The most frustrating part about the Washington Wizards is that on the road, their main, young players often lose so much focus, concentration and aggression … and it clearly affects the team as a whole. Guys like Andray Blatche, Nick Young and JaVale McGee are young — 24, 25 and 23 respectively — but they’ve now been in the league a considerable amount of time and should not be going through break-downs so frequently and consistently.
One reason I think Wizards fans are tired about hearing excuses about age is that you have guys like Kevin Durant (22), Russell Westbrook (22), Al Horford (23), Kevin Love (22), among others, around the league playing at much more solid, dependable levels. Is it the type of mental player Ernie Grunfeld is drafting? Is it the player development? And none of this is to say that these players haven’t made improvement over the years, but it’s been a very painstaking process. Does the scouting process need to be re-evaluated? Is it already being re-evaluated? One can only wonder if the correct calculations are being made between the potential a talented prospect might bring and hubris notions from team management that they can change the mindset of such talent that might actually have a longer struggle on the path of mental development.
In any case, pounding on the mental rocks of those Wizards is starting to ache in the heads of those having to watch the games.
I used to frequently do game blogs (or game accounts) on this site. I stopped doing them so much because they can be tedious and long. On Sunday, I meticulously watched a recording of Saturday night’s Wizards-Bobcats game in several chunks, re-watching most all plays multiple times and documenting what I saw. Hopefully it will give a good depiction of what went on in the game beyond the box score and other game accounts. Unfortunately, it’s the chronicling of the Wizards’ eighteenth road loss of the season in 18 tries, a 104-89 defeat at the hands the Charlotte Bobcats without Gerald Wallace.
11:45 - Ran some offense though Rashard Lewis on the left block, Gerald Henderson lost track of Nick Young who cut up top for a jumper. 2-0 Wizards.
11:08 – Decent ball movement, lot of passing, Andray Blatche misses a baseline jumper very badly.
10:55 - JaVale McGee goes to close out on Stephen Jackson at the three point line, but goes flying out of the play and never comes back on defense. He hangs around the half-court line while Kwame Brown relentlessly scores inside. 2-2 Tie — Guess ‘Vale was preparing for some dunk contest practice by trying to cherry pick.
10:36 - The Bobcats actually double Young off John Wall (D.J. Augustin), Wall gets the ball back and hits a jumper. 4-2 Wizards.
10:21 - Blatche is not paying enough attention to Boris Diaw, who actually doesn’t use a baseline screening action that Blatche went around in anticipation … but the Wizards get lucky because Diaw misses an easy one.
10:12 - Instead of attacking the basket, Wall settles for a jumper early in the shot clock.
9:53 - Jackson jacks a three with Blatche near him and misses, but Blatche just fades away from the defensive rebound toward the other end of the floor while the long rebound bounces basically to where Jackson took the shot from and Diaw snatches it up. Bobcats draw a foul.
9:26 - Nick Young works to get a decent shot at the free-throw line, but just misses.
9:15 - Wall is losing all kinds of track of Augustin, which is somewhat confusing McGee and Lewis, who don’t communicate a switch or a stay and Kwame ends up with a dunk. 6-4 Bobcats.
8:21 - Blatche dribbled a couple times versus Kwame from the wing and then takes a ‘finesse’ fade-away from the free-throw line … a tough, high-arching shot.
Steve Buckhantz observed: “You’d almost rather see him take the initial shot at the baseline when he looked to be open.”
7:57 - McGee posts and gets the ball versus Kwame, but ends up trying one of those Patrick Ewing-esque sweeping hook shots with several steps across the lane — problem is, he started on the left side and ended up shooting the ball fading away from the right side. McGee needs more point A to point B substance here than the style. Lewis gets in great position for an offensive board and gets fouled and hits two FTs. 8-8 Tie.
7:30 - Rashard Lewis bothered Jackson into a bad shot at the shot clock buzzer.
7:16 - Wall turnover, stepped on baseline trying to make a move on offense.
7:04 - Here on P&R help defense, McGee reaches for the ball versus Augustin instead of cutting him off … DJ drives to the hoop, draws secondary help, and kicks it to Henderson who misses the right corner jumper.
6:58 - Lewis turnover, offensive foul.
6:37 - McGee keeps his feet against a driving Jackson instead of preparing to block his shot, and he draws a charge … nice work and show of improving discipline.
6:11 - Wall to McGee alley-oop … Kwame got duped as Wall nicely looked the defense off of his passing intentions. 10-8 Wizards.
