Point guard John Wall is the player around whom the Washington Wizards are pinning their fortunes, and as such, the team routinely goes as he does. In the preseason opener on Friday night at Verizon Center, Wall shot 3 for 12 and turned over the ball six times with just three assists in 26 minutes.
Thus the Wizards lost badly to Philadelphia, 103-78, before a crowd of 11,419 in a game in which they shot 33 percent, had 20 turnovers and were outrebounded 42-35.
“Terrible,” Coach Flip Saunders said of Wall. “He didn’t play with the same aggressiveness, passion.”
One play in particular encapsulated the failed evening for both Wall and all his teammates. In the third quarter, Wall was pushing the ball upcourt and tried lob it to center JaVale McGee for a routine alley-oop dunk. McGee was unable to handle the pass, and the result was another gaffe in a night chock full of them.
The rest of the starting lineup was no better. Only forward Andray Blatche made more than three field goals, going 5 for 11 for a game-high 18 points that included 8 for 8 from the foul line. Take Blatche out of the equation, and the starters shot a combined 9 for 34.
The Wizards also allowed Philadelphia to shoot 51 percent, including 8 for 17 from three-point range. In another unusual circumstance, 76ers guard Evan Turner, the No. 2 overall pick last year, outperformed Wall, the one player drafted ahead of him. Turner finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
“It’s disrespectful to the whole team and the coaching staff,” Wall said of the Wizards’ showing.
Wall took the most shots on the team, an indication the offense was completely out of sync despite much optimism following training camp. Players, with Wall in the lead, even mentioned playoffs this season, but given the way the Wizards looked on Friday, that talk surely is on hold.
“John can’t play 25 minutes or whatever and turn the ball over six times and have two or three assists,” Saunders said. “He knows that, too. You have no chance. When your best player has the ball in his hands a lot, that can’t happen.”
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