If Randy Wittman wasn't happy with his team's defensive effort in their preseason opening win, he definitely had a headache after watching them repeatedly botch assignments in Friday's 115-104 loss to the New York Knicks at Verizon Center.
The Knicks, led by 23 from Derrick Williams and Carmelo Anthony's 21 points, had nothing but open shots as the Wizards looked confused on defensive rotations. There has been such an emphasis on speeding up the pace of the offense, the Wizards look nothing like the top 10 scoring defense they've been in the last three seasons.
"If we have to go back to playing slower to play defense then that's what we're going to have to do. That's a big part of why we've had success, our ability to defend. ... When the playoffs come, that's what it boils down to," Wittman said. "If we aren't going to play defense, we are going to have a lot of games like this. It's a commitment to do it. If you are getting too tired the other way ... You have to come out. I got to get you out of there sooner."
The Knicks shot 50% from the field (42 of 84) and had 25 assists. The Wizards were up 48-41 on Bradley Beal's jumper with 3:49 left in the second quarter, but the Knicks closed with 19 points for a 60-55 lead as Anthony, Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic each caught fire and went mostly unmarked.
"We just got to communicate. That's the important thing," said point guard John Wall. "Guys get tired and you've got to be able to talk when you're tired. That's when you're a good defensive team. Some of the drills we go over every day, we're not translating them over to the game."
The Wizards shot 41 of 94 and only had 17 assists. That's a far cry from what they did vs. the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, when they had 36 assists on 48 field goals in a 129-95 victory.
"Maybe it's the 129 points that we scored, that they thought was so easy," Wittman said. "Every time a guy touched it, it was about trying to score himself. We over-dribbled. If you got a shot, take it. If not, one or two dribbles and the ball moves on. When we play that way it's pretty good. ... The pass was the last option in our mind today."