Just as holistically in-sync the Wizards looked on Tuesday in Dallas, they looked about the exact opposite on Friday in Atlanta. What gives?
Sure, the team came on late behind some yesteryear Hibachi appetizers and a little Epic Vale pogo-stick length. But when Agent Zero goes from eight points and one turnover in the game’s first 6:20 to Agent Turnover with one point and five giveaways in the first half’s remaining 17:40, the team is digging itself a hole.
Gil likes to listen to Jay-Z before games … I wonder if he was listening to track #12 off ‘Kingdom Come’ pregame at the Phillips Arena.
Not to discredit the Hawks, they are a good team. But it was less of them beating the Wizards and more of the Wizards beating themselves. Oh … and well, Atlanta was also 31-34 from the free-throw line while the Wizards shot 14-22. The disparity seems dramatic, but the Wizards migrated between trying to carelessly attack the basket and settling for jumpers. So in that regard, the Wiz really don’t have anyone to blame but themselves … but I’ll also credit Atlanta’s defense just a tad.
Looking for areas to pin blame? Point guard play and poor initiation/stewardship of the offense stand out to me. To others, it was the defensive presence of Haywood (minus-11, tied with Arenas for the second worst plus/minus) and Blatche (team worst minus-17), and their inability to contain Al Horford and Josh Smith.
There were a couple positives … a bit of sun shining on the hound dog’s ass through a cloudy Georgia day if you will.
If Tim Duncan is the ‘Big Fundamental’, then Mike Miller is the ‘Blond Fundamental’ (7 points, 2 steals, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 10 rebounds). The more I watch Miller, the more I’m impressed. Sure, building upon the stigma he gained last year in Minnesota, we all want him to be more assertive on offense. But with everything else he does so well (pass, communicate, play defense, rebound with extended arms and two hands, etc.), and with him being on an offensively potent team, perhaps the Wizards don’t always need him to be looking for a shot. Rather, he can be the glue guy for a team that’s really looking to come together with so many new pieces.
Then again, with Antawn Jamison (and later Caron Butler, due to a bruised knee) being out … you can connect the offensive dots. The Wiz need more of ‘em. Also, at one point early in the fourth quarter, Miller drove the lane and was just about at the rim, but then kicked it out to Andray Blatche around the arc. If I were a cartoon, this would have left me with a thought cloud containing a ‘WTF’ encapsulated by question marks followed by a ‘Zoinks!?’
I also liked Oberto … I always like me some Oberto on the court. I remember him at one point hustling to contest a shot and then flashing down the court for a fastbreak bucket. Sure, Fab let Josh Smith out-quick him on a drive once (maybe more, I can’t remember). But due to his hustle and intelligence, I can’t imagine a time when I’ll never not like Oberto.
Otherwise, JaVale McGee looked nice. Epic Vale is exponentially athletic. And he’s got some hustle spark to boot. The guy is starting to make me believe that he’s never met a shot he didn’t like. But hey, can’t exactly knock him for having confidence in limited minutes.
There’s not much more I care to say now (hence, I’m not touching Nick Young’s bad night) … I might have screen shots later, I might not.
What I do know is that I’ll be reporting en vivo from the Verizon Center tomorrow for the All Hallows’ Eve home opener versus the New Jers Nets. Nothing like the tail end of a back-to-back for a chance at redemption.
Until then, I’m Wailin’…