The definition of infuriating

Box Score.
Game Flow.
Post recap.
Times recap.
Live-blog (scroll down)
Wizards Insider.
Passion and Pride, demanding attention and receiving it.

Highest plus/minus: Caron Butler (+4).
Lowest plus/minus: Antawn Jamison (-10).

That was absolutely appalling.  

I mean, I'm here a day later, armed with the knowledge that a team far better than us has sabotaged their season, and I'm still infuriated by what happened in this game.  A 17-0 run to the Sixers?  Easy layups in crunch time to the Sixers?  I mean, what the hell?

When something that awful happens in a game, blame gets spread around.  Our defense was softer than peach fuzz, our offense, as truth wrote, looked like a senior-league team going against a young high school squad, and nobody did anything to try to adjust.  For the purposes of simplicity, though, I think we can say Eddie Jordan can be blamed for the defensive breakdown, and all the players can be blamed for the offense.

Here's what happened on each of the Sixers' possessions down the stretch during the 17-0 run.

Reggie Evans steal and dunk.
Andre Iguodala fadeaway in the lane.
Rodney Carney layup off Iguodala block.
Jason Smith offensive foul.
Jason Smith layup on fast break.
Louis Williams missed jumper, Louis Williams rebound, Louis Williams dunk.
Rodney Carney steal and dunk.
Andre Iguodala layup.
Andre Iguodala missed layup.
Rodney Carney dunk off steal.

They correspond with the following Wizards possessions.  Note that Brendan Haywood just got replaced after the Wizards took a 12-point lead.

Songaila lazy pass stolen by Evans.
Antawn missed contested three.
Mason contested three blocked by Iguodala.
Jamison missed jumper, only 11 seconds into the clock.

Stevenson missed three.
Stevenson missed contested three in corner.
Stevenson turnover.
Mason missed jumper.
Jamison turnover.
Mason missed three early in shot clock, Jamison rebound and missed flip shot.
Haywood returns to the game
Stevenson pass intercepted by Carney.
Daniels layup blocked by Songaila.

Hopefully, you guys are catching my drift.  Instead of trying to match up with Philly's athletes with our size advantage, we took Haywood out, and Philly promptly sped the game up and scored at will inside.  That's on Eddie for not recognizing what this team needed, though at least he's admitting it (from the Wizards Insider link).

"I went with a smaller lineup and that was probably a mistake of mine," Jordan said. "I tried to counter their quickness at the offensive end and tried to defend their smaller lineup. I probably should have stayed with a more traditional lineup with three forwards rather than three guards. Maybe be could have kept the lead, so that was a lot on me."

Okay, I'm glad Eddie fell on the sword here and recognized his error, but he now needs to learn from it.  Brendan wasn't having a great defensive game, but he was playing extremely well offensively, and his size was forcing the Sixers to play at a slow pace that favored the Wizards.  Most importantly, he was key to the Wizards' rebounding edge, and it's no accident that the Wizards grabbed just one rebound (Jamison) during this stretch of the game.  He can't play forever, but surely it would have made more sense to rest him in the third and early in the fourth, when the game wasn't so far in the balance.    

Essentially, taking Haywood out killed our defense, because we no longer could rebound or keep the Sixers out of the lane.  It also hurt our offense a bit, because we now lacked any presence down low.  So that was a major mistake, and it cost us dearly.  

But, like truth said in the live-blog, it's kind of unfair to pin this loss directly on Eddie (emphasis mine).

He tried to carry the water, take the heat. Eddie said the small lineup he inserted to keep up with Philly threw things off. He took the blame for putting the team in situations where they could not make reads under pressure. Of course, he later said that as NBA players, you would expect them to make the necessary reads and understand what the other team is trying to do. In my opinion, this one is on the players. They were put on the court to play. It wasn't Eddie who pushed the panic button.

And he's totally right.  Look at those last offensive possessions for the Wizards.  They go as follows: turnover, long jumper, long jumper, long jumper, long jumper (by the same person), turnover, long jumper, turnover, long jumper early in shot clock, offensive rebound and missed layup, blocked layup.  In case you're counting, that's zero ventures into the paint until the Sixers already took the lead.  I know we didn't have Caron Butler, but surely we could be more aggressive than that.  Why wasn't Antawn posting up Thaddeus Young and taking the youngster to school inside?  Why wasn't Roger Mason ever turning the corner on high screens?  Why was Stevenson shooting the ball at all?  Why could Mason and Stevenson suddenly forget how to handle the ball?  Why couldn't any Wizard cut backdoor when they noticed the Sixers were overplaying?  All these things are terrible offenses, and they have nothing to do with Eddie Jordan.  

Most of all, I'm really pissed off at Antawn right now.  With Caron out, we needed you to show some offensive recognition and poise, and all you do is float to the three-point line?  All you do is stay passive instead of using your smarts in the post against your young defender?  I mean, that's really upsetting, because as we saw repeatedly, long jumpers lead to fast breaks, and lead to the Sixers playing the game at their tempo.  Eddie hinted at the team's lack of offensive recognition, but he should have stated it flat out, because if I were him, I would have been very, very disappointed.

This offensive problem is one that's been developing recently.  Gilbert said it best; these guys are getting tentative offensively.  We have quickness on the wing, now we need to start using it.  I'd point to Daniels, but he's so banged up that it seems incredible that he's even playing.  Other guys like Stevenson, Mason, even Jamison need to start taking the ball to the rack.  Drawing fouls is one way this offense was so good in the past.  Now, we need to find a way to get back to that.

Otherwise, we're in big, big trouble.

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