There’s no defending the Washington Wizards. Make that, no defending by the Washington Wizards.
The Wiz lost 133-109 to the hapless Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. Washington allowed a Charlotte-record 77 points in the first half. The Hornets made their first 10 shots, converted 65 percent from the field in the first half, and even made two four-point plays. You’re lucky to see one in a game and Charlotte made two in a half.
It was the 16th straight game the Wiz have allowed 100 or more points. Let’s be honest – no team allows that many points that cares even a little about defense. The Wiz are turning into an all-star game of offense only. That would be fine, and even entertaining, if it won these shootouts, but Washington is now 25-20 and looking nothing like a playoff contender.
The sad part is a good coach in Scott Brooks will get fired eventually over such poor defense. If the players cared even a little about Brooks’ future, they’d stop playing like a playground team worrying only over its next shot.
Coaching in the NBA is not about Xs and Os. It’s managing men, and Brooks seems clueless. Brooks threatened changes after the loss, but that’s really a sign of weakness. Players are already paid and very few respond positively to benching. Besides, playing reserves over starters is no way to break out of a slump, even if the former will at least play defense with some passion.
No, Brooks needs to tap into his starters and rekindle some passion. The long 82-game season makes January a boring rut, but if Washington doesn’t start playing better it won’t last long in the playoffs, after preseason hopes of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. Right now, they’re looking like one-and-done at best come April.
Brooks needs to show Otto Porter his minus-24 points on the floor against Charlotte when scoring only six points himself. Porter didn’t even manage a personal foul trying to compete defensively. Marcin Gortat didn’t score at all and was minus-23. For someone talking about retirement next year, he seems to have one foot on the beach already.
The Wiz aren’t in a freefall, but if they don’t quickly find their defense over the next four road games, they may return home vying for the last playoff spot. Life then gets even harder and Brooks’ words may go unheard.
This is where pride shows up. We’ll see if the Wizards flash it.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.