At The Buzzer: Wizards 104, Nuggets 108 – Advice From Denver, Fouling Down Two & The Andray Blatche Blues | Wizards Blog Truth About

At The Buzzer: Wizards 104, Nuggets 108 – Advice From Denver, Fouling Down Two & The Andray Blatche Blues

Updated: January 21, 2012

At every buzzer, there are key points you can look back on when considering the outcome — a game-changing instance, a slept-on moment, an initial reaction to the final score. Sure, in a contest of ebbs and flows, moments can be subjective, but it doesn’t make it any one less important than others. In a Wizards 108-104 loss against the Denver Nuggets on Friday, these were some of those moments…

[Sam Cassell to John Wall, pregame encouragement.]

 Rashad Mobley:

“He’s maturing. Things are, you can just tell, in disarray, not with the organization, but the players on the court … He’s fighting through it. Eventually he’s going to get some players around him and show exactly how good he is.”
-Ty Lawson on John Wall

“Yeah I talked to him about that, because I’ve been in that situation before, I got booed at home [in Golden State] a couple times, I was just trying to tell him to kind of use it as fuel and just try to take it the other way, and shut them up–almost like playing on the road. I hate to see guys like that because like I said, I’ve been there before.”
-Al Harrington on Andray Blatche

When I played basketball with my dad one-on-one in the backyard and lost, it was never the losing that annoyed me most. And it definitely wasn’t the physical beating I’d take from him, because I felt like that made me tougher. What angered me the most was that my father would give me advice on how I could improve, and how I could ultimately defeat him one day. So you beat the pants off of me, and then you turn into a teacher and give me life lessons dad, really? REALLY?

That is exactly what the Denver Nuggets did the Washington Wizards in D.C. on Friday night.  John Wall would lead a fast break which would lead to a Wizards basket, and then Ty Lawson would streak down and get the Nuggets a basket as well. Both the Nuggets and Wizards would shoot an air ball, but the Nuggets would parlay that into a put-back, while the Wizards would lose the ball and fall prey to yet another Nuggets fast break.  Nick Young had a dazzling first quarter, boosting the Wizards to a 10 point lead after the period, but the Nuggets bench methodically got them back in the game, and the Wizards weren’t able to catch fire.  It turned into a game of: You reach, I teach. You think you’re good? Well guess what, we’re better.

After the win, Ty Lawson (21 points, six assists and nine rebounds) and Al Harrington (29 points, including 5-of-8 from three-point land) were not only able to articulate why they were successful against the Wizards, but they accurately diagnosed what was wrong with the team in Washington, and how Wall and Blatche could cope with the dysfunction.  If Oklahoma City Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry can see it, and Lawson and Harrington can see it too, why can’t Ted Leonsis?

Kyle Weide:

If you’re down two points and the other team is taking the ball side-out on their end with about seven seconds left in the game, do you foul? Yea, yea, the answer is obvious to you. To the Wizards? Not so much. Well, the answer might be obvious to them too, but on Friday night, their attempt to execute came with all the wrong answers.

The Scene: Danilo Gallinari is taking the ball out of bounds, Chris Singleton is on him. Trevor Booker is matched up against Al Harrington at the top of the key, Jordan Crawford is guarding Aaron Afflalo at the top of the NBA three-point line, John Wall is next to Ty Lawson deep in the paint, and Rashard Lewis is checking Andray Miller on the far side of the lane, near the elbow. Down 106-104, a steal by the Wizards would be gravy, but more importantly, better get that foul. Let’s go to the video…

Disaster. But why?

Crawford makes mistake one: he tries to read the play. It appears that his man, Afflalo, is going to set a second down screen (after Al Harrington) for Ty Lawson, so the point guard can cut to the top to receive the ball. So Crawford jumps the passing lane as Afflalo slips the screen and goes to the left wing.

What happens next is somewhat of a mystery. It’s assumed that Booker, perhaps in thinking that Wall was caught up on a screen from Harrington, goes to switch off on Lawson. It makes sense. If your goal is to foul, you probably want to switch everything. It doesn’t seem to make sense to Wall, however, who keeps chasing after Lawson, almost with aimless movement. Oh, and don’t sleep on the fake of Gallinari, got ’em all.

So with the sight of three Wizards chasing after Ty Lawson, allowing Al Harrington, who’d gone 5-8 from three-point land on the night (29 points in 30 minutes off the bench), to get the easy dunk, the paddle slipped out of the home team’s hands as the river flowed. The culprits: young John Wall and young Jordan Crawford. These are the little things.

Adam McGinnis:

Andray Blatche has to be the most disliked athlete by his local fan base in all of professional sports. Boos hum off the lips of fans during Blatche’s shot releases. If it goes in, mild cheers; if it misses, which has been quite often, it becomes much worse. Some of the criticism is unfair. Blatche is playing through shoulder problems and has rebounded quite well recently (22 total boards in the two games before Denver), but his dismal play on Friday night emboldens his numerous detractors.

