It's late after tonight's blowout loss to the Orlando Magic so I'll post something relatively brief, but I was struck by how different the Wizards looked one night after trouncing the Golden State Warriors. One opponent is terrible and the other is the the reigning champion of the Eastern Conference. The first game was played at home. The second game was played on the road the night after a game. It's natural for almost every NBA team to play much better at home against a bad team
Last night the Wizards destroyed the 23-54 Golden State Warriors 112-94. The game was played in the Verizon Center and the Wizards shot 52% from the field and held the Warriors to 39% shooting. Washington also handled the Warriors on the boards, out-rebounding Golden State 52-31. Here is how Washington's Big 5 [yeah, yeah, I know] looked against the awful Warriors.
One night later, the Wizards played on the road against the 55-23 Orlando Magic. Washington still shot well -- 50% -- but allowed the Magic to shoot 58% and 59% on 3-pointers. Orlando out-rebounded the Wizards 39-27 and shot 10 more free throws than the Wiz. The final score: Orlando 121 Washington 94. Here is what Washington's Big 5 did against Orlando.
Andray Blatche went from stud to dud. He was bothered by Dwight Howard and put up a number of wild shots that missed badly. Javale McGee got in foul trouble early and almost fouled out in the 3rd quarter. He still shot well, but was far less aggressive due to his foul trouble and the presence of Dwight Howard in the paint. Shaun Livingston went from dominating a team with no interior defense to disappearing against a team with one of the best interior defenders in the NBA. Washington also completely fell apart in the second half, allowing Orlando to score 71 points after halftime. That's a pretty clear sign that guys got tired and then got sloppy, not fighting through screens, switching quickly after passes and not getting back on defense promptly.
The only players who managed to put together two good offensive performances were Nick Young and Mike Miller. Young actually hit a higher percentage of his shots against the Magic, but he didn't get to the line as much and he went from 5 3-pointers to 1. Miller doesn't shoot much, but when he does he's pretty accurate. It simply wasn't nearly enough to compensate for the lack of production from Livingston, Blatche and McGee.
The really good teams are able to overcome playing on the road against talented opponents and the really good players fight through the fatigue to raise their game against upper echelon squads. Before anyone gets too excited about guys like Blatche, McGee and Livingston, remember how they were absolutely dominated by the Orlando Magic. It's no shame to lose to the Magic, but the way the Wizards lost -- completely collapsing in the second half and getting very little from the team's best player, Andray Blatche -- demonstrates how far Washington has to go to become respectable.
I'll have more on the Wizards tomorrow.