The Wizards shot a franchise-high .782 from the free throw line last season, helping their ability to stay in games and pull out a few wins that otherwise would have gone in the loss column.
The Poet, Haywood’s designated replacement, was a career .598 free throw shooter coming into the season. The Poet, who missed last season after undergoing heart surgery, acquitted himself well against the Nets. He finished with 10 points and eight rebounds, plus converted four of six free throw attempts.
The Wizards could look at the free throw shooting and see a lost opportunity. The Wizards made only 20 of 30 free throw attempts, while the Nets went 15-for-18.
Neither team was especially energetic. Neither team was efficient. If the schedule did not indicate otherwise, a casual observer might have thought the two teams were completing the preseason.
The start of the second quarter was particularly ugly after both coaches employed their bench players.
Andray Blatche, as is his proclivity, would follow up a nice play with a mental blunder. He finished with 13 points, six rebounds and five turnovers in 25 minutes.
The quickness of backup point guard Dee Brown was a pleasant sight in the second half. Brown delivered several nice passes, too, one leading to a Blatche dunk.
But the Wizards could not overcome the rebuilding Nets. That reality did not say much for the prospects of the Wizards.
Butler did not shoot the ball well but still stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
With both Butler and Antawn Jamison shooting poorly, the Wizards lacked the resources to stage a fight.
In the waning minutes, it was the Nets who pulled away from the Wizards.
It was a somber opening night.
Perhaps the fans thought they were viewing a funeral.