It really didn't take much time for the Washington Wizards to demonstrate that they had no chance against the Orlando Magic. Orlando jumped ahead, 13-2, as the Wizards missed open layups, clanked jumpers and showed no interest in playing defense. It was officially over soon thereafter, with the remaining 42 minutes being an extended garbage time. The final score was 103-85, but it was much worse than that.
The Magic are a tough matchup, but once again, this was a Wizards team that didn't compete right from the opening tip. Rebuilding or not, that can never be accepted by anyone in the organization.
Some more notes:
- Hate to pick on Nick Young, because everyone is at fault, but I think his poor start helped set the tone for this one. On the first defensive possession, he yielded really deep post position to Jason Richardson for an easy layup. On the first offensive possession, he missed his big man popping to the baseline on the curl cut and forced a shot. On the next offensive possession, he forced a three-pointer instead of giving the ball to JaVale McGee in the post. Flip Saunders quickly took him out for Roger Mason, and while it may have been a quick hook, Young has to know better how important it is to stay disciplined early in the game.
- The Magic are an excellent defensive team, but there's really no excuse for the wheels moving as slowly as they were in the Wizards' heads on offense. It's like they are thinking instead of acting.
- It's one thing to give McGee a quick hook, but Kevin Seraphin proved he clearly wasn't ready to handle Dwight Howard at this point. Howard just abused him, as Seraphin showed he has little idea how to defend pick and roll. Four dunks for Howard in the first quarter, and in this case, you can't blame the weakside defenders. On one play, Jameer Nelson circled the baseline, and even though John Wall stayed with him, Seraphin rushed to help, leaving Howard wide open under the basket with nobody near him. That's the kind of remedial mistake that you really can't tolerate in any young player.
John Wall's jumper still doesn't look good. He's thinking instead of shooting. I think those two missed layups early in the game carried over.
- It really can't get any worse than that first quarter. Wish I had something more substantive, but I don't. That was really bad.
- The Wizards' problems on defense are twofold. For one thing, they were really bad at containing dribble penetration. That forced a lot of help, and the Magic move the ball too well from there. But at the same time, there was also way too much relaxing once the first rotation was made. The whole point of helping your teammates on the weakside is that you never quit. Can't relax. This also applies to rebounding, where the Magic, who aren't traditionally a good offensive rebounding team, abused Washington on the glass.
- A telling sequence: McGee made a strong move on Howard in the post for a layup, and the Wizards didn't give him a chance to keep making Howard work on subsequent possessions. A few possessions later, Blatche ran the floor nicely for a layup. On the next possession, he made a strong move on Davis for another layup. On the ensuing possession? You guessed it, a play call for Blatche to isolate against Davis, which ended badly. Credit to Blatche for the first move, but it's telling that the Wizards decided to try to milk Blatche after one successful post move and didn't afford McGee the same opportunity.
- To be fair to Flip Saunders, this is the kind of stuff he deals with. On one possession, Jordan Crawford made a nice play to drive to the middle to draw defenders, then kick to a wide-open Wall for a jumper. Nice play, nice sequence. But on the next possession, the Wizards got an offensive rebound and kicked it back to Crawford. Wall was wide open on the left wing, but instead of doing exactly what worked on the previous possession, he chucked a contested three-pointer that clanked off the back rim. That's infuriating for a coach.
- The Wizards had a chance to get some positive momentum early in the third quarter with a score and a stop on the first two possessions. They disrupted Orlando's play and forced a wild shot by Richardson. Unfortunately, neither Blatche or McGee boxed out, and Ryan Anderson got a tip-in. The degree to which this team relaxes, loses concentration, doesn't pay attention to detail, however you want to phrase it, is staggering.
- The early part third quarter was a little better, especially for Wall and Young, but I'm not really sure how meaningful it was given the score. Still, I was kind of mystified that Crawford replaced Young as early as the 4:05 mark of the quarter. Was that throwing the white flag?
- Crawford did keep taking bad shots, but to his credit, he seemed to have a little more energy early in the fourth quarter, allowing the Wizards to cut the lead to under 20 points. We're digging really deep for positives now.
- Howard obviously killed the Wizards, but it was due to team-wide breakdowns. While McGee obviously didn't win the matchup, I think it would be unfair to say he was the reason Howard went off. Many are at fault. That has to be the general approach the team takes too. These kinds of losses can't happen and they fall on everyone.
Really, that last sentence of the last bullet point sums it up. There's not much more that needs to be said at this point.