INDIANAPOLIS -- This game was a see-saw. Wizards up 5. Pacers up 5. Ties. Turnovers. Missed bunnies. Runs. Unfortunately for the Wizards, the Pacers finished on a run and snapped their 3 game losing streak while extending the Wizards winless season to 5 games.
Chalk it up to not having Wall and Nene, chalk it up to inexperience, chalk it up to whatever you want, but the Wizards failed to close out their fifth game of the season after playing a pretty steady game the whole way through. Only 7 turnovers in the first 3 quarters, but they added 5 more in the 4th.
It's getting to be like Groundhog Day for this team. They keep it close and make smart plays the whole game through. Then they get down big near the end of the game and have to claw their way back. Tonight was the closest they've gotten at clawing back, when they were down 2 with 36 seconds to go after a missed Paul George jumper. Trevor Booker couldn't connect on his lefty hook shot, and the rest is history.
Overall, I think the early parts of tonight's game, and really every game so far this season, have shown tremendous signs of improvement from seasons past. They're passing the ball and looking for the open man. They're trying to get easy baskets. The contested-fadeaway-jumper-with-20-seconds-on-the-shot-clock style of the Wizards feels like it's in the very distant past at this point, but their inability to close out games looks like the next demon to be vanquished.
Hopefully they'll get there, and hopefully for the confidence of this roster, they'll get to do it before Wall gets back.
Here's some notes from tonight, with Good/Bad/etc to follow. Chime in with your thoughts and additions in the comments.
- The Pacers seemed to have a plan early to go through Hibbert in hopes of Okafor not being able to handle him. The Wizards responded by getting Okafor open to hit some mid-range jumpers.
- One thing lacking in this game was fast breaks. Wizards scored 6 points on fast breaks; the Pacers only had 7.
- Bradley Beal finished the first quarter with 8 points on 3-5 shooting, including 1-1 from 3 and 1-1 from the free throw line. He finished the night 3-3 from 3, but he finally missed a FT (ended the night with 17).
- David West and Chris Singleton get physical and pick up double technicals early in the second. Two takeaways: The Wizards need to go easy on their technical fouls, and Singleton is really settling into his role as power-forward.
- Both Emeka Okafor and Kevin Seraphin got open early near the free throw line, and both hit their jumpers from there. It's was a pretty sight. But then Seraphin didn't really do much later, and Okafor's jumpers stopped falling, so maybe the magic wore off.
- Jordan Crawford hit two 3s from about 4 feet behind the line in the second quarter. I think he ate his Wheaties today.
- Gerald Green can dunk. And he did so. A lot.
- A.J. Price with 8 assists in the first half! Someone wants to make a homecoming impression!
- Okafor is making Hibbert's life miserable. Hansbrough makes Okafor, Singleton, and Booker's lives miserable. Even trade?
- Going into the fourth quarter, the Wizards only have 7 turnovers resulting in 7 Pacers points. Tyler Hansbrough causes two turnovers early in the fourth and makes the Wizards pay. Psycho T!
- Three more turnovers is too many more turnovers. Too many to climb out of the hole they've dug even when Indy's jumpers aren't falling.
- I honestly can't tell what plays Randy Wittman calls out of timeouts. Maybe that's just me, though.
- This loss was closer, but 0-5 is still 0-5. Can there be moral victories when they haven't been playing without their two best players?
- Here's a bright spot for me: 26 assists on 34 field goals. Doesn't make the loss any better, but that's a damn good ratio.