This past week has been a blur, mostly because I’ve been oddly feeling under the weather… in a haze of a head cold that won’t quit. It also might be the Wizards. Have I mentioned how this 2011-12 NBA season can’t be over soon enough? A week? These past several years of the Washington Wizards franchise, one that can’t stop finding ways to top itself in futility, has been a blur. Actually, they’ve been bottom-feeding for a while, so nothing should surprise, even almost breaking the all-time franchise low for points scored in a game (64), which happened to be set less than 100 days ago.
After getting embarrassingly demoralized, 103-65, by the New York Knicks in their only appearance in Madison Square Garden this season, Washington has now collected 223 losses since falling to the New Jersey Nets on opening night of the 2008-09 season. There are just 82 wins to show for it. During the calendar of those previous three NBA regular seasons and including this fourth, lockout-shortened one, Wizards fans have experienced a loss every 2.8 days, a win every 7.5 days of a season.
But the key number from Friday night’s defeat: 22. The Wizards made 22 field goals, a franchise low, and committed 22 team turnovers, while the Knicks had 22 assists. How should fans respond to such ugliness? How can they? They can’t.
It’s not about this team losing to those Knicks in that manner on whatever night while being heckled by New York fans, media members and players alike. There are mitigating circumstances. Over the past eight games the Wizards have trotted out the youngest starting lineup in franchise history. The hard sell of the team and its television broadcast partners won’t let anyone forget.
The crew of John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin (three NBA sophomores and two rookies), has also been supported by a bench squad of Shelvin Mack, Roger Mason, Cartier Martin, James Singleton and Brian Cook. Love those guys, but hardly deserving of being called an NBA team. But hey, be patient. Also, guys are injured.
Should we overreact with every disastrous loss in yet another meaningless season? Of course not, since one is all it takes to remind us of the big picture.
What was it on this particular evening in New York? Pretty much everything. Jan Vesely had no chance of stopping Landry Fields off the dribble. Chris Singleton, checking Carmelo Anthony at the 4 position instead of Vesely, continued to look like a deer in NBA headlights. Jordan Crawford was Jordan Crawford.
The Wizards went inside to Kevin Seraphin on two early possessions — the first time he missed a hotly contested jump hook against Tyson Chandler, the second time Kevin was successful — but the team struggled to consistently get the ball to their most consistent scorer. And even Seraphin on a hot streak was no match for the defensive tricks of Chandler.
When the Wizards were able to drop it into the post, any chemistry and offensive movement was singed by the bright lights of the Garden’s big stage. The Wizards became spectators. Passes weren’t careful enough to be on target. Careless turnovers reproduced like viral pixels. Shots had no flick to twitch nets, only flatness to chip rims.
The Wizards made a 13-0 run from the 7:19 mark of the second quarter to the 4:56 mark to pull within six points at 34-28, but then Carmelo Anthony keyed a run. He scored 10 of his 18 points on the night in the last 4:41 of the second to put the Wizards to bed before halftime; Anthony played just 29 minutes. When Washington went without a field goal from the 7:02 mark of the third quarter to the 6:41 mark of the fourth quarter — over 12 game minutes — it was merely the baby power on top of the dog doo-doo in Andray Blatche’s shoes.
John Wall sported his special edition gold Reeboks, went 2-for-12 from the field with seven turnovers and four assists. His career in MSG: 3 losses, 39 points, 30% shooting, 20 assists, 20 turnovers. You can’t excuse the little talent Wall has had around him with those numbers. His jumper is regressing, his mechanics need more than tweaking; they need to be rebuilt like the team.
Somehow, interim coach Randy Wittman managed words after the loss, broadcast over airwaves:
“It looked like we were overwhelmed at the jump ball when we walked into the arena. Maybe that happens to young guys, I don’t know.”
I don’t know, either. All I know is that I can’t avoid following this hapless D.C. franchise, and if you are reading this, then you’re probably part of the club. Because if you can’t continue to embrace these Wizards/Bullets at this juncture, then what’s the point? Don’t worry, one day this will all be a blur.