DC Council Game 42: Wizards 86 vs Bulls 73: Buck 'em Down Battle with Bovines | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council Game 42: Wizards 86 vs Bulls 73: Buck 'em Down Battle with Bovines

Updated: January 27, 2013

[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. 42, Washington Wizards vs Chicago Bulls in D.C.; contributors: Rashad Mobley and Adam McGinnis from behind the television screen.]

The Bill: Washington Wizards DC Council

F–k Yeah, Kirk Hinrich!

via @JZickar

Washington Wizards 86 vs. Chicago Bulls 73 [box score]

MVP: Emeka Okafor: 15 points (6-8 FGs, 3-4 FTs), 16 rebounds, two steals. During the first quarter of the season, we gave Okafor a hard time on this site and even created a snarky measure of basketball value determined by whether or not Emeka’s points and rebounds combined for more than 13.5 (representing his $13.5 million dollar salary). There is no longer a need for such jabs, as Okafor has turned into a consistent double-double force. He was outstanding versus the Bulls and was definitely the difference-maker in the Wizards’ victory. He challenged shots at the rim, cleaned up the defensive glass and showcased an array of successful post moves. After the Bulls had cut the Wizards’ lead to 79-67 late in fourth quarter, Okafor snatched a key rebound then hustled down to drill a dagger jumper to hold off Chicago’s momentum. When the Wizards acquired Emeka, New Orleans bloggers spoke glowingly of his solid play and remarked that he was often under-appreciated. It is nice finally see what they were referencing—Okafor is no longer overlooked here in D.C., but recognized as a vital cog to the Wizards’ recent success.

Stat of the Game: DEFENSE! DEFENSE! DEFENSE! The Wizards triumphed over the Bulls due to their lock-down D. They held Chicago to 41 percent from the field (29-for-71), 27 percent from 3 (4-for-15), and forced them into 16 turnovers. In the second half, the Bulls had a 10-minute stretch without a made field goal. Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich was coming off a season-high 25 points and career-high seven made 3-balls versus Golden State, and he was limited to just even points with only one 3-pointer against the Wiz. Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah average a combined 28 points per game, but only managed to go for 15 points together. Coach Wittman praised his team’s defense: “I think, from start to finish, this is probably our best defensive effort for 48.”

—Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis)

Key Legislature: Washington Wizards DC Council

It doesn’t have to be pretty…

Early in the fourth quarter, when the Wizards stretched their lead to 20 points, Steve Buckhantz and Phil Chenier both indicated that the Bulls were overdue to make a sustained run to close the gap. Over the next five minutes, the Bulls went on a 12-4 run and the momentum seemed to shift away from the Wizards. But over the last six minutes of the game, the Wizards outscored the Bulls 10-6, en route to an 86-73 victory.

The anchor of that defense was Emeka Okafor, who survived earlier roughhouse tactics from Carlos Boozer in the previous quarter and amassed two points, four rebounds and a steal during the final six minutes. It certainly doesn’t seem like a big deal, but as the Celtics’ Jeff Green showed this past Sunday against LeBron James and the Miami Heat, good teams get big contributions from the stars and from their support players. Okafor played well the entire game, but his defensive presence and the way his teammates seemed to rally around him, proved to be the difference.

—Rashad Mobley (@rashad20)

Council Members: Washington Wizards DC Council

Rating five Wizards starters & two key subs on a three-star scale.

John Wall
John Wall continues to push the tempo and create easy shots for his teammates (seven assists). And as he showed on the opening possession of the game, and on two other occasions, he can still lose his man off the dribble for easy layups—but to be frank, Wall has been doing that since his first NBA game. The holes in his game are his inability to be consistent in two areas: fastbreaks and open jumpers. His first basket of the game was an easy layup, in which Wall jogged up the court, saw an opening, and then accelerated to the basket with ease. But there were quite a few others where he flew down the court, jumped in the air, then made a rushed decision. There were times when Wall beat his man, found himself wide open, and there were other times when his teammates would pass him the ball, but the result of both scenarios were missed open shots. In one fourth quarter sequence, Nene had the ball at the top of the key, looked at Wall who was wide-open just inside the 3-point line, and decided to take (and miss) a contested shot at the top the key—not exactly a sign of someone who is confident in their point guard’s jumper. Wall has led the Wizards to a 6-3 record since returning from injury, and his effort on Saturday night was good enough for a relatively easy win, but there will be times this season where games will be decided by his ability to show improvement in these weak areas.

