[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. 31, Washington Wizards vs. Brooklyn Nets in D.C.; contributor: Rashad Mobley on the scene, with Adam McGinnis and John Converse Townsend from behind the television screen.]
Don’t Do Us Like That, Joe.
Washington Wizards 113 vs. Brooklyn Nets 115 [box score]
MVP: Bradley Beal had his best game of the season: 24 points (10-for-19 shooting), six rebounds, four assists, three steals, and one block.
Stat of the Game: The Wizards shot 58.1 percent from the free throw line (18-for-31). They lost by two points in double-overtime…
Joe Johnson’s final box score shows that he scored 18 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, but it was the way he scored those points that was intriguing. After scoring just two in the opening quarter, Johnson got a bit more aggressive and scored nine points in the second quarter, and then he basically disappeared thanks to the Wizards defense. From the third quarter, right up until the very end of the second overtime, Johnson only scored seven points, mainly because the Wizards consistently sent help to whoever was guarding him (mostly Webster lending a hand to Beal). That gameplan denied Johnson the chance to live up to his moniker, “Iso Joe,” and forced him to make the quick pass out of the double-team.
But with 9.1 seconds left in the game, Johnson had Bradley Beal guarding him at the top of the key. He did his patented yo-yo dribble back and forth, and then he made a decisive move to the left. Martell Webster ran over for the double team, but he was about three steps too slow. Johnson made a decisive move to his right, and rose for the game-winning jumpshot, while Webster flew by. Dagger!
Rating five Wizards starters & two key subs on a three-star scale.
When Garrett Temple made his Wizards debut back on Dec. 26 against Cleveland, Steve Buckhantz immediately compared him to Shaun Livingston. He noted their similar weight, height, build and style of play, until Phil Chenier chimed in and said, “Yeah but I think Garrett is a little bigger.” In last night’s double overtime loss to the Nets, Garrett played significatntly bigger than Livingston had this season (as Kyle Weidie observed with this tweet).In the first half, Garrett attempted just one shot from the field, while he focused on getting his teammates good, open shots—even the Jan Vesley on a couple of occasions. He did his best to make Deron Williams work for all of his 13 first-half points, but to expect Temple to stop him completely was simply not realistic. In the second half, he still found his teammates (four assists) but he was a bit more aggressive with the scoring and rebounding (eight points and five rebounds, respectively). He wasn’t quite as flashy and ball dominant as Williams, but he controlled the tempo and provided stability at the point guard position—something that has been lacking since A.J. Price fractured his right hand. Unfortunately, in crunch time, Coach Wittman cast Temple aside in favor of Jordan Crawford—a move that may have cost the Wizards a victory
This was Beal’s breakout game. It’s amazing how much better a scorer looks when his shot is falling. He seems so much more confident than he did earlier in the season coming off screens. It’s easy to run a curl and fire a J, but Beal is now able to do that and more, keeping his dribble alive, attacking the rim (where he’s shooting .600), and hitting cutters in the paint (sometimes he can be too unselfish). He made a few big plays down the stretch, too. Of course, there was his step-back 3-pointer which forced double-overtime (Okafor set a nice screen to free him). And, with 9.1 seconds left in the second OT, Beal kept his composure and sank two free throws to tie the game at 113.But then, Joe Johnson stole the spotlight. The 6-foot-7 guard had been causing problems for Beal, generously listed at 6-foot-3. Johnson’s height allowed him to score over Beal on just about every way imaginable: floaters, mini hook shots, 3-pointers (where Beal was too small to close out properly). In the game’s waning moments, Martell Webster was forced to leave Gerald Wallace in the left corner to send extra help in the rookie’s direction—a move which ultimately cost the Wizards the game at the end of regulation. The circumstances in double-OT were a bit different, Johnson kept the ball and took the final contested shot, but the result was the same—two points, Brooklyn. Curtains, Wizards.
Martell poured in 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting, with five rebounds, four assists and one steal. Webster excels at corner 3-balls and is very effective at cutting to open space. Where other players might start to slack off due to the losses, you can always count on him to hustle and scrap for loose balls. This one-year flyer signing has been one of the few shrewd moves by a beleaguerd front office.
Thanks to the passes of Garrett Temple, the soft defensive play of the Nets’ Brook Lopez, and just his overall aggressive attitude early in the game, Nene scored 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first quarter. He hit jumpers, he had his will in the post, he dunked alley-oops, and one occasion even led a fast break. Towards the end of the first quarter Coach Wittman—presumably trying to adhere to Nene’s minutes limit—took Nene out of the game, and replaced him with Emeka Okafor, which all but ended his confident run.Nene scored three points in the second quarter and played just 2:51; he played almost eight minutes in the third quarter, and again, scored just three points. he played the entire fourth quarter and scored four points, and then he went scoreless in the first overtime before fouling out, and yet Nene still managed to be finish with game-high plus-13 in the plus/minus department. Simply put, when the offense went through him, the Wizards were a more difficult team to stop. Once Coach Wittman stop calling his number, the game became more difficult for the Wizards. But with the exception of a couple of bad turnovers in the second quarter, Nene played big last night
The Okafor and Ariza acquisition has been widely panned, but it is time to recognize that Emeka has raised his game to a solid level as of late. He was active early versus the Nets with jump hooks, deflections, board work, tap outs and made Brook Lopez work for his points. His pairing with Nene is starting to pay dividends. Okafor tallied 13 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals. He saw little action down the stretch as the Wizards went small. However, His three missed free throws in the second overtime were killers.
Friday night was a microcosm of the evolution of Jordan Crawford’s game and how failures in big moments still skew a negative perception of his overall improved play. Throughout the contest, Crawford was magnificent. He knocked down four straight 3-pointers and hit numerous miraculous drives. Late in the fourth quarter, he had 22 points on only nine shots. Then, the collapse in the first overtime transpired. The Wizards were up five with 55 seconds to go. Crawford turned the ball over, fouled Gerald Wallace, who knocked down two free throws. J-Craw missed a jumper, clanked two gigantic free throws and misfired on another shot. New Jersey took the lead by three in this sequence and Beal’s bomb sent the game into double-OT. In second OT, Jordan had a turnover and could not connect on game-winning shot at the buzzer. His outstanding line of 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting, 4-for-5 from 3-point range, six rebounds, two assists was marred by disappointment in the extra periods and six costly turnovers.
Jan Vesely must be being used wrong. Airwolf became a top prospect as a perimeter player, but has been forced to play power forward in D.C. As a rookie, Vesely played 37 percent of available minutes at power forward, and 6 percent of available minutes at center. This year, Vesely has taken 19 percent of available minutes at power forward, and one percent of available minutes at center. … He’s never played the small forward. He’s being shackled. (And he’s even missing dunks. Extra pounds weighing him down?)Vesely was matched up against Brooklyn’s Mirza Teletovic, a Russian man’s Ryan Anderson. And while Vesely is a better athlete, and could have easily beat Teletovic with off-ball cuts from the 3-point line, his speed and court sense is sometimes wasted in the paint. He’s not big enough to bang against guys like Reggie Evans—who do you think is going to get the rebound? And while a few alley-oop plays run his direction were fun, it still feels like his potential is being wasted.
At at the 3, Vesely could be the ultimate mismatch, but at the 4 he’s just another guy. He had three points and two blocks (including a major swat on Blatche) in 13 minutes off the bench.