At some point in every NBA season, things don't go well for a spell. Shots stop falling, defensive rotations are a second too late and things just don't quite go the way they should. At times like that, the resolve of a team is tested. If last night was any indication, the Wizards' resolve is a work in progress.
Despite scrambling to adjust to the absences of Kevin Seraphin, who was a late scratch, and Bradley Beal who left after only 11 minutes, the Wizards were tied with the Hornets with under 9 minutes to go in the fourth quarter when this happened, via Hoop District:
We all can agree this isn't a great look for DeJuan Blair. He had played well up until that point, and really didn't need something like this to take away from one of his rare opportunities to get useful playing time.
But at the same time, Kris Humphries isn't completely innocent here. Like Blair, he has a reputation for going all-out for boards, even if it comes at the expense of someone else who may already be in position to secure the rebound. That may be one of the reasons why Thursday night was only the second time the two have shared the court together this season. When you're two bigs both play the glass the same way, it can lead to some miscommunications, like we saw here.
You can watch the video of the play, but SportVU's movement tracker for the play really helps bring out what happened here. When Lance Stephenson pulls up for three, DeJuan Blair is under the basket, ready to seal off Jason Maxiell if he goes for an offensive rebound, while Humphries is out on the elbow guarding Gerald Henderson.
As the shot goes up, Blair boxes out Maxiell, while Humphries moves across to the other side of the rim, in case the ball bounces to the opposite side. This puts Humphries in a great position to grab the rebound uncontested, as long as Blair is still fighting off Maxiell.
But unbeknownst to Humphries, Maxiell is conceding the rebouding opportunity before Humphries arrives on the scene. Suddenly, you've got two Wizards in prime position to grab a rebound and neither one thinks they'll have to fend anyone off to secure it. When the ball ends up bouncing right between the two, chaos erupts.
So based on the evidence, did Blair have a right to be upset? Absolutely. Blair had fought hard to convince the burly Maxiell to tap out, only to see Kris Humphries turn another rebound for his stats into a turnover.
But again, it's still not a good look for Blair or the rest of the team. At a time when the team needs to be figuring out how to not lose two games to under .500 Hornets in the same week, they're squabbling over rebounds. If there's a positive to take out of this, it's that at least the Wizards are still putting forth effort. Better to have two guys fighting for the same rebound than no one.