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For Want Of A Board The Game Was Lost - Wizards Fall To Bobcats 93-85

Lets get something out of the way first. I don't like to blame officials for losses because it sounds too much like sour grapes. However, the blocking foul on Yi was so egregious that even coach Flip Saunders called it "terrible," which is probably going to earn him a nice hefty fine when all is said and done. That call, along with the fact that Gerald Wallace spent the entire game climbing over people's backs does demand  some necessary griping about the zebras.

That said, the Wizards wouldn't have had to worry about bad officiating if they had picked up a rebound or two and didn't fall in love with their jumpers. Deeply in love. So in love that for the entire game the Wizards attempted ten free throw attempts. Ten. That's it. No more. That is terrible no matter which way you slice it.  This is the third home game in a row in which the Wizards find themselves in the last two minutes of a quarter and the opposing side only has three team fouls. That's what happens when you get jumper crazy. And if the jumpers aren't falling, this team can shoot itself right out of games.

Then there is the rebounding. Oh the rebounding. Let's just say that is was quite the topic of discussion following the game.  I mean, Kevin Love outrebounded the Wizards by himself tonight.

Coach Flip Saunders

Got our ass kicked on the glass. Either our guys in there got to rebound or we got to get different people in there. You can't put yourselves in that situation. This team (the Bobcats) is not a great rebounding team, but they chased down...I mean they had almost as many offensive rebounds as we had defensive rebounds. And the amazing thing is how we could even be in the game...

and what about the front line, specifically JaVale?

JaVale has five highlight plays a game. Unfortunately, there's about 200 plays in a game. He's got to get more substance than style. Y'know in our breakdown he was involved in a lot of those. You can't come out or a time out and not know as far as what you're doing. It puts too much pressure on other players. That's the situation with young players, they lose concentration in the heat of the battle. So those are the things he has to do.

and then the most damning comments

You don't reward people that make mistakes. I'm just not going to do that. Because if you do that then young players won't get better. Because if you accept mediocrity, then the best you're going to become is mediocre. And we're not going to accept mediocrity...I can live with guys missing shots, its the mental approach to the game that you realistically shouldn't have any slippage in that area.

And what say you Andray?

It's not necessarily about the boards. Stop focusing on the boards. Its more about defense. We got to get solid on defense. We gotta make right decisions. We gotta talk, gotta communicate, gotta sync with one another. Its not just rebounding. Even though they outrebounded us, that's not just it. Its closing the game.

and more about that defense

Like I said, poor defensive assignments. People not knowing where they are supposed to be. And we can't have that. Guys gotta step in and know where they gotta be and what they gotta do. Can't keep on having the same screwups in the fourth quarter. Its costing us games...this has become a habit for us, and it can't be a habit...we trying to go to the playoffs, we can't lose to team like this and expect playoffs.

Ok, couple thoughts here. If you weren't happy with the way your front line was rebounding, why not give Booker and Seraphin some run in this game? Flip keeps talking about new players "busting in" and grabbing playing time to shake up the status quo, but I have yet to see any of these players receive any PT.  Also, if you are going to reward players for playing well, then why was Nick Young glued to the bench for the end of the fourth quarter when Arenas couldn't hit the ocean with his jump shot?

One other thought concerns me. Gilbert Arenas. Now, I'm not going to critique Arenas too much, because he was the only guy on the team who could secure a rebound in the third quarter. However, it was patently obvious to all that Arenas has little to no lift at the moment, so much so that he shorted a layup at one point. This is a monumental problem, because if Arenas can't shoot, it makes pairing him with Wall a liability rather than an advantage. By this, I mean that the Bobcats were able to back off both Arenas and Wall at the end of the game, knowing that Wall's jumper was shaky and that Arenas was looking to facilitate rather than shoot.If Arenas can't regain his athleticism, its going to be a long year for the Wizards with the only semi-reliable perimeter shooters are Kirk Hinrich and Nick Young.

There were some positives to take out of this game, namely the play of Yi Jianlian and the continuing growth of John Wall. These were bright spots. However, a game like this makes you wonder if this year is going to a step forward one game, followed by two steps back in the next game. The Wizards need to build some consistency and I personally can say that this game was a missed opportunity for both the players and the staff.