By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 19 -- The Ed Tapscott era opened with an easy 24-point home victory over the Golden State Warriors in Washington back on Nov. 25.
On Monday, the Wizards paid a visit to the Warriors and were paid back with a 119-98 loss that dropped them to 8-32 on the season and 7-22 since Tapscott replaced Eddie Jordan on Nov. 24.
The latest loss featured many of the elements that have contributed to the team's woeful record, before and after Tapscott took over on an interim basis: poor perimeter defense, a lack of offensive rhythm and untimely breakdowns at both ends of the court.
Against one of the worst defensive teams in the league, the Wizards too often settled for quick jump shots, committed 13 turnovers and were outscored 33-19 in the fourth quarter.
That was not nearly enough against a Warriors team that loves to get up and down the floor and has the green light to take almost any open shot.
As a result, the Warriors connected on a season-high 13 three-pointers, including a back-breaker from guard Anthony Morrow that gave Golden State an 18-point lead with 3 minutes 30 seconds to play.
The Wizards continue a four-game trip Wednesday night at Sacramento.
"You've got to pass and share the ball to get into a rhythm offensively, and we had far too much dribbling and far too much isolation play for our type of team," Tapscott said. "There were some spots there where we executed our offense and we got some very good shots, but then it would disappear."
Mike James, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler each scored 22 points to pace the Wizards while Jamal Crawford, who seemingly always gets up to face Washington, paced the Warriors with 28 points on 12-of-25 shooting with eight assists. Stephen Jackson added 26 points for the Warriors, who improved to 13-29 with their second straight win.
Five Warriors scored in double figures, including Morrow, the undrafted rookie out of Georgia Tech who leads the NBA in three-point shooting accuracy (50 percent).
"Well, what can I say?" Golden State Coach Don Nelson said. "It was a game we thought we should win and we did . . . It makes coaching easy when everybody's making shots."
The Wizards helped the cause with defensive rotations that too often were late and transition defense that too often was nonexistent. Golden State -- particularly Crawford and Corey Maggette -- also had far too many easy dribble-drives to the rim.
Still, the Warriors led by only seven entering the fourth quarter but quickly pushed the advantage to 12 on a runner by Crawford and a Morrow three-pointer. The Wizards never trailed by fewer than 11 the rest of the way.
"It's all about getting stops," said James. "We get so consumed with the offensive end and things not going right at the offensive end, we forget about the defensive end. One thing we have to continue to remind ourselves of is that if we don't score, they shouldn't be able to score, but we go cold and they come down and it's easy for them. We're all to blame for it because we're right there. It's not that these teams are so much better than us, they're just making the plays when it counts."
Wizards Notes: Team President Ernie Grunfeld and Vice President of Player Personnel Milt Newton attended the game. Grunfeld will remain on the West Coast to do some college scouting. . . .
Several coaches and players, including Tapscott and Jamison, said they planned on watching some of Tuesday's inauguration coverage before practice. Playing on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday also had Tapscott thinking about the history that will be made when Barack Obama is sworn in as president.
"History has an interesting way of bringing themes together," said Tapscott, who was the first African American head coach at American University and later the first African American vice president of the New York Knicks. "It's a special, special event and coming just one day after we celebrate Martin Luther King just makes it all the more special."