Here are your recaps of last night's frustrating one-point loss to the Detroit Pistons. As always, check out the StoryStream for more coverage and check out interviews with Randy Wittman, Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza on Monumental Network.
"It didn't boil down to that," Wittman said of Ariza's shot. "We got what we deserved. We didn't deserve to win that game. We were more caught up in ourselves as individuals than the team. That's the bottom line. We got guys that haven't been in the rotation, complaining. The older guys trying to help them, they won't listen. And that just tells me: ‘I'm worried about myself. I'm not worried about winning this game.' "
Coaches and players tried to help Wall break out of his funk during the game, but the wall he put up was impenetrable.
"When he's in a zone, he's hard to get to sometimes," rookie Bradley Beal said. "But that's just the type of player he is. I'm kind of like that. I get frustrated and upset. You probably won't hear from me about it, but it's a learning process for him. It's a learning process for me and everyone else. Sometimes, the older guys don't have good games and we tell them to stick with it. They'll either listen or not. It's up to the player. You can tell him, but you can't make him."
"I think we all played bad," Ariza said. "We all didn't do what we needed to do, especially defensively. If we want to win games, we have to bring a better effort."
With four turnovers in the first quarter, Wall's body language turned sour quickly and never recovered.
"I don't know," he said when asked to pinpoint his recent struggles. "You're seeing the same thing I'm seeing, so I can't really call it."
"Tonight we got what we deserved. We didn't deserve to win that game. We got guys that haven't been in the rotation complaining," Wittman said. "The older guys trying to help and they won't listen. That just tells me I'm just worried about myself, I'm not worried about winning this game. You have a tough game, it's my job to coach you. Tonight for whatever reason -- it's bizarre to me -- they didn't want to be coached. It was more about playing time, shots rather than what are we doing as a team and how am I playing while I'm out there."
The hectic final minute of this game should allow John Wall to breathe a sigh of relief. Instead of media focusing on his unprecedented (for him) awful streak, they will focus on the fantasy that almost came to fruition. But that shouldn't be the story. The Wizards have been competitive since Wall's return, but is it in spite of him? I won't go too far into it here, but he was yet again disappointing, posting more turnovers than assists and shooting the ball poorly on questionable shot selection.
"I"m not sure what it is right now. I dont' think he is playing that terribly bad, as bad as he may think he's playing," A.J. Price said of Wall after the game. "He's just gotta stay with it, it's up to us as teammates to bring him with us, pick him up and keep him confident."
I mentioned Calderon's first turnover late in the fourth quarter above but what I didn't mention that it was preceded by positively point-guardy 18 assists. It was the most assists by a Piston since Will Bynum dished 20 dimes in 2010 also against the Wizards. On the receiving end of many of those assists was Monroe who had everything working tonight. He was using a soft touch down low, driving hard to the basket from the top of the key and even his jumper was falling. Monroe finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds.
With the Pistons trailing 62-57, Knight hit two long jumpers, one of them a 3-pointer, to tie. He then found Singler sprinting on the fast break, after making a nifty behind-the-back move in the open court, to put the Pistons ahead.
"It all just started to flow," Knight said. "It came from getting stops first, then getting into transition and getting easy baskets. Just playing with energy. If we play with energy and share the basketball, great things can happen."
Knight's night marked the seventh time in his career he's scored more than 25 and with the exception of one, the Pistons emerged with a win every time. He seemed to play at a faster pace than everyone else, and unlike Wall, who played too fast, to the tune of seven turnovers, Knight's play inspired his team.
"I think the biggest thing for us," said Knight before Charlie Villanueva walked by to say "welcome back, young fella" on Villanueva's way out of the locker room. "Is just playing with energy. Just sitting there for three games. It wasn't about making shots, it was about making sure we played Pistons basketball."
Knight played brilliantly offensively. He ran the pick-and-roll to create space, ran hard around off-ball screens and pushed up court during fastbreaks to get his points. Most of his arsenal was on display, and it was a joy to watch. Defensively, Knight struggled,which he admitted after the game, citing his knee injury.
"I wanted to play last game," Knight said. "So, it's not good. There's going to be some discomfort, just a matter of how much and how much you can play through. I always play through some discomfort, different things that you guys don't always know about."
Buckhantz is going to be mocked relentlessly over this mistake, and there is no changing the fact that he used his popular catch phrase - usually reserved for shots that ice or win games - on an airball. LOLZ. However, to be fair to Buck and Phil, their broadcast spot was moved this season from behind the scorer's table to across from the Wizards' bench. Their perch is now atop of the lower bowel of Section 110. The view is depicted in the picture below. In the picture above, Ariza's shot missed the rim and came in at an angle where it moved the net to make it appear like a swish, especially on television. Many fans in the arena told me that they were equally deceived by the all-net airball.
Steve Buckhantz has already landed on national sports blogs for screaming "Dagger!" Wednesday night, when Trevor Ariza's last-second game-winning heave appeared to be good but was actually far short.
Just in case anyone wants to criticize him, check out the Fox Sports Detroit broadcast. Sitting from a similarly poor perch well off the floor, the broadcast team of George Blaha and Greg Kelser also thought the Pistons lost the game on Ariza's shot. And it took them about the same amount of time to figure out what actually happened.