Yes the Wizards were sloppy, they had 22 turnovers and committed 32 personal fouls which enabled the Bucks to take 43 attempts at the foul line. They also fell back into the old habit of relying much too often on ill-advised jumpers. The Wizards put up 84 shots, 19 from beyond the 3 pt line, but managed only 22 foul shots - evidence of a team who is relying much too heavily on its jump-shot rather than driving to the basket. A fact acknowledged by Flip Saunders who said this:
"Our bigs are basically trying to play too much perimeter. That's something we have got to clean up. We got to have a thrust inside. They keep on popping out, popping out. That just isn't going to work. We got to have more of a presence in the paint."
The lack of a presence in the paint translated into lower percentage shots and fewer free throw attempts. And the problem was further exacerbated by a frigid night at the foul line as the Wizards made only 50% of their free throw attempts (11/22). And on a night when the game was decided by 8 points, a poor night at the line, can and did make a significant impact on the game.
Following the game, Flip criticized the team for playing selfish basketball. He talked about how the ball would "stick" as opposed to being swung to an open man. However, Andray Blatche seemed to bristle a little when asked if members of the team played selfishly, instead he suggested the issue was more about team chemistry.
"None of the players on this team are selfish players, we all care about each other and now it's all about time and getting to know each other's game better," said Blatche.
Younger players are bound to be inconsistent, however they appear to be focused on doing what Flip and the coaching staff is asking of them.
"All we want to do is win and do what the coaches are asking of us," JaVale McGee said.
Like Andray Blatche, McGee seemed to attribute the team's struggles to chemistry even though he has seen progress on this front.
"We are all still learning off of each other and we're all going to change in order to fit the system," said McGee. He finished by saying that, "I see our chemistry coming along really well."
However, all of the problems that the team experienced in this game can't be laid only at the feet of selfish play or the big men. The Wizards guards have to share in the blame, especially since they can control where on the floor a big man receives the ball. On more than a few occasions the Wizards guards missed opportunities to get a Wizards big man the ball in the post, only to pass the big man the ball on the perimeter. On a game like today when the jumper is not consistently falling, it is best to get Blatche and Yi the ball in the post. Both players are confident in their jumper and passing them the ball on the perimeter is an open invitation to take the shot. If the goal is to get them to score in the paint, then the guards have to focus on getting them the ball in scoring position in the paint.
Here are some other thoughts and observations:
There were some positives that we can take from this game. The Wizards had a slight lead in rebounding (46 vs 42), assists (19 vs 17), blocked shots (10 vs 8) and defensively they held the Bucks to 12.5% shooting from beyond the three point line.
Gilbert Arenas had an interesting 3:01. While he did not score, he clearly made an impact before he left with a mild groin strain. His final line was 0 points, 1 blocked shot, 3 steals, 1 assist, 1 rebound, 1 turnover and 1 personal foul.
I am not sure if Adam Morrison will make the final roster, however he is becoming a little to Mike Miller-like for my taste. On more than a few occasions, he passed up open jumpers in favor of swinging the ball.
Hilton Armstrong saw his first action in a couple of games. And while his stats will not jump off the page at you, it is clear that he is more physical in the post than JaVale, but he also does many of the small things that go unnoticed.
Curious in their absence tonight, particularly in the fourth quarter were Kevin Seraphin and Hamady N'Diaye.
The Wizards announced just prior to the game that they waived rookie Forward Kevin Palmer.
Lastly, there appeared to be a significant increase in the number of media types at the game today. Hmmm, I wonder how much of that had to do with Gilbert Arenas? However, Flip Saunders said prior to the game that he was not discussing that any further, the team has moved on.