This was the kind of game I figured we'd see a lot with the Wizards this year. Exciting, full of promise, but also full of bad defense and fundamental breakdowns. Sometimes, the Wizards will win, sometimes, they'll lose. Tonight, they ended up losing because they stopped guarding Rip Hamilton and because Gilbert Arenas made two poor plays at the end of the game. Three, I guess, if you count the play where the ball slipped out of his hands.
A couple really quick thoughts:
- On that last play of regulation: Arenas made the right play. Way more things can happen when you drive. You could get fouled. You could get a higher-percentage shot. You could set someone else up for an easy shot. So no, Gilbert should not have pulled up. The guy who didn't make the right play, predictably, was Andray Blatche. I realize Blatche needed to space the floor, but as soon as Gil drove, Blatche should have cut to the basket. Villanueva was going to help off him anyway, so he needed to do something to give himself a higher-percentage shot. Standing at the three-point line isn't it.
- Besides those two turnovers, that Arenas' best games since the injury. He's scored more in other games, and he's put up better numbers before, but I really liked how under control he was. He put his teammates in tough spots a couple times with passes, but usually, he was right on the mark. He especially did a good job finding the shooters in the corners.
- However, Arenas really did a bad job on Hamilton in the overtime. Then again, Kirk Hinrich was equally bad once he was switched onto Hamilton. Hamilton hit a couple tough shots, but mostly, he was open. Hinrich has to be better at getting over screens.
- JaVale McGee is growing up. He's not perfect -- he still gets beat on the glass, and made a couple silly mistakes, but he's definitely doing a better job of being in position. That said, he really got worked on the defensive boards in the fourth quarter.
- Blatche continues to be unbelievably frustrating with his defense effort, but at least he brought it down the stretch. He really attacked the hoop, and if he commits to doing that quickly rather than waiting around, it helps his game.
- I really liked Flip Saunders' decision to start the second quarter with Arenas, Nick Young, Cartier Martin, Trevor Booker and JaVale McGee. You have two good perimeter shooters adept at hitting spot-up shots and a bruiser that allows McGee to be himself.
- The game was lost with terrible possessions down the stretch. In regulation, Al Thornton got the ball with a minute left, which was not smart. In overtime, you know about Arenas' issues. I blame play-calling to a certain extent on the first turnover -- really not sure about the wisdom of running a pick and roll towards the corner two straight times. I blame Arenas on the second turnover. Calling a timeout to set up a play is much better than trying to push the pace when the break isn't there. The pass wasn't that bad - Nick could have caught it. But Arenas shouldn't have forced the issue in the first place.