A few thoughts on the Wizards’ 120-109 loss to Denver:
If you think you’ve seen this before, you have, three times in five days. “The last three games that we’ve lost, all the teams were basically clones of each other, if you look at New York, Denver, and Phoenix,” said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders.
*Top scoring teams in the NBA: 1, Denver (107.4 ppg); 2, New York (106.7); 3, Phoenix (105.8)
*Top point guards: Steve Nash (17 points, 14 assists); Raymond Felton (17 points, 15 assists); Chauncey Billups and Ty Lawson combined (32 points, 8 assists).
*Top 3-point shooting teams: 3, Denver (.389); 8, Phoenix (.376); 9, New York (.373)
*“Stretch 4s”: Channing Frye, Phoenix (25 points, seven 3-pointers); Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler combined, New York (42 points, five 3-pointers); Al Harrington, Denver (21 points, six 3-pointers).
*For good measure, combined losing margin: 38 points (12.7 average).
John Wall, and the entire Wizards roster, really, got turned inside out by Billups and Lawson. Lost in all the inevitable discussion of Carmelo Anthony’s future, Lawson also made a hometown return and showed that if he wasn’t sitting behind an all-star veteran like Billups, he’d be perfectly capable of running the Nuggets himself. Even Wall admitted they picked the Wizards apart.
“His head was spinning there in the first quarter, for sure,” said Saunders. “I said before the game, you’re going to the young point guard versus the veteran in Chauncey. Chauncey didn’t get to where he’s at overnight as a rookie. He was with three teams his first two years in the league, and he evolved and he developed. That’s how we’re hoping John’s going to be able to develop, that he can run a half-court offense totally like that.”
At least Andray Blatche played well, even if his first-quarter run wasn’t exactly the product of crisp execution. There was passion and determination from the big man after he got excoriated last night, but the bad habits persist. Twice in the third quarter, when the Wizards were still down by double digits but were at least refusing to back down completely, he needlessly coughed up the ball on the dribble and then immediately made things worse with a hasty foul. For both Blatche and Nick Young, it’s easy to get caught up in the points they scored, but if the game was never close, how much does it really matter?
Four-game road trip. Ugh. “I think everyone’s looking ahead to the road games,” said Wall. “I know teams always prepare for the next game, but every time we see a road game, we’re just hoping it’s that one. We can’t make no more excuses or complain about not winning on the road. We’ve just got to do the job.”
Gilbert Arenas returns to Washington at the end of next week, and only then will the Wizards find any relief from what might just be the defining story of their season.
“Yeah, it builds on us,” said Wall. “I think it’s inside our heads. I know everybody’s watching to see what the score is when we’re on the road, everybody’s checking to see if we can finally get one. It’s in our heads every time. I think just down the stretch when we get in those types of close games, we gotta learn how to get stops like we did against the Celtics and execute. That’s the only way you’re going to win tight games down the stretch.”