MEMPHIS – Just a month ago, the Washington Wizards' outlook was still promising, and Dwight Howard's statement that Washington would become a "top five" defense team still made sense.
In a month, a lot has changed – namely, that the Wizards played real games and their actual defensive performance was anything but special.
Forget the "Top Five". Before the 107-95 defeat by the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night, which had limited a long road trip, the Wizards were among the lowest quintets of the NBA teams. to name a few. Overall, Washington had given up the most points in the league.
Even against Memphis, one of the league's worst offensive teams, the Wizards could not stop the Grizzlies when they needed it. Although several teams were at the beginning of the season on a bonanza, the Grizzlies (3-3) averaged only 103.0 points per game. They beat this mark with less than two minutes against Washington.
The wizards lost 19 points, but reduced their deficit to four in the final quarter. However, the team's defense did not hold up against a Grizzlies rise of four threes in fourth place. In addition to the defense Washington (43.1 percent) shot bad and committed 20 sales. But the team dropped to 1-6.
John Wall finished with a score of 22 points before five rebounds and seven assists, but he had nine of those turnovers. Bradley Beal added 17 points and seven assists.
The lack of defense – combined with the losses – brought friction and frustration on the locker rooms during the team's longest road trip of the season, with five games spanning the Western Conference. On Friday, following a defeat against the startling Sacramento Kings, team leaders Beal and Wall offered that the personal agendas in the squad had supplanted the victim of the team defense.
Coach Scott Brooks has been downplaying these comments ever since, and on the morning of the Memphis matchup, he wanted everyone involved to see more action on the defensive front.
"We have to be a better defensive team. We talked about it, "Brooks said. "We have to be able to return to the transition. We talked about it. And we have to bounce off the basketball. We talked about it. Now it's about it. There is no more talk. "
Howard could not support his words. Since October 15, the center, which had missed the entire preseason with a buttock injury, has spent the early season of the regular season to get in shape. At least one person close to the situation predicted Howard would make his season debut on Friday as the Wizards returned from their road trip to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Even without the inner presence of Howard, a former three-time defense player of the year, the defense of the Wizards should not be "disgusting" when substitute keeper Austin Rivers described the feat so passionately after the team had allowed 136 points for the Los Angeles clippers.
"We have to start desperately to play. We have to start playing with the sense of urgency and I think that's the key, "said Rivers after losing 32 points to the Clippers. "We do not play with urgency as a group, not with a specific player. That's what Coach has repeated to us, and we pretend we're just figuring it out. "
On Saturday, Washington's declining sense of urgency was expressed in three-quarters as the Clippers prepared to win their blood. The five-member group of Wall, Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Ian Mahinmi and Jeff Green, who played the third quarter instead of Markieff Morris, who left the game after an elbow to the head, allowed Los Angeles the connection 64.3 percent of Shots come from the field.
According to NBA.com statistics, the single-featured wizards were not much better at keeping their own man off the score. Beal forced four turnovers, but Clippers players scored 4 out of 5 three-point field goals tried against him. Although Mahinmi held only eight points for Marcin Gortat, the Clippers scored 40 points when he was lying on the floor in this big man. Green meanwhile denied the fewest shots (three) among the Wizards players, who had completed at least 20 minutes.
"I told the boys we still have over 90 percent of the season," Brooks said about the prospects of securing the defensive dam and making some much needed victories. "We can play better. We have to play better and know that we will play better, but we are all. I have to train better. The players have to play better. And we are in it together. I know, sometimes the story is out there that we are not in it together.
"I've been in this group for a while now," Brooks continued. "They are in it together. But we have to be able to do it. "
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