These are the losses that hurt.
Kirk Hinrich and Al Thornton did everything they could to keep the Wizards in this game and give the Wizards a chance to win, but the team eventually succumbed to their own miscues to lose the Cavaliers 107-102. The Wizards defense was also once again suspect, allowing 40 points in the paint and the Cavaliers to shoot 47.6% from the field. However, what really did the team in was a failure to execute basic plays down the stretch. JaVale McGee, who had played a solid game on the defensive end, was pulled with 4:06 left in the fourth quarter after failing to box out Anderson Varejao, leading to a Anthony Parker three and and a four point swing. After that, Mo Williams and Boobie Gibson both daggered the Wizards with threes. all but ending the game.
Flip on JaVale:
Well, he was having trouble helping us on pick and roll defense and missed a rebound on a free throw situation where they got three, missed a couple free throws on the next possession. It was decision that Hilton is one of our better bigs at defending pick and rolls which were killing us.
This is a situation that both Wizards fans and the organization will be tracking all year. Is it possible to live with a frontline that features both Blatche and McGee, players who are gifted offensively but take away enough on the defensive end to make their contributions moot. Are the two players too similar in temperament and style to be effective over the long run for the Wizards?
After the game, the first and most pressing question is why Al Thornton was left on the bench after playing out of his mind for almost the entire game. Well, it turns out that Flip regrets that decision as much as the rest of us.
I said to Al I made a mistake....We got into a little rhythm with Gil making shots, Kirk is our best pick and roll defender, and John has to play...In hindsight, you wish you would've gotten him back in the game....You just wish you could get him back in the game."
Gilbert Arenas also agrees with Flip, stating that he should have sat for Thornton in the fourth. Which leads to the question, if JaVale McGee made such a damning mistake that you sub for him with 4:06 left, but you remain committed to your three guard lineup, why not move Blatche to the five and bring Thornton in to play the four? Why play Armstrong in crunch time who was -20 on the night and was being eaten up by Hickson inside?
The lingering question that hangs in this air for me after this game is whether the Wizards staff is too committed to it's scheme at the expense of letting it's players make plays. Obviously, on the defensive end the scheme was not working as the Wizards could not stop the Cavs inside while also being punished for the second straight game from behind the arc. Offensively, while the three guard lineup was extremely effective against the smaller Cavs lineup, it immediately lost ground when the Cavs reinserted Hickson, Varejao, and Williams back into the game. Hinrich had also cooled off from his blistering first half pace, going only 1-6 from the field and 1-5 from three in the second half , so I don't buy the argument that he was playing at a level the prevented Thornton from returning to the game.
At the end of the day, there will be a lot of games like this for the Wizards this year. Execution will be lacking and we will want to tear our hair out. For now, I will attempt to enjoy the increased rebounding effort from McGee and Blatche and the fact that Arenas is back in the fold. Facing a desperate Rockets team on Wednesday, the Wizards are going to have their work cut out for them.