Pistons 115, Wizards 111: I'm Getting Nightmares of 2000
The Big 3 all had big games at the same time. Scoring, as a whole, wasn't really a problem. Gilbert Arenas had arguably his most complete game with 28 and 10 assists. Antawn Jamison had 22 and Caron Butler had exactly the type of game I know he can have with 25 points on 12 of 16 shooting. DeShawn Stevenson even chipped in with 15. Offense is solved, right? How could the Wizards lose?
Two uncharacteristic things killed the Wizards. The first was the huge free throw difference. Detroit is really more of a jump shooting team, yet they were able to get to the line 40 times! On the road! They were +18 at the free throw line, which is an insane difference. At some point, the Wizards need to be able to defend without committing too many fouls. Offensively, the Wizards only got to the line 23 times, which is a lot less than usual. Considering this also happened against Memphis, it may be the beginning of the trend.
The second uncharacteristic thing that killed the Wizards were the turnovers. The Wizards forced only 9 turnovers and had 17 of their own. This probably was the main reason why the Pistons were able to score at will on Washington last night. The Wizards were not able to get easy buckets in transition, which is something that has become a trend recently. However, the Wizards still usually take decent care of the ball, which makes the 17 turnovers tonight troubling.
This team is starting to remind me of the 29-53 team of 2000. I went to many home games that year, and after a while, each one started to mold together. The Wizards would fall behind early, be down like 8-10 at the half, and would see the lead baloon to 15 or so in the third quarter. Then, by the end of the quarter, the Wizards reserves would make a run and it would carry over to the fourth quarter. By the middle of the fourth, the lead would be down to 6 or so, and we'd honestly believe the comeback would continue. After a timeout by the opposition (this always happened after a Tracy Murray three...this was simply uncanny), the Wizards would miss a shot to cut it down further and the opponent would close them out eventually. I can't tell you how many games have followed that same pattern this year. It's just unbelievable.
I still think this ship can be rightened. The Wizards played pretty well tonight, to be honest. Detroit is just a super team playing really well right now. They could have beaten nearly any team tonight. There still is more that needs to be done, but the schedule calms down and the Wizards have a lot of home games coming up. A nice run is going to come sooner or later, just like it did last year.
I'd have more to say, but I need to keep watching this Kansas-Florida game. If only the Wizards had an athlete like Julian Wright on their team...
Postgame thoughts? What's your take on tonight?