October 24, 2014

Wizards start strong, stumble in second half against the Kings, 115-107

The Sacramento Kings have a lot in common with the Washington Wizards: dollops of young talent but equal parts inconsistency. Both were on display Wednesday night as the Wizards again squandered a big first half lead before falling to a road-weary Kings team 115-107.

The Kings were in the last of a six-game Eastern swing, and were able to muster just enough defense to pull out their first win of the trip. John Wall’s near triple double (21 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and 5 turnovers) and Jordan Crawford’s hot shooting (32 points on 12-for-19 from the field) weren’t enough, as the Wizards gave up 96 shots (12 above Sacramento’s average, third highest in the league) and 18 offensive rebounds.

Tyreke Evans provided the offense for Sacramento early, pouring in 20 first half points on nine shots and collecting six rebounds. Jordan Crawford kept pace for the Wizards, chalking 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

After leading by as much as 13, the Wiz allowed the Kings to claw back to close the half. DeMarcus Cousins and JaVale McGee were showcased on several consecutive possessions for their resepctive teams, with each mercurial center converting on baseline spin moves in the closing minutes. Cousins got the best of the match-up, getting six points and several offensive rebounds in helping the Kings pull to 68-60.

The Kings shot 44 percent, but made 15-of-16 free throws and had nine offensive boards in the half. Cousins accounted for six, along with four on the defensive end.

Washington’s offense stalled (increasingly predictably) in the second half in part because of cold shooting, but also falling victim to Sacramento’s increased defensive pressure. The Kings were able to stay in front of Wall, and Nick Young was every bit as cold as Crawford was hot—finishing the night with six makes on 23 attempts. Meanwhile, the Wiz were unable to get stops on the other end, giving up another four offensive rebounds in the quarter.

McGee, who has had goaltending problems in the past, was whistled for two in the third—along with several near misses. He was also persona non grata on the offensive end, taking only four shots and turning the ball over three times.

The Wizards let the Kings tie it at 78-78 before hitting back-to-back three pointers to provide some breathing room. But the Kings went on an 10-5 run to end the period.

In the fourth quarter things remained close. Jordan Crawford’s third three-pointer of the night gave the Wizards a 101-100 lead with just under six minutes remaining. But Isaiah Thomas continued his impressive performances of late by scoring 16 of his 18 points in the second half, as he and Marcus Thornton (22 points, 18 in the second half) took over the offensive production duties from Evans–who only notched two points after his scorching first half..

The Wizards could not find enough offense late, and were unable to get any closer than 104-103, as Thomas and Thornton made three consecutive baskets to pull away. Chuck Hayes had a pair of backbreaking offensive rebounds in the closing minutes to seal the deal, giving the Kings their 11th win of the season.

The Wizards don’t play again until after the All Star break, when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks next Tuesday. John Wall will compete in the Skills Challenge at the All-Star festivities this weekend.

Comments

  1. This team is a joke! I like what interim head coach Randy Wittman had to say after the game was over, but it will no doubt fall upon deaf ears! The plan is not working and Ted Leonsis needs to clean house after this season and go out and get some players with heart that play the game the right way. Last night’s effort in the second half was absolutely pathetic and people are stupid to go and spend their hard earned money on this farce of a team!

    I hate to be so hard on the team because I’m a lifelong fan that has stood by this team since my childhood in the 80’s, but enough is enough! I get mad at myself for even watching games anymore because I feel like it’s a waste of my time and I seem to care more than the guys playing.

    • Nathan Hamme says:

      The frustration is certainly understandable, Jason. They looked the part of a decent team for the first 18 minutes, sliding from unimpressive to dismal over the course of the next 30. The inconsistency is maddening.

      While I support Ted’s plan in philosophy–building through the draft, developing young talent, being opportunistic, maintaining cap flexibility until you’re thisclose to being a contender–the lack of a dominant veteran personality is really hurting this team. And that was something they had the resources to prepare for.

      I like Rashard Lewis, he’s a good guy and at one time was an All-Star caliber player. But he’s easily the team’s most respected veteran and he’s replacement level at this point in his career. He’s also not a strong personality, and with Ronny Turiaf out we don’t have a single other veteran post player on the roster (and if you want to argue Blatche fits that description I’d add “who works hard for positioning on offense and defense”).

      The team is young and was obviously going to be up and down over the course of this season, but it is hard watching the team revert to bad habits when opponents go on even the smallest of runs. I definitely think brighter days are ahead (see back for my mid-season wrap up later in the week) but it is difficult to stomach right now.

  2. I was more than a little upset after that game the other night, but have calmed my nerves since then. I agree with you on liking Ted’s philosophy and the lack of a veteran leader is hurting the team. I knew we would have some growing pains and I can accept that, but what really kills me is the lack of effort and desire from some guys.

    I’m a Ted Leonsis fan and won’t bash him like some people do because he really does care about us fans and wants to build a winning team. There’s some owners who care only about getting our money and take us for granted, but I don’t get that feeling from Mr. Leonsis.

    What’s your opinion of Ernie Grunfeld? I think he takes a lot of heat from fans that is misguided because he works with orders from the owner. I know he’s made mistakes, but he built playoff teams in three different cities. I think he’s a decent judge of talent.

    • Nathan Hamme says:

      I’ve thrown my hands up a few times as well, Jason. The effort is better under Wittman than it was under Saunders, but it’s not where it needs to be on a consistent basis.

      I am also a big Leonsis fan, really appreciate how he’s developed the Capitals and how he stood up when Abe Pollin finally passed and took the torch and said all the right things. I think he’s a smart guy and support many of his initiatives. The losing is something that doesn’t sit well with any of us, but I think a new owner deserves a grace period before all the frustration are directed his way.

      Grunfeld has made some solid moves more recently, I think the Hinrich trades have helped acquire assets and give the team flexibility. Obviously wasn’t hot on the Arenas contract or the Miller/Foye trade but it’s very easy to say that in hindsight. I know many people loved Gilbert and thought we were close enough to at least win some playoff series with that team so there’s something to be said for that. I’ll discuss this more in an upcoming column, and thanks for the feedback.

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