Waiting For Signs of Life From The Washington Wizards
Musings from a miserable Wizards-Kings game
Nobody likes to wait. Waiting sucks.
Let’s say you order Chinese food — some General Tso’s chicken, a pint of lo mein, perhaps some dumplings — and the friendly telephone operator says that the expected wait is 30 minutes. Standard. But 45 minutes go by and your stomach begins to growl in indignation. After an hour goes by, you begin to wonder if the MSG-laced meal you ordered is ever going to show up.
Or you meet a girl, go out with girl, call said girl, and are left hanging by a string, a hope, dying to hear your phone ring. Nobody enjoys this.
You know that feeling deep down inside, or that voice inside your head telling you that what you have been eagerly anticipating, what you have been anxiously waiting for will never materialize? That’s the feeling I had last night watching the Wizards play the Kings at ARCO Arena.
First things first, the Wizards’ seven-point loss to the Lakers was a moral victory for the ages. The Wizards played arguably the best team in the Association pretty tough. Certainly, tougher than anyone could have anticipated, even through two and a half quarters.
So, the Wizards flew up the California coast to take on a 4-15 Sacramento Kings team. Yes, the Wizards are a notoriously bad team on the road. However, since they were already IN CALIFORNIA, the 390-mile trip from the Staples Center to ARCO shouldn’t have been a big deal. The flight takes just over an hour.
“The first road win will come tonight in Sacramento,” said Wizards fans across the DMV.
The 5,000-plus Kings fans who skipped last night’s game probably felt the same way. And for good reason. This is a Kings team which had averaged less than 90 points per game for the season and had only scored over 100 points twice.
But from the opening tip, Sacramento played with more energy. I hate to challenge effort, but the Wizards looked slow, lethargic, and heavy — and Andray Blatche was in street clothes. Shoot, Beno Udrih was diving for loose balls, crashing into the boards, getting tripped by photographers behind the basket. Know what happened next? His teammates hustled over to their grounded comrade to give him a helping hand.
It was just sloppy, and the Wizards were turning the ball over at an increasingly troubling rate. They turned the ball over three times in the first three minutes of the game and went on to give the ball away a season-high 24 times. The biggest issue wasn’t the turnovers on their own, but the fact that the Wizards would do little else but trickle back on the break, which allowed the Kings to rack up a bevy of points-off-turnovers. I was subjected to the cruel and unusual punishment of watching the Sacramento Kings net transition bucket after transition bucket, from layups, to pull-up jumpers, to thunderous alley-oops.
Where is R. Lee Ermey when we need him?
“Now, repeat after me, maggots! This is my basketball. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My basketball is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My basketball, without me, is useless. Without my basketball, I am useless. I must shoot my basketball true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to defeat me. I must defeat him before he defeats me. I will…”
The Wizards, hindered by a severe lack of ball movement, shot under 41.3% from the field. The East Coast squad had 11 assists, compared to Sacramento’s 27. They were also out-rebounded 36 to 48.
The Wizards have a problem: A waiting problem. The Wizards hurry up and wait. They race down the court, hold it, and then hand it to the other team.
Fans are left waiting for Gilbert to regain his form, whilst he turneth the ball away — 12 times over the past two games. Arenas is wasting precious possessions with every gun-slinging three-pointer he takes — he has made just 4 of 15 over the past two games. Just stop it, Gilbert. Oh, and next time the diminutive (by NBA standards) Pooh Jeter is guarding you, how about you back him down and make a play. That sort of thing would have value, at least more than picking up your dribble and causing a 24-second violation would (Yea, we know, Trevor Booker didn’t display astute offensive spacing, but are you really going to blame the rookie?).
Fans are waiting for Blatche to stop being a sissy and start getting his hands dirty. Waiting for John Wall to stop getting hurt. (Stupid Reebok Zig Slashes. I don’t trust those things.) Waiting for Yi Jianlian to be assertive and make opposing power forwards notice that he’s actually on the floor. Waiting for Kirk Hinrich to stop over-dribbling. Waiting for Nick Young to play a bit more consistently and pass the ball every now and then.
I admit it, that was unfair to Young. He’s been one of the Wizards’ better players over the past few games on both ends of the floor. He’s trying to take charges, really pressuring ball carriers, playing solid help defense, and scoring in bunches.
Every now and then, the Wizards will put it together and give you a couple of very exciting, productive minutes. Otherwise, it is reels and reels of players getting beat to loose balls, getting dominated on the boards, and taking questionable shots.
BUT DIDN’T YOU SEE THAT JAVALE MCGEE BLOCK?! I did. It was cool until I noticed the scoreboard. The Wizards were down 19 points.
There is also this, unfortunately:
The Wizards are set to play the Knicks at home on Friday night, perhaps without John Wall. Great, can’t wait.