Sixers 109 Wizards 102
November 1, 2013
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Wizards had multiple players on the bench in suits, a couple of high first round draft picks with DNP’s, the team played down to an opponent that they should have beaten and disappointed an excited crowd at home with an awful second half performance.
Last night’s game was a carbon copy of years past, a familiar site for a losing franchise that can’t seem to get out of it’s own way. What’s worse is that when looking at the schedule which includes Miami next, followed by another tilt with Philadelphia and then a stretch of games against Brooklyn, Oklahoma City, Dallas and San Antonio – all three of those on the road, Washington very well could be looking at 1-7 record and that’s me assuming they can beat the Sixers in Philly.
But let’s get back to tonight’s disaster. As I said before this game will remind Wizards fans of plenty of other ones from years past.
Washington came out of the gate with a vengeance, as John Wall contributed with 10 points in a 55 second span, and a total of 15 points on 7-for-7 shooting before asking to be taken out. After the first quarter the Wizards led by 12 but went on a 6 minute cold streak in the second quarter that allowed the Sixers to get back in the game.
The problems, you may ask? Defense, some more defense, fundamentals like boxing out, and did I mention defense?
Randy Wittman started his press conference off with a little PG-13 comment that set the tone for the rest of his 3:23 second abbreviated session with the media.
“Commitment to fu**ing playing defense. That’s what it is. … The thing they haven’t learned, and I got to figure out a way, you could see it coming out of the locker room. You’ve got to respect the game, your opponent. … Everything you get is `No, we’re OK.’ We’re not OK. We’re 0-2. We’re not OK.”
“They know how to do it. It’s hard. It is hard. Trust me. It is easy to say I’m going to go out and outscore you 120 to 118. If you want to win defensively it’s hard. It takes guts. The willingness to grind it out and look at me and say, ‘I need a rest coach.”
Washington was not helped by the fact that second year guard Bradley Beal was 4-18 from the field, ended up with 10 pts and 5 turnovers and pressed way too hard at the end of the game, costing the Wizards some valuable possesions.
Trevor Ariza continued to perform above anything I expected from him at this stage adding in 12 points, 6 assists, 2 steals and 14 rebounds, but his shot was nowhere near as crisp as it was in Detroit as he finished going 5-for-15.
Another disconcerning site was the Wizards second unit team, the B team as it was reffered to on Twitter last night, who couldn’t seem to get any rhythm or flow going. Eric Maynor, the vet point guard who was supposed to come in and spell John Wall had the Verizon faithful clamoring to have AJ Price back and we all know how great of a backup he was. Al Harrington still seems a little bit lost, and don’t even get me started on Kevin Seraphin.
I’m of the full belief that Seraphin has actually regressed and that yet another Wizards draft pick is on his way towards not fulfilling potential, at least not here in Washington. The worst part is that I don’t even believe it’s all his fault either. This will simply be another case of the Wizards organization not being able to adequately develop one of it’s own players.
It’s obvious that there are some things not going the way Washington wants them to but for 24 minutes they showed they can play to the level most people were anticipating them to this year. The problem is that it’s a 48 minute game. Washington needs to get things corrected on the defensive end and quickly because if they don’t and they come back from a trip to the Midwest at 2-6 or 1-7, things could get very ugly on F Street.
MVP: John Wall – 26 pts, 5 reb, 6 ast, 3 stl
Wall started off the game with a fury of baskets that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen from him befotre. J-Dub was flying past Michael Carter-Williams, around the help defense, finishing tough baskets at the rim, dropping 3-pt shots like he was Steph Curry and then abruptly came out of the game.
At the time I was peeved because I thought Coach Wittman had sat him, only to find out after the game that John himself asked the Coach to pull him out because of the amount of energy he had exerted. I could have easily plugged Ariza into this spot for MVP as his numbers warranted it but Wall played a more impressive overall game although his back spasms surely made a difference in his play in the second half.
I’d like to see the assist numbers go up a little bit, but that will be on his teammates to make shots as well. I’ll take a 2 turnover game from him as well, especially considering one of those turnovers came off a double team and MCW’s long arms forced Wall to make a tough jump pass that got intercepted.
If Washington is going to buck the trend of years past, Wall will need to continue playing at a high level but as the floor general of this group, he’s going to need to get his guys playing up to his level and not letting them bring him down to theirs.
LVP: Nene, Otto Porter, Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton – DNP
I originally had Randy Wittman in this spot…until I heard it out of Wall’s mouth that he asked to come out of the game in the first quarter. Then I briefly had Kevin Seraphin’s name on here but remembered that I killed him during the game, so there was no need to beat that drum either.
I finally came back to the one thing that got me hot before the game, as in during player intros – the amount of guys in suits, both designer and of the warmup variety.
Obviously there is nothing that Chris Singleton can do about his injury but it doesn’t remove the fact that he’s part of a draft class that cannot even get on the floor. The more glaring issue is that his draft colleague, Jan Vesely of the 6th pick in the draft variety, apparently isn’t good enough to be one of the top 10 players on his own team even when said team is short on front court players.
Could Vesely have stopped the 74 points in the paint the Sixers had? Probably not but when your starting front court has 29 rebounds and 14 of them were by a small forward that’s not a good sign.
My bigger concern is Otto Porter, though. We all knew about the hip, the fact that he wasn’t going to play and that he probably will be out for an indefinite amount of time but to see him walk – and I’m being generous by saying he was walking – out of the tunnel for player intros last night is an exaggeration of words.
This organization has a history, a long one of under-developed players, and injuries that seem to go on forever and forever. Ask Jarvis Hayes, Caron Butler, Gilbert Arenas or even John Wall how they feel about their treatment plans and if they would have changed anything about their rehabs.
It is extremely disconcerting to see yet another draft pick unable to actually contribute to the on court product and how much of it can we pin on Otto himself? It’s quite unfortunate Wizards fans have to continue to go through things like this because it seems like a broken record but until things change, what reason do fans have to believe that this year will be any different.
Funny that the theme is ‘No More Excuses’ because I can’t seem to find any reason to believe this team is capable of being the team everyone else wants them to be.
Key stat of the game: – 74 points allowed in the paint (!!!)
This stat is simply a true testament to the ludicrous defensive performance by the Wizards. I mean, 74 points in the paint; that’s roughly three quarters of the Sixers’ point total and a huge chunk of it came from Thad Young in the final quarter. The Wizards were marred by several missed opportunities down low and allowed too many second chance points.
Tweet of the night:
The Wizards take their show on the road against the Eastern Conference favorite Miami Heat on Sunday night. Miami is 1-2 and will be hungry to get back to .500 against a team that can’t seem to find itself defensively. It’s not a good outlook for Washington.
John Wall and Bradley Beal will have to be on their games and for the first time this season, hopefully together. It will take a monster effort from Trevor Ariza to slow down Lebron James but I fully expect Miami to put one on the Wizards with all the factors in play.
The game may be close for a little bit, and I think Washington will put up a good fight but the road ahead doesn’t look good and sports talk radio isn’t going to be any nicer if Washington doesn’t find a way to keep this season from starting like so many others have.