[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. 2, Washington Wizards vs Boston Celtics; contributors: Sean Fagan, Rashad Mobley, andKyle Weidie.]
Jordan Crawford, sans post-game sunglasses,
talks about the issues at hand:
Washington Wizards 86 vs Boston Celtics 89
Stat of the Game: The Wizards won the battle on the boards (46-35), and they out-scored the Celtics in the paint (32-26), but they lost the game on turnovers (15-9), mostly due to a very sloppy offensive start by the first unit. In the first quarter, the Wizards had more turnovers (5) than field goals (4).
Player of the Game: Jordan Crawford — 25 minutes, 21 points (8-14 FGs), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 1 bum ankle that he played on late in the game.
Kevin Seraphin was on pretty much butter all night, smoothly tickling the nets on several baby hooks and soft paint jumpers. He only missed one of his nine shots and did most of his damage against Kevin Garnett. Next step: becoming a closer. With about 30 seconds left and the Wizards down, 87-86, Seraphin jostled for position with Kevin Garnett on the left block. He probably got fouled by Garnett — something Seraphin didn’t concede after the game — but ended up panicking, tried to pass the ball out, and ended up turning the ball over. No one was in reach of the cross-court pass.
“You’ve got to learn to make plays at some point. If you never put him in that situation, he’s never going to learn,” said Coach Randy Wittman of the play afterward. Makes sense. And with the way that Seraphin accepts coaching, signs are encouraging that the 22-year-old big man will soon be able to make big buckets late in games.
Rating five Wizards starters & two key subs on a three-star scale.
It is tough to praise to anything that A.J.Price did against the Celtics when the player he was guarding, Rajon Rondo, arguably the best point guard in the league, did such a masterful job of directing traffic. Price was basically absent in the fourth quarter when Coach Wittman chose to go with Pargo who had the hot(ter) hand. But in the third quarter, when the Wizards cut the Celtics’ lead from seven to four, Price finally looked like a point guard capable of running this Wizards offense. Early in the third, he found success in playing a two-man game with Emeka Okafor, which allowed him the space to hit a wide open three. As the quarter progressed, Price got Trevor Booker a wide-open jump shot and found Jordan Crawford on two separate fast breaks, baskets which helped Crawford get maintain momentum during his hot shooting third. Of course, Price won’t make anyone stop longing for John Wall, and it would be nice if he played well for a game, not a quarter, but he was serviceable on Saturday night.
Well, we’re fully into the ‘Bradley Beal needs to be more assertive’ versus ‘That’s not really his game’ debate. Beal’s tally in his second pro game: 2 points, 0-5 FGs, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 22 minutes … and that’s it. When asked what Beal needs to do to get past the struggles, Randy Wittman had a simple answer: “Gotta play through it.”And what did Beal have to say about what his opponents were doing?
“They’re not letting me shoot the ball, clearly. The other coaches are saying it, players are saying it on their team. It gets kind of frustrating because it’s something you love to do, it’s one of your strengths, and when you’re not able to reach those strengths, it’s kind of hard to fight through it. At the same time, it’s a part of me growing up and being a man in this league. I have to move past that because there’s other things I can do well besides just score the ball.”
Word from the Celtics locker room after the game is that the “book” is out on Beal. Kid better find a way to write a new book, or at least a new chapter.
I’m not sure where Trevor Ariza would rather be at the moment, but it appears to be anywhere but the basketball court. Ariza did everything that was humanly possible to sabotage the Wizards efforts by throwing errant passes, taking ill-advised shots, and playing overall shoddy defense. He finished with zero points, zero rebounds and zero assists in almost 17 minutes. Considering that Ariza has made his reputation through his defense, it’s more than a bit concerning that he poured himself in gasoline before the game and let Paul Pierce light the match. Meanwhile, Chris Singleton remained stapled to the bench. Right now it appears that the Wizards have a slightly younger, if just as disinterested Rashard Lewis on their hands in Ariza. For a merit based system, Randy Wittman is going to have to make a change to the starters soon, because Ariza is the proverbial turd in the punch bowl.
After a disastrous first game, Booker came back with the intensity and hustle that everyone has come to expect and finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds in almost 29 minutes. He thoroughly outplayed his rookie counterpart Jared Sullinger, at one pone point pirouetting past Sullinger on his way to an easy two. Active hands on Booker’s part saw many of the attempted funnels to Kevin Garnett deflected, and he came up with a key block on Garnett in the final minute. The most refreshing sign is that Booker now seems completely willing to mix it up down low and hammered the Celtics defenders with a brutal series of picks. This game should be a good building block if his health continues to hold up.
The futility of Emeka Okafor’s performance can best be captured in two separate first-quarter possessions. With 9:14 left in the first, Okafor caught the ball on the block and took two dribbles to establish deeper position while being guarded by rookie Jared Sullinger. The Celtic rookie was able to hold his ground and force Okafor into an awkward attempt. Less than a minute later, Okafor again found himself in the post, this time against Kevin Garnett. For the second time he tried to establish deeper post position and for the second time he missed, except this time Okafor shot an airball. To add insult to injury, a few minutes later, Sullinger had the ball on offense, established position, and easily hit a jumper over Okafor. Kevin Seraphin’s stellar return (19 points on 8-for-9 shooting) made it easy for Coach Wittman to leave Okafor on the bench for 18 of the 24 minutes in the second half.
Quite a return for the man that is quaintly referred to as the Manbearpig or Snakey. Seraphin was aggressive early and often, opening the game with a sweeping left hook and then demonstrating an outrageously consistent jump shot from 10-to-12 feet and finishing 8-for-9 on the night from the field. If Seraphin had a few more years under his belt, he might have been able to draw a foul on an overly aggressive Kevin Garnett, but age came before beauty and Seraphin was mauled into a costly turnover with less than a minute remaining. The heartening thing throughout the game was that Seraphin (unlike other Wizards of the past who will remain nameless) did not fold up his tent when the the Celtics decided to get a little grabby. Instead, Seraphin drilled jumper after jumper in the mugs of the Celtics defenders and remained as vicious on defense as ever. For the new “defensive” regime, Seraphin is at least holding up his end of the bargain.
During the last 24 hours, much has been made about Jordan Crawford and his off-court steez, and considering that his on-court game seems to be consistently inconsistent, that type of attention was totally understandable. But against Boston, Crawford demonstrated efficiency—and dare I say leadership—that is atypical of his usual, well, steez. Crawford shot 57 percent from the field (8-for-14, and 18 points higher than his career field goal percentage), and he minimized the amount of forced shots that have become his trademark in Washington. He had three assists, a few hockey assists, and he even turned the ball over trying to force a pass in the post when he had a wide open jumper right there in front of him. And when Crawford tweaked his ankle late in the game on a foul to the hoop, he made a single free throw, was whisked back to the locker room for a re-taping, and then came back on the court—just like he did last year against Milwaukee. He didn’t score another point after his injury, but on several occasions, when taken out for defense, he was clapping and encouraging his teammates to play better. Even after the game, Crawford commented on the lack of execution by the offense, which isn’t his normal steez at all. Perhaps he should talk to Dan Steinberg more often.
The ol’ ball coach went to a dark place, we think, during the poor first quarter start for the Wizards. Let’s listen to Wittman.
No more daylight? No more sunrises? Me thinks the coach still is facetiously telling himself, and natural light, that it’s only been two games, but Wittman is likely pretty concerned nonetheless that two high-priced veteran acquisitions, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, are managing to play their way to the bench by the end of the night.