For whatever reason everything about the Wizards' performance was cold. The team's shooting was frigid (although their field goal percentage was higher than Detroit's). Players were freezing each other out on offense; only four players registered assists. Flip Saunders got a rather icy reception from the Detroit, where he used to coach. Then there was Gilbert Arenas, who complained about the building being cold and never seemed to thaw out on the hardwood.
As we get closer and closer to the 20-25 games that Flip Saunders predicted it would take for the team to get used to the new system, it looks like the team is closer to being stuck in a deep freeze than setting the league ablaze. Hopefully some hot cocoa and some nice, cozy sweaters are just what the Wizards need to heat things up again.
For Jamison, it was a matter of not being able to find the bottom of the basket. The Wizards captain only shot four of 14 from the field including a measly one of five from three and an uninspired four of seven from the charity stripe. Jamison registered no assists and only two rebounds in his second worst effort since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss much of the start of the season. Arenas on the other hand only took nine shots from the field, and was three of five from inside the ark, while shooting o-for-four from three. Arenas only got to the line two times on the night.
Earl Boykins had eight points in the fourth quarter, but the Wizards still lacked offensive flow. As in the other three quarters, there were far too many one-on-one plays. Here's a stat for you: Arenas had nine assists. His fellow starters combined for . . . . ZERO. Butler, Jamison, Haywood and Young (who didn't play much because Flip said he wasn't where he was supposed to be on a few early plays) instead combined for eight turnovers. Butler said the lack of assists weren't because of a lack of effort. He said "guys did some wonderful things out there tonight. ... The effort was there." Um, I didn't see much wonderful out there tonight. And the effort? Well, it was in spots, but not from everyone.
A small crowd at the arena greeted Saunders mostly with silence. But as the game carried on, one Pistons fan behind the Washington Wizards' bench started heckling him.
"Hey Flip, you grooming Sam Cassell?" the fan shouted. "Michael Curry replaced you after one year as an assistant!"
"How'd that work out?" Saunders replied.
Yesterday's game was a homecoming for coach Flip Saunders, who was let go as Pistons coach in 2008, despite winning two straight Eastern Conference championships. Suffice it to say, his charges didn't really give a the kind of effort which would have made his former employers regretful.
Unlike Friday’s loss to the Raptors, energy to start the game was not the issue for the Wizards. They were active on defense early, but struggled to develop any rhythm on offense, turning to Earl Boykins midway through the first quarter in a quest for some consistency. "Right now the guy that has been the savior for us has been Earl," said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. "He has been keeping us in games and getting us back in games." Boykins scored 10 of his 18 points in the first half. In addition, Randy Foye scored 6 of his 12 points in the second quarter to help the Wizards shave a 12-point deficit down to three with a 52-49 halftime score.
The Wizards had one more run left in them. Brendan Haywood's layup with 3:49 left pulled his team within 85-84. But from there the Wizards missed five straight shots and turned the ball over two times over the next 2 1/2 minutes. For the final gaffe, Arenas - who took only nine shots all game and finished with eight points and nine assists - drove the lane and tried to send a pass to the other side of the court. But Ben Wallace plucked the ball out of the air with both hands.
The Wizards seemed to move closer to the goal after winning four of five games. But these past two losses have proven that the Wizards just are not a good team right now. They have the talent -- or at least the names -- but they still appear to be dealing with a prolonged feeling-out process. Players don't seem to understand their roles or to be willing to accept whatever Saunders is asking of them. You have to wonder when -- or if -- it's going to click.
TWO CENTS WORTH: Antawn Jamison had plenty to say to the referees and Kuester early about how he was being defended by Jason Maxiell. Jamison and Kuester are North Carolina grads.
It's unfortunate the odds of the Detroit Pistons meeting the Washington Wizards in the playoffs this season are astronomical. Based on the two competitive games the teams have played this season, I can't help but imagine it would be a fantasic seven-game series.
As for Stuckey’s game against Washington, he was great. Hot early, and had in not been for early foul trouble he would have led the Pistons by more than just 25 points. Stuck went 9-for-18 with 2 assists, 4 boards a steal, 3 turnovers and some clutch shots down the wire when the Wizards were gaining ground.
In fact, you could make a strong argument that three of the bench players (Gordon, Villanueva, and Will Bynum) should be regular starters (at least while Rip and Tayshaun are out). And so it shouldn't come as a surprise that these three, with a little help from their bench friends, combined to score more points than the starters tonight against the Wizards, 55-44. With Ben Gordon still somewhat nursing that ankle injury he suffered two weeks ago against the Cavs, someone else had to step up and fill the spotlight, though. That was the Pistons' 1st round pick, Austin Daye.
Best of Twitterville
Twitter / Agent Dagger
Through the first half, Arenas has an asst/to ratio of 6-0, the rest of the #Wizards starters are at 0-5
Twitter / wizznutzz
oops, sorry. just find out that's Charlie Villaneuva RT @wzzntzz: when did Rip start suffering from alopecia???
Twitter / Mike Prada
I'm tired of fourth-quarter Boykins. Takes ball away from the good players (Gil, Caron) and doesn't let you put in another shooter.
Twitter / Michael Lee
Can this game end already. These refs a making us wait with all this confusion over Arenas's foul. Finally, it's a wrap. Wiz lose 98-94.
Twitter / Mike Jones
Flip: "We held them to a low FG% and turnovers again killed us tonight in the first half. We just aren't getting that overall consistency."
Twitter / Truth_About_It
My heart is now as dark as Dan Snyder's. The Wizards suck & I'm beginning 2 succumb 2 the fact they need 2 trade & rebuild. Major FML.
Twitter / Kevin Cheng
Still fuming over the game. Can't believe we lost. They didn't even have half their starters playing! Ugh. #wizards
Twitter / Jason
Man, what the hell. #redskins ruin my upcoming work week and now the #wizards have just blown the hell out of me.
Twitter / tPFmariah9999
What the hell are Nick Young & Blatche laughing about on the bench??? I don't find this game funny at all! #wizards #NBA
Twitter / Alex Minoff
Is this it? Is this all the #wizards are this year?