First, you can check the Wizards-Lakers game blog on Bullets Forever.
This was another game where some “little things” killed the Wizards. I hesitate to get too wrapped up in these little things because every team, good and bad, commits such minuscule errors each game. However, it’s the quantity of these errors which are the differentiators between winning and losing.
I do like the fact that the Wizards tried hard and simply did not give up when down 20 in the 3rd quarter, and even down 19 with under nine minutes left in the 4th. This team should be setting a tone by continuing to try hard for the rest of this season, no matter the record. Losing is bad enough, but what you do not want to do is to create a culture of not caring about losses. So, people should stop all this talk about tanking or throwing in the towel, not the environment we want to create.
But the “little things”….last night, they included:
- Not being able to properly run a four-on-one fast break against the Lakers point guard, Derek Fisher.
- Caron Butler and his mental game slippage:
- Vlad Rad is a shooter (and space cadet), so why was Butler insistent on losing track of him? Caron was responsible for letting Vlad get into the corner for an easy trey at least twice…to my recollection. Radmonovic finished 4-7 from deep.
- Players always seem to do this after they score, but it’s still inexcusable — early in the 4th, Butler got a dunk after back-cutting Trevor Ariza, but afterward, Ariza streaked down the court and Caron didn’t realize who he should be covering until it was too late. And it’s not like Butler sailed out of bounds after his dunk, he was in position to get back, he just didn’t hustle.
- Game tapes and scouting….yep, teams watch them. That’s why players who are good at getting steals by jumping in passing lanes, I believe, are students of the scouting report. So, that being said, a team cannot run its offense by going through the motions. Passes must be crisp and awareness must be astute. What am I talking about? In the 2nd quarter when Jamison turned to pass to the right wing in the motion offense…Jordan Farmar knew it was coming and easily went the other way for a dunk.
- Having to use the final timeout on a botched out-of-bounds play…I’m not exactly sure whose fault it was so I’ll blame everyone for lack of communication, the players on the court and Wes Unseld, Jr., the assistant coach who drew up the play. Simply put, this cannot happen down three with less than 30 seconds left in a game.
- The Final Play: I have no problem with Caron Butler going for the win by attempting a three with the Wizards down two. I also don’t think the lack of a timeout was detrimental in this case. Sometimes, you call a timeout, you advance the ball, but you also give the other team a chance to set up. Fourteen seconds is plenty of time to get the ball up the court for a quality shot. However, when you are down two, hence a two can tie the game, and are trying to win with a three, you should take the shot with four or so seconds on the clock so that your teammates have a chance to crash the boards for a possible put-back.
Leaving no time on the clock leaves yourself with no second chance…..and the Lakers were good at giving the Wizards second chances on Friday night.
Last night was truly a “no one outside this locker room thinks we [the Wizards] can win” situation….because Wizards fans, myself included, didn’t think they had a chance. The team came out, had a terrible first quarter, but never stopped trying and never stopped playing with a chip on their shoulder. These are good signs. I can’t help but be curious about the threshold though. If losses continue to mount, will there be noticeable quit in this team? Tonight’s game against the Bulls will be a nice test.
- As a sellout crowd at Verizon Center rose to its feet last night, Butler dribbled back and forth in front of Trevor Ariza, froze Ariza with a series of pump fakes and released a three-point shot that appeared to be on the mark. Instead, the basketball caught the front of the rim and time expired before Wizards forward Andray Blatche could gather the rebound and lay it back in. [Butler, Wizards Fall Short: With Chance to Win It, Forward's 3-Point Shot Hits Front of Rim: Lakers 106, Wizards 104 - The Washington Post]
- Coach Ed Tapscott said he was fine with Butler’s decision to take the last shot but would have preferred if he’d taken it about two seconds early, thus creating the opportunity for a rebound. However, Butler said he wanted to take it when he did so as to not give the Lakers and Bryant a chance to call a timeout and set up a final shot. [Ivan Carter, Wizards Insider]
- Los Angeles scored 35 points in the first behind Bynum, who abused Wizards rookie JaVale McGee for 10 of his 19 points in the quarter. Bryant’s first points came halfway through the opening period on a pair of free throws that fell through the net to a bizarre blend of boos and chants of “M-V-P!” [Wizards' rally derailed: Upset bid is spoiled by Lakers - The Washington Times]
- I will say that the Lakers definitely were toying with us a little bit, playing odd lineups down the stretch. Andrew Bynum dominated us all game, then sat while we inched closer. In typical Phil Jackson fashion, he makes a not-so-subtle reference to his second unit’s play and plays it off like he’s blaming himself. Um, no, he’s clearly saying he can’t trust a lot of his players. [Pradamaster, Bullets Forever]
- Phil Jackson took the blame for both his faith in the bench mob and the jeopardized outcome, but didn’t absolve his players entirely. After all, they’re the ones comfortable letting the foot off the gas and abandoning the principles of Team D,
preferring instead to engage in a team-wide steals contest. [A win anything but Wizardly: Lakers 106, Washington 104 - LA Times Lakers Blog]
- The Lakers once again shot well at 50%, but continue to get out rebounded. How is this possible when you have such a big team? [The Lakers Nation]
[photo source: flickr/marcella bona]