Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
The Wizards couldn't overcome another brutal first half, falling to the Pistons, 96-87. Washington is now 3-22 on the season.
WASHINGTON -- Well, here we are again, folks. Another game against a subpar team in which the Wizards never sniffed a lead. Another game where the Wizards tried their damndest and still couldn't put the ball in the basket early. Another loss, this time by a 96-87 score to the Detroit Pistons, the second straight defeat to the same time.
This game mirrored Friday night's game in the first half, and only a gimmicky defense unleashed in the second half made this thing respectable. There are no silver linings.
And, yeah, that's about it. To the notes.
- There were too many issues with cross-matches in transition early on. Bradley Beal and Martell Webster got crossed up on one play, allowing Kyle Singler an open three he luckily missed. On another, Nene got caught well behind Jason Maxiell trying to post up, and luckily Maxiell fumbled it away. But on another, Brandon Knight sped by the defense and got a layup. He missed, but Greg Monroe was wide open to get the putback.
- The early offensive gameplan was clearly to get the ball to Nene, and he had plenty of chances to convert on those plays. He just missed layups and open jumpers. Much in the same way any offensive system falls apart without ball movement and hard cuts, so to doe any hard cuts and ball movement prove fruitless if the plays aren't converted.
- Tonight's futile offensive start was nothing like last night's futile offensive start. Last night, the Wizards couldn't create any decent looks. Tonight, they had decent looks, but just missed them. The latter is far more depressing.
- Knight was consistently too quick for Crawford off the dribble. His drives came in transition and off pindown action, so you can't really blame a big man for not stepping up. Crawford just has to do better.
- The regression of Kevin Seraphin continues. Two fadeaways and a missed wide open dunk in his first few minutes. He's playing like he's scared to fail.
- Too many players on this team lack the confidence to play through missed shots. There's really no other explanation.
- Given that Cartier Martin can actually sometimes hit some shots, he should probably play more.
- Jan Vesely gave the Wizards a little big of activity when he came in. I liked how his basket cut freed Martin for an open three early in the first quarter. That's the way Vesely can be a factor offensively.
- Beal continues to aim on all of his shots instead of shooting with confidence. That's why his percentage is lower than it should be.
- Rodney Stuckey is a really tough matchup for any bench player, but he's especially tough for Shaun Livingston. Livingston just doesn't have the lateral foot speed to stay with him or any other quick guards.
- How Jan Vesely allowed CHARLIE VILLANUEVA to catch a backdoor lob pass is beyond me.
- The Wizards have never valued players who can hit three-pointers in transition. The Pistons just sliced them up with three such plays to take a 17-point lead.
- Well, at least Beal seemed a little more confident. I like him pulling up because it's a motion that doesn't require much thought. You're already running full speed, so there isn't much time to think about other options on the floor.
- Andre Drummond dominated Seraphin for the second straight night. On one offensive rebound, Drummond gave Seraphin a little bump and pushed Seraphin back a few feet for a layup.
- Nene keeps coming up short on layups. I would think that's the injury still affecting him.
- Emeka Okafor is not fast enough to cover Greg Monroe. Okafor defended one pick and roll decently, but as he closed out on Monroe, he failed to cut off Monroe's strong left hand. Monroe needed just one dribble to get to the rim for a layup. That's a veteran displaying poor defensive fundamentals.
- I don't like the way Beal moped in the corner for a few seconds after a missed layup instead of getting back on defense. I initially thought he was hurt, but he looked fine once he pulled his head out of his hands. That's the kind of stuff that drives coaches mad with young players.
- Very few players in the league are better than Okafor at meeting guys right at the rim to block shots. If that was all that was required on defense, he'd be elite.
- In all seriousness, Okafor's effort defensively was pretty solid, and it did spark the Wizards a bit. Another thing that sparked them: this three-quarter court trap they put on after free throws. The Pistons' offensive rhythm was completely disrupted and their floor balance was all out of sorts. That allowed the Wizards to get some turnovers and transition opportunities.
- The Pistons definitely played into the Wizards' hands by not attacking the trap once it was beaten. By waiting to start their half-court offense, Detroit played right into Washington's hands.
- There appeared to be some interesting guard-guard screen action going on in some of these second-half sets. Crawford zipped by everyone for a layup to cut the lead to six when Martin screened for him. The Pistons didn't communicate a switch in time, and Crawford got daylight. Nice little wrinkle by Randy Wittman.
- Of course, the 3/4-court trap only works for so long. Eventually, the Pistons became more aggressive in attacking it, and they were able to rebuild a double-digit lead.
- The Wizards missed a ton of free throws tonight. I'm going to predict that Wittman harps on this in the postgame press conference.
- It was good to see Beal continue to be aggressive. You could argue that runner he took at the end of the third quarter was a bad shot, but as usual in his case, it's better to be aggressive and miss than be passive and not shoot.
- The Pistons kept killing the Wizards with two-man action between Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva. Asking Beal to stick with Stuckey when Villanueva is playing this well is a tough assignment. Nene could never trap hard because he had to attend to Villanueva, which forced Beal to use a lot of energy staying with Stuckey. On one play, Beal and Nene lazily switched, and Villanueva ended up with a layup on a lob pass after some ball rotation.
- You have to credit the Wizards for trying to attack the basket in the fourth quarter, but straight-line drives out of the flow of the offense are not a sustainable strategy. Then again, what is with this offense?
- The Wizards found a bit of success once they went back to the 3/4-court trap. That helped open up the game again, and given how poorly this team scores in the halfcourt offense, it's a good change-of-pace.
- An absolute killer: Emeka Okafor standing, watching and failing to corral a critical defensive rebound after an excellent defensive possession forced a bad Kyle Singler shot. Okafor has been absolutely brutal at boxing out all season. This play eventually led to a foul and two free throws and it stifled a Wizards run.
- This game was absolutely lost in the first half, not the second. I don't want to read about yet another game where the Wizards failed to execute down the stretch. That said ... the Wizards also failed to execute down the stretch.