DC Council Game 54: Wizards 105 vs Rockets 103: Wittman Comes Up Big in Win Over Houston | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council Game 54: Wizards 105 vs Rockets 103: Wittman Comes Up Big in Win Over Houston

Updated: February 24, 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. 54, Washington Wizards vs. Houston Rockets; contributors: Adam McGinnis and John Converse Townsend from the Verizon Center and Rashad Mobley from his favorite game-day seat.]

The Bill: Washington Wizards DC Council

TV’s Top Plays

Washington Wizards 105 vs Houston Rockets 103 [box score]

MVP: Trevor Ariza—18 points (13 in the second half), with six assists and four steals. And despite a nasty knee-to-knee collision with Greg Smith with 1:41 left in the third quarter, Ariza came back to play all but 16 seconds of the fourth quarter.

Stat of the Game: The Houston Rockets attempted 46 3-pointers, the most attempted in the NBA this season. They shot 13-for-28 (46%) in the first half, but just 6-for-18 (33%) in the second half. Conversely, the Wizards shot 2-for-7 (28%) in the first half, and 5-of-9 (55%) in the second half.

—Rashad Mobley (@rashad20)

Key Legislature: Washington Wizards DC Council

Big on Small.

After Harden tied up the game at 103, the Wizards called timeout with 21.4 seconds remaining. Houston was out of timeouts, thus would be unable to advance the ball to half court after a Wizards basket—this meant Wizards could leave some time on the clock after their possession, but definitely did not want to leave Houston with a chance to get off a decent shot.

More importantly, what would be the play that the Wizards drew up? Wall committed a bad turnover on Washington’s previous possession from a spread 1-4 clear out, so the thinking was maybe freeing up Beal by running him off some screens. The coaching staff decided to go inside and Okafor ended up with the ball down low on the left block. He made a strong post move and was legitimately fouled by Omer Asik with 5.2 seconds remaining. Mek drained the first shot and his second shot banged off the back iron, however, it was gobbled up by Beal, who was fouled after dribbling out 3.3 more seconds. Beal would be split the free throws to make the final 105-103. Okafor said the final play was designed to exploit Houston’s small four-guard lineup: “This team is pretty unique where you legitimately have guys at every position who can put the ball in the bucket. So at the end of the game Coach (Wittman) drew up a play and said, ‘hey, whoever the mismatch is on is who we’re going to.’ It wasn’t for me or Nene, it’s whoever (Carlos) Delfino was guarding.”

Wittman detailed the rationale behind his successful decision:

I went big with 21 seconds at the end of the game, and I said whoever has the smallest defender on them that’s who I want the ball to go to. I’m a firm believer in going at mismatches, and the flow of the game. I felt Emeka Okafor played outstanding, and he was doing a great job when he got the ball down there. I coach by feel, I don’t have a set play we will go to every time. Houston stayed small all game long and I just decided to go big and it worked out well.

—Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis)

Council Members: Washington Wizards DC Council

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

John Wall
Shot selection is still an issue. Forcing the issue in transition is still an issue (the ball will always move faster than a player is able to run, but John Wall continues to insist on sprinting coast to coast which sometimes shrinks the space available and makes it easier on the defense). Off-ball and help defense is also an issue, and that includes boxing out. Wall, however, recorded his fourth double-double in 21 games this season with 12 points and 11 assists while limiting his turnovers to two. He also chipped in with three assists and four rebounds and was third on the team in plus/minus at plus-10. Wall can do things other guards can’t, and, in time, you’d think he’ll learn to make smarter decisions with the basketball—and without it. Upside, potential, etc.

 —John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)

2 out of 3 stars

Bradley Beal
Comcast SportsNet personalities Phil Chenier, Steve Buckhantz and Chris Miller spent some time in the first half discussing whether Bradley Beal should be considered a Rookie of the Year candidate. Aside from pinning a layup attempt by Omer Asik on the backboard, and grabbing three timely offensive rebounds, Beal did not do much to help his case in the first half. He remedied that just 12 seconds into the third quarter by drilling a wide open 3-pointer. He then made more of an effort to look for his offense—he had nine points in the quarter. But Bradley Beal won this game for the Wizards with his fourth-quarter, immediately going to work after checking in with 6:45 left.With 6:21 left in the fourth, he threw an alley-oop to Emeka Okafor, which cut the Rockets’ lead to 94-90. The next offensive possession, he hit a wide-open 3-pointer and cut the Rockets lead to 94-93. The very next possession, he found Nene under the basket for a layup, which gave the Wizards the lead, 95-94. And finally, after Okafor missed the second of his two free throws with 5.2 seconds left in the game, Beal secured the offensive rebound, hit one of two free throws, and put the game away for the Wizards. He finished with 21 points (15 in the second half), four assists and five rebounds (four offensive). The Comcast crew may be on to something.

