The Wizards pushed this one about as far as they could until the wheels came off in the fourth quarter of a 102-84 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Fatigue, lack of execution and a night of getting dinged up finally proved to be too much for the team on the night. However, the key word is that previous sentence is "team." For the third consecutive night the Wizards played like a cohesive unit, and while I wouldn't say they were a mid-tier team as of yet, they are approaching a point where they have a puncher's chance in most games.
The good news is that these type of games move us out of the spotlight as the laughingstock of the league and allow the team to develop out of the spotlight of the mainstream media and derision of national pundits. Maybe everyone can focus on the Pistons for a bit and allow JaVale to develop his post game in peace and quiet.
Mike related this to me and I thought I would pass it along: the Clippers really take on the personality of Chris Paul, who is Isiah Thomas-like is his ability to needle opponents. The rest of of the Clippers take on CP3's personality, constantly jawing and harassing their opponents, which makes for a chippy and disjointed game. Of course, a team that also employs Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans and Caron Butler doesn't need much more help in the toughness department as there is always an extra little shove or leg waiting for you in the lane.
What this means is the team that executes normally wins, and Chris Paul is the king of executing an offense. The fact that, for the majority of the game, the Wizards were able to fight through that provocation demonstrates a surprising amount of growth under the brief tutelage of Randy Wittman. This was not the same team that rolled over and played dead when the Clippers came to D.C., and I think the Clippers were annoyed that the Wizards put up so much resistance on the second game of a back to back.
Ultimately, though, a little more resolve is needed. That fourth quarter was ugly. Some additional notes:
- JaVale McGee has really turned it on the last few games. The play that everyone will remember will be him busting DeAndre Jordan's nose on a block, but he defensive positioning and hustle were incredible tonight. It will be interesting to see if the asthma medication revelation turns out to be key to his development, because since that point he has been the McGee that everyone expected at the outset of this year.
- Trevor Booker played Blake Griffin about as close as you are allowed to within the confines of the NBA star system. He forced Blake out to 10-12 feet and allowed Griffin to settle for his less than reliable jumpshot. Unfortunately, he also picked up some pretty ticky-tack fouls, which had him sitting during a crucial period of the game.
- The Clippers will bump you and bump you until they break you out of any offensive pattern. The fourth quarter was a sloppy mess, with the Wizards failing to execute any sort of organized offense. Wittman took several well timed timeouts, but Wall and the others starters were visibly exhausted as the game entered its waning moments.
- The Wizards front line (with the exception of McGee) was manhandled by the Clippers tonight. On a night where the Wizards desperately needed Jan Vesely, he picked up too many cheap fouls on Blake Griffin and Co. This lead to entirely too much Kevin Seraphin and Rashard Lewis, the former who was outmatched, and the latter who had no legs.
- Shooting guard is going to be a problem going forward, as its impossible to set a punishment/reward system for two guys who always look for their own shot. Wittman was forced to keep Nick Young in the game in the hopes that a some point he would get going, which never happened. Jordan Crawford came out hot and then everything descended into hero ball. Without a viable third option, Wittman has no way to discipline either player in game for the mistakes that were made.
- I always liked Randy Foye. So there.
That's all for tonight. I will see you all tomorrow.