With Houston, The Wizards Had Problems | Truth About It.net

With Houston, The Wizards Had Problems

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Updated: March 11, 2010

After Tuesday’s game against the Rockets, James Singleton said, “After every game I go home and watch film. I look at more of the negatives than the positives because the positives are going to happen. But the negatives you want to keep to a small minimum.”

And while there isn’t any adjusting I can personally do for this Washington Wizards basketball team, these screen-shot posts tend to focus on the negatives for the same reason outlined by Singleton. The positives are going to happen because that’s what the Wizards are trying to do. I want to know when they weren’t trying. And away we go…

“This” guy.

THIS guy.

Transition Defense

Here JaVale McGee takes the baseline route to go for the offensive board. Not sure if he was watching the flight path of a Mike Miller shot that seemed to be going short or not, but he is watching the ball carom off the rim and go toward Aaron Brooks’ hands. See Luis Scola? He’s already pushing off to run. He’s already got a step on McGee.

Scola beats JaVale down the floor … it’s not that McGee didn’t look like he was running, but I guess if you are going to tell me Scola is faster than McGee then so be it. Andray Blatche (top left), on the other hand, was most definitely “jogging” uphill on this Rockets transition possession. Lucky for Washington, Scola missed a layup (here Aaron Brooks is passing him the ball), and an offensive board which found its way to Kevin Martin’s wide open hands at the three-point line missed as well. And it’s not just Blatche and McGee, the whole team fails here. There are four Rockets past the red line of demarcation to just two Wizards.

Screen Switch Intelligence

Mike Miller seems constantly frustrated by JaVale McGee, especially in terms of the handling of defensive screens. People may ask why Miller was switching in certain instances, but it looked to be part of the game plan. Question the coaching decision if you will, but understand they are probably able to break down how to handle Houston’s offensive situations better than non-coaches. More than anything, know that McGee really, really, really needs to work on his floor positioning.

First, let’s see an example of how to do things the right way.

In a screen set by Scola, Miller points and Oberto steps up on the ball handler in the switch.

The switch is made and the elder Oberto guards/contains Martin much better than McGee could imagine … turning him toward the help and not giving him an angle to drive toward the middle.

Meanwhile, while the Rockets try to take advantage of the switch with Miller on Scola. Blatche communicates (you can hear him calling Miller’s name on TV) and operates a very clean switch just as Scola is receiving the ball.

Now, Scola goes on to score a baby hook, but this Wizards team defense seemed to follow the plan in terms of handling how the Rockets run their offense.

As opposed to …

This instance where Nick Young is chasing Kevin Martin around a screen from JaVale McGee’s man, Luis Scola. McGee never steps up to hinder Martin until Nick can get around the screen. He just kinda gives Martin a courtesy look as he’s done time and time before. Martin made the jumper by the way.

Expressive Frustration

Although he makes mistakes, Mike Miller is a smart basketball player. However, his body language lately, although he’ll be the first guy to dive on the floor for a loose ball or help up a fallen teammate, has become more exasperating, a likely indication that he will not want to re-sign with the Wizards next year.

Here, off a Houston miss, he brings the ball up the court and seems to want to get the Wizards into their early offense … but the next thing you know, Randy Foye is behind him, calling for the ball. Mike reluctantly gives the ball up and turns away, shrugging his shoulders, hanging his head and swinging his arms as if to say, “Whatever Randy … I guess you can initiate the offense since you’ve been doing such a ‘great’ job at it lately.”

Flip Saunders said before the Houston game that others might have to handle the ball, get the team into the offense … because it wasn’t always working with Randy. Guess this wasn’t one of those instances.

Uh oh Mike Miller … you took your eye off of Chase Budinger and he is cutting to the basket for easy points. Not sure how you could loose track of Powder.

Keeping Your Head, A Breaking Point

1st Q – 1:09: Earl Boykins turns down a Blatche pick, Dray rolls, is open to receive the pass, but seems to jump from too far out. Scola is able to smartly gain position and draw the charge. A borderline call that many Wizards personnel didn’t agree with, including Dray, who showed a lot of emotion afterward. Probably shoulda been a no-call.