—Rashad Mobley (@rashad20)

1.5 out of 3 stars

Bradley Beal
“There are going to be days like that, as Mama used to say.” When Beal struggles, I always think of this Wittman quip relayed after Beal missed a point blank, game-tying layup versus the Warriors. This was not the rookie’s night—four points (2-for-10 FGs) and one assist were Beal’s only notable contributions in a box score full of zeroes. You hardly noticed that he was out on the court in his 29 minutes. The good sign is that Beal played decent defense and that his team is playing at such a high level that they can still pull out a ‘W’ when his jumper is off. Both of his buckets came on strong drives to the hoop, and he’s displaying that he is not becoming a one-dimensional scorer. Mama also said to keep your head up, Rook.

—Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis)

0 out of 3 stars

Martell Webster
There were no four-point plays for Martell Webster against the Bulls, and he was not nearly as aggressive as he had been during the last eight games—probably due to the Bulls’ smothering defense. His two plays of note came at the start of the third quarter when he blocked a Jimmy Butler shot, and then later Webster made a hard cut to the basket, caught a perfect pass from Nene, and dunked it with authority. It would have been nice to see Webster dominate his matchup with the Bulls’ Butler (nine points, six rebounds), but it wasn’t meant to be.

Rashad Mobley (@rashad20)

2 out of 3 stars

Considering Nene’s erratic play in January, his slow start against Chicago signaled that one of his poor outings was forthcoming. However, he regrouped with a solid second quarter, with this Wizards effectively initiating the offense through him at the high post. Nene would either connect nifty passes to cutters or make quick attacks toward the basket, finishing or drawing a foul. In battle of international hair-dos, Joakim Noah’s ponytail might have put up better stats, nearly notching a triple-double, but Nene’s hair-tie held his own with 16 points, six rebounds, and four assists (zero turnovers) in 30 minutes. Nene’s impressive outlet passes have become a significant asset with a player like Wall’s ability to push the ball up the court so quickly.

—Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis)

2 out of 3 stars

Emeka Okafor
This was the best game Emeka Okafor has played in a Wizards uniform, not simply because of the stat sheet (15 points, 16 rebounds), but because of who it was against (Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah). Noah still put up All-Star numbers (nine points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists), but Boozer, who has averaged 19.9 points and 10.5 rebounds in the month of January, was held to six points, two rebounds, four turnovers, a flagrant foul, and a technical foul—mainly due to Okafor’s pesky play. Earlier in the season, Okafor seemed to shy away from those types of battles/confrontations, but his ability to match the intensity of the Bulls’ front line was the reason the Wizards won. And hopefully Nene noticed that amount of contact Okafor absorbed without complaining to the referees once—not even when was clobbered in the face or pushed to the ground by Boozer.

—Rashad Mobley (@rashad20)

3 out of 3 stars

Kevin Seraphin
It seems almost insulting to praise Trevor Ariza for scoring seven points in 26 minutes off the bench, considering he was once upon a time expected to be a productive starter on both ends of the floor. But on Saturday night, all of his points came in the second quarter, when the bench helped the Wizards go from being down one point to up six (50-44) at halftime. Ariza hit an open 3-pointer (although to be fair, he also airballed another in the same quarter), he scored a layup via a hard cut in the lane, and he even scored off an offensive rebound. He was by no means dominant, but he gave the Wizards energy and allowed Coach Wittman to rest the starters during the second of back-to-back games.

Rashad Mobley (@rashad20)

1 out of 3 stars

Trevor Booker
Trevor has gradually been making his presence felt on the defensive end since returning from injury, but was unable to make any offensive headway until the first half versus the Bulls. He drilled an outside jumper, had a ball tip-in off his head (or was it Taj Gibson’s forearm?), and got to the free throw line on nice drives. He finished with seven points (2-3 FGs, 3-4 FTs), four rebounds, one assist, and one steal in 14 minutes. Almost all of his contributions were in the first half. Slowly, but surely, Booker’s confidence is building. Look for him to have a breakout game very soon.

—Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis)

1.5 out of 3 stars

The Mayor: Washington Wizards DC Council

Team Works.

I recently argued that it is put up or shut up time for this Wizards coaching staff—the days of excuse-making are over. If this weekend’s success is any indication, Wittman is starting this evaluation process out a strong note. He responded to being out-coached in Utah by delivering two convincing victories over Minnesota and Chicago. Wittman has finally inserted Wall into the starting lineup and it is paying off. Against the Bulls, it was nice to see the team slug it out with one of the best defensive squads in the league.

Wittman was impressed with his team’s performance, especially the front line: “Every time you play Chicago, you know it’s going to be a bloodbath. It’s going to be scratch, claw, fight for every point and every rebound there is and it was like that the first game we played them.

“For us to come out tonight and hold them to 29 in the second half, that is what won the game. We are continuing to move, share the ball, trust in one another from an offensive standpoint and I’m really proud.”

Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis)

Adjourned: Washington Wizards DC Council

Play Them Off, Carlos Boozer

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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.