Don't let the final score fool you. This game was over before it started. Washington was wrapping up fourth game in five nights on the West Coast, and the Suns hadn't played since they were humiliated at home in a 20 point loss to the Clippers on Sunday.
Some surprising performances from the fresh legs of Otto Porter, Garrett Temple and Kris Humphries helped the Wizards keep things competitive, but the Wizards were never meant to win this game.
Schedule losses are a part of the NBA. One of the disadvantages of an 82 game schedule is that every now and then there are just game that naturally favor certain teams because one team is fresh and the other team is just trying to get home in one piece. Tonight was one of those games. But let's give credit to the Wizards for making tonight's contest close at the end, despite their struggles for most of the game.
Here's what we learned:
The Wizards have issues against fast teams
It's still weird to think a team with John Wall would struggle against fast teams, but outside of Wall, the team just isn't equipped to get into track meets. They've been able to use their depth to stave off challenges from weaker fast-paced teams like Boston and Denver. But against a team like Phoenix, who can run well with their starters and their bench, the Wizards just don't have much of a shot with the roster as it's currently constructed, with so many lumbering, immobile bigs.
Wizards don't learn from history
When the Wizards met the Suns back in December, Phoenix handed Washington a humbling 104-92 loss that tampered down the hype that had been building in nation's capital for most of the month.
The Suns forced John Wall into one of his worst performances of the season. Though his stats wasn't horrendous, Phoenix succeeded in keeping Wall from making the rest of the team better. When Wall wasn't making a spectacular play, the offense died. Beal, Pierce and Gortat all struggled to cobble points together. The Wizards only had three assists that Wall wasn't responsible for creating. If it had not been for big scoring games from Rasual Butler and Kevin Seraphin, the Wizards would have been run out of the Verizon Center well before the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Tonight, the Suns were able to make the same impositions. Wall was limited to 11 points on 16 shots. The Wizards struggled to generate offense without Wall (they only had 6 assists not go through Wall). None of the Wizards' guards (Wall, Beal, Temple, Miller or Butler) got to the free throw line, and Wall needed 16 shots to get 11 points.
Kris Humphries got the start on Wednesday for Nene and responded with some inspired play that kept the game somewhat interesting early. While the Wizards clearly didn't have the speed advantage tonight, Humphries did a decent job helping the Wizards' utilize their size advantage. He finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds. He may not have replicated Nene's all-around game, but he brought what he could to the table.
He also did this, for some reason late in the game.
How to erase every possible positive thing you did in one possession. https://t.co/zYlV4o7s7l— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) January 29, 2015