DC Council Game 9: Wizards 93 vs. Raptors 78: Start Counting At One Win | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council Game 9: Wizards 93 vs. Raptors 78: Start Counting At One Win

Updated: January 11, 2012

[The DC Council — After each Wizards game: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the bench, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is over the table. Game 9 contributors: covered on-hand at the Verizon Center by Adam McGinnis and John Converse Townsend, with Rashad Mobley from the television feed. Oh, and you can now find our stuff on Google+. Go ahead and circle Truth About It.]


Washington Wizards 93 vs. Toronto Raptors 78 [box score]


Jan Vesely balled. He balled hard. No; he didn’t pantomime His Airness in an 81-point performance against these Raptors, but Jan Vesely threw jabs and locked elbows, and introduced a manic, constructive, even confident attitude to the game. The cameras couldn’t help but focus on Vesely, who knew it—he winked, he waved, he smiled. Four points, two rebounds, one assist, and five steals in 16 minutes. Only eight other players in the history of hoops have ever filled a stat sheet like Jan Vesely did against Toronto:

  1. Michael Jordan, 23 years old
  2. Jerome Kersey, 23
  3. Mark Macon, 25
  4. Tyus Edney, 24
  5. Spud Webb, 24
  6. Danny Young, 27
  7. Elliot Perry, 25
  8. Doc Rivers, 34

Jan Vesely is in good company, clearly, and in the club underage—he doesn’t turn 22 until April. The real laugh, though, is that this wasn’t the first time the Wizards have seen such a feat up close: two key members of this Wizards franchise have even been a part of the action.

In January of 1986, Blazers forward Jerome Kersey put up 16 points, five steals, four rebounds, and one assist in Madison Square Garden. Ernie Grunfeld came off the bench for the Knicks that night; had a fine fifteen minutes. When Jordan scored 17 points, with seven steals, seven rebounds, and one assist in 14 minutes off the bench in Atlanta two months later, Randy Wittman was starting at guard for the Hawks. Almost two years later, in December of 1987, Wittman took in a seven-point, nine-assist, five-steal, and two-rebound performance from teammate Spud Webb, who frustrated the Boston Celtics in 16 minutes off the bench.

(Shout-out to basketball-reference.com!)

“Blake Griffin is the American Jan Vesely,” joked the Czech rookie on draft night, a Wizards flat-brimmed hat fitted to his head. And maybe, after hearing the roar of the crowd and poring over the numbers, that new kid from Europe and Blake Griffin, Mr. Major Market himself, are more alike than we had ever imagined. Maybe. Airballed free throws indubitably included. And weighted heavily…

Scene of the Game

Hello World.

[screen shot via @recordsANDradio]

D.C. Flag 3-Star Ratings

w/ Adam McGinnis, Rashad Mobley
and John Converse Townsend

<***> Rating the Starting 5, Bench & Coach out of 3 stars.

John Wall

John Wall

JOHN CONVERSE TOWNSEND: It was a tale of two halves for John Wall. Early, Wall ran over Jose Calderon, turned the ball over, missed two shots by a total of eight feet (first an airball from 17 feet, then a fadeaway three pointer that hit the top of the backboard), and then missed a third consecutive jump shot. (Wall missed seven of his nine first half field goal attempts). Shelvin Mack quickly replaced him—yes, indeed; good to know that Mack isn’t legally barred from entering games in the first half. Though Wall didn’t score again until the five-minute mark in the 4th quarter, he didn’t have to. He took complete command of the offense, controlling his speed, and pushing the tempo with sharp outlet passes; Wall is beginning to realize that a sharp pass will move the basketball faster than any full court sprint. When the Raptors switched to a zone defense with about nine minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Wall consistently drew help-side defenders by flashing into the paint, before kicking the ball out to open teammates. This night, at least, his teammates made some of their open looks. Zone defense: busted. Losing streak: over.
2 Stars (out of 3)
McGINNIS: John’s shooting touch is still off, but he excelled in transition and half court offensive with his quick passing ability. A 9:2 assist-to-turnover ratio along with a victory will shut up some critics for at least today.
2 Stars
MOBLEY: How fickle is the NBA? When you shoot 3-12, score eight points, dish out nine assists, block three shots, and lose, you’re a struggling young point guard? But when you put up those stats and your team wins? You’re Jason Kidd doing what it takes to get a victory. Wall was Kidd-like against Toronto and did a much better job of running the team—Washington’s personnel changes didn’t hurt either.
2 Stars

