Just when it didn't seem like it could get worse for the Wizards inside, it did.
As the Wizards fumbled through a disastrous stretch in the 3rd quarter, Randy Wittman decided to give the early hook to Wizards' center Marcin Gortat. The Polish Machine was out of order on Friday night, out of position and appearing to lack focus and energy. Meanwhile, Brook Lopez was starting to cook, scoring 8 points during a crucial 16-4 run that shifted the game from a back and forth affair to a Nets-dominated game.
In came Kevin Seraphin, who brought some of the energy but not as much focus, committing 2 turnovers in a 30 second stretch as the Wizards offense imploded near the end of the 3rd. Even when Seraphin managed to get the best of Lopez, blocking him near the basket, it bounced to Jarrett Jack who scored an easy layup.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Randy Wittman decided to bring seldom used Dejuan Blair off the bench to replace Seraphin at center. This only served to demonstrate why such measures are only used in dire circumstances, as Blair struggled to defend the taller and swifter Nets center.
As Nets coach Lionel Hollins remarked after the game, "There was a stretch where they had a bad matchup that he was flat quicker than the guy," presumably talking about Blair. "I know that's an amazing statement but he was able to get to the basket and get some fouls."
Even putting the Wizards best interior defender, Nene, on Lopez did little to stop him. When Nene used his strength to try to keep position on Lopez, Lopez could still manage to effectively shoot over him. After being invisible in the first half, Lopez lit the Wizards up for 25 points in the second half, allowing the Nets to break a 7 game losing streak and hand the Wizards their worst home loss of the season. On the game, Lopez managed 26 points in just 23 minutes, and he and point guard Jarrett Jack managed to outscore the Wizards by themselves in the second half, 44-40.
The Wizards don't have to wait long to get revenge, travelling to Brooklyn to play these same Nets tonight. One would assume that the team is bound to take this game a little more seriously than they took the game Friday night. But even with more energy and focus, they still will have their hands full if the Nets have a health and engaged Brook Lopez. Barrring a last minute Billy King intervention, that should be what they have to face. Though Brook can be a frustrating player with his poor rebounding, constant injuries and the lack of an "s" on his first name, offensively there are few players who can do what he does in the post.
The Wizards interior defense will have to be more effective at slowing down the Nets center than they were in the second half. It can't be worse, right?