New Jerseys, new players and a new attitude accompanied the Washington Wizards into their opening week of the 2011-2012 NBA season. But despite the snazzy new makeover, a 0-3 record awaited the young Wizards in the last week of the calendar year.
Surrounded by a cast of young and upcoming stars in John Wall, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee, inconsistency was the theme of the week in a disappointing start. The AFRO sums up the week that wasn’t for the Washington Wizards.
Dec. 26: New Jersey Nets 90, Wizards 84
For the first half of their season opener at the Verizon Center, the Wizards looked like a dangerous, playoff-bound team. Washington flashed speed, defense and athleticism en route to a 21-point lead in the early moments of the second quarter against the Nets, and then it all fell apart.
Behind point guard Deron Williams and new celebrity Kris Humphries (who recently divorced media star Kim Kardashian), New Jersey and their makeshift roster escaped D.C. with an improbable victory. Local fans aimed late boos at Blatche, who was beaten repeatedly by Humphries (21 points and 16 rebounds) in the second half as the Wizards collapsed down the stretch. Maligned guard Nick Young kept the Wizards afloat most of the night with 16 points off the bench.
Dec. 28: Atlanta Hawks 101, Wizards 83
The Wizards exploded to a fast start against the Nets in their opener. But visiting the Hawks, Washington could barely get out of the garage, as Atlanta led for the entire game. Poor shooting poisoned Washington’s offense as Wall, Blatche and starting shooting guard Jordan Crawford combined to shoot just 8-of-34 from the field.
Young (21 points) was again key in his reserve role. Atlanta started the game on an 11-0 run and never looked back, piling up a 45-32 advantage in rebounds.
Dec. 30: Milwaukee Bucks 102, Wizards 81
In the final game of the week for the Wizards, coach Flip Saunders tried benching Crawford in favor of Young after the reserve outperformed the starter through the season’s first two games. But, in another example of the inconsistency that mysteriously surrounds the team, it was Crawford who led all scorers with 24 points, while Young (three points, 1-for-10 shooting) bombed in his first start as the Wizards were dealt another embarrassing defeat in Milwaukee. Washington could never make the game even close, as they trailed by 12 points after the first quarter and 24 points at halftime. Five players scored in double figures for the Bucks, who were led by Brandon Jennings’ 22 points.
The Wizards will return to the Verizon Center on New Year’s Day to face the suddenly struggling Boston Celtics (1-3) in front of what could be an anti-Wizards crowd. Moments after Washington’s home opener, Blatche voiced his displeasure with the team’s fans on Twitter, suggesting that critics should “shut up.” After connecting on 11 of his 41 attempts through Washington’s first three games, Blatche could be the focus of disgruntled fans frustrated with the team’s start. The Wizards’ inconsistency has been maddening for the last few seasons, and things appear to be off to a similar start in Washington’s newest campaign.