TOTAL: 6 out of 9 stars


Nick Young

Nick Young

RASHAD MOBLEY: During the eight-game losing streak there was a lot of criticism to go around about the Wizards starting five. Wall was struggling, McGee was erratic, Rashard Lewis was invisible, and Andray Blatche was just flat out lazy. Nick Young was criticized for his shot selection, and his lapses on defense, but to be fair, there were many games where his scoring kept the Wizards within striking distance. After watching Nick score 15 points with one rebound, and one assist, I realized that Young is who we thought he was. He’s a scorer—sometimes he’s red hot, sometimes he’ll shoot you out of the game, and sometimes his lack of an all-around game will stick out like a Rashard Lewis goatee. But on a night like tonight, when all 10 of the Wizards who played contributed substantially, somehow Nick fit in perfectly.
1.75 Stars (out of 3)
McGINNIS: Swaggy P knocked down some open looks, which he must do in order to be an effective player in Flip’s offensive system.
1.5 Stars
TOWNSEND: Nick Young has the best-looking J on the team, so it’s great to see him finding his rhythm. In a way, in his current form, Young also embodies one thing Wizards, as a team, shouldn’t aspire to be: overeager jump shooters. In even less words, a simple way the Wizards can improve their offensive output.
1.5 Stars

TOTAL: 4.75 out of 9 stars


Chris Singleton

Chris Singleton

ADAM McGINNIS: Chris Singleton continues to live up to the hype as a stud defender and all around impactful player on both ends. He constantly contests shooters and gets his hands in the passing lanes for deflections. If you are going to score on Chris in one-on-one situations, he is going to make you work for it. Nine points and nine rebounds in 23 minutes is much better for his second NBA start.
2 Stars (out of 3)
MOBLEY: On the Tony Kornheiser show on Monday, Michael Wilbon mentioned that when he watched John Wall on a fastbreak, he noticed that Wall was always alone at the basket with no one else around him to receive a pass. Tonight, whether he got the ball or not, Singleton was with Wall, and he hustled on both ends of the floor—oh and by the way, he led the team with nine rebounds in 23 minutes.
2 Stars
TOWNSEND: Focused, aggressive, and had fun mixing it up with smaller forwards in the post. His three-point shot will improve with time.
2 Stars

TOTAL: 6 out of 9 stars


Trevor Booker

Trevor Booker

JOHN CONVERSE TOWNSEND: Trevor Booker, the only Wizards player with meaningful minutes (other than Chris Singleton) to shoot better than 39.3-percent from the field, made his 15th career start, the first of the 2011-12 season. He had another physical game, containing Andrea Bargnani, pulling down rebounds with one hand and turning defense into offense. Booker finished with seven rebounds, three steals, an assist and a turnover; and would have scored in double digits had he not missed a pair of free throws.
2.25 Stars (out of 3)
McGINNIS: Cook Book’s first start of the season brought instant energy and defensive effort from the jump that the Wizards have severely lacked all season. You can definitely sense fans were ready for him to start, and from the overwhelming cheers, they appreciated his stellar play.
2.5 Stars
MOBLEY: The few times the Wizards needed Booker to score he did. When they needed him to make a hockey assist, he did that. And when he had to guard the red-hot seven footer Andrea Bargnani, he did that too. This prompted Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm to say, “Booker is eating Bargs alive right now.”
2.5 Stars

