[D.C. Council: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the subs, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is on the table. Game No. 11, Washington Wizards vs Charlotte Bobcats; contributors: Dan Diamond and Sean Fagan from the Verizon Center and Kyle Weidie from behind the T.V.]
John Wall couldn’t watch.
Chris Singleton still made the second of book-end free throws with three chances at the line, sending the game into double-overtime.
At least former Wizard Brendan Haywood left happy.
Washington Wizards 106 vs Charlotte Bobcats in Double-OT
Stat of the Game: Unlike last time, the Wizards didn’t lose the battle in the paint. They actually outscored the Bobcats 34-30 there. No, they lost the battle on the perimeter, as suspected prior to the game, giving up 12-for-28 to Charlotte from deep while Washington shot 6-for-27 from 3-point land. The quick Bobcats guards — Kemba Walker, Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon — combined for 52 points, 13 assists, 6 turnovers, 14 rebounds, and went 18-for-23 from the foul line.
Player of the Game: Nene, clearly, with his 19 points and plus-22 plus/minus in 29 minus. On the other side, Byron (formerly “BJ”) Mullens poured in 27 points on 5-for-11 from the 3-point line.
Consensus on New Media Press Row: A one-man highlight from Nene—the big man stripped DeSagana Diop, took the ball coast-to-coast, and went behind-the-back to Emeka Okafor for a slam dunk—was among the coolest plays of the game.
(It also served as a reminder: When Nene is healthy, he does things that no other Wizard big can do.)
But for sheer impact on the outcome, you could pick from a handful of moments. The Wizards going 2-for-4 from the free throw line in the last two minutes of regulation? Poor execution in the fourth quarter? It’s hard to top a sequence in the second overtime when Chris Singleton missed a free throw, the Bobcats grabbed the rebound, and Reggie Williams hit a three-pointer—it gave Charlotte a 104-103 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish, and the Verizon Center visibly deflated.
Rating five Wizards starters & two three key subs on a three-star scale.
The position of “point guard” was in flux for the the entire game as Randy Wittman threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Bobcats in an attempt to get the elusive “win.” Shaun Livingston is profiled here because he started, but for the majority of the evening, Wizards point guards were either ineffective (Livingston) or detrimental to the team (Price, Crawford). Of the three, Livingston probably did the least damage to the Wizards’ effort. He ran the offense efficiently despite being saddled with two passive options (Seraphin and Vesely) and defended both Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker actively, helping contribute in large part to the terrible night the two young Bobcats put forth. Efficiency and tidiness are probably exactly what Coach Wittman is looking for, especially since he has “no idea” what the timetable is for Wall’s return. Livingston finished with eight points, four rebounds, zero assists, and three turnovers in 22 minutes.
The agony and ecstasy of watching Jordan Crawford: Late in the first half, Crawford turned the ball over on a flubbed behind-the-back move, leading to groans in the crowd … but after the Bobcats missed the layup, Crawford nailed a long jumper to cheers seconds later. Unfortunately, there was much more agony than ecstasy on a night when Crawford scored just nine points on 4-for-15 shooting. Like all of the starters, he struggled defensively (a plus/minus of minus-16); with a chance to win at the buzzer in regulation, Crawford dribbled around aimlessly before forcing an ugly jumper. And other than some nice feeds to Nene in the post, he was essentially invisible in overtime.
Bradley Beal made his first shot from the field late in the second quarter—a 3 as the shot clock expired to tie the game. And in the fourth quarter, with five minutes to go, Beal canned another big 3 to bring the Wizards within two points, 85-83. But the rookie missed every other shot during regulation, and also had a bad miss on an open 3-pointer with time winding down in the first overtime; he then lost the ball after grabbing the offensive rebound. (One of his 10 rebounds on the night.) While the Wizards pulled off a minor miracle to tie the game seconds later, Beal could have cinched Washington’s first win in that moment. As Beal said after the game, “It’s hard because you want to help, but sometimes you want to help too much.” And unfortunately, the rookie—with a plus/minus of minus-20 on Saturday—is hurting more than he’s helping right now.
