Grizzlies 95, Wizards 80: Shoot Me Now
With that being said, I really don't have too many answers for tonight. It was like the anti-Wizards were out there. Instead of Washington driving and getting buckets at the free throw line to compensate for so-so shooting, it was Memphis sloppily driving to the rim and getting a majority of their points from the charity stripe. Looking at the game stats, the only one where Memphis had a clear advantage was in free throws (36 to 15), which is completely uncharacteristic of the Wizards. They were settling for too many midrange jumpers, and while it often seems like this happens every game, the reality is that the Wizards usually have a free throw advantage against their opponents.
Tonight, it simply wasn't happening. The Wizards are your classic rhythm team. If their jumpers are falling, then they can kick their offense into high gear. Teams have to acknowledge the jumper, which opens up the lane for easy buckets. The problem is that if you aren't hitting your jumpers, that lane never opens up.
Speaking of uncharacteristic, I have absolutely no answer as to what was wrong with Gilbert Arenas. All I can say is that he's a rhythm shooter, meaning he is prone to streaks where he's on and where he's off. Usually, however, Arenas can shoot himself out of them, but I guess he never got the chance to do it when he was on the bench in the third and fourth quarters.
That was probably the worst game Arenas has ever played, and he's given no indication that there was anything wrong with him, making it even wierder. He didn't admit that he was restless after sleeping three hours and bouncing around a basketball all night, so I don't know. Perhaps he was spending too much time worrying about blogs.
Ultimately, as much as I tend to advocate Arenas not shooting as much, the reality is that the Wizards need him to consistently score 25+ to win. That doesn't mean the Wizards should be over-reliant on Arenas--after all, Dallas has won 8 in a row and they need Dirk to score 25+ to win--but it just means that Arenas has to bring it every night. Nobody can really win against anyone if their star scores 3 points, and if there is a positive to take away from this, it's that the Wizards did hang around without Arenas and Antawn Jamison playing well. At least Caron Butler finally showed that he can be a monster.
Obviously, it looks bad now, and the Wizards are in big trouble. Judging from some of my comments in the game thread, I'm feeling the pain. Still, there are two good pieces of news. First, the Eastern Conference has been horrendous, which opens the door for a nice Wizards run once they play some Eastern Conference foes. Second, as Gilbert Arenas said to Marc Stein here, this isn't so different than last year.
Q: The last time we spoke, you said you thought the Wiz were about a year and a half away from challenging for the East title. But you guys haven't won a road game yet. How concerned are you with this start?
A: With this team, I'm never worried. I've been with this group for three years now and we've been through worse times. Last year, what did we start, 7-14?
(Editor's note II: It was actually 9-14 and 12-18, but you get his point.)
Hopefully, some home-cooking tomorrow should help heal the wounds. As crazy as it sounds, the Wizards don't need to do anything big to get better. All the parts have been there, just at different times and in different games. If they can simply put it all together, things can get better. I'm not saying they will, but as crazy as it sounds, the Wizards picked the right year to start 4-8 and score in the 80s in four road games.
Postgame thoughts? The floor is open to venting.