The Washington Wizards can be so maddening at times. Tonight, in a game against a possible first round playoff opponent and Southeastern Division rival, the team played flawed if passable basketball for three quarters before completely losing it in the fourth quarter, as they lost to the Charlotte Bobcats, 98-85.
This one was a back and forth affair for almost the entire game. Neither team was able to establish much of a lead, even when Washington got off to a fast start on account of some hot shooting from Wall. If anything, Wall's success early in the game might have been to the team's detriment in the long run. He took some bad shots tonight and would go for long stretches where he only passed as a last resort. As a result, despite the defensively challenged Charlotte frontline, Marcin Gortat struggled to score and Bradley Beal only looked good when Andre Miller was sharing the court with him.
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Eventually Charlotte broke the game open just a bit toward the end of the fourth quarter thanks to a few lucky shots and questionable calls. Meanwhile, Washington couldn't buy a bucket for the last 10 minutes or so of the game, in no small part due to poor shot selection and turnovers. Washington wasn't able to mount much of a comeback as a result and fell to 33-31 on the year.
This was a tough loss no matter how you look at it, but I'm thoroughly convinced that Washington would have won if Nene had been available. The team desperately needed a stabilizing influence on the court, someone to guard Al Jefferson in the post and someone to take over playmaking duties when Wall came down with tunnel vision. Nene, even if he had only been available for 20 or 25 minutes, would have been an enormous difference maker.
Next up for Washington is Orlando on Friday and Brooklyn Saturday night. Below are a few game notes.
- Wall had a decent game overall and the stat line he put up certainly looks nice, but this was far from a perfect game for him. He got off to a hot start, scoring 18 points in the first half, and seemed to take it as a license to shoot any time he could. The team's ball movement suffered as a result and guys like Beal and Gortat in particular seemed lost on offense at times.
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has one of the worst jump shots I've ever seen from a wing. His mechanics are just off and it hurts him that he can't even make the occasional corner three. He's such a good defender that if he can even become as good a shooter as Trevor Ariza was with the Lakers -- someone who won't make a lot of jumpers but has to be respected if he's in the corner -- he could be really special. If not, he's the next Tony Allen.
- Miller helped the bench a lot tonight. It's like night and day comparing Washington's offense without Wall on the court now versus a month ago. It's also crazy how Miller's able to play basketball at a high level despite being in his late 30s and having the body of a catcher.
- Not much from Beal tonight. Gerald Henderson did an admirable job of sticking with him and with Wall in shoot-first mode, there weren't a lot of easy looks for Bradley tonight. He also looked bad trying to create shots off the dribble with Henderson guarding him. As is usually the case, he just doesn't have the size, quickness and craftiness off the dribble necessary to get clean looks at the basket when he's checked by a quality defender. Hopefully he spends the summer studying film of James Harden.
- Drew Gooden continued to look good, rebounding everything in his area and stretching the floor with his jumper. The only thing that could make him more fun to root for would be if he brought back his Bulls-era rat tail.
- When did Jefferson become so fun to watch? His throwback post game should make him a hipster idol. They need to play the theme from Full House any time he checks into the game.
- Nene was missed tonight. Jefferson destroyed Washington on the block and the team desperately needed someone other than Wall to run their offense through. They can't get away with the current frontcourt rotation against teams with strong post scorers like Jefferson.
- Chris Douglas-Roberts has the same haircut as Bushroot from Darkwing Duck.