TOTAL: 7.25 out of 9 stars


JaVale McGee

JaVale McGee

ADAM McGINNIS: The Wizards most steady player of the season was more inconsistent than normal with six turnovers, zero offensive rebounds and a few silly goal tends in only 20 minutes of game action. McGee repeatedly fell for Bargnani’s head fakes, but he did provide a highlight where he jumped over John Wall to flush an alley oop pass from Jordan Crawford. In the 3rd quarter, McGee actually looked to kick the ball out after receiving a post entry pass. He eventually made a normal looking hook shot. Baby steps.
1.5 Stars (out of 3)
MOBLEY: The first five minutes of the game represent McGee’s career with the Wizards. Three blocks, one goaltending call, a turnover and a made basket. McGee was a relative non-factor the rest of the game.
1.5 Stars
TOWNSEND: Another funny game from McGee: 10 points, six rebounds, three blocks, but 6 turnovers and the accompanying goaltend.
1.75 Stars

TOTAL: 4.75 out of 9 stars


The Bench

The Bench

JOHN CONVERSE TOWNSEND: Today’s pinewood heroes: Shelvin Mack, who looks like the best pick-and-roll guard on the roster; Jordan Crawford, who shows continued potential as a primetime ball stopper, but made several strong moves to the hoop for scores; Rashard Lewis, who went fishing and filled baskets; Andray Blatche, who looked more than content coming off the bench; and Jan Vesely, who showed really quick feet, active hands, and used his length to play passing lanes. Vesely re-routed Toronto’s pick-and-roll attack, racking up five steals and leading the charge in transition; on one occasion, slamming home an alley-oop over James Johnson. As TAI’s Rashad Mobley reported, Vesely’s play during the game drew player comparisons ranging from Darvin Ham to Andrei Kirilenko and even Blake Griffin.
2.75 Stars (out of 3)
  Sub Man of the Game: Jan Vesely
McGINNIS: By halftime, all ten players that were in the game had scored. Sweet Lew finally found his stroke going 6-10 from field. Andray “BOOOOO!” Blatche was much more impactful on the second unit. Jordan Crawford finished in double figures and his dumb shots were limited. Vesley’s line might not look too impressive in box score but his hustling for offensive boards, five steals and two dunks ignited the home crowd; he instantly became a fan favorite. “FREE Shelvin Mack” finally took place, and he provided solid burn with four points, three assists and one turnover in 14 minutes off the bench.
2.5 Stars
  Sub Man of the Game: Jan Vesely
MOBLEY: Vesely did his best AK-47/Blake Griffin/Darvin Ham impression. Shelvin Mack got in the game in the first quarter, and arguably played better than Wall in that period. Former starters Rashard Lewis, Jordan Crawford and Andray Blatche combined to shoot 15-32 from the field with 35 points and a plus/minus of plus-40. They not only won the game, but they may have earned themselves permanent slots on the bench.
2.75 Stars
  Sub Man of the Game: Jordan Crawford

BENCH TOTAL: 8 out of 9 stars


The Coach: Flip Saunders

The Coach: Flip Saunders

RASHAD MOBLEY: On ESPN TrueHoop yesterday, Henry Abbott wrote a scathing article about the Washington Wizards, and in it was a quote from David Thorpe who said, “Flip Saunders isn’t a terrible coach, but he has been a bad coach in Washington.” One victory over a 4-5 Raptors team playing the second of three consecutive games doesn’t make Saunders the second-coming of Phil Jackson (or Eddie Jordan for that matter), but tonight he made all the right moves. He benched Andray Blatche in favor of Trevor Booker, he kept Rashard Lewis on the bench in favor of Chris Singleton, and he finally brought in Shelvin Mack off the bench before Jordan Crawford, and it all paid off. Unfortunately for Flip, the Bulls, the resurgent Sixers, the Houston Rockets and then the Oklahoma City Thunder await his team, so this victory could become a distant memory very soon. But on this night—two nights after Saunders implored everyone (himself included) to look internally to find a solution—Flip got it right.
3 Stars (out of 3)
McGINNIS: The staff pushed all the right buttons with Mack at backup PG, playing JCraw at SG, Dray/Sweet Lew off bench and Singleton/Booker starting. Coach Saunders was coy about if the starting the lineup would remain the same for the Chicago game Wednesday night, but I would be shocked if it changed.
3 Stars
TOWNSEND: Youth is served. They’re chanting it in the streets, sources say. Some transformation last night, granted against a team in the heart of a back-to-back-to-back. After an awkward start, the right combinations of players saw playing time at key moments including a first-half rotation of John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Rashard Lewis, Jan Vesely, and Andray Blatche that made an 18-8 run to lead, which forced a Toronto timeout. The Wizards never looked back.
2.75 Stars

