[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. 46, Washington Wizards at San Antonio Spurs; contributors: Rashad Mobley and John Converse Townsend from D.C.]
A Texas-Sized Beatdown.
Washington Wizards 86 at San Antonio Spurs 96 [box score]
MVP: Tony Parker. Parker had 19 points (on 9-for-15 shooting) and 12 assists in 33 minutes of play, and as John Converse Townsend wrote in the The Reaction, “What else would you expect from the Western Conference’s player of month?” (who is also an All-Star). Parker was on the bench the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, and the Wizards cut the Spurs lead from 15 to eight. Parker checked back in for Patty Millls, and immediately found Tiago Splitter and Danny Green for easy layups, while managing to connect on one of his own, and just like that the Spurs were back up by 13. The Spurs needed leadership after Duncan left with an injury, and Parker provided just that.
Stat of the Game: In the second quarter of Wednesday’s game against the Sixers, the Wizards scored 11 points and shot 18 percent. On Friday night against the Grizzlies, the Wiz scored 10 points and shot 21 percent in the second quarter. And last night, against Spurs (the NBA’s best team record-wise), they scored just nine points on 18 percent shooting from the field in that dreaded second quarter. The Spurs, meanwhile, scored 24 points during the quarter, led by Danny Green who almost outscored the Wizards alone with eight points.
The Spurs dismembered the Wizards in San Antonio. It was gruesome, something straight out of a horror flick … surgical—scalpel, sponge, and no anesthetic. Evil Dr. Tony Parker was the baddest man on the floor, recording his 13th double-double of the season with 19 and 12.
Parker started the second quarter on the bench, but entered the game for Nando de Colo at the 6:58 mark—Spurs up eight. Parker checked out about six minutes later, after composing a 17-1 Spurs run to close the half. Wittman’s chain-smoking, hero ball-loving losers were bleeding out: they scored a season-low 26 points in the first two quarters and were shooting 26.2 percent from the field.
But the Wiz Kids, down by as many as 27 points after halftime, scraped themselves off the operating room floor and fought for their lives. Midway through the fourth, the Spurs lead was down to six points, 73-67. Unfortunately, any desperate dreams of escape were shredded when Parker replaced Patty Mills at the point.
Parker again made quick work of the Wizards (he produced nine points in the next five minutes), walking away up 13 with the win in the bag.
Rating five Wizards starters & two key subs on a three-star scale.
For the second consecutive game, John Wall’s performance was a mixed bag. He showed no ill-effects from the shoulder injury he sustained against the Grizzlies, and he was able to play 36 minutes—the most he’s played in 13 games this season. Wall also did a much better job of playing under control, making sure his teammates got involved (nine assists), while taking baby steps in improving his jumper (eight of his 21 points came from outside of the paint).But ultimately it is the point guard’s job to put the team in a position to win. Tony Parker did exactly that in the fourth quarter. Wall had a chance to do the same when the Wizards were on the verge of cutting the Spurs’ lead from nine (84-75) to seven. Wall was out of control when he drove the lane and he lost the ball, then the next time down the court, his shot was blocked by Danny Green. Just like that, the Spurs’ lead was back up to 13 with 1:50 left, and the game was all but over. He’s getting closer to putting a full game together, but Wall fell short last night, despite his 21 points, nine assists and five rebounds
Webster had 10 points on five shots, two rebounds, two assists, and one steal in the second half. So, yay! But he had a team-worst plus/minus in the first half (minus-29) and was often lost in space like a Russian satellite.
The good: 11 points, six boards and six assists (to just two turnovers!). The bad: Nene’s 0-for-6 first half (0-for-2 from the free throw line). The ugly: His play against Tiago Splitter, who had 12 points, seven rebounds and game-high plus/minus of plus-31.
For the first time since the Timberwolves game on Jan. 25, Emeka Okafor was a non-factor in the outcome of the game. He had two points and six rebounds in the second quarter, which was the worst quarter the Wizards played all night. He grabbed just one rebound in 5:12 of play in the third quarter, and he spend the last 18:48 (including the entire fourth quarter) on the bench, when Coach Wittman opted to stick with Chris Singleton. At least he’ll be rested to welcome Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to town tomorrow.
Chris Singleton spent the month of January talking to John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Booker, and all the other players who spent time in fancy suits (rather than uniforms) at the end of the bench. He appeared in just five games, and averaged 0.8 points and 1.2 rebounds, and in the Wizards’ first game in February against the Grizzlies, he was a DNP-Coach’s Decision. So when Coach Wittman inserted Singleton into the game for the last 1:11 of the second quarter, it was hard to decipher if that was due to the score (the Wizards were down 48-24 at the time), or if he was ready to give Singleton a chance to impact the game.Singleton did nothing during that 1:11, but when he re-entered the for Okafor with 6:48 left in the third (the Wizards were down 25), he came up big on offense and defense. He stole the ball from Boris Diaw, hit a step-back jumper, then stole the ball from Tony Parker and hit a 3-pointer. Singleton helped the Wizards go on a 17-4 run, and cut the Spurs lead to 12 points at the end of the third quarter. He finished with 11 points, three steals and four rebounds, and earned himself a get-off-the-bench card.
Jordan Crawford didn’t play a minute in the fourth quarter, which is a shame because J-Craw would have been a better late-game option than A.J. Price, especially considering the Wizards had cut the Spurs’ lead to single-digits.Price got 10 minutes of run in the final period and, despite being wide-open throughout, went 0-for-5 from the floor (including three missed 3s from the corner) with just one rebound and one assist.It’s like Bill Russell told Kyrie Irving (Uncle Drew): “Basketball has always has been—and will always be—about buckets.” Price shoots just 29.6 percent on corner 3s. Crawford? A game-changing 40.9 percent.
Coach Wittman and his lack of motivation and imagination have been criticized heavily on TAI as of late, and justifiably so given the listless play of his offense the last few games. But after watching missed foul calls on his team, along with yet another punchless second quarter of play, Wittman decided to bit more demonstrative with his strategy and his presence on the sideline.
First he drew a technical 58 seconds into the third quarter, after watching Boris Diaw deliver what he felt was a moving screen. He excavated Chris Singleton from under the bench, and sat down Okafor—a player who had been playing well the past couple of weeks. When Wittman finally found a lineup that could put a dent in the Spurs lead (that lineup was Wall, Price, Singleton, Ariza and Seraphin) he stayed with it without worrying about Jordan Crawford’s feelings, Wall’s minutes or the fact that his best big man (Nene) was on the bench. Wittman’s moves weren’t enough to win the game, but they made the Spurs work for the victory in the fourth quarter. And judging by his post-game comments, Coach will not hesitate to make similar moves in the future:
After having a little bit of success, we’ve crept in a little bit of minutes and shots and points. We addressed it. We played some different guys and we played with some enthusiasm and some heart. When we do that, we’re a pretty good team. That’s the team we were a couple of weeks ago.