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Wizards lose to Denver 77-70 in second Summer League game

One day after running as a well-oiled machine against the Cavaliers, the Wizards offense stumbled into a disorganized mess in a loss to Denver tonight. The stat sheet may only read 19 turnovers for the Wizards (imagine saying that), but it was really much worse than that. Players were in the wrong spots, guys were yelling at each other to get to their positions, coaches were pleading and everyone from Tyrese Rice to JaVale McGee were trying to play point guard and bring the ball up the floor.

It was a jumbled mess of a game, exactly the type of game Denver wanted to play. They pressed the Wizards nonstop, and guys weren't always in the right spots to break the press. When the Wizards did succeed in breaking the press, they couldn't capitalize with a fast break. Eventually, the press ended up slowing the Wizards' offense down to the point where they were working against the clock, which meant less of Nick Young running off screens and more of plays breaking down.

"The way they played, it eliminated a lot of what we could do in the halfcourt set," Randy Wittman said after the game. "They just made it a run-and-trap game. In a situation where you only have two or three days to bring 12 or 13 guys together, it's hard to cover everything, but that's where you have to be disciplined."

"You should really [be able] to get layups and easy shots everytime when they're running and jumping in the backcourt."

To put it bluntly, it was probably the wrong day to rest Javaris Crittenton.

Steinberg had the game covered pretty well tonight, so there's no much more to add on that front. Players got out of there pretty quickly, so I wasn't able to track anyone down really.

The one thing that really stood out to me was JaVale McGee's poor play. He had five blocks, but otherwise seemed out of it. There was one possession in the first quarter when he didn't get the ball in the post and just didn't run back on defense. There was another play late in the second half when he got popped in the mouth and languished in the backcourt smarting from the blow, which drew the ire of Randy Wittman. JaVale only played 24 minutes and didn't exactly impress the coaches during that stretch.

"In the post he's just settling for fallaway jump shots, there's nothing to the basket," Wittman said after the game. "He's got to become a stronger player, he's got to get physically stronger and then he's got to play that way when he's in the post."

Speaking of Wittman, I did get a chance to ask him about whether we might see some of Dominic McGuire at power forward this season. When I talked to Ernie Grunfeld, he mentioned that he "absolutely" thinks that McGuire should play some power forward this season. Wittman hedged his bets a little more.

"That's what we're looking at a little bit more here, to see what he can do at the 4. He played some two last year, and here he's playing a lot of three, so we're really just moving him around to see what he's capable of doing. ... There's no longterm [specific] position [for him], he's a versatile player that can play multiple positions. I don't think he's a guy that you're strictly going to play at the 4."

Other assorted thoughts:

  • After an early flurry, Nick Young really got taken out of the game by the Denver defense. There's clearly a lot of work to be done on those baseline screens, both by young and by his screeners. Young has to rub more off his screeners, and his screeners need to do a better job of getting big. When the half-court offense broke down, Nick was pretty much invisible. That's too bad.
  • Andray Blatche had a good game, but he also monopolized the ball on offense and prevented the rest of the team from getting into a rhythm. Part of that was necessitated by Denver's pressure, but Blatche certainly forced some shots, even if they went in.
  • There was very little off-ball movement during lots of offensive sets. There was one point where Flip Saunders, sitting near me courtside, shouted at the players to move without the ball when Blatche was in the post. There was another time when Blatche himself pleaded with his teammates to cut. My theory: they were worn out from Denver's press, which is not a good thing.
  • Tyrese Rice is nowhere close to an NBA player. Neither is Alade Aminu. Josh Heytfelt was again pretty solid though.
  • Loved Ty Lawson and Sonny Weems from Denver. Also was impressed by CJ Giles' shot-blocking ability. They have better young guys than one would think.