6:14 - Henderson blows by Young from the right side — Nick looked like he was too dependent on the help side defense of JaVale McGee, who wasn’t in proper position to help as Rashard Lewis’ drop in position from the weak side should have allowed JaVale to rotate to protect the rim. Henderson gets an easy dunk. 10-10 Tie.
5:52 - Blatche is very lackadaisical in his offensive movement…. he’s not working crisply with his screens and action coming off screens. But what’s new? Nick Young takes an ‘old Nick Young’ shot by dribbling a bunch and trying to throw up a one-handed runner, which then gets blocked by Henderson.
5:45 - Wall doesn’t pay enough attention to Augustin in transition — well, he does at first, but then loses him after he makes a pass — Lewis was already back to protect the paint, so there was no reason Wall should have fallen asleep. Augustin gets the ball back in the corner and hits a jumper. 13-10 Bobcats.
5:20 - The Wizards get Blatche a possession on the left block … he doesn’t do much before passing back out to Wall (because Augustin left Wall open to jab help at Dray) and Wall misses the open jumper.
4:52 - McGee was just ‘whatever’ on defense here … he took a horrible angle in covering a P&R and just lost track of Kwame Brown, gave him easy points. 15-12 Charlotte.
4:26 - Now it’s getting messy. Kevin Seraphin doesn’t have a clue about what to do on offense, tries to generically back down someone, has to pass out, gets that deflected, Nick Young recovers and at least drives close to the rim, but throws up an airball in poor confidence. These Wizards definitely do not know how to draw fouls.
4:13 - Augustin gets Wall with a hesitation move and drives to the hoop, Seraphin comes to help and nicely stops Augustin’s path. Augustin passes to Diaw, who Blatche is barely paying attention to and closes out poorly on, so he drives and Seraphin again helps. Then, Seraphin’s man, Kwame Brown, gets called for 3-seconds. Very nice defensive possession by Kevin … good footwork.
3:33 - Wall scores on a jumper from passing and getting back the ball back from each Blatche and Seraphin, which helps him create separation from Augustin for a shot from the right elbow. Augustin comes down on the other end and nails a three pointer because Wall went behind the screen on him. Augustin is making 1.6 threes per game this year at a rate of 39.1-percent — a rate you probably don’t want to live with. 18-14 Bobcats.
3:07 – Blatche drives and misses a close jumper, but Seraphin is there for the offensive rebound, takes his time, gathers a hop with the dribble, and drops a high release short jumper over Kwame. Seraphin follows this up by dropping a right hook over Gerald Henderson with a trailing Kwame out of the timeout. The video feed came in late, so I couldn’t gather the full play, but it’s more and more evident that Flip Saunders is great at drawing plays out of a timeout. 18-18 Tie.
Phil Chenier likes the elevation and extension of Seraphin’s arms.
2:06 - A dribble face-up long corner jumper miss from Blatche … I swear there needs to be a nickname for these.
1:23 - Gerald Henderson hits a jumper … really liked his game coming out of Duke, he’s only averaging 4.2 points and 2.4 rebounds in 15.8 minutes this season, but the jumper gives him eight points in the first quarter so far. 24-18 Bobcats.
1:01 - Tyrus Thomas is a shot blocker … Here, Seraphin catches the pass on the move and the roll from Wall, but jumps from too far away from the basket. Thomas is able to wait and time the block because Seraphin doesn’t go into his chest.
0:41 - Seraphin gets caught falling for a pump fake on Augustin on a long jumper — two free-throws. 26-18 Bobcats.
0:17 – Cowboy Al Thornton makes one of his patented wild drives to the hoop, with a no call on what some percentage of referees in this land would have called a charge or a block. 26-20 Bobcats.
11:26 – Thornton knows he should be covering Stephen Jackson, but he gets too caught up on two creative Bobcat screens (a down screen from Najera and a cross from Augustin after he passes to Jackson at the three point line) and leaves Jack with too much space. 29-20 Bobcats.
11:12 - Wow, a perfectly timed alley-oop from Wall to McGee that the shorter, vertically challenged Najera could do nothing about. 29-22 Bobcats.
“Like a tall receiver in the end zone,” says Buckhantz about McGee.
10:06 - Great defensive block/steal by Rashard Lewis helping baseline on a driving Jackson. Wizards go the other way, Hinrich misses an elbow jumper, Lewis hustles down and gets an offensive board, but misses a baby hook and then came over Eduardo Najera’s back on the rebound … that’s the way things go sometimes.
9:23 – The Wizards’ offense is stagnant … Blatche and McGee don’t look like they know what to do while Nick Young posts at the right elbow against Carroll, calling for the ball as the rest of his teammates clear out and watch. Young ends up dribbling against Carroll and makes a one-on-one move for a fading jumper from the corner. He makes the shot, but it doesn’t seem like a good precedent to set for the offense. 29-24 Bobcats.
