The Washington Wizards lost to the Indiana Pacers last night 89-85. This was the fifth loss in a row for the 0-5 Wizards, who have played teams close but have not been able to pull out a win so far. While the Wizards have lost all 5 games, all of them have been within a margin of 10 points.
Like many other games this season, the trick to staying involved is to forget the scoreboard: just look for progress among the young players. It’s been tough, but things will get better when Wall and Nene get back (or so I’ve been told).
Stay strong people.
- Bradley Beal built on a good outing yesterday and had himself a bit of a game. He went 6-11, was a perfect 3-3 from three, and had the second most rebounds on the team with 6. I tweeted this during the game, but there was one point in the game where the Wizards used screens not just to get Beal open, but to open a driving lane for him. He took it and got fouled. I think that the Wizards should do this more. Beal has been very good at drawing contact at the rim, a skill lacking on the team, but can’t get past his man on his own. Using screens to just give him an open driving lane would be a new, creative, way to get Beal involved.
- Not that they should need to be that creative. Beal was extremely underutilized down the stretch. In the fourth quarter, Beal attempted only two shots, a 3 at the top of the key with the Wizards needing to cut down the deficit and a baseline jumper. He was 1-2. Okafor and Price were a combined 1-7. Wittman needs to run the offense through the best scorer on the team, which is Beal, and not a placeholder point guard and an offensively challenged Center.
- A.J. Price, maybe wanting to show up his old team, had his best night in a Wizards uniform, regular season or otherwise. After a hot shooting start he cooled off and finished 5-12. But Price truly flourished as the steward of the offense, recording 12 assists on 0 (!) turnovers. I distinctly remember him catching Okafor on a backdoor cut when the Indiana defense was still getting back on defense. While Price did a good job, it just left me feeling like those were the opportunities that Wall brings when he gets back.
- Okafor also had a pretty good game. He kept did a terrific job on Hibbert, who after scoring 6 of 13 to start for the Pacers, ended up 3-15 from the field and only ended up with 7. And while it might have seemed like he kept missing that top of the key jumper off the pick and pop, he finished 5-11 from that top of the key shot. While bad, it felt that was much better than I expected it to be when I checked the shot chart. Shutting down Hibbert and providing the bulk of the rebounding was definitely a net positive.
- Seraphin did play very well for his second consecutive game in a row. He finished 2-6 and only got 13 minutes of playing time because of early foul trouble. Seraphin had foul trouble last year and during the Olympics, but it hadn’t really showed up so far this year until know. Hopefully it’s not a sign of things to come. Also, I honestly don’t know why Seraphin wasn’t used in the pick and pop to get the same looks Okafor was getting. I feel much more confident in Seraphin to hit that shot then Okafor. Maybe Wittman felt that Okafor was needed more to rebound and defend Hibbert. Nonetheless, it’s something to keep an eye on going forward.
- Crawford took a step back from what I thought had been good decision making in the last couple of games. Get this, Crawford ONLY took threes, most of them 29 or 30 footers. And regardless of what he thinks, just because he made 3-6 from beyond the arc doesn’t mean they were good shots.
- Also, I was POSITIVE that he was going to take a fade away three on the Wizards last play. Turned out it was an inlet pass to Booker. Maybe his decision making is getting better after all.
- Wizards points by quarter: 22, 27, 23, 13. Yeah, the fourth quarter WAS that bad. I know the pace slows down in the 4th, especially in a close game, but 13 points in a quarter is unacceptable. Things the Wizards had done well all game, like taking care of the ball, stopped. AJ Price and Okafor were both awful on the offensive end. It’s honestly surprising it was as close as it was down the stretch.
- A tip of the hat to: Paul George, who the Wizards just didn’t have an answer for on the offensive end; Lance Stephenson, who quietly had a nice, efficient game; Tyler Hansborough, who did a lot more than his box score indicated and was a beast for the Pacers in the paint; and last but not least, for Gerald Green, not only for playing well, but for some great ally oops.