[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. 13, Washington Wizards vs Portland Trail Blazers; contributors: Kyle Weidie and John Converse Townsend from the Verizon Center and Arish Narayen from behind the T.V.]
“Charles is going to be Charles.”
Martell Webster on Charles Barkley calling the Wizards the Washington Generals.
“We’re definitely an underdog. We’re definitely looked at as the losers of the league, but that’s OK. That’s OK. We believe in each other, and that’s the only thing that matters.” —M. Webster
Washington Wizards 84 vs Portland Trail Blazers 82
Stat of the Game: Yes, Portland missed a lot of shots (34.9% FGs), so there were more offensive rebound opportunities, but I still don’t know how the Wizards survived giving up 18 offensive boards to the Blazers (19 total, 9 offensive to J.J. Hickson alone). I s’pose it’s because Washington shot 17-for-19 on free throws and limited their 3-point attempts (5-for-12).
Another stat of note: The Wizards’ bench outscored the Blazers’ bench, 46-4.
Player of the Game: Jordan Crawford — 27 minutes off the bench, 19 points, 7-for-14 FGs, one assist, one rebound, two turnovers.
With 58 seconds to play, and the score locked at 82, Emeka Okafor blocked J.J. Hickson below the rim. Okafor earned his first trip to the free throw line on the ensuing possession, and sank both shots (the last points scored in the game) to give his team a two-point lead in a tightly contested fourth quarter.
Rating five Wizards starters & two key subs on a three-star scale.
Price wasn’t exactly right on Wednesday night: 31 minutes, three points, 1-for-7 FGs, three rebounds, six assists, and one turnover. But remember, this guy is a backup point guard. And while Shaun Livingston didn’t dazzle with his six points (3-3 FGs), two rebounds, one assist, one steal, and zero turnovers in 17 minutes off the bench, be glad Jannero Pargo wasn’t around. He certainly would’ve been that extra push the Wizards needed to lose the game. But for Price, just a little bit better shot selection would help. Or a lot better shot selection. Jordan Crawford’s jumper with just under nine minutes left in the fourth put the Wizards up 15, but Washington’s offense still wasn’t looking that great. On the next possession, a bad shot by Price seemed to set off almost seven scoreless minutes for the Wizards. Yea, yea, Price is a backup, but he still needs to take better command of the offense when it’s floundering.
On a night where players in supporting roles—like J.J. Hickson—made a lot of noise, Bradley Beal stayed quiet. He started slow, but in the third quarter, he nailed a jumper, crediting Kevin Seraphin an assist, and followed-up by swishing home a 3-pointer a few minutes later. He was heating up … or so we thought. (I know there’s no such thing as a ”hot hand,” thanks.) Beal missed his next 3-pointer and proceeded to get blocked into the early 2000s by Jared Jeffries on a baseline drive. Wittman pulled Beal for Crawford, and the rookie wouldn’t see the floor again. Beal finished the game 2-for-6 from the field with two turnovers in 16 minutes.
We’ll chalk this up as Trevor Ariza’s best game with the Wizards. For one, 14 points (on only nine shots!!). He started the night by aggressively scoring a layup mere seconds after the jump ball, before Wizards fans even had a chance to get to their seats for the whole “stand until they score” deal at the Verizon Center. It’s usually all very cute in a mostly empty arena, so thanks to Trevor for his quick make. Otherwise, Ariza hit two 3-pointers and played a contained game, doing essentially what was expected from him since the trade (albeit, under such action that still might make him overpaid). But let’s not nitpik too much on this night of winning. The best part: Ariza’s jumper looked the most comfortable it has all season. Now let’s build on that.
Plus, Ariza talked about his game
and about not remembering his game:
What I liked: Kevin Seraphin notched yet another double-double, finishing the game with 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, a block, and two turnovers in 33 minutes. Seraphin scored in a few ways: converting two jump shots and two short jump hooks, and also flushing an easy dunk off Jordan Crawford’s dribble penetration and dish. What I found most impressive was his passing, as it was clear Portland didn’t want Seraphin to get comfortable with the ball near the basket. On two possessions, Kevin quickly and sharply rotated the ball to the wing when he felt defensive pressure coming his way. What I didn’t like: his scoreless fourth quarter, his inability to get to the charity stripe, and a lack of defensive rebounding late in the game (though I suppose the entire team was outworked by J.J. Hickson in the second half). A win is a win, though, and we’re continuing to see Seraphin develop his game and become a focal point for this team offensively.
Emeka Okafor’s imprint on this game came in the second half. In the third quarter, after a Washington turnover, Okafor broke up a 2-on-1 fast break by running the floor and holding his position when it seemed Lillard would find a trailing Hickson for an easy dunk. Portland missed but grabbed the offensive board and was forced to reset the offense, only to miss another shot, which allowed ‘Meka to snag the defensive board. Credit Okafor with several tough rebounds, despite Portland’s players (specifically, Hickson) crashing the offensive glass like madmen. With under a minute left in the game, after a stretch in which Washington had just spent seven minutes hemorrhaging points and coughing up a 15-point lead, Emeka blocked Hickson at the rim and secured the ball. On the subsequent Wiz possession, A.J. Price found him rolling baseline to the hoop with a nice pass. Emeka was fouled by Aldridge, sank both his free throws, and gave the Wizards a two-point lead with 39 seconds left in the game. I won’t talk about Okafor’s first half, in which he played only nine minutes and actually made Hickson look effective as a defender. Just remember the good stuff, you guys. Oh, and he gets an extra half a star for saving a Wizards fan from possibly breaking their neck. Okafor finished the game with six points (2-for-7 FG), eight rebounds, two assists, three steals, a block and a turnover in 22 minutes of play.
Martell Webster was the first substitution of the game for the Wiz, coming in for Bradley Beal halfway into the first quarter. He did most of his work in the game’s first 24 minutes, getting fouled on a 3-point attempt (converting all three free throws) and making a jumper off a Chris Singleton assist. Webster only played four minutes in the second half, drawing another jump shot foul before missing a pull-up jumper off the dribble and immediately getting subbed out for Trevor Ariza. Martell finished with seven points (1-for-3 FGs), two rebounds, a steal and a turnover in 16 minutes.
Jordan Crawford led the Wizards in points with 19, one point shy of the game-high, 20, shared by Nic Batum and rookie Damian Lillard (which is interesting since Lillard, despite ripping past Wizards guards like an arrow, couldn’t seem to hit a layup). For those keeping track at home, J-Craw has now scored 38 points in the past two games on 16-for-30 shooting. After taking over for Beal with a minute and a half left in the third quarter, Crawford hit three of his seven shots from the field, including a spot-up 3-pointer that gave the Wiz a two-point lead with 2:05 left to play, 82-80. Crawford was the first player Wittman mentioned in his post-game presser. He called the young gunner ”consistent.” That’s not a word you hear often when talking about the Washington Wizards. High praise, indeed.
After the game, Randy Wittman explained how he empowered his players to tell him, the coach, what was wrong, while outlining the idea of holding them accountable. This is the type of relationship you want a coach developing with players: reciprocal. (Bradley Beal seemed to appreciate that the coach “treats them like men” after the game.) Let’s go to the post-game video:
Furthermore, Coach Witt likely filled up his belly. As he exited his presser, he greeted his wife in the way a husband would. “You’re going to eat tonight, put some weight back on you,” she told the coach. The Pasta Report: damn delicious.