ATLANTA -- The first three shots taken by bench players, two from Andrew Nicholson and one by Trey Burke, went in. That's pretty much where the highlights ended for the Wizards' reserves in a 114-99 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. The rest of the time they were at a loss at what to do in half-court offense.
"There were a lot of times you couldn't hear the play call," said forward-center Jason Smith, who had four turnovers in just nine minutes. "It was a great away atmosphere. We have to learn to deal with that. We have to learn maybe some visual cues on what the play is, maybe some silent calls what the play is but really get it out there so everybody see it. As long as we get into what we're running no matter how loud it is, we all know what we're doing. We'll be OK."
The biggest weakness with the Wizards in previous seasons was a bench that was inconsistent. This group is younger and has more versatility, but basic communication was a problem with Burke who is in his first year in Washington.
After Kelly Oubre opened the second quarter with a three-pointer for a 30-29 lead, the Hawks went on a 9-0 run. Marcus Thornton missed a three-pointer, Smith stepped out of bounds after grabbing a defensive rebound, Oubre missed a layup, Smith missed a jumper, Burke had a bad pass turnover, Oubre missed a three, Nicholson missed consecutive shots and had a turnover.
Coach Scott Brooks saw enough and was forced to call a timeout. He trusted the group and sent them back out again and Burke was short on his jump shot.
"The thing I'm thinking of now, it's just one game," Brooks said. "They will get better. We will play better. I thought that second unit, we still have to figure out how we can score. We have to really just focus on getting stops helping us score. ... It was an entire team issue. We're all in it together. We have to figure out how to keep scoring, keep moving the ball with that second unit."
Wall made an assessment of what he wants to see from Burke, who is slotted above Tomas Satoransky as the primary backup.
"We got lost at times when we weren't moving the ball," Wall said. "Defensively, we just lost our man and that hurt. I think they've got to get into sets more. Trey got to do a better job of calling out (plays) so everybody can hear it so you don't have certain people running one play and some people running another play."
Last season, the reserves were run by Ramon Sessions. They didn't try to play in flow as much as Wall with the first unit, going into immediate pick-and-roll action to put the defense on its heels. They preferred a more structured half-court offense.
"First, we have to get on the same page. It's a lot easier if we would get stops on the defensive end," said Smith. "Then we could push the ball out where we won't have to get into sets. We could get easy transition baskets, easy drive-and-kick in transition. ... It's tough for any team to score on a set defense."
Nicholson had nine points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes. Burke was 4 of 7 but Oubre shot 1-for-6 and Thornton 2-for-8.
"I don't think you can point the finger at anybody. Me being the point guard out there, I feel I could've done a better job setting things up," Burke said. "It's Game 1. You can't take too much from Game 1. We can definitely get better from it. We don't think it was the offensive end. It's definitley the defensive end.
"It's contagious. If your defense is slacking, your offense is going to be slacking. If the other team is scoring easy buckets on the offensive end, defesnviely they're fired up. It's a two way street for both units."
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