1 2 3 4 OT
Kings 19 37 27 43 7
Wiz 38 16 40 32 10
Has everyone collected their thoughts yet from last night? Yes? Good, then let us begin.
I led off last night with a post on Nick Young, because when all is said and done, a win is a win and Nick Young deserves the spotlight for his remarkable shooting performance. (Although, after the third made three you wonder why the Kings decided that guarding him wasn't an option.) Yes, today on the blogosphere you will read about how Young is still a limited player who can't pass to save his life. You will also read about how Young held onto the ball too long and went out of bounds in the waning seconds of regular time, allowing the Kings a chance back into the game. But Young went for 43 last night and his performance should be lauded. The rest of the team, well that is another matter.
But we are rather biased here at BF towards our Wizards so I want to provide a an outsider's perspective from Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie. Dwyer captures my feeling towards the game in two paragraphs better than I could in ten:
This was such bad basketball. Terrible basketball. If you were around for it while quoting various blogosphere types, you might think that I'm just keeping with the status quo, repeating the meme, echoing the populist thoughts of those who deigned to watch and/or mock this mess, but it really was bad. The Wizards got out to a huge lead that they eventually blew, before taking to another big-enough lead that they gave up just before the end of regulation. Without the Kings actually doing much to come back.
Washington dominated the offensive glass, but one of my more prominent memories walking away from this game was the way Washington (despite starting three big-ish types in Javale McGee, Andray Blatche, and Rashard Lewi gave such poor effort on the defensive glass as McGee fruitlessly chased every potential blocked shot. And yet, all three of those guys finished with double figure rebounds. It was that strange a night.
Dwyer has no horses in this race, so before you accuse him of bias remember that he is first and foremost a fan of the NBA. Games like last night actually have little to do with how professional basketball is played and more to do with which team made fewer mistakes. The highlight of the game as far as the Wizards defensive effort was when Pooh Jeter drove uncontested through the Wizards to make a layup over John Wall to tie the game and send it into overtime. A lot of the criticism in the comments focused on John Wall's defensive effort during that possession, but where were the Wizard's bigs? Pooh Jeter is about 5"8 in sneakers and he should never be getting layups up the rim with almost no time left on the clock.
Further damning are Flip Saunders pregame comments. Flip didn't have much to say prior to the game, but the one statement he released stuck with me after the game ended. "Bad teams, Saunder stated, tend to have really good offensive rebounding stats."
To put it in further perspective, the Kings had 64 points in the paint. This is amazing considering that Demarcus Cousins couldn't hit the ocean all night and displayed a shot selection that would make even those critical of Andray Blatche blush. Now in the gamethread I warned that the Kings, while bad, had an array of forwards capable of getting after the ball and getting cheap buckets. Instead of tightening up in the 4th, the Wizards became a defensive seive, allowing Carl Landry just about anything he wanted inside. 43 points allowed. More than the Wizards achieved in their 1st quarter explosion or Nick Young's remarkable 3rd.
And fouling on three points attempt? How many more times do we have to see this play out throughout the year? In the postgame, Saunders was asked about Cartier Martin's foul on Francisco Garcia to allow three FT attempts. Flip's response:
The first thing we said coming out the timeout is that you don't foul the three point shooter. I mean, I learned that back in 5th grade....You just don't do it. Don't put yourself in that situation.
To close, the Wizards margin of victory came from the amount of technical FTs they shot throughout the night. This may be damning with faint praise, but at least our team appears to actively working towards making itself better and improving on a nightly basis. The Kings seem lost and angry, constantly woofing at the zebras and opposing players. You would think from the way they reacted to every call that they were Miami or Boston, not the worst team in the NBA.
No one said that learning to win would be easy. To their credit, every Wizard player interviewed after the game repeated the same thoughts, that they were determined that last night was not going to turn into "another Miami." But to properly build upon last night the Wizards need to take a good look in the mirror and decide what type of team they want to become. Do they want beat bad teams because their personnel is slightly better than their opponents? Or do they want to commit doing the things they need to do to close out games and put the outcome out of reach?
Thursday's game against Minnesota represents the opportunity to not only end the road jinx, but to build upon the lessons learned last night. Run the offense, commit to defense, and you can beat the bad teams in the NBA. Do neither and you end up on a roller coaster like last night.