Three-Pointers a Huge Problem

For those of you who stayed up to watch the end of last night's game here in Sacramento know that it didn't have to be so close for the Wizards, who entered the fourth quarter with a 19-point lead and then watched the Kings whittle away at it with a familiar weapon: the three-point shot.

The Kings made 12 on the night but six of them came in the fourth. Beno Udrih, who has been getting killed out here for his poor play after signing a big contract over summer, started breaking the Wiz defense down at the top of the (MIke James was on him for the majority of it), the Wiz would then rotate and Udrih would find the open man. Udrih hit three long range bombs in the fourth himself.

It's been a problem for several games now. The Knicks made 26 threes in back-to-back games against the Wiz, Golden State made a season-high 13 on Monday and then the Kings started knocking 'em down like crazy last night.

By Ivan Carter |  January 22, 2009; 2:15 PM ET
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I think its partly because tap is forcing the guys to attack the paint instead of shooting the long ball. now that we are getting points down low we are missing the outside shot. of course no one on the team is that good or consistent so its a crap shoot on who might get hot from outside.

This is just another wound that will bleed out by game #82 and another "to-do" task added to Ernies check list. What else is new?

Posted by: WizardsExtreme | January 22, 2009 2:26 PM

This has been a recurring problem dating back to the early 90's. We have two main problems as I see it...

1.The perimeter players don't trust their help, so they back off of shooters for fear that the guy will drive right by them for a layup. This leaves open shots. I can't count the number of time players come down and pull up because the defender has set up about 15 feet from the hoop rather than coming out to meet them. It's as if we're shell shocked from LeBron and are trying to cut off driving lanes.

2. We still don't understand basic defensive rotations and close out poorly. DM is the only guy who I see consistently running out on guys to try to alter the shots and he caught a couple in his grill yesterday.

Both are issues that should have been resolved by the coaching staff be either teaching, benching, or both. The main offender that I see is CB. As good as he is offensively, he is terrible at guarding his man and closing out.

I did catch MJ out of position for Beno's shots yesterday, so it's not all CB. We should be devoting 100% of our time in practice to defense at this point. If we score only 60 and lose 80-60, that's fine. At least we held a team to 80. We can figure out offense some other time. defense is harder to learn and master.

How is it that veterans still cannot 'get it'? What's the benefit of playing them if they are as poor as the rookies? For their offense? No thanks. Give me a cold shooting rookie who wants to play defense right now since we're going nowhere.

Posted by: original_mark | January 22, 2009 2:57 PM

we looked dead by the fourth,could that be related to overworking your best players?

Posted by: bford1kb | January 22, 2009 3:10 PM

And yet we still have certain people who believe that the absence of BTH is the reason for our defensive woes. It is a well know fact that the reason the Wizards are losing this year is the inability to defend the 3-ball. How BTH equates to defending the 3-ball is beyond me.

But at least BTH “locked things down” in the lane. When he’s in the lineup he defends the paint well (cough, cough). After all, the Cavs struggled to get points in the paint the past 3 seasons against Brendan and The Wiz. LBJ was almost a non-factor with BTH anchoring the middle (cough, cough).

Posted by: cj658 | January 22, 2009 3:12 PM

How BTH equates to defending the 3-ball is beyond me.

If we had a defensive coach who knew what he was doing and had players intelligent enough to play it, a good C definitely equates to 3 point defense.

If wing players actually decide to guard the perimeter rather than trying to help out by doubling down, they'd be in position to defend. I can't count the number of times a post guy got the ball with BTH on him yet someone still doubled down to try to 'help out' and left their man wide open for a 3. Haywood is 7'0" 260 with the 2nd longest standing reach in the league (second only to our very own Jaale McGee). He doesn't need help. He can handle the paint.

On most good defensive teams, their forwards are very active in trapping and helping out while the C anchors the middle. CB and AJ don't do that. BTH can handle his part but invariable, a guy comes down, BTH steps up and BTH's man gets the pass for a dunk. When BTH steps up, a forward is supposed to rotate over and pick up his man. It almost never happened. In the box score, the opposing C scored but it wasn't always his fault. Etan was vistimized like that a lot, too. maybe even more so because Etan would leave his man and aggressively go after shot blocks.
It's a team thing but BTH's absence definitely hurts.

