Battered, broken and totally out of sync, the hobbled Washington Wizards had a hard time finding their stroke in last night’s 90-83 loss to the Orlando Magic.
It was yet another dismal night shooting for the Wizards, hitting just 34 of their 77 shots. Wednesday was yet another contest where the team failed to get over the 45-percent shooting threshold. A few more buckets here, or a better shot choice there and the Wizards could have walked away with another win, instead they add to the mounting number of losses.
With rookie Bradley Beal out with a concussion, Trevor Ariza down with a leg injury, AJ Price missing with a hand injury and John Wall still not prepared to return, the Wizards had to turn to yet another starting lineup. Earl Barron, someone who rarely sees the floor let alone starts, was thrust in at power forward, while Shaun Livingston returned to a starting spot at guard.
It is hard to criticize two players who are only starting because of injury, but Barron and Livingston were clearly key reasons the team shot so poorly. Combined, the two of them only hit two shots, while they missed a combined 11 buckets. Sure, not everyone can score like Wall, but the two continued to take mid-range jumpers throughout the game and it hurt the team down the stretch.
Those two were not the only ones to have a poor day shooting, but they were definitely the worst of a bad bunch. Including Barron and Livingston, six of the team’s nine players who saw the floor shot below 50-percent. The only Washington player who really did well offensively at all was Nene.
Nene continued the strong play and leadership he has exhibited in his game all year. Too bad he is on a minutes limit. In just 25-minutes, Nene was 8-10 from the floor, a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line and scored a team high 20 points. Oh, and he was the only player other than Cartier Martin to have a positive plus-minus while he was on the floor.
There is a real reason for the minutes limit, but it is certainly starting to hinder the Wizards’ ability to perform on the court. It may be in the team’s long-term best interest to keep him on the bench, but at this point either the forward is healthy or he is not. If he is not, he should not play. If he is healthy though, then he needs to see the court more.
Staring a 3-21 record in the face heading into Friday’s game against the Detroit Pistons, the Wizards continue to fail at putting it together on the road. Sure, they are not exactly stellar at home, but they are 1-11 away from the Verizon Center and Detroit has been solid, definitely not good, but solid at home. It is a recipe for yet another Wizards loss.
With a home-and-home against one of the worst teams in the East, the Pistons, Washington really needs to use this upcoming back-to-back in order to really gauge what it can realistically do. Yes, it is still early in the season, but if Washington does not start showing signs of life, it may be time to start seeing what they have for the future.