—Rashad Mobley (@rashad20)

3 out of 3 stars

Martell Webster
Martell’s solid nights are becoming routine and a staple of the 2012-13 Wizards. He will knock down at least a couple 3s, play solid defense, always be in the correct spots, and provide hyper energy and determined focus. You never get a sense that he’s taking the night off mentally or physically. Against Houston, Webster poured in 12 points (5-10 FG, 2-5 3P), four assists and one rebound in 30 minutes.
One lady Wizards fan displayed a sign that read, “Fear Martell Webster’s Beard.” A clever way to support Martell when matched-up against another bearded one, James Harden. I told Martell about the sign afterwards. He smiled and said, “I love it, I love it, it is all part of the game. Emotion. Everything comes in different packages. It is amazing, when you really live in the moment, respect it, you appreciate all the little things that the fans do, that your teammates do, that you will remember the rest of your life.”

—Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis)

2 out of 3 stars

The Rockets went small for much of the night, which made things tough for the big Brazilian. He was forced to step out and defend some of Kevin McHale’s shooters, including Chandler Parsons and Carlos Delfino. Nene was visibly frustrated, hollering at Webster and the rest of the Wizards wings to communicate better on the defensive end, especially in transition and in the pick-and-roll. Nene had four points and four rebounds after the first quarter, but was relatively quiet for the rest of the night, finishing the game with eight points and nine boards—behind only Okafor (11) and Asik (10).

 —John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)

1 out of 3 stars

Emeka Okafor
It was quite an uneven performance for Emeka Okafor. He shot 8-for-16 from the field, and three of those misses came from point blank range in the first quarter when he couldn’t score over Carlos Delfino (Okafor is 6’10”, Delfino is 6’6″). He also missed a layup off a great pass from John Wall and then missed a 9-footer. At the end of third quarter, he single-handedly gave the Rockets momentum by setting an illegal screen (a questionable call), and then throwing an errant pass, which resulted in a buzzer-beating shot by Chandler Parsons. But, Okafor still had 17 points and 11 rebounds, his second double-double in as many nights, and was a team-high plus-14 in the plus/minus department. He blocked three shots, came up big in the fourth quarter with seven points, and when the Wizards and Rockets were tied with 5.2 seconds left, it was Okafor who took the big shot in the post (over Delfino) and drew the foul. Sure, he made things interesting my making only one of two free throws, leaving Beal to bail him out, but it was that kind of night for Okafor.

—Rashad Mobley (@rashad20)

2 out of 3 stars

Trevor Ariza
I have struggled to come up with the words to aptly describe what is like to watch the Trevor Ariza Experience. The way in which he plays the game of basketball instigates such a range of emotions that it is hard to peg one general takeaway feeling. On consecutive trips down the court, he can go from a swished 3 to an air ball. He throws the ball 20 feet into the stands and then will strip a player for an easy transition bucket. He dribbles around aimlessly for a bad turnover, yet will recover by using his length to effectively disrupt driving and passing lanes. I finally settled on calling him “Bipolar Ariza” after these polar opposite swings. Versus the Rockets, Ariza had a few downs—a bricked shot and costly travel in fourth quarter—but it was mostly sky-high incidents. In the game’s final moments, he swiped two key steals, made a huge basket and blocked Harden’s shot as time expired to prevent a miracle game-winning 3.  Harden still was able to get his offense, but Ariza made him work for it. Ariza was fantasy box score stud, finishing with 18 points (8-12 FG, 2-4 3P), six assists, four rebounds, and four steals in 33 minutes.

—Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis)

2.5 out of 3 stars

Trevor Booker
Booker got another 14 minutes of game action against the Rockets and was a spark off the bench to bring the Wizards within four points early in the second quarter, 28-32. He scored four quick points on a one-dribble lefty hook shot in the paint and a fading mid-range jumper over Asik—swish. But Booker, slowed by injury over the course of the game, was unable to affect the game on the glass and was slow to rotate to defenders, most notably against Donatas Motiejunas who was firing (and making) 3s from both corners.”To me, it’s funny when people react like they react when I score 3-pointers,” Motiejunas last summer, according to the TrueHoop Network’s Danny Chau. The Lithuanian seven-footer was hard to miss, wearing a red and sporting a mohawk, but the Wizards reacted to his effective offensive game by leaving him open for 11 points on six shots.

 —John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)

1 out of 3 stars

The Mayor: Washington Wizards DC Council

Go Big or Go Home

Wittman likes to read and react to other teams’ personnel moves, sometimes to a fault, instead of playing his best rotations and forcing opponents to adjust. But, as Adam McGinnis highlighted in the Key Legislation, Wittman made an important, independent substitution on the decisive possession at the end of the game. Not only did he go big (the Wizards scored 57 of their 105 points in the paint, the Rockets scored 54 of their 103 from behind the arc), but he also took the ball out of Wall’s hand to exploit the Okafor-Delfino matchup in the post.

Per a mySynergySports.com report, Delfino is allowing 1.14 points per possession (PPP) on post-ups, and Okafor is scoring 0.87 PPP (which ranks 40th in the NBA). Though Okafor didn’t score, he did get to the free throw line, drawing a foul on Omer Asik who was rotating to double-team.

—John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)

Adjourned: Washington Wizards DC Council

via @recordsANDradio 

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John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.