Flip Saunders was hailed as an offensive genius at previous stops in Minnesota and Detroit, but that has not been the case this season in Washington, where the Wizards have been completely inept at that end of the floor.
The Wizards missed 65.5 percent of their shots and scored at least 20 points in just one quarter in a 93-72 loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. They set a new season-low in points – the worst total since they scored 67 points in a loss to San Antonio on Feb. 21, 2009 – and offered several examples of why they rank in the bottom third in the NBA in scoring and field goal percentage.
“It goes back to every guy wanting to be that guys that gets us over the hump,” Andray Blatche said. “Our strength is we got a lot of great scorers, and that’s our weakness. We tend to panic when we get down by seven or nine points. But like Flip always say, there’s no nine-point basket. You gotta take your time, run the plays and trust in the system, and we always break ’em. We always break ’em.”
The problem is the Wizards don’t have a lot of great scorers. John Wall and Nick Young are the only Wizards to score at least 20 points in a game more than once this season. The only player on the roster to average at least 20 points for a whole season is Rashard Lewis, who bowed out of the game with what the team said was a sore right knee.
“We’re not good enough. We are not good enough as individual players, and…we think at times that we’re good enough to go out and just play,” Saunders said. “We’re not that. We gotta play guys that can play the right way with some intelligence, that are going to play hard. If you do that, you give yourselves a chance. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter how talented you are.”
Nick Young continued to shoot as if he gets extra credit for degree of difficulty. Blatche stepped out and attempted the same “lazy jumpers” that he vowed to stop shooting after a players-only meeting last week. JaVale McGee dribbled and stumbled into the lane, tossing up a hook shot from around his ankles. John Wall pulled up for jumpers but leaned in as if were trying to beg the shot to fall. And Jordan Crawford wasn’t deterred even as his jumper betrayed him.
“It’s terrible out there,”Young said after missing 10 of his 16 shot attempts. Shots ain’t falling. We ain’t got no chemistry right now. Getting into the flow of things, it’s hard.”
Trevor Booker finished 7 of 9 for 14 points and was the only Wizard to play more than 10 minutes and convert more than 38 percent of his shots.
The only way the Wizards were able to get baskets was through the open floor. They made nine field goals and scored 21 points on fast-break opportunities. Subtract those totals and the Wizards were 21 for 73 (28.8 percent) and scored just 51 points from their half court offense.
“I’m doing my job,” Wall said. “Trying to lead. I’m running the team, get everybody involved, and just try to make the right plays and play hard. Hopefully everybody follow the lead. Some games we move the ball and we play good. Some games, we don’t. We want to go one-on-one and things get tougher.”
Wall had just six assists and had to be frustrated watching Ricky Rubio distribute to his stable of shooters, then take his own opportunities to get into the lane for easy layups. Wall had another poor night shooting. If not for two third-quarter dunks, Wall would’ve finished 1-of-8 from the floor.
“At times, we’re not making shots and at times, we’re not finding the right people at the right times,” Wall said. “Whenever [Rubio gets] in the paint, we all collapse and his team did a great job of spacing out and just about everybody one through four can shoot. … We got guys that can shoot, but we, at times, we don’t take the shots when we’re supposed to. We pump fake or take an extra two or three dribbles when we don’t have to. We got guys that can make shots. It’s just if you’ve got the confidence to take them when you’re supposed to.”
The get-mine offense is one of the primary reasons that the Wizards are 0-8, the fans are getting restless, and Saunders and General Manager Ernie Grunfeld are probably dreading any early-morning phone calls over the next few days.
“It’s like the same thing every night,” Young said. “People don’t know what it feels like to be out there, to get the boos, to have to hear that. Not to say we don’t deserve it, but they really don’t know what’s going on. So, it’s tough.”
Nothing is tougher than what the record represents. “It means we’re losers,” Rookie Chris Singleton said after his first career start.