Posted by: original_mark | January 22, 2009 3:32 PM

Having a solid interior defense can have an effect on a team's ability to defend the perimeter, because if the middle is locked down, it means the perimeter defenders have a better shot to (A) stay home on shooters and (B) force them off their shots and make them put the ball on the floor because they know there's help inside if they get beat.

That being said . . .

The Wizards were lousy at defending the 3 last season when Haywood was healthy.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 22, 2009 3:37 PM

"It's been a problem for several games now."

Um, Ivan, it's been a problem for several years now."

Posted by: disgruntledfan | January 22, 2009 3:43 PM

There were several things last night that contributed to the 21-point lead going on a SlimFast diet, beyond the three-point shooting.

The team built the lead by forcing the Kings into a halfcourt offense, then getting rebounds off their misses. The Wizards then moved the ball around on offense, and without turning it over, stayed patient until they got a good shot (outside jumpers or in the paint through the post or to a cutter). When they were doing this, the Wizards looked... fairly normal, never mind the weird bounces the ball kept taking only to land in a Wizard's hand at or near the rim.

I noticed when AB picked up his fourth foul in the 3rd and was replaced by Songalia they lost that pace. They had several turnovers, leading to Kings' baskets off the fast break or secondary break. The Wizards' rotation on offense broke down, and folks started jacking up shots after one or two passes, letting the Kings get out and run and spot up.

And then, Udrih got open for looks, which he converted. Martin actually had several open looks down the stretch but he missed, which made me think they were a little tired (after all, it was their second night of a back-to-back).

Even with the near-miss last night, I saw it as another good game for McGuire. Eight points, 12 boards, 2 blocks -- and it seems like he has the desire to make himself into a defensive stopper. God knows we need one or two of those!

Posted by: jcbcmb68 | January 22, 2009 3:44 PM


Like I said, last year were awful in defending the 3pt line. this year we're awful in defending the 3pt line and the paint.

Seems you're trying to mischaracterize the statements of others, by saying "we still have certain people who believe that the absence of BTH is the reason for our defensive woes," while demonstrating your lack of knowledge in how a center anchors the defense by saying How BTH equates to defending the 3-ball is beyond me.


Thanks for explaining it to him. Excellent explanation.

Posted by: jones-y | January 22, 2009 3:47 PM

The Wizards were lousy at defending the 3 last season when Haywood was healthy.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 22, 2009 3:37 PM

Yeah, and they're worse this year. Teams are having near-record 3pt performances on us.

And even when they start off cold, they get so many open looks from 3 land that eventually they start to fall. That's what happened last night.

Posted by: jones-y | January 22, 2009 3:49 PM

LBJ was almost a non-factor with BTH anchoring the middle (cough, cough).

Posted by: cj658 | January 22, 2009 3:12 PM

Yeah BTH is garbo because he can't single-handedly neutralize (the player who many consider) the best player in the league. Solid argument.

Posted by: jones-y | January 22, 2009 3:53 PM

Last year teams shot a little under 38% from 3 against the Wiz. This season they're shooting a little bit over 38%. Big whoop. They've always been lousy at defending the 3, Haywood or no Haywood.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 22, 2009 4:00 PM

Jones-y & Orig Mark: Give me a break. Jones, you are the one putting words in MY MOUTH. I never said the CENTER position doesn’t’ equate to good 3 point defense. I said BTH doesn’t equate to good 3 point defense. Again, you are the ones mischaracterizing what I said, not the other way around. Again, I placed the emphasis on BTH, NOT the center position itself. I am well aware that good interior defense equates to good 3-point defense. BTH is NOT good interior defense!! How many times to I have to say this!! Did you watch the Wizards in the playoffs the last 3 years?? Or did you just start watching the Wizards this season, if so that would explain a lot. So please spare me with the x’s and o’s of how good interior D translates into good exterior D. We DON’T have good interior D, even when BTH is healthy. Again, see LBJ the past 3 seasons. As a matter a fact, teams typically beat the Wiz in the paint the past few seasons. BTH intimidates NOBODY. Period.

