Let’s get to it. Three thoughts on the Wizards’ 101-97 loss to Golden State:
There’s no good place on the Wizards roster for another injury. Losing A.J. Price hurts, especially because that makes four players now shelved on a roster of just 15. Trevor Ariza (calf) is expected to miss three weeks, Trevor Booker (right knee) is day-to-day, or something like that, and then there is John Wall, which has been discussed at length.
Price said it happened when Harrison Barnes grabbed a defensive rebound in the first quarter. Price tried to poke it, immediately felt something wrong in his hand.
“I knew I hurt myself right away,” Price said. “But I was trying to play through it. I came down the next possession, to through cross court pass and couldn’t get anything behind it. I figured if I can’t pass, I’m going to hurt my team.”
After getting bandaged up, Price returned to the bench for the rest of the game, the kind of team spirit he’s shown all season. He came into the night averaging 9.1 points and 5.2 assists with 14 starts to his name to help fill in during Wall’s absence.
“It’s been all I can ask for,” Price said. “Coach [Randy] Wittman has given me every opportunity to come out here and prove myself and show what I can do. So I’m grateful for that.”
With Price out, the Wizards don’t have a single guard that they started training camp with. Jannero Pargo has come and gone, and Shelvin Mack was also cut.
The fact is, Jordan Crawford has earned the right to take Price’s minutes. He led Washington in points, assists and rebounds against the Warriors, but it goes beyond this game. He’s averaging 18.8 points in his last six games. He’s a better distributor than he gets credit for, and there’s no reason to lament him shooting the ball late.
He was asked after the game about why he didn’t shoot a third 3-pointer after knocking down two in a row to bring Washington to within three in the final minute.
“You surprised?” he said.
The reporter who asked him said he thought maybe Crawford would shoot again.
“Then you all would’ve been saying, why’d you shoot it?” Crawford answered.
I’m not so sure. At that point, with Crawford’s track record of late, the argument was in his favor. If he’s hot, keep on going.
The other situation is that the Wizards also have Shaun Livingston – who needs to stay healthy now more than ever – but they can’t really afford to dump anyone. Who knows, maybe Wall will come back in a few weeks, too. Then again, if the defeats keep piling up, at some point Washington will reach “lost season” status. They may have already.
That’s a third straight DNP-CD for Jan Vesely. As soon as his minutes dropped through the floor – with 0.2 seconds against Portland – it was clear that it’s over for Vesely until he shows some significant improvement in practice, especially while the Wizards have anything resembling options in the front court. His chances of playing certainly grow incrementally with another player injured. Cartier Martin (14 points) was very solid against the Warriors and could shift to the two guard as part of the domino effect, and Vesely could possibly be called upon to play the three. But at this point Wittman seems very resistant to put the Czech big man on the floor at all.
That’s not to say that the rest of the Wizards front court is everything it needs to be. Emeka Okafor had the same number of rebounds as Vesely against Golden State: zero. That’s a huge disappointment.
Kevin Seraphin, with 14 points, was solid again off the bench. Nene (nine points, six rebounds, three assists) is still finding his way, and keep in mind that the Warriors game was his first back-to-back of the season.
But again, Crawford led the team in rebounding, and the Wizards were pummeled on the boards, 57-37. Washington deserves credit for still being in contention despite that deficit, but those numbers make a difference in close games. And close games account for a large share of the Wizards rapidly accumulating losses.