It was the first piece of NBA action for the Washington Wizards (0-1) Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers. Albeit, the contest was a preseason matchup with no expectation to determine that this young Wizards team is ready for the postseason.
However, the lack of effort displayed by the Wizards caused many to stretch their heads in the team’s first preseason game of the season—especially Washington’s head coach Flip Saunders.
“I am disappointed in our main guys," said Saunders after the game where the Wizards laid an egg against the 76ers, 103-78. “I told them how hard we play in practice, the six or seven days and how we competed that didn’t translate over. The one thing that I was waiting to see, that is the one thing I had hoped I would see. We came out almost kind of too cool.”
The Verizon Center was lit up with excitement in the air as their new-look Wizards entered the court with red, white and blue uniforms and a new laid-out court, labeled with a new logo.
Unfortunately, the familiar struggles of the Wizards looked the same as their never own their own front, courtesy of the 76ers.
“They came in here and just took over the court from us,” said guard John Wall. “They did whatever they wanted, got any shot they wanted the whole night. We can’t let teams know it’s going to be that easy, if we do it’s going to be like another practice game to them. We can’t get into a habit like that.”Wall, who finished 3-for-12 from field with eight points, had an explosive play late in the third quarter with 1:21 remaining as he brought the ball up the court and took off over 76ers forward Craig Brackins for a right-handed jam.
Owning up to his promise during media day when asked who he plans on posterizing this season: “I’m trying to posterize everyone.”
Dunks and alley-oops are fine and cute, but applying effort towards victories is far more important than being featured on highlight reels.
“That performance we had tonight was nothing close to the performance we had during training camp,” said Wizards forward Andray Blatche, who had the strongest performance of the evening for Washington with 18 points. “There was no effort. There was no passion. It was like guys were out there just to be out there. We haven’t had over six turnovers during scrimmages over all of training camp.”
It’s noted that the Wizards have a long way to go to become a winner and to be taken seriously around the NBA.
Nevertheless, preseason or season, effort is something that should be recognized night in and night out. The Wizards have talent, they just do not have room for errors and cannot afford major letdowns in their performances. Each player needs to play together as one, instead of trying to be the ‘one.’
“It’s not always about talent,” said Wizards guard Roger Mason. “That first group, they are a talented bunch, but they didn’t compete well enough. I told the other guys; we just need to play hard as a unit and we did that. We played unselfish.
"We don’t have any superstar guys on this team," he continued. “This is not that team. In order for us to win we are going to have to do it together on defense and offense.”The Wizards will take their act, hopefully as better act, to Philadelphia on Dec. 20 for their final preseason game of the season before their opener against the New Jersey Nets on Dec. 26 in Washington.
“The way we played through training camp, seven days of practice, going through defense, passing the ball offensive wise, we didn’t do any of that tonight,” said Wall. “It was like Philly was playing with nobody out there. For us to win, we got to play hard, we got to play defense. We did neither one tonight.”
Barry Barnes is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.