Posted by: cj658 | January 22, 2009 4:00 PM


Yeah, it is a solid argument, you’re right. I state facts. Did LBJ do that against Boston last year? NO. He was forced to take contested jump-shots, and shot a horrible percentage for that series. I never said BTH was supposed to “single-handedly neutralize” the best player in the L. But he is at least supposed to be a presence. Fact is LBJ went off on the Wiz and did whatever he wanted to do. But according to you, BTH is the reason our 3-point D is so terrible. And according to you, BTH is a defensive presence. Laughable. Not just LBJ, but teams in general had/have a field day against the Wizards in the paint.

My entire argument is that BTH is a non-factor. Period. Our D sucks with him, and our D sucks without him. You have said absolutely nothing to disprove my theory. Nothing at all. Please provide me with some stats/examples that show the Wizards are a considerably better defensive team with BTH in the lineup. I beg you. Please!!!

Posted by: cj658 | January 22, 2009 4:09 PM

I have been urging the trade of Andray Blatche for a while. Last night though he looked different to me.

I am suprised that he reminded me for the first time of Chris Webber when Webber was young and healthy except he doesn't rebound as well or hit the three pointer as well or at all.

He moves like Webber and is quick like Webber. He can handle the ball like Webber, pass like Webber, and is approximately the same size as Webber.

I think that he may have turned the corner and will be a good contributor.

If the Wiz schedule was the Western Conference only, Blatche would be great. It might have something to do with more physical play in the east.

So I am officially on the I think that he is going to be good bandwagon.

Good luck Andray!

Posted by: JoeC2 | January 22, 2009 5:15 PM

cj, you support your arguments with statistical anomalies. LBJ is the (second) best player in the league. Boston is the best defensive team in the league.

What point exactly does their reference help to reinforce?

Posted by: jones-y | January 22, 2009 5:24 PM

A few blogs ago I tried really hard to believe that Tap has good reasons for limiting JM.

Now that this popped up on the Hollinger chat, and the good points made by others, I might have to find agreement with the coach-hating bloggers:

Darius Songalia: Come on, you don't want to see Bynum dunk on me while Blatche and McGee sit on the bench?

John Hollinger: Thanks for bringing that up ... I am as puzzled as you are why McGee isn't playing more, he looks like a stud in the making.

Posted by: cballer | January 22, 2009 5:59 PM

Hello People:

Sometimes I think, no, I know that a lot of you can't see the forest for the damn trees. It is not solely the players why we cannot play defense and win games. Enough of all this Player bashing already.

The Wizards have been playing the same lousy defensive scheme for five years now. The defense sucks to high heaven because there is no accountability for guarding your own man.

For some foolish reason, they have been for five years now thinking that a switching defense is a winning defense. As you all can see, a switching defense is a lousy defense.

Switching is a technique, a part of defense, but not a defense.

This crap has been going on for five years... as soon as a player makes a move on his defender, the Wizards immediately start switching, thus, any good offensive squad will burn you badly, and hit a ton of easy shots, because they are always open.

On offense, when you play slow and don't attack the basket for easy shots, you have to shoot 70% per game. Consequently, when the 4th Q rolls around and iffin' ya' ain't hot yo' goose is cooked.

The Wizards have for years now have a sorry offensive and defensive scheme. The Wizards have D-minus to F coaching, and all this uncalled for player bashing is way beyond the pale.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 22, 2009 8:10 PM

I dunno, it doesn't seem reasonable to me to expect a team full of mediocre defensive players to suddenly start playing terrific defense. If they could do that, wouldn't we have seen it last year, and the year before?

On defense, Butler's okay, Jamison's a nonfactor, Mike James and Nick Young are waiting for their next turn to shoot.

Daniels got traded, Roger Mason bought a new pair of Spurs, Stevenson is lucky the folks on this board didn't run him out of town on a rail.

So that leaves McGuire as the designated defender. To that I say, good luck.

Can't expect much from Gilbert's return, either. He played defense years back, but gave it up when he discovered it made him all sweaty.

Maybe Randy Ayers would suit up.

I mean, you can't design a team to do one thing and expect it to be really good at something else, just because you're not scoring enough points.

Oh wait, I forgot. It's the coaching. Yeah -- fire that guy. That'll make it all better.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 22, 2009 9:38 PM

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