If you don't know the steps to the dance, don't worry, it's easy to learn.
Step 1: Take one big step forward.
Step 2: Take two massive steps backward.
Step 3: Take your pointer finger and point at someone on the team who isn't doing the dance right.
Step 4: Ignore the fact that three fingers are pointing back at you every time you point at someone.
That's the whole dance. If you can master it, you'll fit in on the Wizards just fine.
After arguably their best win of the year in Miami on Friday, the Wizards (5-10) lost by double-digits for the eighth time, on the second night of back-to-back games for the third time in four tries, and matched their lowest scoring output of the year. "We have not proven the ability of preparation on our own, to be able to prepare to go play," said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. "That’s something that was disappointing, and the sense of urgency, we didn’t have a sense of urgency tonight."
The Washington Wizards' fans had hoped to see a performance at least slightly similar to the comeback victory posted Tuesday against Philadelphia or the upset Friday against Dwyane Wade and the Heat in Miami. Instead, the announced 17,311 on hand had to endure a fumbling, listless performance from their hometown team. And rather than hanging around to see the final 92-76 outcome, the fans - after booing off and on, and even heckling the Wizards' players down the stretch - decided to leave. The Wizards entered the game seeking their first three-game winning streak since April 2008 but for most of Saturday looked as if they would rather not be at Verizon Center either.
Where the Wizards go from here is anyone’s guess. The players seem to believe that most problems will be cured with more time and practice. They continuously cite the need for more energy, but no one seems to know how to achieve it. Coach Saunders spoke of his team lacking a sense of urgency. He bit the bullet saying, "We (the coaching staff) didn’t do what we needed to do to get [the team] in the proper [mind] frame to understand how good Charlotte was playing, how hard they play."
Flip Saunders took responsibility for the loss, claiming that he must not be doing something right if his team follows up a brilliant performance in Miami with an absolute stinker. Saunders played all 12 players on his roster, trying odd combinations, to see what would work. Nothing did. In the third quarter, Saunders had a lineup that featured Earl Boykins, Fabricio Oberto, Dominic McGuire, Caron Butler and Andray Blatche -- just the group he surely envisioned having to call on to bail out the team when it fell behind by 22 points in the third period.
Stevenson thinks it's on the reserves. "I think the bench, we gotta find some players," said Stevenson. "Earl [Boykins] is doing a good job. We need somebody to come out, play good defense, rebound. Either Fab [Oberto] or Dom [McGuire], we need somebody to come out and give this team a boost, especially on a back-to-back when starters play their heart out in Miami."
The Wizards shooting woes vs. Charlotte were exemplified by the struggles of captains Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison. The two former All-Stars shot a combined 5 for 20 from the field and each finished with a season low six points. Arenas is still trying to regain his killer instinct and failed to attempt a free throw for the first time this season. Jamison shot 1 for 6 from the three-point line and finished without a rebound for the first time since March of 2005. Coach Flip Saunders referred to this aberration as an example of just how frustrated he is with the team’s energy level.
Washington shoots just under 40 percent from the field and it was clear why, on every pick and roll Charlotte's rotation was there. For every Wizards guard coming off a down screen a Bobcat was locking and trailing, every jumper had a hand in the face, and for every loose ball there seemed to be a Bobcat going after it or gaining possession. Now I'll steal a play from Brett's handbook and talk about some numbers first since we're already talking about defense how about 5-for-20. That's what Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison combined for in this game and while there were some shots they normally make that didn't fall, and give plenty of credit to Boris Diaw and Raymond Felton.
But possibly the weirdest thing of the whole night was that after they got thumped, several members of the team were in the locker room divvying up a bulk order of Lousis Vuitton shoes they had special ordered. I know you've got to move on and just focus on the next opponent, but really? That's just not a good look following a 92-76 loss.
Off the bench JaVale McGee and Dominic McGuire did provide a boost for the Wizards. McGee who has been getting increased playing time finished with 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots. McGuire rekindled his role from a year ago as a defensive stopper in a matchup with Stephen Jackson. In the second half Jackson only took three shots from the field, while McGuire also finished with 6 rebounds.
The Wizards' bench showed signs of life and briefly threatened to make a fourth quarter charge and cut the lead, but the Cats' starters came back in and put a stop to it. As explosive and, for lack of a better term, as Name Brand as Arenas and Jamison are, when they were on the floor, Washington's offense sputtered, but when guys like Dominic McGuire and Fabricio Oberto came on, the offense just seemed to flow a little better. It was a testament to efficiency over volume.
Remember when we said last night that the Wizards needed more cohesive team performances if they were going to get things back on track this season? Well, that didn't mean that the entire team could slack off. Any time an NBA team only scores 76 in a game, you could probably assume that it was an ugly game, and so it was -- especially against Charlotte, who may just be one of the least thrilling teams to ever win four straight games: the Bobcats are second to last in scoring, first in scoring defense.
Charlotte continued its run of outstanding defense. The Bobcats have allowed 100 points just once this season, and the 76 points scored by the Wizards equaled their lowest output of the season. "We defended against a team that can score about as well as we can," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said.
Tonight’s game was masterful. Everything Bobcats fans loved about the team during last season’s late Playoff charge was on full display against the Wiz Saturday night: Fluid ball movement, ball-hawking defense creating turnovers and fast breaks, shutting down the opposing team’s star players, excellent bench contributions, veterans and youngsters looking good. Wow.