Last night the Washington Wizards dropped their fourth consecutive home game of 2014, this time to the Houston Rockets 114-107. Last night's game was perhaps the most thrilling game I have seen at Verizon Center this NBA season, but I left the building embarrassed for our team and our organization on what was perhaps one of Kevin Seraphin's best nights as a Wizard and for sure one of Marcin Gortat's worst.
The first period last night was played to a draw at 29-29 so there were early indications this might be a high scoring affair as opposed to Friday night's game in Indiana which was also tied after one but at 18-18. But after the first, the Wizards came out empty in the second and the first half of the third periods, getting down by 25 at one point after the halftime break. There's honestly no excuse for this team coming out after a competitive opening period and taking 18 minutes off, especially since that's the exact reason why they lost against Dallas, Toronto and Golden State in our prior three 2014 home games. Each of those games was competitive for three quarters but the difference in each game was the quarter that the home team just didn't show up.
Of all our players on the court last night, it looked like Marcin Gortat was the most lost, scoring five points, snagging three rebounds and committing four personal fouls in just less than 20 minutes. It looked like he had no ability to stop Rockets' center Dwight Howard, who just backed Gortat down to the basket each possession. He ended the game with a minus 21 plus/minus rating, meaning the Rockets outscored the Wizards by 21 when he was on the court and didn't play a minute in the last quarter. Bradley Beal actually had a worse plus/minus rating last night, but at least he managed 13 points and is likely not 100% healthy.
After digging themselves a huge hole, I guess the team felt it was better to make some effort than completely roll over and so in the last half of the third quarter and the first half of the fourth, we witnessed one of the greatest Wizards comebacks I can ever remember, launching a 34-7 run to change a 90-68 Rockets lead into a 102-97 Wizards one. For a team that was utterly defeated to do this speaks volumes about this team's ability and inclination to play this way (one is good; the other isn't). I've called for the Wizards to play 48 minutes each and every game several times in this blog this season. I just don't understand why they don't get it and come prepared every night to not take a minute off.
Kevin Seraphin played just less than 23 minutes last night but went 8-13 from the field en route to scoring 18 points and bothering Houston's big men, including Howard, with his defense effectively enough to swing the game back our way. Only four Wizards finished with a positive plus/minus last night: Seraphin (+14), Martell Webster (+19), John Wall (+1) and Nenê (+11). Seraphin's performance stood out more than anyone else's, although it certainly wasn't a solo effort.
Unfortunately, the euphoria of getting up by five, which had me high fiving every Wizards fan I could find within reach two rows behind me, wore off fast as the Rockets scored the next 10 and killed our rally and our hopes for a home W in the new year. Still searching and Miami's up next. Not looking good.
The Wizards second quarter effort, immediate post-halftime effort and their failure to put the Rockets away was extremely disappointing. One day this team has to get that effort is required every minute. Too many games are getting away from them due to poor execution. There is nobody on this team good enough yet to make up for 12 minute collective lapses in concentration.
But as disappointed as I was with the team's effort last night, that's not what had me leaving the building embarrassed. I left my seat in Section 415 last night for good at 10:28 p.m. with less than 15 seconds of game time remaining. I know what you are thinking: 10:28 is pretty late, right? Right! Must have been an 8 p.m. start, right? Wrong! Double overtime game, that would have done it, right? Well that's true, but this game ended in regulation. No extra periods last night.
The game last night let out about 75 minutes later than it should for one reason and one reason alone: the roof was leaking. With nine seconds gone in the second quarter, one of the officials noted water on the court near the scorer's table and pointed upwards, as if to indicate that water was dripping from above. All this is pretty difficult to see from the upper deck but people pointing up at the underside of the roof and then bringing out towels followed by buckets is a pretty sure indicator that the roof is leaking. While that explanation was never offered to the crowd, sure enough that's what happened.
Somehow, someway 35 minutes later, after teams of people were scrambling about on the catwalks above the court, the leaking stopped and play resumed. Well, it stopped until just after halftime, when there was another 22 minute delay for more leaking. Now admittedly it was raining yesterday but roofs in NBA arenas just can't leak. They just can't. No matter what. That sort of thing just isn't going to sit well with anyone in the league all the way up to the commissioner including, I am sure, Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis.
This is not the first time there has been water dripping from above this NBA season at Verizon Center. Earlier this season, I believe it was a December 6 game against Milwaukee, water was dripping on the center court side of the aisle that divides Sections 109 and 110 so much that the staff actually relocated a number of patrons who were being dripped on. It had been raining that day if my memory is correct in a similar fashion to the weather yesterday.
Now, as an architect, I realize that water dripping from above does not always mean a roof leak. I also realize that if it is a roof leak, the actual location where water is entering the building may be a lot different than where the roof membrane is compromised. But clearly there's a problem. Having to stop a game not once but twice due to water dripping on the court means something is seriously wrong and needs some immediate attention. And who knows, maybe after the game earlier this season, the staff at Verizon Center has been all over this issue.
But if they haven't, they need to get on it. Fast. The Wizards have enough public relations issues due to the history of wins and losses over the past 35 or so years. We can't have water dripping in our building causing more negative perceptions. We need to get this fixed immediately because it's embarrassing. I've sat through some pretty horrendous Wizards losses the last 14 years but I've never been more embarrassed for the team and the organization than I was last night.