This Wizards team has gone through a lot of adversity this year, some of it unimaginable. Poor them. People are dying around the world and not by choice. These guys get paid to play basketball. Suck it up.
More and more this team is playing like they just don’t care. It’s not the first time this has happened. Probably won’t be the last. But Wednesday night’s game against the New York Knicks seemed like more of a disgrace than efforts we’ve seen before.
I’ve said that Ernie Grunfeld can’t make drastic change fast enough. The associated anxiousness continues to mount by the day and will continue to do so up until the February 18th trade deadline, unless something happens before then.
When it goes down, how will I find out? Twitter? Text? G-Chat? Will Ric Bucher’s shiny doll hair pop up on my HDTV to tell me that it has all come to an end? Will I wake up one morning to find Marc Stein whispering in my ear, “Caron Butler for Marcus Camby and Antawn Jamison for Zydrunas Ilgauskas, both straight up” followed by him punching me in the mouth?
These are the things that haunt my slumber and twist my stomach. And they all feel plausible.
Ok, back to the Knicks game. Even though they clearly started to lose the game in the third quarter, I was pretty incensed when watching the fourth quarter “melt,” as Flip Saunders called it.
Randy Foye hit a bucket to put the Wizards up nine, 56-47, with 7:13 left in the third. For the rest of the period, the Knicks outscored the Wizards 25-9, taking a 72-65 lead into the fourth. New York won the final period 35-20. That’s a 60-29 run for New York in the final 19:13 of game play.
One particular NY run in the fourth stood out to me. From the seven minute mark to the one minute mark, the Knicks outscored the Wizards 18-2, 20-2 if you go to a jumper Nate Robinson hit with 43 seconds left.
How on earth did this happen?
We’ll begin at the 7:05 mark in the fourth when Earl Boykins finds Mike Miller in corner for three to keep the Wizards within a “respectable” five points at 84-79.
Right after that basket, the Goof-Troop of Andray Blatche and Nick Young get confused about who should cover whom. Heads are turning, fingers are pointing, literally.
Both Blatche and Young (white box) are pointing toward the trailing Al Harrington (red circle), a three-point threat, and the man Andray should be covering. He’s clearly not, but evidently thinks Nick should.
Also, notice Larry Hughes in the far corner, probably the man Nick should be guarding … and he is in the vicinity. So, the blame goes to Seven Day Dray, whose mind is evidently only open during the business hours of ‘whenever the eff he feels like it’. But hey, at least the two are courteous enough to point.
This is after a made basket, mind you. There is no excuse for this level of dysfunction. At one point, you see Jamison (at the free-throw line) turn his head in the direction of Young and Blatche. I imagine the brief exchange between Antawn, Andray and Nick went down like this:
AJ: What the eff are y’all doing?
NY: Huh? Aww, that’s cold … Dray?
AB: Well, I’m closer to Larry now. You go get Harrington.
NY: Huh? Ain’t that your man? Aw sh*t ….
So, Nick runs to cover Harrington and the Knicks proceed to work the ball to Hughes in the corner. He takes a couple dribbles and gets Blatche, who hasn’t seen a good defensive stance since Gilbert Arenas appeared in more than 70 games in a season, to start back-peddling. Plenty of space. Larry Hughes bucket. 86-79 Knicks.
6:30 – Only two Wizards touch the ball on this possession, Boykins and Young, mostly Boykins. His teammates never seem to know what he’s doing so they can only stand around and watch. The picture shows the aftermath of Boykins darting around from right to left, then picking up his dribble where you see him now.
Earl ends up passing to Nick, who almost turns ball over, but somehow gets it back to Earl, who misses a jumper with the shot clock running out.
Off the rebound, Al Harrington is hustling, Andray Blatche is not, plain and simple.
Al holds off ‘Dray for the offensive rebound tip, which is understandable since the defensive player usually has position … of course, that’s assuming Blatche was even trying. He wasn’t.
So, as Harrington tips the ball to Nate Robinson, the two are roughly the same distance from the basket on the other end. Guess who wins the race.
Here, Harrington looks ready to take off. Blatche is standing straight up, watching the action pass him by.
Harrington gets separation right off the bat.
And more separation …
And more separation …
You can guess what happens from here. Al Harrington gets a cheap $1 store dunk in his $35 K-Mart sneakers.
Also worth noting: Jamison is only focused on his man in the corner and doesn’t see the cutting Harrington. But if Andray busted his butt up the court in the first place, or showed a crumb of awareness …. easy buckets. 88-79 Knicks.
The subsequent offense for the Wizards: Offensive shoulder shrugs, Nick Young picks up his dribble, the Wizards are forced to call timeout.
Kindly take a seat Mr. Blatche.
Here’s the best part about our friend Seven Day Dray, a quote from Wizards Insider:
Antawn Jamison agreed with Saunders’s assessment of selfish play, but Andray Blatche said that looks were deceiving. “We have a lot of great players on this team. We all try to be that person to take us over the hump,” Blatche said after scoring 14 points off the bench. “It wasn’t that we tried to be selfish, we was trying to help the team. Everybody is trying hard to help the team. Guys are trying hard to do everything they can. That’s how it looks, but that’s not the case.“
You know what’s not deceiving? These damn screen shots. Back to the game …
Out of the timeout, Mike Miller makes a horrible inbounds pass. Turnover. Jamison doesn’t exactly have his man sealed off, but it’s unclear if he’s expecting the ball. It looks like Foye is popping out to receive. In any case, it’s always the passer’s fault.
