Who are these Wizards? They need help, because apparently even Jared Dudley doesn't know after they fell to pieces for the second game in a row in Tuesday's 106-89 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Coach Randy Wittman went to his big lineup, starting Nene next to Marcin Gortat, for the third game in a row. Dudley, who had been starting in the absence of Kris Humphries as both can stretch to the three-point line, had this observation:
"It's the changing of styles where, we're trying to find our identity right now. We're trying to space and we're trying to (play) with two bigs. We just need to work on our consistency when it comes to that and practice time will do they. Kind of getting back to the Nene and Gortat. For a while Humphries was starting. It was more spacing. Our identity and styles are somewhat changing and we have to come together in practice time to be able to to work on that."
Injuries have a lot to do with this shift, something that Wittman has indicated has been the case as he went away from Dudley. Dudley has the three-point shooting ability (46.6%) but is at a severe disadvantage when having to defend the likes of Toronto's Luis Scola or Miami's Chris Bosh on the low block.
Even with Nene on the floor Tuesday, however, they were outrebounded 48-35. The Raptors had 11 offensive rebounds which takes away opportunities going the other way which is even more important for the Wizards without Bradley Beal (broken nose, concussion). The half-court action isn't as good without him so they must manufacture offense any way possible:
"We need to get out in transition. We need to get easy buckets. We want John going downhill to our three-point shooters and we want spacing. ... When they help, kick, shoot threes. We're not getting enough stops to be able to run and offensively our spacing was pretty poor in the second half. When you have two bigs you can still have more spacing. Them two they've played together before. ... It's something we need to work on and we got to work on it fast. Nene dominates the paint. He puts a lot of pressure on them, he can score. That's a different dimension ... that we haven't used this season. So we have to go over spacing with him in the post. Before, Gortat pick-and-roll with John. Curls for Brad."
It's still somewhat surprising that the Wizards (20-23) are past the midway point of the season and changing gears. They're trying to merge pace-and-space with two starting bigs occupying the same real estate?
Drew Gooden played 11 minutes in his second game back from a bout of soreness in his calf. He's the logical compromise choice, between Dudley and Nene, to fill the role because hes' 6-10 and a solid three-point shooter.
This team is running out of time, and healthy bodies, to figure it out.
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