Giving up 20 fast break points
You can make an argument that games like last night's affair remind you of something RealGM Radio's Nate Duncan, per example, has pointed out recently when debating the top coaching jobs this season.
That is the fact that Steve Clifford has again managed to lead a team towards a spot in the top10 in defensive efficiency despite a notable lack of talent. Although you can argue about semantics, Nate Duncan reminded listeners that the Charlotte Hornets have done this without any clearly good defensive players in the starting unit.
As our readers probably already know, a lot of that is thanks to coach Steve Clifford's strict rules on defense, one of them being the abandonment of offensive rebounds in order to prevent baskets in transition.
Well, when that doesn't happen, one has to wonder whether this team has permission for such nights of carelessness and how much credit Clifford is due for this team's very good season. Twenty points given up in fast break situations certainly contributed to the Wizards victory last night.
It, in fact, is the most points Charlotte has given up in transition since March, the 7th versus the Minnesota Timberwolves (back then the Hornets gave up 24), per nba.com.
Certain buckets were given up due to flukey Nicolas Batum turnovers or accidentally bad floor balance but, all in all, the Washington Wizards were allowed to push the ball and to score at will in transition.
Alan Anderson splitting Al Jefferson and Frank Kaminsky on this possession is just inexcusable:
It wasn't even a real 5-on-4 as Jeremy Lin probably could have caught up with the slowly trailing Nene.
Or how about Washington utilizing its overall failed experiment of small ball as Nene scores on Al Jefferson after a made field goal by the Hornets:
The Wizards notably are second in the league in transition offense after defensive rebounds, per Seth Partnow's fantastic work. It would have been nice though to slow them down when they're missing their primary ball pusher in John Wall.
Nicolas Batum in a poor stance on defense
It happens from time to time. For whatever the reason might be, whether it's physical or mental, Batum will have a game during which he'll have no energy and attention to detail on defense whatsoever.
The Frenchman appears to understand the situation at hand and tries to position himself correctly within the scheme. Yet he does it in the worst possible defensive stance and thus isn't ready to react quickly to any development.
When you're playing defense without seeing anything else besides the ball and when your knees aren't bent even the slightest bit, you're bound to be caught asleep several times.
This probably is my main dislike of Batum's otherwise very good season.
When it happens in a game like last night's when the team could have helped their playoff seeding, there's nothing else to do but point to observations like these.
Closing the game with Kaminsky at center
It's understandable that coach Steve Clifford hasn't given Frank Kaminsky a lot of "real minutes" at the center spot. He isn't likely to hold up as the team's rim protector in the long run. An abundance of offensive opportunities would probably ensue for both teams.
The rookie has clocked 56 minutes at the five spot for the whole season (at the time of writing Kaminsky's 2:37 of playing time at the center position last night hasn't yet been accounted for at nbawowy.com). Such Charlotte Hornets lineups have lost the battle with the score of 119 - 128.
The majority of those minutes (50 to be exact) came during Al Jefferson's downtime in January and February though. It occurred at times when Clifford sensed that he should roll with the Wisconsin Badger on the floor instead of Cody Zeller.
The game at Washington contained another circumstance during which the coach might put Big Frank at the five spot and that's the unlikely comeback scenario. If you're down 12 with five minutes left, why not go all in and put five outside shooters on the court?
It didn't particularly work out and, additionally, coincided with another peculiarity of Steve Clifford's, one which I mentioned in my previous notes and observations - the coach being slow at pulling the plug on the starters.
You wouldn't expect the majority of NBA teams to still have their starters in when the game continues following a timeout at the 4:05 mark with the opposition being up 16. Moreover, that happening on the first game of an important back-to-back is even more questionable.