Jan Vesely played 10 minutes — 7:26 in the first quarter and 2:34 in the third — and they didn’t amount to anything. Randy Wittman has no other choice but to change his starting lineup once again, at least to get Jan out of it. If Vesely starts against DeJuan Blair and the Spurs on Monday (while Kevin Seraphin is left to defend Tim Duncan), then we’ll know a certain stubbornness has taken over the coach’s rotation. Vesely scored two points, thanks to a transition lob from Jordan Crawford, grabbed zero rebounds, negated a steal with a turnover, looked un-coached in his one appearance at the free throw line (one miss and one air ball violation that didn’t count), and appears to have no idea where his confidence has gone. Interestingly enough, Vesely is just one of five Wizards (including Nene, Earl Barron, Cartier Martin, and Martell Webster) who has a positive plus/minus per 48 minutes on the season (plus-3.3). But he’s clearly not a good 4/5 defensive combination with Kevin Seraphin and he’s clearly much closer to a draft bust than he is to NBA starting material at this point. Also, Vesely’s PER is a team-worst 5.1. I’m personally not giving up on Jan, but I can hardly defend the guy as a sixth pick.
After the game, Randy Wittman described the play of Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin as “just being out there.” As a comment on passivity, it rung strongly as Seraphin failed to establish a presence in the first quarter and then was benched in favor of a two center lineup featuring Nene and Emeka Okafor and the successful “three wing” lineup that Wittman put out later that evening. The worrisome part about Seraphin’s performance is that now that he knows that he is going to get touches, he isn’t making the extra effort to make those touches count. He is still establishing his position on the offensive end too far from the basket, which makes it harder for the young center to establish a proper rebounding position. Also of concern is that Seraphin is beginning to turn the ball over at an alarming rate, as defenders know he is more likely to shoot than pass back out and reset the offense. The truth of the matter is that Seraphin may need to remain on the bench in order to be effective. He is also going to have to go back to the drawing board on the offensive end and learn that in order for the Wizards to win that everyone has to contribute.
“Here comes the magic bullet,” Sean Fagan said to me, as the Brazilian center wandered to the scorer’s table in the third quarter, with the Wizards down 64-59. And within minutes, McCarrick’s prediction looked eerily accurate: Nene was finding players from the high post, with a nifty flip behind the head to Chris Singleton for an easy bucket; getting position under the basket; and generally being a steadying force as the Wizards tied the game and then took a two-point lead on his dunk to start the fourth quarter. Nene had 19 points in 29 minutes—about 10 minutes more than he was supposed to play, given his injuries—but it’s clear that the Wizards were a different, better team with him on the court.
Everything that can be said about Martell Webster’s performance can be summed up in the video in this post. In a year in which commentators have questioned the drive of the Wizards new acquisitions and their ability to develop young players, Webster’s effort and poise when receives his infrequent playing time stand out. Everyone after the game was talking about Nene and his effect on the Wizards, but Webster had the higher plus/minus for most of the evening (he finished tied with Nene at plus-22), got to the free throw line early and often (10-for-12 on FT attempts) and led all Wizards in scoring (21 points). Playing with other wings Trevor Ariza and Chris Singleton, the “three wing” combo ran rampant over the Bobcats defense, as Singleton and Ariza were allowed to gamble on defense with the knowledge that Webster and Nene would be there to pick up the slack. It’s difficult to see what Webster’s role on the team will be going forward, but one has to assume that there is a place in the starting lineup, as he is one of the few Wizards playing with the desperateness needed to earn that first win.
There was good Singleton and bad Singleton on display Saturday night. The bad Singleton went 7-for-10 from the free-throw line. He missed one early in the first OT that would’ve given the Wizards the lead, and he missed a huge one in the middle of three attempts at the line that would’ve given Washington the victory at the end of the first extra session. He also sunk too low in Washington’s defense a couple times, leaving Byron Mullens wide open from long distance. Finally, bad Singleton shot only 3-for-11 on FGs, but his attempts weren’t without confidence. However, good Singleton provided many reasons as to why he should get more time. He pulled down 12 rebounds (six offensive) in his 33 minutes to go with four steals (and six fouls, as Singleton is a fouling dude). Singleton provided much-needed presence — presence that hasn’t been found in Jan Vesely, presence that’s rarely found in Trevor Ariza. Wittman needs to find time for Singleton, ideally at the 3 so he can be more helpful on the glass and disruptive on defense, but Singleton playing at the 4 certainly works at times, too.