COACH TOTAL: 8.75 out of 9 stars


Seen on the Scene

w/ Adam McGinnis

  • In Wizards locker room before the game, you could definitely sense a dark clound floating over the team from all the recent negative media attention. Multiple players mentioned the heavy drama.
  • Adding to the saga was Andray Blatche’s availability being in doubt with a sore knee and shoulder. No one knew if he would actually play. Rashard Lewis weirdly mentioned both of his knees were now feeling better and he would be out there.
  • About 15 minutes before the tip, I tweeted this picture of a sparse Verizon Center crowd and my retweets buzzed faster than the last call stampede at an open bar.
  • John Wall’s mom was on hand and wearing a red t-shirt with No. 2 on the front. Miles Rawls took in the ‘W’ by sporting pink shoes and a matching pink shirt.
  • While Jan Vesely signed autographs on his way to locker room pre-game, a gushing young female fan rubbed his hair back and forth.
  • Wiz fans gave numerous standing ovations throughout the evening, a first for this season.
  • Vesely received a “Game Changer” coin for his hustling efforts; Chris Singleton informed me that tonight was first time someone had won it. No one knows what this coin looks like.

Top Tweets

@ESPN_RobKing:I’m already circling Feb. 3. Win No. 2, here we come! #wizards #raptorsrematch #brutalscheduleinbetween

@wzzntzz: Cap’n Dray’s postgame speech: “Archibald’s gonna hav the Hot Pockets–& bootys–poppin’ tonight. First dance on Jan!!”

@Unsilent: floating on a cloud called Metro after that Wizards game. This team has SOME talent. They finally harnessed it. Also, they played Toronto.

Slept-On Moment

  • McGINNIS: The Raptors cut the Wizards lead to 58-50 with 5:03 remaining in third quarter. John Wall then swung ball to Young in corner for a successful jumper, and Washington clamped down on defense with three straight stops. On next trip, the Wizards moved ball around efficiently through Raptors zone with Blatche finding an open Singleton for a bucket. Singleton immediately stole the ball and passed to Booker for a breakaway dunk. Soon after, Wall drove lane and dished to Booker for a flush. This sequence put Wizards up 66-50, and game was never in doubt again.
  • MOBLEY: With 10:34 left in the second quarter, Jan Vesely stole a bad pass from DeMar DeRozan and passed the ball to Shelvin Mack, who was finally in the game for some meaningful minutes. Mack dribbled the ball up the court in a controlled sprint, and it looked like he could have forced the issue and driven to the basket for an attempted layup. Instead, Mack pulled up at the foul line and nailed a jumper. Now, I’m not naive enough to think that one sequence is enough for Mack to usurp Wall as the starting point guard, but I’m curious what Wall was watching when Mack did this. I’m also curious if Flip Saunders or Sam Cassell saw that moment, and said to Wall, “Now THAT is what we need out of you, son!”
  • TOWNSEND: Shelvin Mack was running the offense with just under two minutes left in the 1st quarter. Calling for the ball on the right block was Trevor Booker—outdueling Andrea Bargnani in a battle for position—but Mack instead chose to swing the ball to Andray Blatche who instinctively fired a high-arching fadeaway. Blatche made the shot, to his credit, but that’s not the play the Wizards need to make in that situation. … Not to be a kill-joy; the Wizards earned the standing ovation from the faithful, frugal fans. But don’t sleep on this moment. It shouldn’t be easily pardoned because of the positive result.

End Scene


“He is a new fan favorite right there, he took my spot … He played great, I was proud of him out there … He wearing that Swag, that Overseas Swag.”

—Nick Young on Jan Vesely


 [screen shot via Comcast]

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 currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.