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Warriors 135, Wizards 128

Well, that was exactly what we expected.  Two of the best offensive teams, and simultaneously, two of the worst defensive teams, put on an offensive show last night.  Unfortunately, the wrong team won.

This was the best defense played all night (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Westcoastwizard was there, so we might as well start with his thoughts.  (emphasis mine)

[By the way, if your comment is this long, you might as well start a diary.  That way, I can promote it, and you can get credit as the author of the post.]

I was at the game tonite... Overall thoughts about the game ... two teams that play almost no defense. Eddie KILLED them with his lousy substitution patterns. At about 4 minutes left in the 3rd qtr, Wiz had lost the lead, EJ takes out Gilbert and Twan ... puts in a line-up of A Daniels, Songalia, Mason, Hayes, and Ruffin ... Golden State closes out the quarter on a huge run so that Wiz are down by about 12 ... leaves that same lineup in for the first 3-4 minutes of the 4th qtr. Basically, that was the end of the game. This loss is largely on Eddie. I'll be interested in seeing what other folks thought. Where were Etan and Brendan ... we were so obviously out-sized in the 4th. This has to stop! And, where was DeShawn .. almost no 2nd half action. Pitiful!

As to being at the game... great crowd. They were very much into it, especially in the 2nd half. Almost felt like a playoff game. They really keyed on Gilbert (and for some reason DeShawn ... I think the hand in the front of the face made them mad for some reason). Other observations... Much more fun to watch the game in DC ... was pretty out-numbered. Wiz fans (and Gilbert jerseys) were sprinkled around, but very enthusiastic crowd for the Warriors. Especially after they passed out those damn Bam Bams after half time (and I was in that section that got them) ...seemed to send the crowd into a frenzy. Did run into a Wiz fan on the BART on the way home wearing a Jarvis Hayes jersey. I joked to him that he was probably the only guy in the whole state that owned one. He replied that he couldn't afford a Gilbert Arenas jersey. LOL ... disappointing loss all in all in a game that COULD have been won. (Also, Baron Davis is a hell of a player when he's healthy like tonite.... Wiz have a way of making other teams' stars look like Hall of Famers though.) Now best we can hope for is 3-2 ... how'd Miami do tonite??

In less than six minutes tonight, Michael Ruffin was -14.  As much as we'd like to credit Eddie with a phenomenal substitution at the end of the Seattle game, the truth is that was pretty much dumb luck.  Anyone can defend better than Antawn Jamison, including Brendan Haywood and Andray Blatche.  Putting either one of those two into the game would have had a similar effect.

Here's the thing.  Small ball does not equal no-rebounders-ball.  I can't stress that enough.  Darius Songaila had 7 rebounds in 30 minutes.  Andray Blatche had 7 in 16 minutes.  Yet Blatche sat on the bench for the entire fourth quarter, while Songaila played every minute of it.  Songaila played well offensively, but he's a liability in too many other places on the court.  There's a reason why, despite scoring 17 points on 8 of 12 shooting, the Wizards were outscored by 9 points with Songaila on the floor.  Put in Haywood instead, or, if you want to go small, put in Blatche.  Songaila just kills the Wizards defensively and on the glass.

You'll notice I didn't say anything about Jarvis Hayes.  That's because I thought he played really well tonight.  He shot well from the field and at least tried defensively, despite picking up six fouls.  The Wizards were +10 when he was on the court.  If he plays like that every game, I have no problem with him playing 20 minutes every night.  Problem is, those performances are few and far between.

With all this being said, there's a much larger problem here, and it has nothing to do with substitution patterns.  The Wizards proved once again that they desperately need a lock-down defender on the wing.  Golden State was getting to the basket, and there's very little a big guy can do when he constantly has to rotate to pick up the guard penetrating.  Baron Davis and Monta Ellis were getting to the rim at will, and when they weren't scoring, they were dropping it off to Andres Biedrins, who had 24 points mostly on dunks.  For all of Gilbert Arenas' scoring, he is an awful defender that takes shortcuts on screen and rolls and doesn't move his feet.  DeShawn Stevenson was also terrible tonight, and I fully support Eddie benching him the entire fourth quarter.  Whenever the Wizards needed a key stop, they couldn't prevent Davis and Ellis from getting past them on the perimeter.  That's something substitution patterns can't fix.

Luckily, the Heat lost last night.  Unluckily, the Clippers, tonight's opponent, absolutely spanked the Jazz last night.  It'll take a much better defensive effort to win tonight.