The first game back from the All Star break is always a good barometer for how the remainder of the season will go. If your team comes out flat and lays an egg at home, they could be in trouble. If they go on the road and beat a team handily, it could give the players confidence and send them streaking towards the playoffs.
This break was more important than most. Teams have barely had time to catch their breath after games during this truncated season, so a long weekend away from the game should’ve been just what the doctor ordered for the young Wizards.
Aside from John Wall no other Wizards player partook in the All Star weekend festivities. First, Wall played in the Rising Stars challenge pitting Shaq and Chuck’s teams against one another. Although fellow #1 Overall selection Kyrie Irving stole the show (winning game MVP honors), Wall had a few highlight reel dunks and showed he belonged in the game. The following night, Wall participated in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge pitting him against five of the games top point guards: Rajon Rondo, Derron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, and Kyrie Irving. He struggled somewhat with his jump shot, missed a few passes, and embarrassed himself while trying an alley-oop to himself at the end. Still, the fact that he was able to compete with some of the games best gives Wizards fans some hope…right?
In their first game back the Wizards fell to the Bucks Tuesday night. Still, they were in the game throughout, even when they fell behind by as many as 22 points. In the end they failed to box out the Bucks only good rebounder in the final seconds as Erasan Ilyasova tipped in Brandon Jennings’ errant shot. Ilyasova’s tip-in gave the Bucks the lead 119-118, and that proved to be enough to win the game.
The game was close, but the team and coaching staff are beginning to splinter. Interim Head Coach Randy Wittman has had enough of the lackluster effort on defense and rebounding and has vowed to play the players who play the right way from here on out…how many Wizards does that mean we can dress? Three?
“I am done with young guys,” he said. “If they don’t want to play the right way, the young guys aren’t going to play. They are not learning anything when they play the way they want to play. It doesn’t do us any good,” Wittman added. “You get no development out of them if they are going in and playing the way they want to play and the way they did in that first half. … They are not developing. All they are developing is bad habits. I went with guys that I knew that were going to go out there and bust their rear ends and try to do things the right way in the second half.”
Wittman benched JaVale McGee for the entire second half and Nick Young five minutes into the third quarter. In turn, Trevor Booker (20 pts 11 rbs) had his best game of the season while John Wall turned in another solid performance (19 pts, 15 ast, 5 rbs).
They may have lost again, they may not have too many players that play the right way, but at least Wittman knows what he has to do to motivate his team. At least he’ll stick by what he knows and play the right guys who deserve the playing time.
The second half of the season has only just began, but something may be brewing in the nations capital; something…resembling a…basektball team…
Coming Up: A 5 game home stand! The Wizards will be at home from Today (Wednesday, Feb. 29th) through Saturday March 10th. That’s an unheard of amount of time at home during this season.
Orlando tonight, Cleveland Saturday, Golden State Monday
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.