8:13 - Blatche makes an earnest attempt to back down Tyrus Thomas from the left block, and makes progress in position, but I guess his finesse gets him again when he brings the ball down low and gets it slapped out of his hands for a turnover.
8:01 - McGee gets a nice block and Nick Young runs the break. McGee is running with him, but Nick ultimately shovels him the ball a tad behind — at McGee’s elbow level instead of a lob — and he can’t handle the ball … Wizards turnover. A tough pass for Young to make, but we already know he’s not a good at passing.
7:23 - It just doesn’t seem like the Wizards are getting into their offense fast enough — Hinrich running the point. The Bobcats lock down on Nick Young’s moves (and he’s doing more self dribbling on this possession … guess he really likes going one-on-one versus Matt Carroll). Young gets himself stuck and his bailout is Andray Blatche at the top of the three point line who gets the ball with 8-seconds on the shot clock, dribbles a bunch, and then fires ‘A Blatche’ (defined as a long, lazy missing jumper from a big man).
6:53 - Decent play as first offensive possession out of a timeout, off of a Bobcats turnover. Young goes down off a Thornton screen, who then turns to set a ball screen for Hinrich. Hinrich dribbles from the right to the middle then turns and passes it back to Thornton on the right side. Al sees Blatche moving across the paint to the right block (thanks to a Young cross screen) and gets the ball to Dray for an easy bucket at the hoop. 32-28 Bobcats.
6:32 - The Wizards get the jump ball and Young pushes it down the court, but he finds himself against three Bobcats with no where to go and lays it off to Blatche. Andray looks around, doesn’t use his dribble to create spacing and looks directly at Young at the top of the key (also, Kirk Hinrich could do a better job at making himself available here). Since Blatche telegraphs his pass back to Young, Jackson steps in and gets a steal.
Jackson ends up throwing up an alley-oop dunk to Shaun Livingston on the other end … McGee enters the defensive picture, at least … Blatche never does. 34-28 Bobcats.
6:02 - Blatche tries a finesse move inside and gets blocked by Stephen Jackson.
5:42 - Hinrich says eff it’ and takes a long two point jumper as Livingston goes under the screen against him. 34-30 Bobcats.
4:58 - Wizards run that same exact play as at the 6:53, except this time, you feel that everyone, including Al, expects Thornton to take one of those wild Cowboy Al jumpers … Blatche’s movement isn’t crisp … and Thornton’s jumper is what you live with, but not what you want to live with, because he misses.
Give Thornton credit though, he draws an offensive foul against Najera on the other end.
4:37 - Hinrich drives and misses a high runner off the glass.
3:54 - Wall slips inside for a lefty layup … the Bobcats are bad at moving their feet and cutting off the driving lanes too. 38-32 Charlotte.
Time for the Bobcats to pick on Blatche.
3:43 - They isolate Thomas on Andray on the left block, power move — Blatche goes falling, trying to draw a charge or something, no call, McGee helps and that makes Diaw available for the offensive board put-back. 40-32 Bobcats.
3:06 – Diaw backs down Blatche with several dribbles and a bigger rear end and scores in the paint. 42-34 Bobcats.
2:51 - Blatche answers with a baby right-handed hook over Diaw in the paint that he only rarely shows. 42-36 Bobcats.
2:33 – Kirk Hinrich has to leave his man, Henderson, to pick up Diaw to box out…. unfortunately, not all Wizards always look to box someone out. McGee came in late and fouled Henderson on the put-back attempt. Wall was in the area, but he just watched the action. Henderson makes on FT. 43-36 Bobcats.
2:24 - Wall nicely works another drive to the lane for a layup. 43-38 Bobcats.
2:00 - Wall then turns it over in the open court, the Bobcats go the other way with a four-on-one break versus Lewis, Thornton is the only player who hustles back to help (Wall, Blatche and Hinrich do not). Lewis is able to knock the ball away once, saving some time, but even Thornton’s hustle gets him there too late to keep the ball from going to the next Bobcat for points. 45-38 Bobcats.
1:38 - Wall drives and this time attracts some attention. He passes to Hinrich for the open three in the corner. 45-41 Bobcats.
1:13 – Wiz get a turnover and Wall and Hinrich run a great 2-man break — unfortunately Hinrich misses the layup.
0:58 - Bobcats can’t finish on another possession and the Wizards once again go the other way on the break … and Wall once again finds Hinrich open in the left corner for a jumper. 45-43 Bobcats.