0:58: The next possession, Dray is a little out of it on defense. Here he lets Quinton Ross get through the screen set by Jordan Hill, but is in no position to help on the dribbler (Trevor Ariza). Even worse, Dray let’s Hill go right by him, get inside position, which ultimately leads to an offensive board for Hill … and points.

On a side note, I used Comic Sans for the equal sign and question mark … Indicative of Dray or a shot at hoity-toity typographists?

0:44: The very next time down the court is the breaking point for Blatche. He receives the ball rolling off an off-ball screen he set for Miller, who’d just received the ball from Boykins up top, and Dray just mishandles the dribble out of bounds. The mental concentration is getting to him. He angrily tosses his headband to the floor and out of bounds. It is now the property of a fan.

This is Jordan Hill

Part of Hill’s success on the offensive boards derived from guys like Blatche (in the previous instance) and McGee simply not putting a body on him, allowing him to slip by and get position. Hill had four offensive rebounds and four defensive rebounds in 27 minutes of action.

Notice a certain local media personality in the background? Some have called that fellow the Brendan Haywood of the media. I’m not sure who those people are though.

The Lost Art of Blocking Out

What do you see here? I’ll tell you. You see a ball in the air with an orange ring around it. This ball is not your usual rebound, it’s actually a Kevin Martin airball. Airballs can be hard to anticipate and/or rebound, especially when ….

You also see three players under the rim, two Wizards and one Rocket, watching that ball in the air. You’ll notice that the one Rocket, Luis Scola  is untouched by either Wizard, Andray Blatche or JaVale McGee. If those guys “touched” Scola, or kept him from getting such great position, you would call that blocking out. They are not blocking out. Scola got the rebound, and a bucket, which served as points five and six of an 11-2 Houston run to start the third quarter.

Preparedness Is Next To Godliness.

This screen-shot captures just about the exact instance that the referee handed Shane Battier the ball for Houston’s out-under play. Almost before the referee releases the ball from his hand, Battier is passing to Aaron Brooks in the left corner. Battier is a smart dude, he knows the immediacy of getting the rock to a wide-open teammate while a young, fresh, fish-out-of-water team is not exactly paying attention … mostly Shaun Livingston with his hands at his side. Preparedness is next to godliness. Brooks hit the trey ball, which was the cap on the aforementioned 11-2 Houston run to start the third.

Blocking Out Again?

What ‘cha doing there Mr. Blatche? Watching the ball I see …. well, it’s hard to keep your opponent from getting the ball if you don’t put a body on him. Just sayin’ … Luis is just hanging out there under the rim, licking his chops for an offensive rebound.

Scola, of course, got the board and the bucket. He may have traveled in the process, the lack of a call for which Flip Saunders got a tech, but it doesn’t matter. Scola should have never been afforded the opportunity to get the ball in the first place.

And that’s about all I got. Whew … these stuff is exhausting.

That guy …

Luis Scola: 41 minutes, 23 points, 10 rebounds (but also 7 turnovers)



  • grant richardson

    Well, I love your analysis but it is faulty at least as far as blocking out is concerned. I watched the game, when Scola walked Blatche had put a boy on him at the time of the board; he was pushed under by Scola (strength problem) and then the board to the Rockets. Did you actually watch the game or just look for pictures to support a preconceived opinion?

  • http://www.truthaboutit.net/ Kyle Weidie

    Well … I was at the game and I watched it again on TV.

    When you put a body on somebody and use proper blocking out technique (with leverage, etc.) there is less of a chance that you will get pushed out of position. Also, if you are correctly boxing out, the ref is more likely to call a foul if you do get pushed.

    In that short where Scola probably walked, 10:02 in the 4th quarter, Blatche is standing straight up … so I’m not sure how there is much of a sign that he got “pushed” so significantly that he was out of position.

  • Carlos

    Scola is way more experienced and a better player than Blatche or McGee so that´s the reason why he owned both of them… Anyway, they are young and talented and will continue developing and hopefully learning from their mistakes (they could pay a little more attention to Oberto who is a fundamentally solid and intelligent player