I'll keep my comments brief tonight, as I was only able to watch the second half of the game...and I think most fans will be talking about that $%^!@% fourth quarter, anyway.
The first thing that led to tonight's fourth quarter collapse was clearly the absence of Rashad McCants. Witt seemed to want to ensure that Rashad stayed out of foul trouble as the game went down to the wire, but he was overly-cautious in keeping Rashad on the bench for the majority of the fourth quarter. And without doubt, Witt's tentative lineup management severely hurt our chances of stopping Washington's fourth quarter run.
McCants reentered the game with roughly five minutes remaining, and by that time, the momentum was rapidly shifting in Washington's favor (thanks in large part to Gilbert Arenas, who was freakishly good in crunch time). McCants was, once again, the best player on the floor for the Wolves...and with that in mind, you've gotta take the risk of putting him back into the game earlier in the fourth quarter, despite his foul trouble. Yeah, there was a SLIGHT chance of him fouling out, but as the only Wolf that's displayed much clutchness this year, McCants needed to get a lot more time in the fourth.
Give credit to Washington. They outplayed the Wolves in virtually every facet of the game in the final few minutes. The aforementioned Arenas was unstoppable, and the Wizards played with incredible intensity and aggressiveness- while our guys, meanwhile, played carelessly and were caught completely off-guard by Washington's fourth quarter surge. In short, the Wizards deserved this one.
What can be done to fix these fourth quarter woes? First and foremost, Wittman needs to do a better job of putting his team in a position to succeed in crunch time. Take away Wittman's lineup gaffs in the fourth quarter of tonight's game, and the final score would've at least been less lopsided than it was. Simply put, he coached scared, and that's a cardinal sin for basketball coaches at any level.
Secondly, this group just needs to "learn" how to win these close games. Frankly, the Wolves desperately need a player who can step up and make the big shots...against the Kings, that player was McCants, but as a whole, the Wolves were extremely tentative offensively in tonight's game as the Wizards came roaring back in the fourth quarter.
Again, part of that is a result of playing much of the fourth without McCants, but still, I'm just not sure that we can put all of this on the coaching staff. We needed a player to make that key "momentum changing" shot...but such a shot never came. Even with McCants on the bench, there's little excuse for not having anyone step up on our squad (Big Al, I'm looking at you).
On the bright side, we got another solid game from ‘Toine...he's actually been hitting the three-ball with some consistency in the last two games (still, though, I can't help but groan whenever he hoists up a three), and he's making some plays on the interior with his little one-handed floater. His game definitely isn't pretty to watch, but I've gotta give the guy some props...he's backed up his playing time complaints with some surprisingly productive games, this week.
Final thoughts: It was refreshing to hear another announcing team (I was watching the Wizards' broadcast of the game). I've had the chance to meet Hanny, and he's an awesome guy...but his announcing can get a little tiresome (anyone remember his Fred Flinstone impression from Wednesday's game? It was embarrassing).*I'm not even really sure if foul trouble was the reason for Rashad's lack of fourth quarter playing time...but it's honestly the only possible rationale I can think of for keeping him on the bench so long.