0:40 – Blatche just doesn’t have a lot of “Umphf” when boxing out …. and that’s why Diaw is able to get a long offensive rebound here. Second chance points for Charlotte. 47-43 Bobcats.
0:10 - Wall gets a questionable call in his favor on a Najera charge, hits the basket, but misses the free-throw …. and off that miss, he lets Henderson get behind him and gives up the easy transition bucket. Charlotte up 49-46 at the half as Wall misses a heave at the buzzer.
11:47 - This time McGee helps on Augustin’s dribble drive and neither Blatche nor Young go down to cover help on McGee’s man, Kwame Brown, who gets a dunk and a foul. 52-46 Bobcats.
11:33 - Blatche gets the ball in the high post, makes a nice, heads up pass to Wall, who worked off the ball and a screen from Lewis to get free under the hoop for two. Good play call by Flip. 52-48 Bobcats.
11:16 – Blatche has to know his man’s cutting and react quicker, and McGee has to help here, as Diaw works off the ball, past Kwame and to the hoop for a pass and a bucket. 54-48 Bobcats.
10:00 - A wasted possession… slow execution — Young comes off a screen to receive the pass and Stephen Jackson switches to him, but he doesn’t drive the gap hard against Jackson, just takes some meaningless dribbles at the top of the key and then throws a high pass to Wall on the left wing, who’s forced to poorly create a fading miss from the left corner as the shot clock expires.
The Wizards just jog back and Charlotte scores and easy, uncontested bucket in transition. 56-48 Bobcats.
9:10 - Just a bunch of standing around on offense for the Wizards now, turnover out of bounds.
8:42 - Al Thornton makes the extra pass to Nick Young in the corner for a three. 60-51 Charlotte.
8:31 – Nick Young gets tangled up with Henderson, picks up his third foul, but I like his aggression on defense … things like that are going to happen… with sneaky Europeans or not. Hinrich checks in for Young.
7:57 - Hinrich gets tangled up in Kwame’s screen, trying to go behind it, and leaves Augustin open for a three. 63-53 Bobcats.
7:10 – Now it just seems like the Wizards aren’t running anything. Hinrich ends up trying a weak attempt from the right baseline that gets blocked out of bounds by Diaw with five seconds left on the shot clock. So, Wall misses the next shot and what do you know, the rebound finds its way into Thornton’s hands who kicks it to an open Hinrich for an immediate three. 66-57 Bobcats.
6:35 - The team should really look for match-ups to expose opposing defenses to Wall and Yi running a pick and pop, or fade. Yi’s shot, this season it seems, can be trusted and that will open up things for Wall. And that happens here, Yi from the baseline, 66-59 Bobcats.
6:15 – Wizards get a quick rebound and Blatche shuffles it to Wall who fires it to Thornton up the court with just Augustin guarding him. Wall jets down and you halfway expect Thornton to drop the ball off to Wall, so he doesn’t have to make a difficult shot against Augustin, but he doesn’t, takes it himself and gets fouled…Cowboy Al makes the And 1 FT – 66-62 Bobcats.
5:58 - Blatche defends hard, pokes the ball away as his man gets the ball, Wall sees the potential and jumps on the bobble, tapping away the ball as the Bobcats try to recover and then Hinrich finally taps it up the court to Wall who breaks for a dunk. Change in momentum? 66-64 Bobcats.
5:39 – Charlotte carelessly turns the ball over after a timeout.
5:20 – The Bobcats double Hinrich for some reason and leave Blatche wide open for a baseline jumper on the right side that’s in his comfort zone. Game tied at 66.
4:47 - The Wizards are clearly more aggressive on defense with Wall, Hinrich, Thornton, Yi and Blatche on the court at this point — they get a steal and several chances on the other end (three offensive boards on one possession). But ultimately the fatigue from that work and trying to settle down gets to Blatche as he tries to back out with a pass that was easy to pick off by Augustin. Turnover. Transition bucket. 68-66 Charlotte.
3:55 – Maybe Yi is still working his way back from that knee injury, because he just doesn’t have the same lift he used to have on his rebounding ability … he also has a very passive nature anyway.
3:30 - Hinrich launches and makes a three ball at the shot clock buzzer … very poor spacing by the Wizards’ big men, well, Andray Blatche. Yi had Henderson switched off on him in the paint, and Hinrich wanted to get him the ball, but Blatche was planted in concrete too close to the action, weakly posting and calling for the ball himself. So, Hinrich was forced to take the shot himself. Wizards take the lead 69-68.
3:04 - Yi with a bad close out on Diaw, Wizards get lucky with a Bobcats open miss but end up hitting the ball out of bounds … coming back, very questionable help from both Booker and Yi on Henderson coming off a screen versus Wall. Gerald draws a foul against Yi, makes both FTs. 70-69 Bobcats.
