Since the second half of the Nets game the Wizards have played with the energy and efforts that most fans crave. And this game was no different. The Wizards came out of the gate slowly, but then closed the first quarter with a four point lead that they were able to maintain through the half.
While the overall defensive effort was great - they held the Bulls about 13 points below their season scoring average. Offensively, the Wizards were not firing on all cylinders. Early in the game, Andray Blatche missed what would have been a routine dunk and from that point forward was not able to get himself back on track. And when you combine that with the Wizards tendency to play isolation basketball, which Flip Saunders readily admits is not a strength, folding in new players, a cold shooting night and Chicago's defensive effort and you easily have the recipe for a less than stellar offensive output. However, even with those obstacles the Wizards had an opportunity to tie the game late in the fourth quarter on a missed three-point shot by Rashard Lewis.
A tale of two halves. In the first half Nick Young was on fire. He scored 15 points on 6-8 from the field and 3-3 from three-point range. In the second half, Nick cooled significantly as he scored 7 points as he hit on three of his 11 field goal attempts.
Made Derrick Rose work. Kirk Hinrich played Derrick Rose about as well you could reasonably expect. While Rose finished the game with 25 points, he began to heat up in the second half, Hinrich played solid defense on Rose throughout the game. Hinrich, who finished with 19 points, made Rose work on the defensive end of the floor.
Sharing is fundamental. The cold shooting for the Wizards appeared to begin in the second half, when not so coincidentally they began to play isolation basketball and attempted to take the Chicago defenders off the dribble. After the game Flip Saunders said, "we are not an isolation team. We had too many isolation type [plays and] every time we did the crowd went ooh and aah, expecting something bad to happen, and it usually did." This, Saunders said, put the team "in very difficult positions." The Wizards entered the second half riding a four point lead but quickly saw themselves outscored 17 - 8 in the third quarter. Saunders said that after the game he reminded the team that, "we played well the last two games prior because we played as a team. We really moved the ball, didn't do too much with the dribble." However, he also conceded that during the game he should have "jumped our guys a little bit."
Testing, testing, testing. For much of the game Flip Saunders tinkered with his lineup. After the game he said that at times he felt like an "air traffic controller." However, during significant stretches of the game he seemed to favor a lineup of Kirk Hinrich, Nick Young, Hilton Armstrong, Rashard Lewis and Josh Howard. Not only did this unit appear to be the best defensive unit, but it also provided the ability to score the ball. It will be interesting to see how this unit fares once Lewis and Howard get their legs under them.