Brendan Haywood, better at guarding a shooting guard than a point guard.
(Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Tonight's game played almost to almost the exact opposite script that every other game this preseason had. To this point, the highlights all seemed to be coming from the team's young core of Blatche, McGuire, Young, and Pecherov but tonight it was all about the stars. Arenas, Jamison, and Butler all had double digit scoring outputs tonight. The most impressive outing tonight belonged to Arenas who finally got on track putting up 19 points. Antawn Jamison went for dozen and Caron lit it up from the stripe.
Meanwhile, the Wizards' young core was less impressive than they had been in their previous outings. Andray Blatche really struggled tonight going 3 of 9 from the field and 2 of 8 at the free throw line. Nick Young and Dominic McGuire were both decent tonight. Nick struggled early but hit some nice shots down the stretch to keep it competitive at the end. McGuire put up solid numbers (4 pts. 3 ast. 5 reb.) but also picked up 4 fouls in only 15 minutes of play.
The other disturbing reversal of trend involved the Wizards' defense. Josh Smith and Marvin Williams lit up tonight as they both went for 24 points. Smith also chipped in 11 boards, 6 assists, and 4 blocked shots. All in all, the Hawks ended up shooting 46.8% from the field, the highest percentage given up by the Wizards this preseason. Of course, it helps that the Hawks played Smith, Williams, Horford, and Childress over 30 minutes each so it might have been too much to ask for the backups to really play lockdown D against against a team using their starters like it was a regular season game, even if it is the Hawks.
If you're looking for an optimism and the positives out of tonight's game I'd point to veterans putting together their best performance of the preseason, which is the most important thing at this point. You don't want to burn your starters out before the season starts but you do want to see them get into a rhythm before the season starts and I think they did that tonight. DeShawn's struggles (3 points in 21 minutes) still concern me, but I think he'll work his way out of that soon enough. If he doesn't, at least he can rest knowing his credit card is safe.