Brian Keefe's postgame comment causes outrage among Wizards fans

Washington Wizards v Denver Nuggets
Washington Wizards v Denver Nuggets / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

On Wednesday, the Washington Wizards welcomed in the Orlando Magic for the first game of a brief two-game homestand. Entering the contest as losers of 15 straight, the Wizards hoped to turn things around and end the five-week long streak.

Wizards coach Brian Keefe brought a solid plan into the game, putting together a small-ball starting lineup to quickly exploit the absence of Magic center Wendell Carter Jr., who missed the game due to a sore right knee. The decision allowed the Wizards to get out in transition at a torrid pace, scoring fast break points at will and controlling the game early on. Washington took a 12-point lead into halftime, burying Orlando by as much as 21 points partway through the second quarter.

However, the Wizards seemed to abandon their first-half game plan when they reemerged from the locker room to begin the third quarter, something that has started to become a theme with Keefe's Wizards. Washington's lead evaporated as the team scored just 18 points in the third quarter, an epic collapse that notched the Wizards' franchise-record-tying 16th consecutive loss.

Who is to blame for the Wizards' second-half struggles?

After yet another disappointing loss, Wizards fans on social media and at the Capital One Arena have been searching for a scapegoat. Interestingly enough, despite his respectable individual statistics, Tyus Jones has been the name mentioned most frequently in discussions.

The 27-year-old guard scored just seven points in 27 minutes against the Magic on Wednesday, recording six assists with a pair of turnovers as well. Jones' defensive shortcomings coupled with his clashing playstyle when sharing the backcourt with Jordan Poole have led many fans to call for a rotational adjustment for Tyus.

Following the overtime loss to the Lakers last Friday, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post asked coach Keefe about Jones' role next to Poole during his postgame presser.

Keefe told the media during the press conference that Jones organizes the Wizards' offense, running sets and keeping the team comfortable on the offensive end. However, the statistics show, especially when Poole checks into the game, that Jones' skillset negatively impacts the Wizards' chances in late-game situations.

Jones has posted the third-worst plus-minus mark of any player in the NBA this season. In lineups including Poole, the two Wizards guards are tied for the second-worst plus-minus per 100 possessions of any duo in the league. The rotation is not working, leaving Wizards fans frustrated with Keefe's unwillingness to make the proper adjustment.

To some extent, the point of adjusting Poole's role, moving the team's highest-paid player to the bench, was to separate Poole's minutes from those of Jones. Poole's offensive approach of reading and reacting does not work as effectively when Jones is orchestrating the offense, ultimately hurting both players.

If the Wizards are going to solve this rotational puzzle and end the longest losing streak in franchise history, coach Keefe must make things fit with the pieces in front of him.

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