Coming off their biggest win of the season, the Wizards hosted the second stop of Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour last night at the Verizon Center. Kobe had his best game of the season, scoring 31 points and hitting a vintage step back jumper to give the Lakers the lead in the final minute of the game. The Lakers beat the Wizards 108-104 to improve to 2-0 since Kobe announced he is retiring after the season. However, Kobe wasn’t the Wizard’s biggest problem. The Wizards are the Wizards biggest problem.
The Wizards played sloppy, unconfident basketball as a whole. The Wizards were outrebounded 45-41, and turned the ball over 23 times. John Wall showed flashes of his all-star form, scoring 34 points and racking up 11 assists for his second consecutive 30 point game. But, Wall also turned the ball over 5 times, including a crucial turnover in the final minute of the game that lead to the Lakers taking the lead. “I had nowhere to go… It was a tough situation, a tough spot where you give credit to the defense” Wall said after the game when asked about the late turnover. Wall played a great game, but the turnovers were costly. “You spot any team 33 points off your turnovers, you’re lucky it’s a 4 point game” head coach Randy Wittman added.
The loss dropped the Wizards to 7-9 on the season, having lost 5 of their last 6 games. Coming off a big 97-85 road win over the Cavaliers, the Wizards started the game slow and never really picked up the pace. “Lackadaisical coming out again. Last two games we played with the intensity and focus and then to start a game in the 1st half like this, get down 19, 20, its disappointing,” Wittman said, “Disappointing after the way we played last night and even the Toronto game.”
Added to the turnover woes is the fact that Brad Beal had a poor shooting night. Beal started the season on a tear, but has cooled off a bit recently. Beal only had 11 points on 4-12 shooting in 38 minutes, and also had 5 turnovers. Wittman thinks Beal needs to be more confident in his shot: “Usually you have to tell guys to stop shooting, rather than shoot. He needs to not think, he’s thinking too much now… He’s got to stay to the grindstone. I don’t know. He’s thinking too much. He’s got to pull the trigger, got to be more aggressive, there are opportunities there”
The Wizard’s success largely hinges on the backcourt of Wall and Beal. They are the backbone and foundation of this team, and when one of both of them struggle, consequently the Wizards struggle. The Wizards will have a chance to bounce back at home on Friday night against the Phoenix Suns.