What a horrible meltdown. This team, this franchise, just has a way of kicking you in the pants after they start to get some positive momentum going.
The Wizards lost to the Charlotte Bobcats on the road, 119-114. They did so by surrendering a 12-0 run after it looked like they had seized control of the game. They did so thanks to a return of the John Wall that stinks at the end of games and some of the worst defense you'll ever see an NBA team play.
Let's try to recap. It looked like the Wizards would finally pull away after Wall found Trevor Booker on an alleyoop to give them a five-point lead with just over three minutes remaining, but as had been the custom all game, they couldn't keep their momentum. Kemba Walker got an easy layup on a blown pick and roll coverage to cut the lead to three, and Wall committed a turnover on the ensuing possession. Ben Gordon then tied the game with a three off another blown pick and roll coverage, and Wall responded with a missed layup, leading to a bank shot for Walker.
And that was just the beginning. Wall followed that sequence by committing an offensive foul trying to drive on Walker. It wasn't the best call in the world, but Wall got impatient even trying to attack. Walker scored again on the other end, and the Wizards committed yet another baffling turnover after that on a misconnection on the inbounds pass. Gerald Henderson put home the dagger after Booker decided to guard air in the lane instead of getting out on him, and that did it.
Making matters worse, the Wizards decided not to bother fouling down just five with 20 seconds left. What the heck was that about?
Just discouraging. Former coach Flip Saunders used to say that the basketball gods have a way of making you pay for not playing the right way, and that's exactly what happened tonight. A team this good defensively should not give up 63 first-half points and 94 after three quarters to the Bobcats, but somehow, it happened. The defensive identity that Randy Wittman has built all year was suddenly forgotten. And why? Because this was the Bobcats and the Wizards are too cool to take a bottom-feeder like this seriously? No team has earned that right, much less the Wizards.
I also need to question Wittman's decision to leave Booker in down the stretch. Foul trouble and the Bobcats' small lineup prevented Wittman from playing Nene and Emeka Okafor together, but why was Booker the man in there instead of Chris Singleton or a small lineup? Booker was completely lost on multiple pick and roll coverages, hedging poorly and constantly failing to contain Walker down the stretch. Popular sentiment will blame Wall for Walker's outburst at the end, but Booker is the real culprit. It's not like he helps offensively either, so why was he in there?
I thought this team was past these kinds of performances. Apparently not.