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Mind-boggling mistakes down the stretch and earlier in the contest cost the Wizards in an 87-82 loss to the Timberwolves.
No sugarcoating: that was terrible. The Wizards should have defeated a short-handed Timberwolves team. Instead, they fumbled it away literally and figuratively, committing 24 turnovers in an 87-82 loss on the road.
There was a whole serving of WELP at the end of the game. The Wizards cut the Timberwolves' lead to one, but could never get over the hump because of some grade-school-level offense. With Nene and Okafor out there at once, there was no room for John Wall to create anything offensively. That explains why Wall ended up jacking a three with the Wizards down one with just over a minute remaining. No driving lanes were there and he abandoned ship too soon.
But that doesn't explain those two horrible turnovers that Wall committed on the next two possessions. Well, only one was technically a turnover, but they both essentially were all the same. I don't know what's worse: dribbling the ball right into the arms of J.J. Barea 40 feet from the hoop, or trying to shake Ricky Rubio with a crossover that's hip-level and right in front of him. The second didn't result in a turnover, but it did cause Trevor Ariza to dribble into the corner and shoot a fadeaway three that missed by five feet, so it might as well have.
Wall had played pretty decently to that point, but this has to be a wakeup call. His decision-making and ball-handling continues to be suspect, and while the lineup he played with did no favors (where was Nene all game?), those problems are his and his alone to fix.
Ugh. As for the rest of the game...
The first half ended horribly, with the Wizards committing buckets and buckets of turnovers against a horrendous offensive team. Wall himself was pretty efficient, hitting his first five jumpers and generally doing his part. It was everyone else who couldn't seem to get anything easy. Nene, in particular, was disappointing, especially considering he was going againstDerrick Williams. The defense was also a problem, with Wall struggling to close out on Ricky Rubio and the pick and roll coverage yielding open looks for Minnesota's bigs
Things did improve in the third quarter, and the Wizards even took a lead midway through the frame, but mental mistakes continued to be an issue. Wall again flew out at Rubio from behind the line, ceding three free throws. Later, after a long jumper by Nene missed, A.J. Price and Wall didn't communicate, allowing Rubio a straight lane in transition to the basket and a three-point play. A late three by Martell Webster prevented things from devolving too much, though, and the Wizards emerged down by just two, 65-63, after three.
The Wizards' run came early in the fourth. A Price three-pointer following an offensive rebound gave Washington a three-point lead one minute into the fourth, and the run didn't stop until the Timberwolves got bailed out on an apparent shot-clock violation. By that point, the Wizards led by eight. Wall's defensive intensity really rose a notch here, as he strippedLuke Ridnour for one turnover and shot the gap on a passing lane to cause another on the next possession. Why he can't be that good on that end all the time, I don't know. Why he can't maximize his tremendous physical gifts all the time, I'll never know.
Rubio eventually re-entered, though, and the Timberwolves rallied. Fueled by going into the bonus early, the Timberwolves responded. A J.J. Barea three with 5:18 remaining tied the game at 77 and punctuated a 12-4 run. The Wizards responded with Kevin Seraphin. Freed from the doghouse, Seraphin hit a long jumper, drove and hit a jump hook, then blocked Barea's shot to preserve a two-point lead with 4:44 remaining. Seeing as two of those plays are the ones we hate seeing, they made me nervous, but I'll take the result.
Unfortunately, the Timberwolves kept charging. Wall fell asleep on the weakside, surrendering a backdoor cut and a layup for Barea to break the tie. The Wizards' big men committed consecutive turnovers on the next two possessions, as Nene failed to pass the ball out of a double team and Okafor declined to go up off the pick and roll with Ridnour rotating to him, for some reason. The Timberwolves went up four before the Wizards cut things to one, setting up the horrible ending.
- I had initially thought that Wall shot jumpers better going right than left, which is atypical for a right-handed shooter, but he hit shots going both ways in this one. Good to see him fire with confidence.
- I really don't understand why the Wizards were so aggressive in hedging their big man on pick and rolls against Rubio. Rubio has such incredible vision that sending a second defender towards him will just open up someone else that he can pick out. Why not lay back, close all of Rubio's passing lanes and force him to be a scorer? Mystifying.
- I don't like player rotations where the team's best player out there plays 12 minutes straight, then has to sit for stretches midway through the second and fourth quarters where the other team has its starters in.
- This was a perfect game for Chris Singleton to play in. Where was he?
- The Wizards definitely missed Beal, of course, but the Timberwolves didn't have the entire starting frontcourt, plus multiple key reserves. I don't want to hear it.
Ugh. What a bad loss. Vent away in the comments; just be respectful of each other.