In a game with a sleepy atmosphere and a dearth of memorable plays, the Wizards failed to put forth a solid closing effort, losing 96-85 to the Detroit Pistons. In sum, it was a tale of two halves.
In the first half, the Wizards were able to hold a lead for a majority of the game, due in large part to the play of Emeka Okafor. Supplementing Okafor’s play were Brad Beal, who had a solid first half off the bench, and Chris Singleton, who contributed good man defense, rebounding, and a one corner three-pointer. John Wall worked very well within the offense, taking high percentage shots, dishing the ball well, and limiting his turnovers.
The second half, however, would prove to be detrimental. While the Wizards were able to maintain the lead through the third quarter, they’d become completely unglued in the fourth. Randy Wittman’s lineup consisting of Ariza, Seraphin, Beal, and Singleton lacked offensive punch and stayed on the floor entirely too long. Beal failed to convert off the dribble and the unit committed several turnovers. The result was a 9-0 and 14-2 run by the Pistons, the latter of which officially put the game out of reach. The Wizards would go on to be outscored 31-17 in the fourth quarter.
Despite a history of struggling at The Palace, the Wizards failed to grab what was a very winnable game. The team enters the All-Star break stalled at 4 road wins, and 15 total wins overall.
Tonight’s MVP is Emeka Okafor. Okafor posted an excellent line of 20 points on 10-15 shooting from the floor and 9 rebounds. Okafor kept Greg Monroe off balance for most of the first half, scoring on a nice combination of hook shots, layups, and jumpers.
With such success, you have to wonder Wittman didn’t stick with this formula for the entire game. Okafor would end up notching only 25 total minutes.
Greg Monroe: With budding rookie Andre Drummond sidelined tonight with an injury, Greg Monroe stepped up big in his 34 minutes of play, posting 16 points and grabbing a hefty 18 rebounds.
Greg was especially key on the offensive glass, pulling down 5 offensive rebounds, some of which were vital to Detroit’s big second half runs.
Emeka Okafor: As mentioned, Emeka had a great game, albeit in limited minutes. His 20 points was his second highest point total this season, as he continues to benefit from Wall being back in the lineup.
John Wall had a very solid performance tonight. What he lacked in offensive firepower, he made up for with ball control and overall good decisions. Wall committed only three turnovers while hitting 8-10 from the free throw line and tallying nine assists.
And to play the same tune, Okafor was excellent. He has quietly become an offensive threat.
Following an uncharacteristically quiet performance at Milwaukee on Monday, many fans were looking for Martell Webster to bounce back. This didn’t happen, as Martell scored only nine points, including a meager two first half points. He didn’t blend with the offense the entire game.
Brad Beal (who arguably should be starting now), was fairly ineffective in the second half, being swallowed up by Detroit’s defense on several cuts to the basket. At times, he looked visibly frustrated. This is an aspect of his game still under development.
On the defensive end, the Wizards struggled to fight through and defend Detroit’s screens all game. Chris Singleton often looked lost while trying to switch, which led to several open three-pointers in the second half.
I’m not sure what Randy’s strategy was in the second half. He abandoned an inside game that was working well and never tried to get a jolt out of his poor wing scoring by adding Jordan Crawford to the mix.
The bench was ineffective, and questionable rotations probably caused the Wizards the game.