We know it makes champions, and it was certainly the key to the Wizards victory against the Rockets this past Wednesday. However defense was also a weak point coming into tonight’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats- the Wiz were 24th in the league allowing 106 points per game to opponents. Charlotte on the other hand entered the game 8th in the NBA in points allowed per game with 95.63.
So who’s defense would match up tonight? Would we see the Wizard’s continue with their tough defense that was displayed against Houston or will Charlotte stifle the Wiz?
The answer was neither.
The Wizards got off to a slow start, John Wall went 0-3 as the crowd had to stand for over five minutes til the Wizards scored their first basket. It’s become a new tradition for the crowd to stand until the first Wizards score- a big ask for starts like these.
Unlike the previous games against Philadelphia and Houston, the tempo of the match was much slower. However it wasn’t Charlotte’s defense that was to blame but a lack of offense from the team including Wall (0 points in the first quarter.) In Wall’s stead, Andray Blatche was there with 14 points in the first quarter (22 for the game) keeping the team afloat.
When John Wall can’t find a way to score, he finds a ways to power the offense. Late in the second quarter he used his blazing speed to race down the court and set-up an alley oop slam dunk for JaVale McGee. The two repeated the connection with a Wall pass to McGee for the reverse slam. Despite the fireworks Wall and McGee provided, poor shooting in the field (41.9%) kept Charlotte in the game. A 43-42 lead at the end of the first half quickly turned into a 47-54 deficit thanks to 14 pts in the third quarter from the Gerald Wallace (25 Pts, 14 Reb) of the Bobcats.
Once the Wizards lost the lead there was no coming back. They managed to scrap their back with an Arenas fade-away pass to Blatche to put them in the lead 77-74 in the final quarter only to lose the lead again via a three-pointer from Boris Diaw (19 Pts in the game) a couple of minutes later. Long range shooting was a factor against the Wizards with the Bobcats going 7-16 on 3-pointers compared to 5-21 with the Wizards.
So it certainly wasn’t defense that did the Wizards in tonight. The Wizards won the turnover battle 12-24. They simply didn’t perform on offense. They were out rebounded (30-48), out shot, and as Coach Saunders said after the game, “bullied around the glass.”
- JaVale McGee continues to block the shots, adding a pair of blocks to his season total 17. He was third in the NBA in blocks coming into tonight’s game.
- Yi Jianlian is showing off his defensive skills this season with six blocks tonight. Having both him and McGee on the floor should really shut-down opponents. He’s also not that bad when he uses his height on offense too. I asked Coach Saunders about Yi and he said Yi has been more aggressive around the rim. Audio: Saunders on Yi’s Defense. I also asked Yi about what he’s been doing to improve his defense and he says it’s about his positioning. Audio: Yi – Defense.
- Gilbert Arenas is still trying to find his long range shot: 1-9 on 3-pointers.
- Andray Blatche remained quiet after his first quarter explosion, I’m beginning to see a pattern of the team giving him the ball early and often but quickly backing off as the game wears on.
- Kurt Hinrich bounced back from his six turnover game with 14 points and 8 assists.
- Al Thornton left the game in the 2nd half after starting the game with what he described as an abdominal strain, the team certainly missed his rebounding skills.