With 2:48 left to go in the game, Eddie Jordan decided to take Brendan Haywood out. Normally, I would have jumped all over Eddie for this decision, but after a strong first three quarters, Brendan had faltered a bit in the fourth, allowing David Harrison (who?) to do whatever he wanted on the offensive glass. So while I don't think it's wise to get rid of your best defender, I sort of understand where Eddie was coming from.
It was when he came back with Darius Songaila, though, that makes me think nothing is going to change. From that point on, Songaila was a total nonfactor in the game. He missed both his shots (one of which didn't really count because it was at the end of overtime), didn't grab a rebound, committed two fouls, and generally wasted space out there. Meanwhile, Andray Blatche, the guy who this organization has invested in so much, lounged on the bench, with nary a thought of putting him in.
Look, I understand that Blatche is very inconsistent, but you just don't put a lineup in at the game that has no rebounders. What exactly is the purpose of playing Songaila when the game is on the line. If it's offense you're looking for, then that's why you play Antonio Daniels with Gilbert Arenas. If you're looking for rebounding, go elsewhere. If you're looking for someone to screen for Gilbert, you have Antawn Jamison and even Blatche. If you're looking for a defender, well, obviously you look elsewhere. It just seems like Songaila is on the floor because of his "intangibles," and, quite simply, that crap isn't going to fly.
I thought this issue was done without Jarvis Hayes and Michael Ruffin, Eddie's "pets," but yesterday gave me very little hope in that regard. Either Blatche or Haywood has to be on the court at the end of the game. Enough Songaila.
This wasn't the only reason the game was lost, to be fair. After three encouraging quarters, the defense stunk in the fourth. There was too much sagging in the paint and too much of Brendan Haywood trying to hedge on screens, and that led to penetration and open three pointers. That's on the players, not Eddie Jordan. Offensively, it was a mess, with way too many quick contested jumpers and too little of the Princeton offense. Those problems scare me, and I always preach that you don't lose a game in the final minutes of play. But this game could have been won, despite all that, if Eddie Jordan stopped resorting to Songaila-ball at the end.
Other assorted thoughts:
- Mostly liked Gilbert's game last night, though there were far too many times he had tunnel vision and didn't run the offense. He also stunk in the fourth quarter against Jamaal Tinsley, but that's to be expected. Overall, he wasn't why we lost.
- Antawn Jamison ended up with very good numbers, but I think he had a very bad game. Too many quick shots, and not enough running the offense like Gilbert. Gilbert's not the only one who sabotages the Princeton.
- Brendan Haywood's line looked good, but a lot of it was fools gold. We know he can board on the offensive glass, it's on the defensive boards that he struggles. Last night did little to change that.
- Overall, the ball distribution was really bad. Gilbert and Antawn absolutely must find run the offense and give other guys their open looks. This isn't going to work if every possession is ending in a Gil or Jamison contested 20-footer.
It's still one game, so things can definitely turn around, but last night was not encouraging in any way. Get ready for another rollercoaster of a season, folks.