With Wizards, the defense rests

The Wizards have taken up residence in a fool’s paradise.

Their capacity to outscore opponents is masking their pronounced anemia in the three-second lane.

The failures of the Wizards around the basket are sometimes stunning, as against the Jazz.

They allowed the Jazz too many layups from a halfcourt set and too many second-chance opportunities, as they so often do.

The Wizards have fashioned a 21-16 record largely because of a deluge of points on offense. They don’t stop opponents; they try to outlast them.

Whenever the Wizards face an effective low-post player, you can be certain the person is going to take indecent liberties against them, whether Carlos Boozer or Elton Brand.

Gilbert Arenas made things right against the Jazz with yet another last-second shot. His 51-point gem was about the only thing right with the contest.

The box score suggested it should have been a loss for the home team. The Jazz pushed around the Wizards under the basket in securing 17 rebounds on offense and winning the rebound challenge by seven.

The Jazz also outscored the Wizards 48-36 in the three-second lane.

The Wizards won the game because of Arenas and his seven 3-pointers. He was compelling, of course. But a team cannot thrive on that long-term. A team certainly cannot depend on that kind of perimeter shooting on the road.

An additional reason teams struggle on the road — besides the travel, hostile crowd and referees’ favoritism toward the home team — is the unfamiliar shooting background. That truism is especially onerous on a perimeter-oriented team like the Wizards.

And that in part explains their duality: world-beaters at home and all too often an NBDL outfit on the road.

The Wizards defeated the Jazz with only three players scoring in double-figures and a bench that has only one consistent performer in Antonio Daniels, who apparently put his jump shot in storage in the offseason.

Andray Blatche makes a nice play, only to commit a series of boneheaded plays in succession, including three in one sequence against the Jazz.

After being unable to complete a simple entry pass to the Poet because of poor spacing, Blatche next found himself in possession of the ball with an open floor in front of him.

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