The Wizards failed in their attempt to win three straight road games last night, falling to the Clippers. The team showed heart, however. Maybe it was the momentum that they had from the previous two wins (what’s this, a Wizards team with confidence?!) or maybe it was the Clippers uncharacteristically sloppy play, but this was still a game into the early part of the fourth quarter. But in the end, the Wizards just weren’t able to make enough shots to stay competitive, and the Clippers put them away in the fourth. Some thoughts:
1. Bad Nick Young made an appearance last night- After I had just finished singing Young’s praises for his growth as a spot-up shooter, Young looked like he forgot everything that made him successful against the Blazers. Maybe it was because he was playing in front of a hometown crowd and he was trying to put on a show, but Young was back to his old ways of awful, contested, fall-away jumpers. Not surprisingly, this plan was unsuccessful. Who knew that an in-rhythm, spot-up three would be easier than some leaning heave of a shot? You can pretty much set your watch by it. Young actually found some success later in the game (after he hadn’t made a field goal all night) when he got back to this recipe. His stubbornness is maddening. I’m sure the coaches are explaining this to him, night in and night out. How many more years until Young finally picks up on it?
2. Trevor Booker provides a lot of value for his defense- The Wizards were a noticeably different team when Booker was on the floor last night, for the sole reason that he was the only player capable of shutting down Blake Griffin. And I’m not just talking about competent defense here. Booker was smothering Griffin, who is a physical beast and is aided by the fact that he can just bull over people at will without ever being called for a foul. There aren’t too many players in the league that can provide the strength and speed combination that Booker showcases. When this Wizards team finally gets to be a contender (ok, maybe it was a little optimistic to use “when” instead of “if”), that sort of skill will be invaluable and should separate them from other teams. This point was made even more clear when Booker got into foul trouble, and Jan Vesely tried to guard Griffin. Let’s just say young Jan needs to hit the weights…
3. Chris Singleton looks like he has hit a wall- The past two games, Singleton’s performance has been pretty consistent: start, pick up a couple quick fouls, head to the bench, resurface later to miss some open jumpers and then just kind of disappear into obscurity. It’s too bad because I really think Singleton is a talented player. I don’t know if it’s officiating or what, but he has picked up a lot of ticky-tack fouls recently. Maybe Singleton just needs to adjust his defensive style. Offensively, he’s still a great hustle player, but he’s going to be nothing more than a bench player if he can’t make an open jumper. He just HAS to add that to his arsenal. Otherwise, teams will continue to play off and it will continue to work. And for all of the acclaim about his defense, yes, he has played above average, but I would put Trevor Booker above him as a defender. And that whole business about him being able to guard four positions? Haven’t seen that yet. At this point it’s more like two and a half. Griffin dominated Singleton for the short stretch that they were matched up last night. Hopefully, he can use the upcoming All-Star break to get back in the rhythm he found early in the season.