On the other end, Foye gets a steal, tries to take Jared Jeffries with two Knicks trailing, but looks very casual in doing so. Robinson, who doesn’t give up on the play, pokes the ball from behind …. turnover.
Maybe Randy got fouled. Maybe in his opinion he wasn’t that casual. Maybe I should be give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it just doesn’t matter anyway.
With the ball, the Knicks clear out and David Lee takes Brendan Haywood from the top with a right-handed running layup. Sounds like someone is adhering to the Man Law against the man who created it. Lee laughs his way back up the court. 90-79 New York.
The Wizards get the ball back and Haywood gets it in the post, but then is double-teamed. He proceeds to dribble outward like the ‘Stanley from The Office’, pivots, and picks up the ball. Lee falls back from the double, leaving only Wilson Chandler on Haywood.
Brendan panics and throws the ball away, right in the territory where Jared Jeffries can simply dive with hustle and gain a possession. Phil Chenier mentioned that no one came to relieve Haywood of ball. Kinda true, I guess, but Haywood also handles the ball like Stanley from The Office.
4:30 – Knicks miss.
4:15 - Wizards ball movement, Jamison drives and hits a runner. 90-81 Knicks. Still somewhat of a game, one would think.
Jared Jeffries and Danilo Gallinari run a hand-off on the left three-point wing — too much separation by Mike Miller, who gets caught going around the screen, and Jamison isn’t there to help on the shooter. Italian three-point bombs. 93-81 Knicks.
3:34 - Randy Foye completely bricks a wide-open three.
3:27 - Knicks turnover.
Nick Young drives baseline, jumps into a crowd, tries a very difficult twisting shot from almost behind the backboard, and bricks it on the bottom of the rim.
Nick then stops and looks for a foul from the ref. Sorry dude, you’re not Kobe. Also, see Mike Miller wide open in the corner? Flip Saunders would end up giving Young the hook at the next dead ball.
Yes, Nick Young, you average 1.4 assists per 36 minutes (which is, of course, better than Jamison’s 1.2 assist per 36) … and that’s after Nick averaged 2.0 assists per 36 in his rookie season and 1.9 assists per 36 last year.
Nick Young, you are playing like a selfish offensive basketball player. You are incapable of creating for others. Your argument is invalid.
“To be honest, we have guys, Nick [Young] made some shots, but those guys were shooting every time they touched it and then what happened was our whole team became like that. When guys are taking quick shots, it fuels other guys to take quick shots because they don’t think they’re going to get it back. I thought tonight, more than anything else, we played very selfishly.”
3:07 – On an out-of-bounds play run by the Knicks, Miller gets picked, no one sees it coming, easy bucket for Wilson Chandler. Pretty egregious lack of awareness by the team here, specifically from Haywood and Jamison.
Also notice where Randy Foye’s right hand is … down in its hip holster, not trying to hand-carry the ball, get a deflection, whatever.
2:47 - Just Boykins and Foye touch the ball beyond half court. Foye dribbles and takes a fading jumper over Lee from the baseline with 15 seconds on the shot clock. I understand you gotta score quickly at this point of the game, but trying that shot over the taller Lee is a ….. aw eff it, doesn’t matter anyway.
Jeffries dribble hands-off to Lee on the baseline. Check out Haywood’s shot contest. He does not care. This game is officially in the books. 97-81 Knicks.
It’s at this point where Flip Saunders says, ‘Eff it, I’ve seen enough,’ and puts in a lineup of Mike James, Randy Foye, Dominic McGuire, Fabricio Oberto and JaVale McGee. Nick Young was so garbage that he couldn’t get run during garbage time.
So what do the reserves, especially those such as JaVale McGee, do with their time? Do they hustle? Show off their wares? Make people say, ‘Well, gosh darn, why don’t they play that Epic Vale fellow more?’ Well, people are kinda saying that already, but anyway, let’s take a look-see …
The baseline lane seems kinda open. Does JaVale drive it and dunk on some fools? Naw, he just shoots a lazy ol’ jumper instead, and misses. Lame.
I’ll let the distinguished gentleman(men) of the WizzNutzz, who evidently attended the game in NYC, explain what this sight of a McGee jumper should mean to Wizards fans (via Twitter):
@wzzntzz: Nothin say FUK U WIZ FANZ like Vale of Cashmere & Dom McGuire takin long jumpers
So, when people wonder why McGee doesn’t play more, it’s not just because he gets lost on defense, but also because his effort and focus is so inconsistent when he is given chances to play. And not to just pick on him, because this type of attitude is an epidemic, but a game being a blowout is not really an excuse for a guy with pent up energy to not try. Evidently for JaVale, and others, it is.
These are the times when players like McGee earn more time going forward. Coaches are always watching and observing. Want another example? Let’s continue …
Here, David Lee is giving a half-assed pump fake at the three-point line. Lee has attempted four threes all year, but hey, it’s garbage time, anything is possible from the Knicks center I suppose.
How far away do you think JaVale McGee is? At least his height, and after checking the dimensions of an NBA court, perhaps he’s between nine and ten feet away. Will McGee bite on this B.S. pump-fake from Lee? Or will he close out with high-hands, defensive stance-ready fundamentals like basketball players are supposed to?
If you guessed that JaVale would go jetting past Lee, allowing him a wide open lane where McGee’s teammates would not care to step up and help, then you get a gold star. 102-81 Knicks.
And that’s about all I got. Fun, wasn’t it?
I’ll leave you with this final screen shot to haunt your dreams …