The Wizards lost to the Magic 117-108 on Friday night, falling to 2-9 on the season.
Nothing was working for this Washington until about two minutes were left in the third quarter. The Wizards were down 25 with the Magic running away and then Scott Brooks decided to put in his small-ball lineup with Jeff Green at center.
Then, all of a sudden, the lead was down to 14 at 98-84. Then, with just under a minute left, the lead was cut to one after a John Wall fastbreak layup. The Magic went on a 5-0 run after a three from DJ Augustine and an alley-oop finish from Terrence Ross, and that was the game.
The game ended closer than expected, but don’t be fooled. Solid comeback effort aside, the Wizards were never truly in this one. The Magic pulled away early on and were only sweating at the end. Another slothy defensive effort and a poor showing from the bench did Washington in, once again. And, against another poor team, the Wizards, with three max contract players, came up short.
There’s no other way of putting it: This team is a mess.
The bench is out of place
This was supposed to be the deepest team Wall has ever played on and it’s really turned out to be everything but that. The players coming off of the bench have talent individually—Kelly Oubre scored 19 points and Jeff Green scored 14.
But on the flip side, Austin Rivers was, well, himself, and Tomas Satoransky gave the team absolutely nothing in limited minutes. And when you play four of these five guys at the same time, you end up with the results that you end up with. The guard play has been awful and it shows—Bradley Beal and Wall both played 42 minutes tonight.
Scott Brooks may have found something, but will he use it?
Brooks closed the fourth quarter with Beal, Wall, Rivers, Oubre and Green on the floor at the same time. Yes, I know. That sounds awful. But it worked pretty well and managed to claw them back into the game.
He’s got the right idea—instead of an all-bench unit, play three bench plays with two starters. Stagger them. Give them breathers, but get them in quick. Will we see this strategy again? I don’t know. We were supposed to see Porter and Oubre playing together more, but we haven’t. We were supposed to get more Markieff Morris at center, but we haven’t. He’s been steady with what he’s chosen to play this season and it’s one of the main reasons why this team is so poor.
Speaking of Otto Porter
He didn’t play in the fourth quarter and he only played 23 minutes total. That’s absolutely unacceptable. Porter, even if he isn’t touching the ball, is a floor spacer. He’s much better than Austin Rivers as a shooter—why not play him? Imagine if, as opposed to Rivers, he played Porter in that fourth quarter. That makes a huge difference.
The lineup is small, but lengthy. Rivers gives you next to nothing defensively. Porter is worth having out there, and if Brooks can’t see that then he shouldn’t be coaching this team.
Maybe there’s the next game.