As Bradley Beal took the inbound on the final play of the game, it looked like the pieces were in play for a game-winning bucket. But it was the decision of who was going to take it that ultimately damned the Wizards against the Pistons for the fourth time this season.
The play seemed to break down when Beal drove to the hoop. Instead of trying to finish through some traffic, Beal instead attempted to make the pass out to the corner where both Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza were waiting (and relatively open). The pass was off, and Martell Webster had trouble receiving it, but did manage to tip it over to Ariza who then took the final shot which fell short, but appeared to fall if you were sitting in on the right side of the hoop, like Phil Chenier and Steve Buckhantz were.
After the game, Beal took blame for the final play’s breakdown. He said that given the opportunity again, he probably would have taken the shot himself since he appeared to have a decent look. But you can’t blame the guy for dishing out for the open three (eventually) to Trevor Ariza who had been lights out up to that point.
Ariza seemed to believe there was some confusion for Beal because both he and Webster were both along that corner baseline waiting for the ball, which may have sparked the “who do I pass it to” question in his head while in mid-air.
What was impressive, however, is that there were three very good looks on that play that all could have been the game winner: the Martell Webster three, the Trevor Ariza three and the Bradley Beal teardrop or contested layup with a possible chance to head to the free throw line.
None of this was on Randy Wittman, who expressed a lot of frustration after the game with his players.
He opened up a little bit in his post-game press conference, telling the media that there was a lot of immaturity and selfishness with his younger players on the court and the bench last night. He said that the requests of minutes, shots and opportunities was a big issue that detracted from the overall “team” style of play that the team had been accustomed to in their latest win streak.
John Wall did not have much to say after the game and did not give any reason for his poor performance. He did blame a lot of his turnovers on inattentiveness on other players (and rightly so). However, this was probably the most visually frustrated that Wall has been, and according to Wittman, Wall needs to continue to fight through this.
If there’s anything to take away from this game, it’s got to be the continually improving game of Trevor Ariza on this Wizards squad. He had 22 points on seven-of-thirteen shooting to go along with six rebounds and three assists. The team’s comeback was pretty much solely led by him, but all ultimately came down to one of his missed three-pointers (he went 4-for-7 on the night).
It’s not like the fans and players haven’t been accustomed to these painful last minute losses this season, but this one’s got to sting a little more. Between the snapped win streak, Buckhantz’s retracted dagger and the apparent disconnect within the younger players on the squad, the Wizards are probably still feeling the sting today. Getting swept in the season series by another struggling Eastern Conference team is a tough pill to swallow, but it’s going to have to go down quickly.