Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Orlando 112, Washington 83

A huge part of me wonders if this is the slap in the face the Washington Wizards needed. A nasty, short, and brutish intro to a season that had some players wondering aloud about a possible trip to the playoffs. An embarrassing turnout on national TV that drove home the point that the Washington Wizards aren't smart enough, if last night is any indication, to compete on any level that moves beyond a 25-win realm.

This was dumb, uninspired, impatient, and uncaring basketball. This was awful. And while the Magic looked every bit the inspired and confident championship contender that they are, the Wizards consistently played up the role of the team that just does not care. In their first game of the season, mind you. That was embarrassing. I don't care if the Magic were the 1995-96 Bulls in disguise with Wilt Chamberlain guesting at center, that was about as arrogant and dismissive as bad basketball gets.

Also, Dwight Howard(notes) contributed 23 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks in just under 30 minutes of play.

Washington couldn't be bothered to run the floor on either end, set screens, move the ball in hopes for a better shot, talk defensively, cover for each other defensively, or give a damn. The Magic made the extra pass, it looked for the open man, it pushed the ball when appropriate, and it covered and considered things defensively.

56 percent shooting for Orlando, it doubled Washington up on the glass (53 to 25), and the blowout would have been more severe had any of the Magic starters played more than 29 minutes, or had the team not missed 14 free throws.

And Washington should be ashamed. Yes, they ran into a team on a mission, but that doesn't mean you abandon your own mission as a result.

***

Phoenix 110, Utah 94

The Jazz aren't anywhere near Washington's level of ennui and disinterest, but this has been a very distressing start to the season to say the very least.

There's no spark, no quickness, and no sense of urgency with this team. The Jazz have sort of let the game come to them over the last two games, with the problem being that the Nuggets and Suns feel as if they have something to prove even this early in the season, and the Jazz just haven't been able to meet the intensity. Meet anything, really. The offense is far from crisp, and the defense is a step slow.

And the Suns are pulling some best case scenario stuff. This is what we thought of them with our glass set to half-full after that summer's worth of changes. This isn't to say we signed off on the loss of Amar'e Stoudemire(notes), we didn't, but Hakim Warrick(notes) has always been a sort of mini-Amar'e, and those other 14 SF/PF hybrids can still contribute.

There will be days where they all play poorly, all at once, but that didn't happen last night.

Phoenix got to the line, got into the paint, held serve on the boards, and shot a good percentage (39 percent) from deep. And the Jazz just seemed to be on the sort of cold medicine you have to show your driver's license to buy.

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