It’s A Simple Game, At Least It Can Be
Each game brings countless stories, instances and things to digest. The Wizards’ 97-77 win over the New Jersey Nets on Friday night was no exception. Surely you’ll hear about the team learning from a battle between buffalo and lions shown to them by Flip Saunders, or about Rashard Lewis’ compete game (16 points on 5-11 shooting, 3-6 from three, 13 rebounds, six assists, three steals, a block and zero turnovers), or about Nick Young tying his career high five assists, or John Wall’s nine assists to zero turnovers, or JaVale McGee’s five blocks in the first half (six on the night), or the Wizards’ jovial pre-game routine and loose attitude in the midst of losing. Anything of the sort, in multitudes. But I’m here to talk about our friend Andray Blatche.
It’s a simple game … or at least it can be. And for all the transgressions we may point out about Blatche, and deservedly so, sometimes you got to point out the good things he does. And maybe we should get extra excited about Blatche doing the simple, little things. These are the small victories with him … something to believe in (even though, let’s be honest, at this point there’s no reason not to believe that the feeling could be fleeting). Nonetheless, through roller coaster haircuts and radio air-clearings with Mike Wise, let’s take a look at couple photos I took during the Wizards-Nets game that highlight something rather simple from Mr. Blatche.
Blatche certainly seems to be setting a good screen here … he doesn’t have a reputation of always doing so, at least according to Gilbert Arenas’ departing critique of the Wizards’ big men. But then again, who can believe what Arenas says?
And John Wall seems to be doing a good job of using Blatche’s screen. So what’s Brook Lopez doing? Well, he’s playing off Blatche, a known shooter, and throwing his concentration toward Wall without Devin Harris. I bet you expect Blatche to pop out around the three-point line for a jumper, don’t you?
Why, Dray is actually rolling/diving to the hoop? Sure, this is likely by coaching design, but he’s doing it nonetheless. He may even get a layup out of this, OR …
… Since Lopez is worrying about Wall, and Blatche is diving, drawing help-side attention from the far left, and a little bit of attention from Travis Outlaw from the top (off of Rashard Lewis), Wall makes the correct read and sees Lewis open at the three point line.
I don’t have the picture, but Lewis hit that open three pointer at the 7:52 mark of the first quarter, giving the Wizards a 10-3 lead and Wall his second assist of the game, which was the 185th assist of his NBA career in his 22nd career game (he officially has 192 assists in 22 games).
A lot of things came together on this play, i.e., teamwork, but mainly thanks to Blatche’s good screen and the attention his dive to the hoop caused. Blatche didn’t even score, didn’t even show up in the stat sheet on this possession, but his team won the battle, and the war, on this night.
It really is a simple game, isn’t it? At least it can be.