I know none of you want to hear about moral victories, but that sounds pretty good right about now. Indiana has lost one game all season, and unlike the Wizards, are not riddled with injuries to core players, but this was a game the Wizards could have at the very least, stayed competitive in. The Pacers shot just 36 percent from the floor and led by 7 at the half, but completely ran away in the second half. The turnovers piled on and the Wizards could not match the Pacers hot shooting, and that was all she wrote in a 93-73 blowout loss on the road.
But despite never leading in this one, there was always that sliver of hope that the Wizards would find a way to scratch and claw their way back into the game. Despite a cold-shooting John Wall, the Wizards stayed in it due to some much-needed production out of the bench and the defense constantly grinding out stops. However, while the Pacers revved up their intensity in the second half, the Wizards coasted, and ultimately couldn't generate any open looks at the basket. Without Nene in the lineup, the Wizards returned to ball watching, standing around, and hoisting up contested mid-range jumpers, as evidenced by their 16:17 assist to turnover ratio.
It's clear that this team can't stay in many ball games with Nene and Bradley Beal out of the lineup, and save for an incredible John Wall performance here and there, this team cannot afford many more performances on offense like tonight.
Here are my game notes:
- It's one thing if you're taking what the defense is giving you, but it's another to completely go away from the shooting mechanics that you've worked so diligently on during the offseason. John Wall continues to struggle from the perimeter in large part due to him searching for his shots rather than letting them grow within the offense. He shot on the way down and rarely squared himself to the basket.
- Pacers ball movement is so impressive. Wizards continuously cheated on the weakside, and Indiana had no problems swinging the ball around. Wall got caught ball watching and was beat backdoor twice, and Temple digged too far down leading to a wide open corner three from Solomon Hill. As a team, the Wizards have cut down these miscues since the start of the season.
- Wizards got some productive minutes out of Trevor Booker. He hedged nicely on a few pick and rolls, and while he did give up the occasional Luis Scola midrange jumper, I think the Wizards will take that over getting beat down low.
- It's really difficult to pinpoint one specific thing keeping Wall from attacking the paint. Sure, seeing a defensive player of the year contender in Roy Hibbert down low will sway anyone from attacking the basket, but the way the Pacers attacked the pick and roll was equally as important. Generally teams would go under Wall screens, but the Pacers implemented a soft ICE strategy which required the guard defender to fight over the top of the screen while the big slides over to stop Wall from penetrating. The lack of off-ball movement from the wings ultimately doomed the offense as John was forced to give up the ball quicker than he's accustomed to.
- Say what you want about Indiana's defense, but there was absolutely no excuse for a team built on scoring in transition to log zero fastbreak points. Just too many bobbled passes and poor decisions.