The Wizards offense did exactly what the Pacers defense wanted them to. With Roy Hibbert lurking in the paint, they jacked up long-two after long-two, and the results were just as you'd expect. The offense shot just 32 percent from the field, and endured far too many one-and-done possessions. John Wall and Bradley Beal combined to shoot 10-28 from the floor, and the team had just 18 points in the paint. The Pacers didn't do anything extraordinary -- Paul George had probably his worst game of the season -- but it was simply a case of out-working and out-executing a mediocre team. In the end, the Wizards suffered a 93-66 loss.
This was frustrating. It's frustrating not because the Wizards lost on the road to a team that's now 18-1 at home and sits atop of the Eastern Conference; it's that once again, they got manhandled by yet another team over .500. Counting tonight's loss, the Wizards are 1-12 against teams over .500. The Wizards embody the exact definition of a mediocre team up to this point: they beat on inferior teams, but stand no chance against true playoff contenders.
The Wizards turned in one of the more dull first halves you'll ever witness this season. Their field goal percentage hovered around 30 percent, and they took more midrange jumpers than I wanted to count. Pacers zoned in on John Wall as they had done in their previous meeting with Washington, and there were at least three defenders eyeing him down as he came off screens. The other four starters weren't any better, the off-ball movement was almost non-existent, and the Wizards could not make the Pacers pay for over-playing on Wall.
But on a night where Paul George shot just 2-14 from the floor, the Wizards could not do the small things to keep the game competitive. They were atrocious from the free-throw line, going just 9-23, and wasted a rare effort from Marcin Gortat to keep Roy Hibbert off the boards. They were out-rebounded 61-41, largely due to both Lance Stephenson and Paul George crashing the glass while wings carelessly made their way back up the court.
The second half was more of the same. More contested jumpers, no semblance of ball movement to speak of (just 13 assists on 25 field goals made), and even more missed free throws. These were the type of games last year that the Wizards got up for, but this season, it just hasn't been the case.
Tomorrow night is another chance to pick up a win over a .500 team. Let's see how the team responds after tonight's dreadful effort.
Here are my game notes:
- First shot at the rim came at the 5:39 mark of the first quarter.
- I understand wanting to run the second unit through Nene, but these post-ups shouldn't be occurring so frequently. I suppose it's due to the lack of a great ball handler, but stationing him at the elbows has always been the more effective option. He threw a gorgeous backdoor pass to Otto Porter from the weakside elbow at around the 7:00 mark of the second quarter.
- Gortat played yet another great game on the defensive end. He really did his part on Roy Hibbert, boxing him out, pushing him off the low-block, and rotating over to contest a few Paul George drives. The problem is, no one accounted for Lance Stephenson crashing the glass.
- And speaking of Lance Stephenson, he had his way the entire night. He missed a few layups, but constantly beat Beal off the dribble and took advantage of Washington's lazy transition D.
- Wall got killed roaming off his man trying to gamble for steals. He gave up three wide open threes, two to CJ Watson, and one to George Hill.