It certainly wasn’t pretty, but how often do opening nights provide poetry in motion? Heck, how often do the Wizards provide poetry in motion? Only once in a blue moon and tonight’s moon was pale as ever. A late push ultimately proved fruitless as the Wizards fell 113-102.
The Wizards were pounded in the paint and struggled to score, which might be a theme we’ll revisit in game recaps to come. Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, and Josh Smith, maneuvered in the paint like they were the only ones occupying it while Nene and Trevor Booker floundered. Not until Marcin Gortat was granted some minutes did the Wizards see some stronger interior play. It will be tough to win many games when the opposing front court combined for 55 points and 29 rebounds, especially when your center (Nene) goes for a cool three boards in 28 minutes.
We should have expected Nene and Booker would be pounded on the boards. We’ve detailed before how the both of them rebound poorly for different reasons. Nene does a great job using his frame to box his man out, but he rarely makes the extra effort to get to a ball that doesn’t fall him to him. Booker is the higher energy guy who doesn’t quite have the energy level to be only a high energy guy. His stature is what really hurts him, and it was clear tonight he was outmatched. Booker finished with 2 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes. At least the team looked slightly better with Gortat in the game. He’s certainly no Emeka Okafor, however.
And I would be remiss not to mention the plethora of dropped passes by today’s front court. I’m giving this point it’s own bolded paragraph, because the Wizards lost the game by 11, and I counted at least four bobbled passes that could have led to lay ups. That won’t happen when the usually sure-handed Nene is on the receiving end.
The front court struggled and the back court, the prize of DC, did not pick up the slack. The first three quarters for John Wall and Bradley Beal were largely forgettable, as they shot it poorly, looked hesitant, and did not produce the offense this team will need from them. The fourth quarter for Wall was more impressive as he began streaking down the court and to the hoop, apparently realizing that he was guarded by someone the height of an average Wiz of Awes blogger. The fourth quarter was impressive and inflated Wall’s stats, as he finished with an impressive 20 points and 11 assists. Wall played 39 minutes and made 8 of 21 shots. It’s unlikely he’ll produce less than 20/11 in 39 minutes on that many shots, and many will point to his box score numbers as evidence to justify the max contract, though I can guarantee no blog recapping this game tonight will sing his praises. This was undoubtedly a mediocre game from John Wall, and this team will need better. It was a worse game from Beal, whom we all expected to come out guns blazing and nets incinerating. Beal finished with 17 points but needed 18 shots to get there. I’d wager it is unlikely that both Wall and Beal play this poorly together very often. That’s a good sign.
The Pistons looked like a strong defensive team today and no one should draw any vast conclusions. The Wizards were in the game late despite pretty weak performances from everyone not named Trevor Ariza. All in all, I expect that this game will end up being one of the weirder games of the year: Wall and Beal score well, but play bad, Gortat only logs 17 minutes, Martell Webster takes one shot, Wall distributes well, Nene bobbles passes. It was a perfect storm that allowed for the Wizards to get trounced. Positive pixels.