Ty Lawson is successful in Denver with all of the outside shooting. John Wall is thriving with the help of his shooters. Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- In an effort similar to the season opening loss to New Jersey, the Wizards squandered a 37 point first quarter output in their 108-104 loss to the Denver Nuggets.
You can add Al Harrington (29 points, 5-for-8 on three pointers) to the list of 'Wizard Assassin's' this season, joining Kris Humphries, Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony, Ricky Rubio, Samuel Dalembert and John Lucas. The Wizards had been on a three minute scoring drought in the fourth quarter, when Harrington launched a prayer from the top of the key through the net, giving Denver a secure 103-98 lead with 1:14 left in the game.
Andray Blatche was continuously booed for his two point performance on 0-for-7 shooting Friday in front of another hefty crowd (14,866). The fans hatred is clearly getting to him. Flip Saunders defended Blatche in his post game presser but this is getting out of hand. He may be the most hated player in franchise history. Although he didn't score, Blatche was a +4 in his 26 minutes, showing his improved defense.
Other than that, there aren't too many somber things to note about this loss. The Wizards had 13 assists in the first quarter, their most in any quarter since 2000. Nick Young went off for 17 first quarter points, mostly on swishes but also on this monster dunk. For the third straight game against a tough Western Conference opponent, the Washington Wizards have done the following:
- Scored at least 104 points
- Averaged 7.3 three-pointers made a game
- Averaged 30.6 Free Throw Attempts
- Averaged 20.6 assists per game
The individualistic play that haunted the Wizards through the first 12 games is starting to slowly disappear. Six different players had multiple assists on Friday against the Nuggets, which brings up this point: The Wizards should model themselves after the Nuggets.
On Wednesday I touched on three teams who have rebuilt successfully using a specific theme (76ers, Thunder and Bulls). Well I may have forgotten a fourth team in the Denver Nuggets, who are built entirely off the transition game.
Clearly Denver was aided by the pieces obtained in the Carmelo trade -- Danilo Gallinari had 21 points on several outside shots and Timofey Mozgov can hold his own. But who is to say Washington can't become a version similar to the Nuggets in two years?
Flying up and down the court without real set plays is an advantage for a Wizards team with one of the lower basketball-IQ's in the NBA. Playing this style makes the Wizards the hunters, instead of the hunted.
The key for Washington to successfully adopt the fast break style and advance forward in the rebuilding project isn't necessarily for John Wall to score near the hoop, but rather the excellent outside shooting. The Wizards embarrassing losing ways have been because of offensive woes, and more particularly on shots outside of the paint.
Teams like Denver and Minnesota are thriving because of the talented outside shooters they surround their athletic forwards and young point guards with. As long as Nick Young and Jordan Crawford continue to make shots, the Wizards will turn into a below average NBA team, instead of the worst.
And if they do start missing jumpers, and the disgusting losses return? Then my theory of drafting a scoring guard like Jeremy Lamb is starting to make a lot of sense.
*Shelvin Mack had his best game as a pro (nine points, five assists). In a curious move, Flip Saunders pulled John Wall out of the game with four minutes remaining in the first quarter, even while the Wizards were surging. But Mack may have done a better job than Wall in running the fast pace offense. Mack even flustered Nugget backup point guard Andre Miller for zero points and four fouls.
*Nick Young is grabbing the headlines for his recent shooting outbursts, but Jordan Crawford has been just as important. A 17 point day at the office against the Houston was followed up by respective 18 point outings against OKC and Denver. He's shooting 47 percent over this span too, a very high number for the second-year "black hole." Crawford scored the Wizards last nine points against Denver.
*From January 4th through January 13th, the Wizards played six games. Trevor Booker had at least eight points in each of those contests. In his last four games Booker is just averaging 3.7 points and his role as an energy guy seems to have been sapped. I'd expect to see Flip Saunders experiment and move Booker back to the bench shortly.