2:31 - Augustin gets caught in the corner in transition after Thomas had made a great, basket saving block on the other end against Wall. As Augustin is falling out of bounds, he tries to throw it off Hinrich… but Kirk catches the ball in his groin area /with his legs and pushes it up the court with Thornton running and ultimately getting the slashing transition bucket. 71-70 Wizards.
1:59 - Hinrich jumps to pass and gets an offensive foul called on him.
1:09 – Wall gets called for travelling and then he doesn’t pay attention hustling back to get his man, Gerald Henderson, who scores in transition. Most of the other Wizards were caught napping after the turnover too, mainly Yi and Thornton. 75-71 Bobcats.
0:53 – Yi gets called for three seconds.
0:31 – Seraphin gets a block, and Thornton doesn’t get a whistle for contract at the other end — the replay confirms that a call should have been made — and the Wizards turn the ball over. Charlotte goes the other way and eventually earns free-throws. The Bobcats have slowly built a 77-71 lead.
0:00 - Wiz miss a decent look from Hinrich at the top of the three point line at the buzzer.
11:44 - Blatche makes a nice drive toward the basket, but is not able to finish or make a move where he might be able to draw contact and get to the free-throw line. Then Blatche fouls the Bobcats after his miss… Stephen Jackson.
11:35 – Blatche os not very aware of a screen and lob play the Bobcats are running, doesn’t see it develop, doesn’t give the proper help as Seraphin gets caught up on a screen –Tyrus Thomas easy dunk lob from Livingston. 79-71 Bobcats.
11:10 – Blatche looks to want to make a move to the hoop, but gets caught dribbling too much with his head down, doesn’t see the Charlotte double coming until it’s there, and then gets called for traveling.
Blatche then slams the ball down and gets a tech — a very Andray start to the fourth. 80-71 Bobcats.
9:47 - It’s just a confidence thing now … Nick Young missing make-able threes and Livingston being able to make nice spins into the lane for buckets. 86-74 Bobcats … Livingston has been playing in a nice groove, seven points and two assist for him off the bench.
9:27 – Nick Young jumps to pass and tough Charlotte D, help from Livingston, caused Nick to change his mind in mid-air and turn the ball over.
8:33 - McGee gets a nice one-on-one block versus a driving Thomas.
8:14 - Young misses a free-throw line jumper on the move … again, the confidence is very low for the Wizards young players who’ve been around for a while, especially Young and Blatche.
7:39 - Hinrich has active hands on defense and makes a difference on the other end as well, hitting a gutsy runner in the lane. 86-77 Bobcats.
7:20 – JaVale McGee doesn’t have the mindset to secure any and every loose ball rebound, but changes his mind at the last second and decides to go for the ball. He saves it in bounds off of Nick Young’s foot, turnover Wizards … McGee takes a seat on the bench. The Bobcats are credited with a team rebound, but it’s really the third turnover of the quarter for the Wizards.
6:49 – Wall misses an open three from the left corner.
6:26 – As a team, the Wizards don’t have a tough defensive demeanor at this point of the game… Charlotte keeps scoring with confidence — Jackson easily drives to the hoop. Bobcats up 90-77.
5:40 – Jackson making it look easy versus Thornton. 92-77 Bobcats.
5:07 – Wall turns the ball over by traveling when a Bobcat defender closed in on him as he turned to dribble up the court. But on the Charlotte in bounds, Thornton aggressively steps in, gets a steal and is fouled by Thomas on the other end. He makes one FT. 92-78 Bobcats.
4:50 – Yi secures a defensive rebound but not in traffic, against one guy.
4:26 – Hinrich and Lewis miss some tough threes and Thornton hustles to no avail … his offensive rebound and attempt is blocked by Henderson.
4:09 – Wizards aren’t really talking much on defense .. or at least they are lacking communication amongst the help defense, Lewis and Yi seeming to be culprits in this department. Augustin hits the bucket and gets the foul. 95-78 Bobcats.
3:31 – Now, too concerned with Augustin, Yi gives Diaw too much space and he hits an open three. 98-80 Bobcats. Not even worthy of a #Dagger, “That’s a back-breaker….” Steve Buckhantz says.
3:11 – Garbage time for the Wizards, Hinrich and Lewis go to the bench.
2:25 – Now Matt Carroll is hitting confident shots versus Cartier Martin … 100-82 Bobcats.
2:01 - Yi rolls in a three. 100-85 Bobcats.
The rest of the game doesn’t matter — Wizards lose 104-89 on the road, where they are 0-18 on the year.