The Wizards’ margin for error is rather slim without their full arsenal of firepower (haven’t I written that before? Like, 63 times last season). And tonight with another less than solid showing from Gilbert Arenas (20 points on 7-for-22 shooting, six assists, four turnovers) and Caron Butler (19 points, 7-for-20 shooting, two turnovers, one assist), and another game with more turnovers than assists (17 turnovers, 15 assists), they proved no match for the Phoenix Suns.
The Wizards took solace in the fact that they put on a better performance than they did in Indiana, and that defensively they limited a Phoenix team that was averaging 111 points a game to 102 points on 47.7 percent shooting. But they still can’t get into a flow offensively. Their ball movement was prettty weak. And asside from Andray Blatche’s 20 points, their bench was anemic. DeShawn Stevenson scored four points, and the only other backup used (Dominic McGuire) went scoreless.
“We’re trying to find out what we are,” Gilbert Arenas said. “At first it was bad defensive team: 22nd, 29th, 30th in the league. Now we’re ninth. Now we’re trying to figure out how to put the ball in the hoop. What the coach wants from each player. That’s where we’re struggling. Before it was defense everyone was complaining about because we could score with anybody. Now we can’t seem to get a hundred. But in the end of the day, that’s something to be proud about because we’ll eventually pick it up.”
Said Flip Saunders: “I told our guys to hold them to 102 the way they’ve been playing really isnot that bad. It’s been a theme here lately, our offense is stagnant. We’re struggling offensively which is putting a lot of undue pressure on us defensively.
“Defensively we forced 21 turnovers and we had 23 points off of turnovers, which kept us in the game,” the coach added. “We’re just going to have to keep on grinding. We did a lot of things better than we did in Indiana as far as better effort, better performance. But when you’re not playing well, you don’t just snap your fingers and start playing well.”
Flip and the boys will hit the practice court again tomorrow and hope to correct some things before they take on Miami on the road on Tuesday.