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Terps, Hoyas, and Wizards

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Perhaps it was the 31 attempted three pointers against the Charlotte Bobcats that doomed the Wizards during last night’s 92-76 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. Correction: it was the 31 attempted three pointers that doomed the Wizards during last night’s 92-76 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.

The Wizards have now lost their first six games of the season for the second straight year, and things simply do not appear to be going their way. The starters could do no right tonight and were completely out played by the Bobcats, shooting 15-of-43 from the field. For those doing math at home, that comes out to 35%, a number which was only slightly higher than the team’s 30% shooting from the field.

It’s not hard to figure out why the Wizards lost this game when you look at how badly they were dominated in almost every way. Starting with the turnovers, of which the Wizards had 17. The Bobcats played fantastic defense all night, which may or may not have something to do with the added intensity that #2 overall draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist brings to the table. Jordan Crawford led the charge on the turnover front, committing five of those deadly basketball sins in his 21 minutes of play off the bench. Careless ball handling and errant passes were abound in this game, but those would be excusable if the Wizards were shooting well. Unfortunately, they weren’t.

Which would lead us to yet another problem (and largely the main one) the Wizards had last night: their shot selection was absolutely atrocious. Since when did the Wizards become the Orlando Magic when they had Dwight Howard? The only person they added in the offseason who can supposedly shoot from long range is Bradley Beal, the rookie. And yet, he and newcomer A.J. Price managed to go 2-13 from long range, and in the process took a sledge hammer to numerous Wizards possessions that could have lasted longer had they not thrown up errant three pointers. The looks weren’t even good at times; these were contested shots that should have never been taken. The Wizards have a serious personnel crisis going on when Kevin Seraphin is the best shooter on the team. The return of Nene and Wall (whenever that is) is hardly going to be a massive difference if the current players can’t hit shots.

That being said, those two weren’t the only ones to blame for this disastrous effort, because the main culprit for taking very conspicuous shots was Trevor Ariza. Ariza decided yesterday was the day he was going to be aggressive and channel his Houston Rockets shot-jacking days, and threw up 18 unquestionably questionable shots, which equaled his shot total from the first three games he played as a Wizard combined. Maybe I am being hard on Ariza; after all, he was the only Wizards scorer in double-digits with 19 points. Then again, maybe I am not being hard enough on the Wizards coaching staff for allowing Ariza to even attempt that number of shots in the first place. A guy that hasn’t shot over 42% over the past three seasons is, simply put, not the guy you want taking the most shots of anyone in the game.

At the very least, that responsibility should have fallen to Bradley Beal, who cooled off considerably from his previous three days of scoring in the double digits. Beal finished the night on 1-of-11 shooting, and just looked to be forcing things out there far too often. I am not going to harp on Beal too much because he’s an incredibly young rookie who is improving game by game, but I will say that he didn’t help at all tonight. That being said, Beal has only missed one free throw on 22 attempts this year!

….so there’s that.

Back to Trevor Ariza. At this point in his career, Ariza is what he is: a so-so defender who is a role player at best. Sometimes role players carry you to victory, sure; I am not sure Ariza will ever carry this team to anything other than 0-7, 0-8, and 0-9. Or if he does continue to be more “dominant” during games, fans should expect the losses to keep piling up. He simply is not a player who the Wizards should rely on at any point in time for offensive output. But then again, they couldn’t rely on anyone tonight for offensive output.

About the only thing the Wizards got right this game? Rebounding. They equaled the rebounding efforts of Charlotte with 50 apiece, eighteen of which were offensive rebounds. I am pleased with that, but that is more a result of poor shooting from both teams, as 50 rebounds is a whole lot to have during a game. That’s what happens when neither team can break 40% shooting from the field. The Bobcats weren’t good today; the Wizards were just worse.

Either way, this team needs to tinker with some things, because the starting lineup is terrible. They get beaten by reserves consistently, which makes sense because Price, Beal, Booker, Ariza and Okafor (aka the entire starting lineup) would probably be bench players on most other teams. Maybe injecting Seraphin in over Booker would help. We started Singleton last year and appear to be on pace for zero wins, so why not add him in and resume playing like the team that won 20 games last year.

I am honestly speechless at the Washington Wizards for this stinker. They should have played better, and they didn’t. Time to move on.

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So much for starting off on the right foot at home for the Washington Wizards. After a sluggish first quarter that saw the Washington Wizards manage only 12 points, the 16 point defecit the Celtics built up proved a tad too much for Kevin Seraphin and Co. In spite of going on torrid run in the second quarter that saw the Wizards score thirty points thanks in large part to a eight points from Kevin Seraphin (on jumpers, to boot), the Washington Wizards never led until late in the fourth quarter. With the game close and the Wizards able to win on a last second shot, poor execution damned them as Martell Webster forced up an ugly shot off the inbound. That was all she wrote after that.

Wizard(s) of the Game

Jordan Crawford (21 points, 4 rebounds, three assists) and Kevin Seraphin (19 points, 7 rebounds)

Were it not for Jordan Crawford and Kevin Seraphin, the Washington Wizards would have suffered an absolute blowout loss. Seraphin looked like he hadn’t missed a beat despite missing the season opener on Tuesday, showcasing a newly refined jumper as he connected on his first 5 shots of the game. His range made life difficult for a much older Garnett, and his floor spacing helped Jordan Crawford, our other player of the game, get to the basket consistently.

These two made all the difference tonight, and perhaps the more amazing part is that they did it off the bench. Crawford may have very well stolen Bradley Beal’s starting spot in the rotation with his play, but that remains a big question. He hurt his ankle late in the game going to the basket, and while he still played the remainder of the game, he did not look nearly as explosive throughout. I’m not sure if he’s going to miss any time, but the Wizards certainly can’t afford it if he does.

Goat(s) of the Game

Beal and Ariza

Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal went a combined 0-for-9 from the field tonight, and looked completely lost out there at times. Neither played with the type of aggression they were both brought in here to provide, and proved instead to be liabilities, leading to them getting yanked from the game for the majority of the second half. Beal had a very hard time getting around Courtney Lee, who followed him around the court relentlessly and never gave him much space. Outside of a singular drive to the basket for some free throws, the remainder of the game was marred by his bad habit of hanging around the three point line and not moving. He’s young, so I don’t expect him to get it right away, but he certainly made the Celtics look like world class defenders (the same Celtics who lost by 20 points in both their previous games).

As for Ariza, he is what he is, which is to say he is not really an offensive threat when his jumper isn’t falling. His stat line tells the story, and you’d be hard pressed to find a fan in the arena who even realized he was on the court. His minutes may go down if he isn’t providing offense, isn’t providing defense, and isn’t providing anything else beneficial. In the press conference, though, Wittman was persistent that there would not be any lineup changes in the future. It is still the second game of the season, so that may be the rational move.

What’s Next

Same team, different arena. The Wizards travel to Boston to complete their home-and-home against the Celtics and hopefully snap their two game losing streak and right the ship, so to speak. Seraphin will have another game under his belt, as will Beal, and hopefully the Wizards will come out with much more intensity than they did to start their home opener.

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