Tonight the Washington Wizards went up against another struggling team on the road – the Detroit Pistons. And eerily similar to many of their previous road games they looked as if they were disinterested, in a malaise or completely disoriented.
And I can already imagine the explanation:
"We knew there would be growing pains in the rebuild." "We have young guys" RT @980nba: i'm excited to see how teds take excuses this one.
Unlike the previous two loses in which the Wizards played well and were able to take away some small moral victories, there would be none taken away from this game. The Wizards were over-matched in nearly every phase of the game and lost to the Bulls 105 – 77. Early in the game, the Bulls were unstoppable in the paint and finished the game with 48 points in the paint. The Bulls were also able to own the boards, pulling down 56 rebounds – 17 more than the Wizards. Following the game, Flip Saunders put it bluntly, “There bigs kicked our butt.” High percentage shots in the paint combined with their success on the backboards enabled Chicago to hit 48% from the field.
Andray Blatche finished the game with a double-double, he led the Wizards with 15 points and 11 rebounds. However those statistics, as they often are with him, are misleading. Andray is rarely in good rebounding position, often is slow getting back on defense and doesn’t appear to be focused when on defense. Those shortcomings can and were exploited by a team like the Bulls. Andray can put points on the scoreboard but they often come at the expense of good offensive flow.
Certain loses are easier to take than others and the Wizards eight point loss to the Heat is one of those loses. When you consider the way the Wizards played in their recent games against Orlando, Indiana and Philadelphia, that they were without Andray Blatche and Al Thornton who were nursing injuries, and that they were adding three new players into the mix (Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans and Jordan Crawford) – a beat down against the Miami Heat would have been expected. However, the Wizards elected to play with a little passion. And while they ultimately lost the game, it was a competitive and entertaining game throughout.
The Heat secured the win with an good game by Bosh (15 pts & 8 reb), great game by LeBron James (25 pts, 9 reb & 7 ast) and an incredible scoring performance by Dwyane Wade (41 points). They also received a little help by the officiating crew as the Heat shot 45 free throws versus 23 by the Wizards. (In fact, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade (28 FTs) attempted more foul shots that the entire Wizards team (23).)
Yes, JaVale McGee is young. Last month he turned 23 – happy belated birthday JaVale. He is also still trying to adjust to being a starting Center in the NBA. And in this particular game he was squaring off with one of the games best, the grizzled 26 year old veteran, Dwight Howard.
Playing fairly sparingly (16:59), JaVale managed 2 points on 1-5 from the field. A few of those shots were of the very low percentage variety – off-balanced and fading away from the basket. Given his shot selection, it is not a surprise that he did not manage to get to the line. He also finished with 1 rebound, 1 blocked shot and 3 personal fouls. And as his +/- indicates (-7), it was clearly not one of JaVale’s most productive games. Dwight Howard finished with a fairly pedestrian – for him – 22 points and 15 rebounds.
The Heat – Wizards game, minus Gilbert Arenas, ended up being much more competitive than the Heat – in the quiet recesses of their minds – likely thought it would. Hell, in their previous game (with him) they were down by 23 to the Nets… yes, those Nets. So surely they would struggle even further without him.
Well, the Wizards played like a different team and led for many stretches of the game. Early in the third quarter, the Heat were able to reclaim the lead for a bit, in part behind a couple of LeBron James threes. But the Wizards kept playing hard.
JaVale McGee is often criticized for his play on defense and the defensive boards. Well in this game against the Grizzlies he was able to use his “freakish” abilities to help the Washington Wizards pull out a close win at home against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies. In this post I take a closer look at McGee’s performance.