The Washington Wizards fell 101-88 to the visiting Toronto Raptors Friday after a dreadful third quarter which ended in a 23-point Raptors lead. Washington couldn't find a field goal in the last seven and a half minutes of the period and they struggled to start the fourth as well. Backup point guard, Eric Maynor, remained a DNP, despite the garbage time potential.
"Gotta keep working," said John Wall postgame, "gotta find a way to fix it and stop having those lapses of times when you're not playing good for a quarter or a half and we're not good enough to play that way and we're not good enough to have one person try to do it by their self." But if not Wall, then who? As an All-Star candidate--and an MVP candidate--Wall has to be the guy. The Wizards have come too far for a humble, "not good enough" ending.
On a night in which 10 of Wall's 11 points came within the first half of play, one might wonder why Maynor received no fourth quarter attention. There were high hopes for Maynor this summer as the Wizards have yet to find a consistent backup for Wall, but as the early season has proved, Maynor just hasn't found his place on the squad. Friday night was all about guys like Otto Porter and Martell Webster, guard-forwards doing point-by-committee.
As long as Wall stays healthy, Washington should be fine going forward. This season, however, has been marked by key injuries to several stars, most recently Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers, who will be out 3-5 weeks following his Friday night shoulder injury. Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Steve Nash--age has something to do with it, as well as previous injuries. Al Harrington is a perfect example. But the question remains, could Washington go without Wall running point? That's something the Wizards will need if they hope to ever go far in the Playoffs (let alone get there).
The Wizards are averaging 83 points after two games in 2014, with an 0-2 record on the year. They'll face the Golden State Warriors Sunday (6:00 p.m. ET) in a game that won't be any easier. Washington ended 2013 on a good note, and will need to get back to that level of play. If they can't, the Wizards will need to consider some post All-Star break moves, as the Eastern Conference remains quite open for postseason play.