March 6, 2012 Wizards Get Routed at the Phone Booth
Verizon Center Faithful ask Andray Blatche “Can you hear me now?”
It was really over after the first 12 minutes of hoops. The Wizards let the Warriors, who came into last night’s match-up playing their fifth-straight road game in seven days, walk into their backyard and push them around for 48 minutes Monday evening. If anything was proven by last night’s game it’s that the antidote for poor play is simply getting the Wizards on your schedule. Well, that and Wizards fans voiced their opinion of Andray Blatche’s play this season quite clearly to a resounding chorus of “Boo’s”.
The Wizards, 8-29, ran into a buzz saw in the first quarter last night. Golden State came out firing to the tune of a 41 point opening frame. The 17-point deficit that the Wizards faced after that first quarter proved to be too much to overcome as they never were able to make it a competitive game the rest of the way.
The Warriors, who had been having trouble making a basketball into the ocean on their previous stops during this road trip, shot a stifling 15-23 from three-point range (65.2%) against the Wizards porous defense. I had to pinch myself during the second half to remind me that I was watching a Wizards game and not the Three-Point Shootout during All-Star Weekend. No player on Golden State that attempted a shot from beyond the arc had a shooting percentage less than 50% from deep; they, in effect, put on a shooting clinic.
Unfortunately what will be forgotten in last night’s loss is John Wall’s spectacular performance. As this season has progressed he has raised the level of his game night in and night out. The jump shot, which looked as if it was a completely foreign idea to him back in December, has slowly but surely began to fall, and as a result teams are starting to push up on him and not give the free jumper as they had been all year long. This opens up the floor completely for John to make plays; he obviously has the athleticism to get around any defender in the NBA when he puts the ball on the deck, we have all seen this. When he is able to get into the lane it allows him to truly make plays as a point guard by kicking to open teammates after defenders converge on him or simply taking it strong to the bucket and being able to finish with an array of moves. Last night’s 20 point and 14 assist outing showed all of those abilities and reminded people that we do have a player on our roster that can, and will, be a franchise changer.
Outside of Wall continuing his torrid pace on the floor there really wasn’t much that can be looked at as a positive from the Wizards prospective. As a team, the Wizards shot 42% from the field, 36% from deep and an abysmal 55% from the foul line. Jordan Crawford came back down to earth from the high he had been on lately. Nick Young did finish with 25 points on the evening. Unfortunately the majority of those, 15 to be exact, came in the fourth quarter; long after this game had been decided. Javale McGee had 10 points and 10 rebounds but was abused on the defensive end of the floor all night long by Epke Udoh (Who? Exactly). Jan Vesely had a decent night with 7 points and 9 rebounds but he did only go 5-11 from the foul line and quite honestly his new haircut stuck out to me more than anything he did on the court.
That brings us to the ongoing soap opera surrounding Andray Blatche, or All-Day Dray as his friends call him. Andray might as well be public enemy number in the District of Columbia right now, the man can do no good in the eyes of the people and it is obviously affecting his play and his psyche. Blatche was booed relentlessly from the moment he checked into the game and it continued on for the rest of the night.
“You’re home and people that’s supposed to have your back don’t have your back. Instead of encouraging you to get better, they push you down and hope you get worse,” Blatche said. “Every time I touch the ball, I’m second guessing. I’m trying to avoid the boos. Trying to play a perfect game so I don’t have to hear it so I can help my team win.”
This is not what you ever want to hear out of a player on your team. It is plain to see that his confidence is completely broken, anytime you are more focused on “trying to avoid the boos” rather than playing the game that got you to this point in your professional career, something is amiss. I am a well-noted Andray Blatche apologist; however this season even I have been pushed to my breaking point with his play. However, I don’t think the answer is booing everything the man does on the floor.
Like it or not, All-Day Dray is currently under contract longer than any other player on the team. Unless we amnesty him in the offseason, which is another article for another day, we as fans should not continue to bury him in boos. Whether the self-proclaimed Captain’s play has left much to be desired for or not, the fact remains that he possesses a very unique skill set for a big man and could be, and should be, an asset for this team.
Who knows if Andray will get his act together and turn it around before the season is over, I am just a writer not a mind reader. What I do know is that the Wizards, as a team, need to “Break the cigarette habit” as Randy Wittman loves to say, because the Lakers are coming to town on Wednesday night and I can guarantee the Masked Mamba will not take it easy on the Wiz Kids.