This was basically a carbon copy of the Warriors loss, except adjusted for the pace of the game.
Once again, the Wizards played pretty well in the first half, and entered the break with the lead. Once again, the Wizards fell apart in the third quarter, with the Clippers outscoring them by double digits. Once again, a late comeback bid falls short, and the Wizards lose.
The Wizards never had an answer for Corey Maggette, who consistently bullied his way to the free throw line, scoring 29 points on only nine field goal attemps, with zero threes (a rare feat indeed). Maggette was too strong for DeShawn Stevenson, too quick for Jarvis Hayes, and too good for anyone to guard. This is one thing where I don't think a healthy Caron Butler would have done anything. As explained yesterday, the Wizards really lack a wing defender, and it's where they should be looking in the draft (hello, Nick Young/Alando Tucker!).
But the other thing that kills me about this team is that they have the talent to win these games. Hell, I can imagine them winning every single one of these games, and it's not like my imaination is so farfetched. There's a coaching problem when you are consistently outscored in the third quarter, and it has nothing to do with substitution patterns. Opposing coaches are making the necessary adjustments at halftime, and Eddie Jordan is doing very little to adjust his team. If the offensive system is so intricate, why is it that the Wizards struggle to score in the third quarter, right after coaches make halftime changes?
Many will point to Elton Brand's offensive rebound, or DeShawn Stevenson's foul on Maggette as the deciding factor in this game. In reality, it was the third quarter. Take away that stretch, and the Wizards win this one against a surging Clippers team.
For now, let's wonder how this team gets back on track. Incredibly, we're still in first place in the Southeast, as Miami keeps giving us chances. It's entirely possible that the Wizards hold onto the Southeast, but finish behind Toronto, giving us the Bulls in the first round, but more likely, we're probably going to see Miami. How can the Wizards win that series? I honestly have no idea at this point.