Reporting Frank Hanrahan
The Wizards showed why this might be a long shortened season in their home opener against New Jersey, blowing a 21-point lead and losing 90-84.
The Wizards looked great early but horrid late in the loss at Verizon Center.
After the Wizards built a 21-point first-half lead against New Jersey at Verizon Center, the ball started to stick offensively — and it stuck even more in the fourth quarter in the Wizards’ 90-84 loss to the Nets.
Obviously sticking means the ball wasn’t being moved around and, with players standing idly by watching others shoot, predictably the Wizards collapsed.
“We responded in a very selfish way,” Wizards’ Coach Flip Saunders said about how his team played after building such an early lead. “Everyone trying to say I’m going to do it myself rather than play team basketball and doing it the right way.”
The Wiz had five assists as a team after one quarter when they led New Jersey 26-13, but the rest of the game they had only six more assists.
Stunning statistic right there, and an even clearer reason why they are 0-1.
“When we got up big it stopped being a team game,” Wizards’ guard John Wall said. “Everyone was trying to go one-on-one and no one on our team is good enough to go one-on-one.”
Saunders also thinks conditioning played a part in the lack of offensive execution.
“We got to get there. We have no choice with the shape thing, because when you are playing every day you really don’t have a choice,” Saunders said.
The level of frustration in the Wizards’ locker room after the defeat was palpable. Wiz forward Andray Blatche in particular was ticked off because he felt he wasn’t used properly by his teammates and Coach Flip Saunders.
“You can’t keep having me pick and pop and shooting jump shots,” Blatche said. “Give me the ball in the paint.”
It doesn’t take a psychologist to tell you that in order to start winning, you really have to hate losing. Losing can’t be accepted, and for too long the Wizards have become accustomed to failing.
So maybe Blatche has reached that boiling point and the anger of losing overflowed. He probably shouldn’t have expressed his frustration through the media and Twitter, but in his defense at least he’s upset about losing.
The Wizards visit Atlanta tonight. Coverage at 7 on 106.7 The Fan.