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."
[RELATED: Wall falls hard on previously broken hand]
ATLANTA -- The last time John Wall took a tumble like he had Thursday night in the regular-season opener vs. the Atlanta Hawks, he had five non-displaced fractures in his left hand and wrist. This time, the culprit wasn't Jeff Teague. It was Kent Bazemore who undercut him on a breakaway to the basket and the Wizards' point guard left the locker room with two sore fingers on the same hand.
"I went through that same problem when we were in the playoffs, got undercut and broke my hand," Wall said of the play on May 3, 20015, in the East semifinals when the Wizards took a 1-0 lead but lost their All-Star for three games. "That's the reason why I reacted the way I did. Because for some reason every time in this building, I get undercut.
"I'd rather you challenge and try to block the shot than just run and stop. I have nowhere to land. I have nowhere to go. It's the same way I feel if he was shooting a jump shot and I run underneath him, you can break somebody's ankle. ... I feel like if you're not going the challenge, what's the point of going down there?"
At least Bazemore was hit with a Flagrant 1 foul at 8:01 of the third quarter. Wall made both foul shots but then turned it over when the Wizards got another possession for the technical. They were up 69-63 with a chance to pull away but it didn't happen.
When Teague took out Wall, no foul was called as he stayed sprawled on the floor while the game continued.
"Those plays shouldn't be in the game. You learn that from the first time you step on the court. When the guy goes up, you never undercut him," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "It wasn't on purpose. His momentum carried it. But we all as a league have to be better in those situations. Those situations are career-ending when a guy is in mid-air, if you (don't) get there quick enough you have to let it go."
Bazemore tried to explain, not realizing that even though Wall is a right-handed shooter, he mostly finishes at the rim left-handed.
"He is a right-handed player and I thought he was going up with the right. He came in with the left," Bazemore said. "I don't play the game like that. We are both North Carolina guys. We have a bond even before all of this. Just an unfortuante play. We hugged and made up after that."
As Wall walked out of the locker room he told CSNmidatlantic.com that two fingers on his left hand took the brunt of the fall but he wasn't overly concerned about it. After getting medical opinions, Wall returned in that playoff series with the Hawks despite the breaks in his hand and almost got the Wizards to upset them.
There are no indications that Wall is in jeopardy of not playing in Sunday's road game vs. the Memphis Grizzlies.
"I don't know. I don't feel it now because my adrenaline was going," he said. "But I might feel it later on tonight."