them dished by John Wall. Yes, they went hard in the paint.
But a botched 17-point lead by way of 20 turnovers (several of them in the 4th), four 4th quarter missed free throws (three of them by Wall), Andray Baltche’s double-double, and just a general sense of disengagement and disinterest down the stretch is what canned the depleted Wizards, offing them for the 33rd time on the road this season.
The Wizards’ late-season skeleton roster was in full effect, however, the squad got ample production from whoever was available. Five players finished in double figures, with Trevor Booker (16 & 13) and John Wall (18 & 12) both finishing with double-doubles. Cartier Martin also contributed fairly with four 3-pointers, the only four that the Wizards had all night.
By late 1st quarter, the Wizards had a 17-point lead built, but the Nets kept tinkering with the deficit, hanging around just enough to avoid the game getting entirely out of reach. The 4th quarter was incredibly lackluster for Washington, who had only missed one free throw prior to the start of the period, and finished with five. The Nets took advantage and eventually closed the gap before taking the lead and the game.
Trevor Booker. Very few guys show as much heart and hustle as Book does. Booker started the game and finished with 16 points and 13 boards (6 offensive) in 33 minutes. At one moment, Booker hit a jump shot amidst a communion of fans chanting “BROOKLYN!” and proceeded to gesture to them to quiet down.
“I was feeling myself. Told them, ‘Calm down a little bit,’ ” Booker said. “We had them, even with all we had out and they had players out. Came out killing. We’ve got to learn how to close it out.”
With Booker being seldomly used throughout the season, it was due time for him to start “feeling himself” one last time as his season winds to an end.
Andray Blatche: With the 4th seeded Nets shelving their starters, Blatche got nearly 40 minutes of burn last night, a role he was more so used to in DC than in BK. And as usual, his game had its okay moments at best, and awful at worst. While his highlight reel features a few airballs, inadvertent passes and other miscellaneous brainfarts, he was able to knock down a few jumpers and get to the rim. He finished with 20 points on 21 shots, and also pulled down 12 boards.
John Wall: Wall was a bit quiet in the first half, shooting the ball just five times. He finished hitting just 5 of his 19 shots for 18 points, but also had 12 dimes. Besides his poor jump shooting, his game remained steady, as he found his teammates often for buckets.
The Wizards got a relatively fair amount of production from a few guys who’ve shown a rarity to produce. Jan Vesely, Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton, Garrett Temple and Cartier Martin all were offensively sound; at least more sound than we expected them to be. Kevin Seraphin also had one of his elusive games where he’s not getting bitched at by Randy Wittman. He finished with 17 points on 8-for-12.
That latter end of the 4th quarter was just miserable to watch. The Wizards held onto an 8-point lead with about 9 minutes to go, before the Brooklyn air just sucked the energy out of them and the collapse was in full effect. The Nets managed to regain the lead for the first time since the opening quarter and took advantage of the Wizards’ late miscues.
Randy Wittman’s post-game quote: “I don’t care if you’re a first-year player, if you haven’t played. I don’t care if it’s the second-to-the-last game or not. You’ve got to play with a little bit of pride,” Coach Randy Wittman said after the game. “We don’t play with a purpose. That fourth quarter, we just came out and played 12 minutes to get the 12 minutes over with. We lost all pride in defending, which is really discouraging. That’s what hurts a little bit.”
Yeah, is it summer time yet?