The mood changed immediately after the Wizards' embarrassing loss at the Philadelphia 76ers, with John Wall leading a lively discussion with the bigs in practice about coverages that were busted time after time.
Today's opponent, the Utah Jazz, are much better and a repeat performance will lead to another one.
"Whether we were in our pick-and-roll coverage, whether we were in our pindown coverage, our switches, everything was always a second late," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of the 120-112 defeat. "When you do that you're always behind. You're always playing catch-up every possession. It wasn't just one guy. It was two or three guys on the same possession which has been rare for us.. Hopefully we can put it behind us."
The Wizards trailed 43-41 in the second quarter with mostly starters on the floor in Philadelphia. By halftime they were down 61-49. The only player in the last eight minutes of the second to make a field goal for the Wizards was Bradley Beal, who had a game-high 40 points.
When Trey Burke entered, he appeared uncomfortable running the offense. Tomas Satoransky, who has played in combination with him recently, didn't log any minutes. Jason Smith, who was displaced with the arrival of Bojan Bogdanovic and Ian Mahinmi in the lineup, only played four minutes but was a spark early in the fourth when the Wizards mounted a comeback.
Mahinmi only lasted seven minutes after back spasms, which flared up before the game, kept him on the bench in the second half. Bogdanovic had a full practice with his new team for the first time Saturday.
"We're trying to find some consistency. Getting Ian back, hopefully we can get him back to a stretch of games where he can play and build a chemistry with the group he's out there with," Brooks said. "Now Bojan so we can have him out there with that group. It's consistency and understanding where we can get some points. Trey and Tomas, I got to try to figure out what's the best minute-wise and who plays and the matchups."
The problem with the Wizards' defense is greater than one player, especially after giving up 120 points to the Philadelphia 76ers. But that area is supposed to be the calling card for second-year forward Kelly Oubre, who hasn't been himself in the last five games.
Oubre not only is shooting just 4-for-20 in that span, but he has slipped in his discipline and focus. The 76ers were able to have their way with the Wizards' perimeter defense but when Oubre came into stop the bleeding it actually got worse.
"He has to just focus on what he does to our team. If he doesn't do that he's going to struggle," coach Scott Brooks said after Saturday's practice. "You have to focus on the defensive end and staying in front of the ball, not getting lost. I thought he's had some stretches where he's very good at it and he's had some stretches where he has to kind of reboot and refocus on what he does."
At 6-7 and a 7-2 wingspan, Oubre can be the best perimeter defender on the team. He presented a more difficult matchup for LeBron James than Otto Porter. He was able to help hold Isaiah Thomas, a 5-9 point guard, to four points in the fourth quarter.
That wasn' t the player who showed up Friday. Sunday, it'll be the Utah Jazz at Verizon Center.
"Right now we need a better version of Kelly," Brooks said. "We're going to keep challenging him, keep pushing him. Hopefully he comes back better tomorrow night."
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PHILADELPHIA -- Deron Williams appears headed to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jarrett Jack just signed a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans. The buyout market is drying up with quality guards, and before Friday night's fiasco vs. the 76ers the Wizards were still in a wait-and-see mode, league sources told CSNmidatlantic.com.
That could be changing soon. The Wizards lost to the Philadelphia 76ers 120-112 in their first game post-All-Star break. It was the first appearance for Bojan Bogdanovic with his new team after the Wizards traded for him Wednesday and also got Chris McCullough from the Brooklyn Nets.
Tomas Satoransky, who has security with a three-year deal, didn't play and Trey Burke was ineffective playing behind John Wall.
"They picked us up anytime we took the ball out," Bradley Beal said of the Sixers' defense. "Applied pressure on us."
While Wall and Beal were able to exploit that aggression by pushing the tempo to get easy baskets, Burke didn't propser. He only lasted 10 minutes and shot 1-for-4.
If Brooks doesn't have an answer in Satoransky or Burke, it's going to be an uphill climb the last 26 games of the regular season unless they make a move. Acquiring another player would require the Wizards to release someone from the 15-man roster. The salary, however, counts against the cap because all contracts are guaranteed.
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