As previously advertised, this Wizards team runs on emotional highs and lows. Last night’s 116-91 loss to the Sacramento Kings just happened to be a Comedy of Errors. Not so much in a ‘ha-ha’ kind of way, but more reminiscent of when Caron Butler used to say last year that he was laughing to keep from crying.
The Wizards, led by Gilbert Arenas and Kirk Hinrich in the backcourt, because John Wall was a late scratch, along with Al Thornton, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin in the starting lineup (Andray Blatche was still out) — quite a surprise entry by Flip Saunders, who must be desperate by now … either for a win or to get out of “what he didn’t sign up for” — fell to 0-12 on the road for the season and 6-15 overall.
I guess this loss was beyond embarrassing, because the Washington Post didn’t even use “embarrassing” in the title of Michael Lee’s post on Wizards Insider, as the online newspaper did after losses in Boston and Atlanta earlier this season. After the Boston loss, Ted Leonsis responded in his blog, Ted’s Take, writing that he wasn’t as easily embarrassed. One must wonder if seven straight road losses since, low-lighted by take downs in Toronto and Sacramento by a combined total of 44 points, is starting to change that sentiment.
No rest for the weary.
This is all a part of a very tough process.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Rome indeed wasn’t built in a day, but impatience with team leadership has seemingly been festering for years, and can surface faster than the Wizards can reach a double-digit deficit against a team presumed to be just as bad as they are.
And what kind of foreman did the Rome construction project have? Rome’s purported mythical founders were a couple twins named Romulus and Remus. They were raised by a she-wolf, and ultimately, after founding Rome, Romulus killed Remus for one reason or another, as one tale goes. This comparison doesn’t seem to bode well for some parties in the Wizards franchise, and begs the question of who is Romulus and who is Remus amongst Ernie Grunfeld and Flip Saunders (assuming Leonsis is Jupiter)?
But in terms of the game, the Wizards came out sloppy and complacent. Injuries and inexperience be damned, it shouldn’t be this bad, especially against a frazzled team like the Kings. Fifteen first half turnovers blanketed the fragile Wizards team psychology with cancerous demonstrations of players trying to play for themselves later in the game. The Wizards totaled just 11 assist for the game, a season low, with four of those assists coming in the last four minutes during garbage time.
On one hand, you can’t blame some of the Wizards for trying to score quickly in the second half, which obviously involved solo forays to the hoop. Playing against the Kings, you always thought there was a chance for a comeback, even when Washington was down 21 points with about a minute left in the third. One the other hand, there are a plenty of players with selfish offensive capabilities on the Wizards, and Saunders’ implemented offensive system doesn’t always do enough to dissuade that.
Plus, with players emulating a demeanor as fragile as their coach’s preceding reputation of not being a forceful presence, it’s easy to see why the Wizards also seemed to miss a ton of easy shots in the second half. It’s funny how the psychology works, I assume, making me wonder if the Wizards’ minds were playing tricks on them by making the rim appear smaller to their basketball muscle memory was used to do.
Right now, Flip Saunders must be sitting alone in his four cornered room staring at candles.
What was not expected: The veteran guards Arenas and Hinrich leading the team down a turnover-prone road, each had five. Of course, when the recipients of most passes either have hands of stone or don’t know what they’re doing, simply handing the other team extra possessions is going to happen.
What was expected: Booker and Seraphin having trouble with footwork, blocking out assignments and offensive spacing … but for now, it’s let the kids sink or swim.
Hey, look at that: Al Thornton reappeared. The Wild Child aka Cowboy Al aka Juice displayed an offensive spring in his step with 20 points on 7-11 from the field and 6-9 from the free-throw line in 31 minutes. But Al only had one freaking rebound … and you know he didn’t have an assist.
If there’s one thing that plagues this Wizards offense, it’s players who put on the horse blinders while on that end of the floor … and Al Thornton and Nick Young are two of the biggest culprits in this regard. Speaking of Young, he went 1-8 with three points in 24 minutes. Don’t invest in any real estate with Young, he knows nothing about location.
Hinrich: People wonder about that Kirk guy, but I’ll point out a couple things that most don’t notice. Maybe Hinrich’s individual defensive skills have eroded with age to a certain extent, but he provides a lot of glue when on the court regardless. While Arenas was looking like an old man next to the speedy Pooh Jeter at times, Hinrich was beating Jeter to the spot to cut him off. And Kirk clearly has an overall positive effect on defensive communication. Directing the traffic of kid teammates isn’t glamorous, and it sure isn’t easy.
Arenas: Like I’ve said, Arenas is trying. Maybe he doesn’t always make the best decisions, and maybe his jumper isn’t falling like he wants, but he is trying. I found this bit about Arenas via Wizards Insider encouraging:
Arenas admitted that he has to remember to be more patient with a rebuilding team. “It’s hard,” he said. “In situations in the past, I would have taken 30 or 40 shots to try and keep us in the game. But that is not the case anymore. I’m not that player anymore. I would much rather play within the team concept. You just got to play. You can’t worry about the score sometimes. You just have to play and try to get better each night.”
JaVale: Want to talk about embarrassing? How about that silly dunk whiff of his at the end of the game? Let’s watch:
The clip doesn’t show it, but McGee kind of smiled/smirked afterward. Good for him for representing the boundless potential yet determined lack of focus that keeps this Wizards team from coming close to reaching its potential.
Quote of the Night:
“I don’t know what you learn from a game like this, but you know you got to come out and play harder next time.” -Steve Buckhantz