The Reaction: Walled In By Sputtering Offense, Wizards Fall To Pacers 93-89
Another game, another competitive loss for the Washington Wizards, this time at the hands of the Indiana Pacers on the road, 93-89. TAI’s Adam McGinnis and Kyle Weidie have the reaction.
John Wall… what on earth was he doing in the end? Undoubtedly the worst decision-making ever seen from him. First, there was the charge call drawn by Paul George with 3:36 left with a chance to keep momentum and tie the game at 82; Wall just barreled into him with no choice otherwise. He then took a tired jumper on the break with 19 seconds on the shot clock that could have tied the game at 87 with 1:35 left. He didn’t wait for Nenê, who was running with him, to get set for a pick or a rebound; it was like Wall was using the late game moment to improve his own jumper rather than make the smart decision. But he was the pass-first point guard with 30 seconds left, it’s just that he should not have been. Changing speeds and jetting to the basket off the pick, Wall pulled a hesitation move and started to go up against Roy Hibbert. It looked like Wall had room to get to the rim, or at least the other side (or draw the foul), but he threw the ball back to Nenê instead. Or at least he tried to. Wall’s pass was low and off, it skidded into the backcourt. It was the turnover that led to the Wizards foul that then led to Danny Granger free-throws which gave Indiana an 89-85 lead that they didn’t look back from. Wall finished with 13 points on 4-for-9 shooting with five turnovers, two assists, two steals, and two rebounds.Game Changer, indeed.
Nenê was questionable due to back spasms entering the game, but you would not have guessed the Brazilian big man was battling a lingering injury while watching him score 16 points and pulling down 13 boards while limiting Indiana’s All-Star center Roy Hibbert to just nine points. Nene continues to provide a legitimate low post scoring threat that Washington has sorely lacked. He was 2-3 in 4th quarter with his only miss being a no call where he was clearly slapped on the wrist by Hibbert. The Wizards struggled down the stretch by not running enough offense through him in the post or by not having him cutting toward the basket off pick-and-rolls.
Game Changing Moment.
The game-changing moment is Trevor Booker playing on a bothered foot (Nenê too, on an iffy back). The Cook Book created some cold soup jumpers during the course of play (2-for-6 on FGs)… oh well. His four offensive rebounds in the first four minutes and 10 seconds of the game kicked ass. He ended up with 11 rebounds (six offensive) in 29 minutes, but it wasn’t just Booker. The presence of him, Nenê, and Kevin Seraphin was physical enough to let the roughneck Pacers of Tyler Hansbrough, Dahntay Jones, David West, and Louis Amundson know that they were not going to back down. There were a lot of tough fouls in this game, and well, the Wizards played tough. These big guys were the reason why Washington was unexpectedly in the game. They covered the spread, didn’t they?
Cartier Martin. The Welcome Back Cartier Express began with a bang with Martin knocking down a 3-point shot immediately upon entry in the first quarter (an assist from Jordan Crawford no less). Cartier finished the game with 10 points (4-for-7 FGs, 2-for-4, 3-pointers) and five rebounds in 20 minutes. He also came up with several loose balls on hustle plays. Martin tied the game up at 80 with a nifty steal and break away dunk at the 4:52 mark in the 4th quarter, causing the Pacers to call a timeout. Randy Wittman then inexplicably subbed him out for Chris Singleton for the remainder of the game, to the ire of many, many Wizards fans on Twitter.
That Was… Continued lessons, via trial and error, in what doesn’t work to win.
Jordan Crawford set a troubling tone midway through the fourth quarter, dribbling into three Pacers and turning the ball over. The next time down the court, Indiana ratcheted up the pressure on defense, and Crawford thought he could solve the problem by jacking a 3-pointer from several feet beyond the line. You thought, ‘Why doesn’t he let Wall run the offense?’ Well, as we know, the Game Changer failed horribly when it mattered most, too. You just hope these guys learn that whatever they were doing, don’t do it again.