I'm going to lead with the quotes tonight, because I think they speak for themselves:
John Wall after the loss to Phoenix:
"You can say as much as you can or get them the ball to score. But they're grown men and they make their own decisions."
"You can lead them as much as you can. I think I'm doing a great job of getting their trust...not force ourselves to be a hero."
Andray Blatche on hero ball:
Everybody trying to put the team on their shoulders and that's not the type of team we are. We don't have no person including myself that's a Kobe Bryant or Dwayne Wade that can demand the ball in iso and carry this team.
And let's get a full helping of Flip
Speaking with Kyle and Rashad from Truthaboutit after the game, the one thing that we could agree on was that this game had so many narratives that it was almost impossible to boil it down to an "angle" for anyone to digest. So many things went wrong in the game. The most "noise" surrounding the game was the team once again collapsing in the third quarter of the game, which has become a troubling tradition with the Wizards.
Andray Blatche on 3rd Quarter Collapse:
I think we come in at halftime and we just forget what works for us. We did it to our own selves in the third quarter. They did nothing different in the second half that they did in the first...Besides that they did nothing different.
Both Blatche and Coach Flip Saunders pointed to the fact that the only real difference which separated the teams in the second half was the shooting of Channing Frye who set a personal record of seven three point shots made in a game. However, the issues went far deeper in this game than allowing the Phoenix PF to explode from the perimeter. Those issues?
- JaVale McGee - McGee isn't listed first because he was biggest dud on the Wizards tonight, but he was certainly the member of the team called out the most during postgame. Flip Saunders once again criticized his errant center, stating that McGee didn't have "good energy" and getting exploited by Phoenix's pick and roll. Blatche too leveled a veiled criticism at McGee, stating that Frye was open because he had to help McGee on the pick and roll.
- Body language - As things fell apart during the third quarter, the body language of the Wizards became progressively worse. Most notable was Nick Young, who began to hang his head become listless on the offensive end and defensive end. Now the fact that Young only got four shots in the second half is something to grouse about. But Young isn't going to be guarded by the incandescent Vince Carter every quarter and adjustments need to made to either free him up on the catch and shoot or exploit other matchups.
- ZONE!!? - I have no words for why the Wizards decided to go to the zone in the third quarter. Blatche stated that the Wizards went to the zone in order to prevent Phoenix from getting into the paint. I think it was an attempt by the Wizards to see just how much havoc Nash and Dragic could wreak in five minutes.
- Conditioning - Saunders mentioned that three players, including John Wall, asked to be taken out during the 1st quarter due to the pace of the Suns. Please note that we are halfway through the season.
- Playing time - If Rashard Lewis is injured, why is he playing nearly 40 minutes? That said, if McGee was being taught a lesson by being benched for the entire second half, why did Blatche continue to log heavy minutes in the fourth quarter? At that point, Blatche's court vision had become so myopic that once he went into his iso moveset, he appeared completely unable to continue moving the ball. It was like being trapped in a bad video game cut-scene, you kept waiting for Blatche to identify an open Nick Young only to watch another contested 17 footer get hoisted up.
- Roster construction - John Wall was obviously frustrated after the game that some of his nicer passes were not finished off properly. He even made mention of the fact that he "should have finished the half with around 15 assists." But can you really blame Al Thornton? Al Thornton is Al Thornton. His chances of hitting those jumpers hovers somewhere south of 50%. The problem with this team is that it relies on Al Thornton, Yi Jianlian, et al. to consistently hit jumpers. That's just not going to happen. The number one priority on the team's off-season wish list is solve it's perimeter shooting issue. Big men be damned.
- Coaching - I don't know what is being said at halftime, but it might be time to adjust the script. This team is coming out listless and downright uninspired in the third quarter of every game. Maybe the speech at halftime is too technical. Maybe it's too rah-rah. Maybe they need to show that National Geographic video on repeat. But something needs to be changed up.
Tomorrow is Boston. It's another day and another chance to show development. But time is running out on the Wizards. Tomorrow marks the halfway point and if they don't begin to show some signs of life then hard questions are going to have to be asked.