Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Games notes from the Wizards' season-opening loss

The first regular season game after a lockout-reduced preseason is probably going to be sloppy (especially when the Wizards and Nets are involved). This game didn't disappoint. Unfortunately, after building an early lead -- at one point the Wizards were ahead by 21 -- Washington crumbled in the second half and fell to the Nets, 90-84. I missed most of the first quarter, but here are some of my observations from the rest of the game:

- Not John Wall's best game: 13 points (3-13 shooting), 8 rebounds, 6 assists. He added two steals and a block, but he also committed four turnovers and missed six free throws (7-13). He drove to the basket frequently, but he was also out of control on many of them and didn't get calls on several wild shots and layup attempts. The Wizards won't win many games with Wall playing that poorly. Still, it was only the first game, so there's plenty of time to improve.

- Chris Singleton, after just one game, already looks like the team's best perimeter defender. At 6'8, he has the size to defend power forwards, and he's also athletic enough to frustrate guards. The Wizards unleashed him on Williams a few times, and Singleton did a pretty good job sticking with him, moving his feet and staying in front of the shifty point guard. He's going to get plenty of minutes regardless, but if he's able to improve his shooting enough (3 points, 1-3 from the field), he's going to be a very valuable role player.

- Nick Young had the best offensive night for the Wizards. Young, who had an injury scare (left foot) in the third quarter that required him to be lifted into the locker room, later returned in the fourth quarter and seemed to be moving around just fine. In 18 minutes off the bench, he had 16 points on 6-9 shooting, and he made all four of his free throws. I kind of like him in that bench-scoring role.

- No starter for the Wizards played all that well. Jordan Crawford had 15 points and four rebounds; Andray Blatche had 11 points and eight rebounds; and JaVale McGee added 11 points and six rebounds. Rashard Lewis chipped in nine points and two rebounds. But none of them were efficient from the field. Crawford needed 12 shots to get his points, and McGee and Blatche combined to make just 10 of their 24 shots.

- The Wizards frountcourt was outplayed by Kris Humphries (21 points, 16 rebounds), Damion James (6 points, 14 rebounds), and Johan Petro (11 points, 5 rebounds). Yes, really. The Wizards were also outrebounded by 20 (58-38) and allowed 19 offensive rebounds. That was a major problem.

- Trevor Booker only played nine minutes and wasn't much of a factor. Ronny Turiaf played 20 minutes and had a very Turiaf-like game: 2 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 4 fouls. Because Turiaf plays pretty good defense, he's going to see consistent minutes off the bench all season. It's too early to complain about the distribution of minutes after one game, but hopefully Booker receives more playing time as well.

- The Wizards only took eight three-pointers and only hit one of them. The Wizards don't have many solid three-point shooters, but making just one is obviously terrible.