AJ Price put on a show tonight against the team that chose not to resign him this past offseason. Price finished the game with 12 points 14 assists along with ZERO turnovers. He looked every bit the part of a floor general tonight. He drove and dished to Emeka Okafor, who finished with 17 points, seemingly at will for three straight quarters. While he cooled off in the fourth quarter, this was by AJ’s best game of the season.
Trevor Booker had a mixed game with some highs and lows. He finished with 10 points on 5-11 shooting and added five rebounds. Chris Singleton logged minutes at the four and Emeka Okafor was the focal point of the post offense and that left little room for Booker to shine. Booker did however do a great job in defending David West to a pedestrian day, that’s what I call a segue.
David West had a game that was the mirror image of Trevor Booker’s. He finished with 11 points on 4-16 shooting and had four rebounds. He was outplayed by Tyler Hansbrough. His only contribution was on the defensive end. He had a couple of steals and held Booker in check but all in all it was a pretty underwhelming performance.
The Rotations both offensively and defensively are vastly improved this season and tonight’s game was another example. Last season the Wizards ranked 26th in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio. Through the first five games of this season they are ranked 6th. There are moments when they lapse into their bad habits and try to dribble the orange off of the ball but for the most part they are swinging the ball around the court and finding the open shooter. In addition to AJ Price’s 12 assists, every player who logged minutes (sans Okafor) had an assist.
The defensive rotations are also vastly improved this season. The Wizards were tied for 23rd in defensive efficiency and this year they’re tied for 10th. The Wizards did a great job on the Pacers' big men, holding West and Roy Hibbert to a combined 19 points on 7-31 shooting.
Closing games is the issue once again. In the WE game recap after the home opening loss against the Boston Celtics, “The Bad” was the inability to close out game.
This is a quote from that article: “The problem is that there is no 'closer' on this team and closing by committee is obviously not working. At the end of the day, playing tough and being scrappy won’t get you into the playoffs, winning does and the Wizards won’t win until they learn how to close out games.”
I felt that exact same way tonight. After the game, Coach Witman commented on the six turnovers in the fourth quarter.
“You can’t play the last six minutes of the game like you play the first six minutes."
This could be "The Bad" every game until the Wizards finally get a W. This moral victory streak is getting a little old.
The free throw shooting disparity tonight was immense. The Wizards were efficient from the free throw line shooting 71%, but the problem is that it was on just seven attempts. That is not a misprint. Now compare that to the Pacers who took 24 shots. Tyler Hansbrough went 4 of 12 from the line by himself. Part of this is due to the fact that the Wizards roster is comprised mostly of jump shooters who don’t drive to the basket. However, another factor of this discrepancy is the lack of respect the Wizards get from the officials. Regardless of the cause, something has to give. You don’t win games in the NBA without getting to the line.