The Wizards have had so many games in which players shoot after the first pass on offense or take turns going on one-on-one, dribble-shake-and-shoot-fests that they were probably shocked by what happened on Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers: Players were actually looking to make the extra pass.
“When you haven’t passed the ball very much, you’ve been holding the ball and holding it, then all of a sudden as a team when you try to start doing it, all of a sudden guys aren’t ready, and so we had a lot of unforced turnovers,” Coach Flip Saunders said.
The Wizards rank 29th in assists (15.9), but turn over the ball with almost the same frequency (15.3). Philadelphia is one of the most opportunistic teams in the league, and it converted the Wizards’ 37 turnovers over the past two games into 63 points. The Wizards lost those two games by a combined 44 points.
“We blame the game on turnovers,” said John Wall, who had had eight turnovers, coming within one of his career high, in the Wizards’ 103-90 loss on Saturday. “I think when guys get open and you make the extra pass, they don’t be expecting it, so they not ready to shoot. And sometimes, most guys get it and drive and they are already looking to the rim for rebounds. Not looking for a pass and we getting easy turnovers.”
JaVale McGee had two assists – one fewer than his season total - on Saturday, but picked up a third-quarter turnover on a bad pass. Nick Young had 22 shots and zero assists, but it wasn’t totally because he wasn’t trying to move the ball. He actually had two turnovers in the first quarter, but his teammates were already looking at the rim expecting him to shoot.
Rashard Lewis had a nifty behind-the-back pass to McGee for a dunk but said the Wizards’ reluctance to share the ball has to be overcome if they ever hope to win some games. “That’s when we’ve got to do it every night and not do it off and on because we’ve get used to learning how each other play and not be sometimes and inconsistent about it. We got to be consistent about it, and we’ll be a better team. With a young team like, trust most definitely has to come into play and we have to trust one another.”
The Wizards scored at least 90 points for the third time this season. They have failed to score at least 20 points in 20 of the 48 quarters they have played, but they topped 20 in three quarters on Saturday.
Young had made his first 30 free throws to start the season, but missed his first attempt on Saturday. He said he felt some pressure when he stepped to the foul line.
“It was too much,” Young said. “Everybody kept talking about it. I think somebody on TV jinxed me. I ain’t saying no names - Comcast. Somebody jinxed me.”