Washington Wizards: Inventing Ways To Lose or A Bad Team Doing Bad Things? | Truth About It.net

Washington Wizards: Inventing Ways To Lose or A Bad Team Doing Bad Things?

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Updated: December 14, 2009

NOTE: I’ll be chatting about tonight’s Wizards-Clippers game on www.CSNWashington.com at 10:15 pm. Come by and hang out if you’re up … and by “up” I mean both awake and down to watch the Wiz.


I’m doing this post for a couple reasons: I can’t escape the carnage of Saturday night, and in his post-game interview, Brendan Haywood mentioned some repeated, successful plays run between Earl Watson and Tyler Hansbrough. I wanted to investigate further.

“We didn’t make defensive plays at the end of that game. They ran the same play with Earl Watson and Hansbrough three, four times in a row … didn’t make an adjustment, no help on the weak side, nothing was done.” -Brendan Haywood

I’m not sure how many times the specific play with Watson and Hansbrough was run throughout the course of the game, but I’m going to focus on the final 1:22 where it was run twice in a row.

You’ll hear stat heads talk about the ‘Four Factors’. But as far as Pacers coach Jim O’Brien was concerned, there were only three factors, and he drew up the perfect plan to take advantage of each one of them.

The Three Factors:

1) Two tall white boys who are three-point threats on the floor for Indiana.
2) The presence of a 5’5″ guy on the court for Washington.
3) Gilbert Arenas’ inability to get over screens with quickness and aggression on defense.

So let’s get to it …

With 1:22 left, Gilbert Arenas drove baseline and kicked the ball out of Earl Boykins for a jumper. This put the Wizards up 111-105.

The Pacers came down the court and set this play up:

Earl Watson with the ball, Hansbrough setting the pick at the right elbow, Troy Murphy keeping Jamison out of the paint at the left elbow extended three-point line, Mike Dunleavy keeping Caron Butler spread in the right corner, and T.J. Ford going from the baseline to the left corner, keeping Earl Boykins occupied.

Hansbrough doesn’t really set a solid pick. Instead, when he sees Haywood step far out to help/hedge the ball-handler (as usually is the case when Arenas is guarding the ball on the pick and roll), Hansbrough gives the quick slip and begins to dart to the basket. The goal seems to just make Arenas think he’ll have to do more to go around Hansbrough and distract him from trying to say in front of Watson.

Hansbrough continues to cut, and with Arenas falling further behind Watson, Haywood is forced to commit even more time to help contain him.

Watson drives and jumps to pass over the helping Haywood as Arenas lags behind. But here lies the problem, with Jamison and Butler occupied on the three-point shooters, 5’5″ Earl Boykins is the only available help from the weak side. That simply won’t jive.

Hansbrough gets the ball under the rim and it’s an easy score from there.

111-107 Wizards.

“You could see that whole play develop from a mile away.” -Steve Buckhantz

After making the shot, the Pacers press, Boykins jets the ball up the court and draws a foul with 20 seconds left on the shot clock.

On the out of bounds play, there’s a right extended elbow pick-and-roll beteen Arenas and Jamison with 15 seconds on the shot clock. But Arenas doesn’t look to make things happen. The plan seems to be to get the ball in Boykin’s hands, who is rotating around on left side. With 12 left on the shot clock, Boykins receives the ball and dribbles around until T.J. Ford knocks the ball out of bounds with two seconds on the shot clock.

Passing the ball inbounds, Butler hits Arenas on a back-cut going to the basket, and Gil makes a tough lay-up. However, it doesn’t count … shot clock violation. Maybe a foul should have been called, maybe not, but Arenas didn’t get the ball out of his hands in time.

“I think he was trying to draw the contact, as you said [Phil Chenier], to get the foul. And in doing so, hung onto the ball a little bit.” -Steve Buckhantz

Here come the Pacers with the same play, down 111-107, 50 seconds left. But this time, Watson is coming with a full head of steam.

One again, Hansbrough gives the pick a quick slip and cuts to the basket as Watson zooms right past Arenas.

Watson draws Haywood in and jumps to pass to Hansbrough. And again, the 5’5″ Earl Boykins is the only weak-side help available, which is pretty much the same as no help at all.

Lob dunk by Hansbrough … pretty damn easy. And it only took Indiana about four seconds to score after Arenas’ shot clock violation.

Wizards 111 – Pacers 109

Nothing but confusion ensues on the next Wizards possession. Boykins dribbles the ball around, almost losing it a couple times, and hits a shot with the shot clock running down. Sheer luck.

Wizards 113 – Pacers 109

Now here’s where mistakes of Brendan Haywood take over. He might not have fouled Dunleavy on that play with 0.5 seconds left, but he sure was responsible for the following.

With about 14 seconds left, the ball ends up in Hansbrough’s hands. The play is broken and he looks confused … for a second. Nothing left to do but drive the ball down Haywood’s throat. Brendan, out of position, fouls Hansbrough by encasing him in his arms with a big ol’ bear hug. Brendan is damn lucky he didn’t get called for an intentional or flagrant.

Ok, so it’s a shooting foul. Hansbrough makes the first and surprisingly misses the second … intentionally. Still, since it was his second attempt, all Wizards should be ready to rebound, right?

Guess who’s NOT ready to rebound … Brendan Todd Haywood.

Here, Hansbrough is all set to fire the ball hard at the rim. Meanwhile, Brendan’s hands are on his knees like he’s ready to do the Cha-Cha-Slide instead of box out.

Here, on the right, you’ll see Antawn Jamison blocking out his man like he should be. And on the left side, you’ll see Mike Dunleavy giving Haywood the fake high and go low baseline slip. Way to go Brendan.

Dunleavy goes for the tip rebound, Antawn Jamison, going for the ball himself, fouls him in the act of shooting, and two-free throws are made by Indiana.

Wizards 113 – Pacers 112, 13.0 seconds left.

You pretty much know the rest. Gilbert Arenas misses two free-throws and the Wizards set themselves up to fail on the Pacers’ winning play with 0.5 seconds left.

Inventing ways to lose, or a bad team doing bad things … you be the judge.


  • http://macgsworld.com Mac G

    I am so excited that I missed this game live. God, the misery never ends.

  • Incadescent Rex

    You rock Truth. Another great post! I’m starting to come around on the idea that the Wiz may need to trade for a role player who relishes doing the other stuff besides scoring…you know like defending and boxing out. This post also nicely illustrates why it may not be a good thing that earl boykins is our best crunch time offensive player right now. Much as I admire the guy…..