In the first quarter, Blatche shot an unnecessary short fade-away to the utter dismay of the Verizon Center crowd, it went down hill from there. He later had a clear path to the hoop, but shuffled his feet for a travel. The second half began with more Blatche turnovers on isolations. The groans became relentless, undoubtedly playing into his psyche. This was evident where he passed up a drive, instead kicking it back out. On the next possession, he chucked up a long miss.

Blatche checked back in at the five minute mark of the fourth and grabbed a key offensive board. That was quickly overlooked by Wizards faithful when he was questionably whistled for a moving screen, a fifth foul that benched him for remainder of the contest. Blatche finished the game with two points on 0-7 shooting, three turnovers, five fouls, and six rebounds in 26 minutes.

Blatche has brought much of the broad contempt upon himself, especially with his media day comments about being willing to die for the team, yet, showing up out of shape (again) and publicly demanding the ball in the post after the first game, only to keep relying on his erratic jumper. The relationship between Blatche and Washington fans has become so untenable that he has no margin of error as a basketball player. The toxic reaction, while arguably justified, and perhaps therapeutic for a tortured fan base, shows little signs of turning around.

As the losses are likely to pile up, Blatche will continue to be audibly scapegoated for all of the franchise’s ills. Flip Saunders questioned the logic of Wizards fans’ icy behavior toward Blatche:

“Booing is not going to help someone play better…..I don’t think by booing, all of a sudden he is going to go out and get 20 points and 15 rebounds because we are booing him. If that was the case, then everyone would be doing it.”

Denver Forward Al Harrington, as quoted above, spoke with Blatche and recommended he turn the boos into fuel.

Neither Blatche nor JaVale McGee made themselves available to speak with the media after the game.

Kyle Weidie on EmailKyle Weidie on GoogleKyle Weidie on InstagramKyle Weidie on LinkedinKyle Weidie on TwitterKyle Weidie on Youtube
Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.

  • jarem

    Its funny about the booing in this article and the truth about it twitter handle trashes the hell out of Blatche…good game or bad…shoulder injury or no…just trashes him senseless

  • Well, I wouldn’t call it senseless… I have to think real hard before “trashing” Blatche… or, for validly pointing out when he isn’t performing in accordance with his over $6 million dollar salary. Do you comprehend how much money that is to play the way he does? I just write it… can you just imagine what NBA executives, coaches, and other players think of the way he plays. C’mon man, I ain’t the one.

    [BTW, article written by @adammcginnis, I am @truth_about_it]

  • jarem

    But sometimes it seems a bit much…out of the way…not defending his play at all…but times even when he does play well…(against OKC his shooting was poor, but he made some GREAT passes, and his rebounding was solid too)…

    Right now, he is the only one that demands a double team on the Wizards. His shoulder seems to be hurt too and the lockout didn’t help because he was out of touch with trainers.

    It just seems a bit much sometimes…

  • jarem,
    There’s a reason why Blatche is the only Wizards player that we are hypercritical of..he’s consistently inconsistent. Denver doesn’t exactly have a powerhouse of a front court, and Blatche went scoreless from the field. You scan the box score and find another starting PF who went scoreless from the field last night. as far as him being was Nick Young (wrist/thumb). We used to be overly critical of McGee, but his play has (kind of) shut folks up this season. It isn’t too late for Blatche to consistently step up to shut everyone up

  • Adam McGinnis

    Jarem, you have nailed an arguing topic that Kyle and I have had for a long time over Blatche. I tend to defend him and well, you already know how Kyle rolls.

    Blatche’s should injury is legit and I have over heard him talking with Wizards trainer about it.

    The booing is terrible and I was just trying to explain what is happening in arena along with providing information of why fans are currently so upset at him. Some of it is unfair and other is credible that Andray brought on himself.

    I do agree that Blatche could blossom on the 2nd Unit with his ability to score and he just needs to stop shooting so many damn jumpers.

    Although I root for Andray and like him personally, this situation with team is not working for anyone involved. I do agree with Kyle’s main, less snarky, assessment of McGee and Blatche being a bad pair together.

  • jarem

    I consistently root for Dray. And I think its also legit that he can be our 6th man off the bench (as he and Mcgee just does not seem to work). And about the shoulder, he has had that injury since last year. I think it would be bigger than a thumb injury).

    Is it possible that this team is not being coached to its strengths? I mean, as we saw yesterday, we can run with the best of them. We have the horses but it seems that players tend to slow down the pace a little (i know we are top 10 in pace but shouldn’t we be closer to #1)and run a half court offense when we can run. I am liking that it looks like we are starting to pass more and this team looks WAY MORE cohesive. There seems to be fire in their bellies and John looks like a man on a mission.

    Anyways, as for last night, was it me or where there many fouls NOT CALLED by the refs (it could have been blind homerism mixed with Chimay at the Matchbox in Chinatown).

    Anyways another awesome blog post

  • Brendan

    The hatred and vitrol for Blatche — particularly on this site — is absolutely unwarranted and ridiculous. You would think he was the only reason the Wiz are so bad the way the fans treat him. Last I checked, he hasn’t murdered or sexually assaulted anyone, and is willing to talk to the media. He appears to come across as a pretty good dude. While his play leaves a lot to be desired at times, hes still better than 75% of the players on this team. I for one, support Blatche, and will cheer for him at the next Wizards game I attend