Some old habits are hard to break; and for the Washington Wizards, the inability to close out bit them in the butt as they collapsed into a tough loss versus the Denver Nuggets last night at the Verizon Center.
Blame it on injuries if you want, but everyone involved with the organization has stated that injuries are simply inexcusable at this point in the franchise’s development. In a combined 60 minutes of play, the Wizards’ bench scored a measly five points on an even more pathetic 2-FOR-13 shooting.
While the defense kept the high-octane Nuggets team to only 75 points, Trevor Booker said it best after the loss.
“Yeah we kept them to 75, but we only got 74. It doesn’t matter.”
Booker has no reason to feel bad about his performance, however, as he stepped into the starting PF role in place of the injured Nene, going for his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 boards, and adding two blocks to the stat sheet as well. Booker, who just a few games ago, was complaining about the lack of minutes he was seeing, made the most of his opportunity last night. Also getting the start was rookie Glen Rice Jr. who made the most important play of the game with a late-game steal which set the Wizards up for a potential game-winner with four seconds to play.
So while these two guys — who usually do come off the bench — came in and produced, the fact still remains that a good basketball team is not a five-man roster. It’s not a seven-man roster. As a team, you’re only as good as your “Eric Maynor” (if you need clarification, please refer to last night’s game recap for the worst offensive possession of the year).
I, for once, have no qualms with Jan Vesely’s play last night (sans a couple of missed free throws) in his 20 minutes of time . I can’t believe I’m saying that, either. In fact, I actually think he’s earned to get the ball a few more times in order to make a play. There’s no reason that someone with 20 minutes of game time should only take two shots. I do, however, have qualms with the lack of production from Chris Singleton, Kevin Seraphin, Garrett Temple and Eric Maynor. (Otto gets a pass due to the whole second-game of his NBA career thing he’s got going on).
I could continue to beat a dead horse and tell you how terrible Eric Maynor’s floater and overall game is, but instead I offer a solution (although that solution does involve Maynor). When Wall is out of the game, it’s obvious that the game slows down drastically, and with the Wizards’ bench not being too high-octane to begin with, the Wizards need to do something about a backup point guard.
At what point do you count your losses and cut ties with either Temple or Maynor (hopefully Maynor) and go pick up someone who can simply fill in for the times when Wall needs a breather the way you thought Maynor specifically would be able to do? I know plenty of worthy candidates within the D-League or in free agency (COUGH D.J. AUGUSTIN COUGH), or through a trade (COUGH KYLE LOWRY COUGH..CHOKING) who could do this job better than what this team has got going on now.
While not being able to close out a close game for the second time in a row, the bench has shown signs of life in every other position except the point. Webster, Booker, Rice, Vesely, and at times, Singleton and Seraphin, have all shown that they can handle the game long enough to get some minutes of rest for the starters. But this team is missing a true backup point-guard. Denver showed this best last night with Nate Robinson as he carved up the Wizards for 16 points off the bench. This is what this team needs to cross that bridge of being “#SoWizards” to “#GoWizards”; and you’ve got to think that Wittman (as well as the rest of the organization) isn’t going to wait much longer for someone to “step up.”