Even at 0-2, Wizards defense much improved

Even at 0-2, Wizards defense much improved
November 6, 2012, 5:30 pm
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The Wizards slow-starting offensive late game execution has received most of the attention during the team's 0-2 start.

There is a silver lining and one's that not the professional equivalent of saying "good job, good effort." Washington's defensive effort has been much improved over last season and in each game, allowing the team to rally despite those scoring woes.

To date the Wizards are allowing 91.5 points per game, tied for fifth in the league. Last season Washington gave up 98.4 points, 20th overall.

The Cavaliers and Celtics shot a combined 44.2 percent from the field, putting Washington's defense 11th overall in that category. In 2011-12, Washington allowed teams to knock down 45.3 percent of their attempts which are 18th in the league.

Quoting league-wide statistics this early into the season as any sort of indicator is likely foolish, but Wizards coach Randy Wittman might not agree based on what he observed live against Boston and in review.

"Defensively, it was fantastic," Wittman said. "Second half it was, even breaking it down, it was beautiful."

Trailing 26-12 after the first quarter, in part because they missed 13 of their initial 14 shots, the Wizards outscored the Celtics in each of the final three quarters, and overall 74-63. Boston made half of its 24 attempts during those initial 12 minutes. Over the last three quarters they shot just 40 percent (24 of 60).

After Kevin Seraphin's hook shot late in the fourth quarter put the Wizards ahead for the first time, they held Boston to a single 3-point field goal over the next two minutes and 54 seconds.

Alas, that one Paul Pierce bomb was enough to down the offensively out-of-sync Wizards, who failed to score on their final four possessions.

The Wizards' retooled roster reflects the franchise's offseason emphasis, both in terms of those now here - Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and others - and those who are not. Washington held Boston to 89 points in the Wizards second game of the season. It took them 10 games last season before holding an opponent under 90 points.

The overall defensive effort in both games - Washington took the lead against Cleveland after trailing by 12 entering the fourth quarter - was enough to have Washington's coach take a positive spin.

"Defensively, gave us a chance in both these first two games a chance to win. We didn't have a whole lot of that at this time last year." Wittman said. "If we didn't score points, - pffft - we didn't have a chance for our defense to win the game. Now that's a credit to them, doing and staying in it, being as actively as they are defensively. Now we have to get that moving over to the offense."