Saturday, January 2, 2010

Amid distraction, Wizards lose to Spurs

It's not surprising that the Wizards lost to the Spurs, especially with the current off-court distractions disrupting the team's focus on improvement. However, with one quarter left to play, the Wizards led the Spurs 71-70 and had a strong chance of winning the game.

And then the fourth quarter started. The Spurs turned up the defensive pressure, and the Wizards started to settle for jump shots instead of attacking the rim. Believe it or not, the Wizards actually outscored the Spurs 34-16 in the paint, but only four of those points came in the fourth quarter. The Wizards also failed to shoot a single free throw in the final frame.

Meanwhile, the Spurs took a lot of jump shots too, but they collectively shot over 50 percent from the field in the game and ran their offense efficiently in the fourth quarter to get plenty of open looks. They also got to the free throw line eight times in the quarter -- and made all eight of them.

The Wizards put forth a strong effort against a very good team, but the performance wasn't unlike what the team has shown this season. They had a chance to win but just didn't seize the opportunity with enough big plays in crunch time.

As for statistical notes, Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison scored 23, 24, and 17 points, respectively. Arenas shot too much (10-25 from the field), while the other two were more effective with fewer shots. Brendan Haywood chipped in four points (on only five shots) and nine rebounds, while Andray Blatche, getting the start at power forward, scored five points (on six shots) and grabbed six rebounds.

Fabricio Oberto played 14 minutes and DeShawn Stevenson played seven minutes, so Flip Saunders must have really been desperate to try to improve the team's defensive effort. They both played hard, and they're decent defenders, but they contributed about nothing on offense (three combined points). I'm not really sure what kind of message that sends to Dominic McGuire (one minute) and Nick Young (DNP).

Overall, the Wizards were outrebounded by just one (37-36) had 17 assists (and nine turnovers).

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