So tonight was the my first time watching the Wizards. Ever. Living in Phoenix sucks for more reasons than the weather.
Brought Dad along, he hadn't seen Washington play since they were the Bullets at the Capitol Center. Got there two hours early to watch shoot around, but they don't let non-ticketholders in until an hour before game time (really?).
I need to take a fanboy moment here. Watching so many streams, and having not watched a game of basketball in person since Grant Hill came to Phoenix as part of the Pistons, I forgot how damn fast this game really is.
Dray and Sam Cassell were playing lazy one on one towards the end of shoot around. After watching Dray chuck his eighth 3 ball off the rim I screamed at him to dunk that shit. Note: Dray did not seem to appreciate the sentiment, although he did force Cassell inside after that.
Impression: the Phoenix crowd was nice, but relatively apathetic, though most of the (half) capacity crowd stayed until the final buzzer. It was gloriously silent except for me screaming myself hoarse throughout the 1st quarter. Most seemed to appreciate the novelty of a Wizards fan in full gear, and were politely inquisitive. Predictably, I spent half of my time talking about Gungate, the other half about John Wall. Oh, and arguing the finer subtleties of our beloved logo. Pleasant fan experience throughout.
Plus, while bottled 20 oz beer was a ghastly $10 a bottle, they had Dos Equis lager, a mere dollar more than Bud Light Draft. This made the 3rd quarter go down that much smoother.
Yes, the 1st quarter could not last forever, though it did leave me with a better appreciation of Kirk Hinrich. Squeak went down hard in the opening minutes saving a loose ball that led to points. The effort was there tonight, fellas.
Well, you know who had a golden shot tonight. 10-13 from the field and perfect 4-4 from the line? The good news: Dray still has enough ability and upside to fire a pound of bacon into orbit. The bad news: he appears to have eaten it. The worse news: the bacon outrebounded him. Seriously...three rebounds in 33 minutes?
First things first, Steve Nash is that good. Before the game started, I was worried about several things. Nash and Warrick as a pick and roll combo are getting notice, and before you start beating your chest about how embarrassing it is that Warrick laid that line on us, he laid 23/7 on CHI and 19/5 on SA. So it should come as no surprise that he is capable of putting 26/6 on us, although he's been very up and down this year.
...the hyper paraboloid transitional floating zone, or whatever the hell it is...I don't know if I was seeing things (we were sitting seventh row half court), but it seemed like the zone rotated to follow the ball carrier. Several times this resulted in the back door opening as Nash brought the ball around the perimeter and our guys literally had no idea they were about to be posterized. It was upsetting.
Once the pick and roll got going, Jason Richardson started sliding up from the baseline as Hakim cut to the basket after the pick. The zone collapsed on Hakim and JRich started chucking 3 balls. I was concerned about Channing Frye getting hot and exploiting a height mismatch on the perimeter, but while he made a valiant effort, he was unable to keep us in the game. My buddy was furious when they gave him 30M...but it's not like the Suns had a ton of options available for 7 footers.
Some questionable rotations from the Flip side (surprise)...there was a stretch during the second quarter where even my father wanted to know why Nick Young wasn't back in the game. That said, Nick showed some willingness to take it hard to the rim that had me grinning like Charles Barkley contemplating a plate of fried chicken with gravy. He even had a beautiful block in the post on Warrick. There was no help defense, and Warrick scored eventually, but with that kind of defensive execution, his torrid shooting, and a newfound willingness to attack the rim...when does this man get to start? I wouldn't mind seeing Wall/Young and Arenas/Hinrich taking turns at opposing defenses.
Alonzo Gee had so many hustle plays the man should have been arrested for breaking the speed limit. Both he and Trevor Booker were all over the place...and Grown Ass Man lit it up in garbage time. Even Phoenix fans got up out of their seats a time or two. Electrifying. But garbage time...grain of salt, etc.
Javale bit on an Earl Barron pump fake from 18 feet and I died a little inside. I know he was getting frustrated and his defense was extremely suspect...but has there been any word on his Elton Brand injury? That said, Yi continues to impress me as a backup Center. From short to mid range, his jumper is nearly automatic, on defense he seemed to close out well and did his best to clog the middle. Nobody on the Wiz is a DPOY candidate, but he brings the offensive touch Hilton Armstrong can't. Though Javale left early, Hilton only logged 5 minutes, that tells me Flip likes Yi best at the 5 and will continue to ensure more available minutes for Booker in the near future.
There wasn't much talk about officiating in the game thread, but there were definitely some homer calls with extremely incidental contact that had Dad and I swearing. Suppose it's to be expected.
I'm on the MR train concerning interior defense. If we're getting shredded like two dollar cheese on a four dollar plate of spaghetti in a ten dollar town, toss some god**** razorblades in the sauce pan. Put Kevin Seraphin in there and tell him to maim people. We have got to make guys think twice before they run into the paint. The amount of and-1's tonight were nauseating.
Goran Drakic did not kill us, and that's to our defensive effort. We frustrated the hell out of him, and I would say he was exposed against a determined if not particularly competent Washington defense, if he hadn't tanked so surprisingly when Nash was injured.
I don't know what everyone was expecting, but until the Wiz learn how to play defense, zone or no, going up against Phoenix is going to end like this every time. I know we're all screaming for interior defense to the point that it's become white noise, so I'll just leave you with this. Phoenix had 35 free throw attempts, we had 15.
I'm sure there's plenty I've glossed over or missed (and /sigh some I've gotten completely wrong), prease to grill me berow. Thanks for reading, guys. It's late, my head is splitting, baby is crying, good night, and good luck.