WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- A flawless first quarter from the Wizards disguised a brutally selfish Washington effort for the rest of the home opener. The Wiz fell 90-84 to the New Jersey Nets.
Things went awry starting early in the third quarter, in large part due to Kris Humphries 10 points and four rebounds in the quarter. Washington went from up six to down one entering the fourth quarter.
"Usually when you get up that big in our league, teams are going to make runs. But I thought we responded in a very selfish way in saying 'Oh, I'm going to try and do it myself' rather than play the right way," coach Flip Saunders said after his team squandered a 21 point first half lead.
Even with continually deteriorating play, the Wizards had chances at the very end of the game. John Wall blew many of those chances by making the wrong decisions.
What I'm disappointed in:
*John Wall. Can I nickname him John "bouncing off the" Wall? He was out of control at key moments, hitting the deck when he drove the basketball. He was forcing a lot of shots.
Wall was 3-for-13 from the field. The worst part of his outing had to be at the line though. Wall made only 7-of-13 free throws. The two key ones he missed came with 2:52 left in the fourth and the Wizards only trailing 84-78. Washington badly needed their best player tonight and he didn't respond.
*Kris Humphries owned Andray Blatche, Trevor Booker or whoever attempted to guard him, especially in the second half. In 74 games last season Humphries topped 20 points just three times and is only a threat literally just five feet from the basket. Newsflash to other opposing fan bases: booing Humphries as if he is LeBron James only motivated his teammates to keep feeding their guy the ball.
*New Jersey controlled the paint. 58 Nets rebounds opposed to 39 for the Wizards. This is without 7-footer Brook Lopez. This is with a guy by the name of Johan Petro (11 points, 5 boards). Slashing forward Damion James somehow ended up with 14 boards. JaVale McGee had only six rebounds, zero of them in the fourth quarter. The Wizards have a much superior frontcourt yet were constantly outhustled after the first quarter.
*Conditioning. Flip Saunders and John Wall didn't name names, but both made it apparent that some members of the team were too tired. Wall indicated the team will watch the film and single out guys who will have to run more during practice. My guess on the list of players out of shape: Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, Rashard Lewis and Shelvin Mack.
*Three-point shooting. The Wizards made just one triple compared to the New Jersey's six. Rashard Lewis continues to be a ghost out on the floor.
*Andray Blatche's attitude after the game. The supposed "new leader" pouted as if his team had just lost a game seven of a playoff series. And he's already questioning his role in the offense as a pick-and-pop player.
Why I am still hopeful:
*The first quarter. 26-13, a display of dunks, passing and fast breaks. Jordan Crawford showed how hot he can get (eight points).
There was defensive intensity, and dare-I-say something to prove attitude with this team? It looked like things could become a blowout if the Wizards held their foot on the gas pedal. It may be weeks before the team plays that good of a first quarter on both sides of the ball.
*Nick Young. He was 6-for-9 in just 18 minutes of play, igniting a 36-15 Wizards lead midway through the second quarter. He didn't play more because of limited practice time. I predicted Young will be a 20 points per game guy this year and I will stand by that.
*Chris Singleton. Obviously it's extremely early, but don't be surprised if Singleton becomes a mainstay in the annual NBA all-defensive team in a few seasons. In his first ever pro game, Singleton was asked to defend point guard Deron Williams late in the fourth quarter. He hit the only Wizards three-pointer of the game and saw 22 minutes tonight. I say he averages closer to 30 by season's end; he's that valuable on D.
*Ronny Turiaf. When he was in the game, the Wizards were scrapping, as evidence of his team high +14. He took two charges, grabbed five boards, had two blocks and what I liked is he committed four fouls. He shored up the paint for the Wizards in times when it was caving in.
"I said that I need the ball in the paint to be effective. You can't keep having me pick and pop and shoot jump shots. Give me the ball in the paint. That's where I'm most effective at. I've been saying that since training camp. I need the ball in the paint. I don't want to be the pick and pop guy I used to be, because that's not working for me." -- Andray Blatche whining after one loss.
"It's tough, the first game of the year, in front of all the fans. To come out how we did in the first quarter and end the way we did...its crazy. -- Nick Young.
"We don't have anybody with an elite status right now like a Deron Williams who can just take a game over whether he's scoring or setting people up. He's like a conductor, he had control and tempo of the game." -- Flip Saunders.
"I have to pick up my head quicker [in transition]." -- John Wall on his 3-for-13 night.
"We kind of lost focus. We got sidetracked from what was working. The shots they were missing [early] started to fall." -- Nick Young on how the Wizards lost.
"I had no problem guarding [Deron Williams], he's a crafty player especially with the ball. I just tried to do my best." -- Chris Singleton on his first big NBA assignment.
"We turned the ball over and didn't execute down the stretch." -- John Wall.
"John tries to do too much at times. He got to the hole a lot, but he just couldn't finish." -- Flip Saunders.
"Two of our starters went 8-for-19 from the free throw line. You're not going to beat anyone in the league shooting free throws like that."-- Flip Saunders.
"I thought we had great energy defensively but were just not in shape." -- Flip Saunders
"Humphries has been sitting in NYC or wherever he's been. He gets 16 rebounds and 21 points. That can't happen." -- Flip Saunders.