Bobcats 122, Wizards 102

Do we really have to talk about this game?  I guess so.

There's dummy defense, and then there's this (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Where to begin?  That defensive effort was pretty bad tonight.  Charlotte's one of the worst offensive teams in the league, and they simply shot the lights out tonight.  Lots of that is Charlotte just hitting a ton of jumpers, but it's also bad scouting.  Raymond Felton, Adam Morrison, Matt Carroll, and Walter Hermann aren't the type of players that blow by you off the dribble, but the Wizards still continuously sagged off on them, daring them to shoot.  Naturally, they hit the open jumpers.

It's clear that Gerald Wallace was the difference in this game.  When he went out late in the first quarter, the Wizards clawed their way back into the game.  When he came back in, Charlotte immediately went back to a double-digit lead.  He affects the game so tremendously on both ends of the court, and it's hard to adjust to guarding him because he's the only Bobcat that isn't a spot-up shooter.  Everybody else had great games for the Bobcats, but Wallace is their key.  The Wizards don't have an answer for him, not as long as Jarvis Hayes is working on two bum knees.

Seriously, Hayes and Antawn Jamison were practically invisible.  I really can't think of a way that they could have played worse.  Not only did they combine to shoot 4 of 22 from the field, but they also surrendered big nights from Wallace and Walter Hermann.  All game, Charlotte simply ran Hermann, Matt Carroll, and Adam Morrison off screens, and Hayes and Jamison kept getting caught.  

I cannot understand for the life of me why Wizard big men make no effort to hedge, ever.  We talk a lot about Arenas' inability to guard the pick and roll, but Etan Thomas and Brendan Haywood do not help him at all.  Arenas is basically on his own, and that's a tough predicament.  Florida got a ton of points in the national championship game the same way, because they knew Greg Oden wasn't going to make any effort to hedge.  The only Wizard I ever see hedge is Songaila.

Speaking of Songaila, I'm beginning to wonder whether a small lineup is the right move.  It's become clear that Songaila is one of the Wizards' top 5, especially with Caron out, but where do you play him?  If you play him alongside Jamison and one of the centers, you eliminate his effectiveness, because he's too similar to Jamison and also isn't very quick.  You also can't take Jamison out too much, tonight's performance notwithstanding.  The best option may be to play him at the 5, because despite Thomas' good numbers tonight, I really wasn't impressed.  He kept flailing away at every single shot, and did very little to actually be a strong defensive presence.  Thomas looks the part of a defensive enforcer, and that's why you hear Eddie praise his energy.  The problem is he doesn't play the part, and that's a problem.  With Haywood playing as badly as he is (it's become clear that bridge has been burned, and it's beyond repair), why not try Darius at the 5?  At least he hedges on screens and rotates well.

I really have nothing more to say beyond that incoherence.  This was an awful loss, and it's simply inexcusable at this time of year.  They're saying all the right things, but it's time to see some results.  

This season couldn't end soon enough.

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