Alone in Last: Suns 103, Wizards 87

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Highest Plus/Minus: Andray Blatche (+1)
Lowest Plus/Minus: Dominic McGuire (-19)
Best Five Man Unit: Mike James, Nick Young, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Andray Blatche (+4 in the 1st Quarter)
Worst Five Man Unit: Mike James, Caron Butler, Dominic McGuire, Antawn Jamison, JaVale McGee (-6 to end the game)

Four Factors:

Photo of the Game:

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(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Game Thread Comment of the Game: "I didn't know Hillary Swank played for the Suns." by Matt K.

Even though the scoring deficit was larger last night than it was against Portland on Saturday night, I felt much better about the team's effort and overall performance from this game than I did on Saturday.  There's something that's so much more comforting about watching your team get beaten as opposed to watching them beat themselves.

Most of the attention will be focused on Shaq's performance tonight, and rightfully so.  28 points (shooting 10-14 from the field and 9-10 from the line) to go along with 8 boards, 3 blocks, and a pair of assists.  The thing is, I'm really not sure if there was anything else that the Wizards could've done to slow him down, save for JaVale swallowing a grand piano before the game.  Andray did a fairly decent job of bodying him up in the post and there seemed to be a focus on fouling to make sure that he didn't get easy baskets.  Of course, that ended up backfiring when he hit nine of his ten free throw attempts, but the thought was in the right place.

What won't get talked about as much was the Wizards' complete inability to stop penetration last night.  Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa were able to get wherever they wanted to on the court.  Nash used that freedom to pile up 15 assists and Barbosa used it to go off for 23 points in just under 27 minutes.  Part of the reason that they were able to  was due to the Wizards focusing in on Shaq, and of course the other part of that is the fact that the Wizards just can't stop anyone from penetrating.

The two silver linings to tonight's game are that the Wizards came out and played better.  The execution wasn't always there, but the effort was, and at 9-35, that's nice to see.  The other silver lining can be found in Stillwater, OK.  Blake Griffin had 26 and 19 last nightGiddyup!

Other notes from last night's game:

  • I liked how the Wizards tried to use Antawn Jamison coming off screens a lot early in the game.  Most teams aren't used to dealing with a power forward that can do that and it looked like it threw the Suns off early in the game.
  • One of the little things that JaVale will have to learn as he continues to mature is that rebounding isn't just about jumping higher than your opponent.  Last night especially it seemed to me like he was more content with just trying to out jump his man, rather than trying to box him out first.  That's probably nitpicking on a night where he had 7 rebounds in 20 minutes, but I think there were a few more he could've snagged if he had used better form.
  • One of things that the Wizards did well when Shaq was out of the game was get to the free throw line.  During the 11 minutes that Shaq was on the bench, the Wizards shot 12 free throws.  Give credit to the team for recognizing that the lane was penetrable.
  • Blake Griffin also had 7 turnovers last night, but let's not focus on that.
  • My TV is pretty small, so I could be wrong on this, but I'm pretty sure there was a play in the 4th Quarter where Steve Nash set a pick on Antawn Jamison.  That just can't happen.
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