[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. 64, Washington Wizards vs New Orleans Hornets; contributors: Kyle Weidie from the Verizon Center and Sean Fagan and John Converse Townsend via eyes on a television screen.]
Randy on John’s J:
Washington Wizards 96 vs New Orleans Hornets 87
MVP: C’mon man, John Wall. Keep reading…
Stat of the Game: The Hornets blasted the Wizards in paint points, 44-32, and also got the best of Washington in second-chance points, 11-0. So what gives? Well, the Wizards shot over 50 percent while New Orleans shot under 44 percent, so one team had more opportunity for second-chance points. But the Wizards made up for it by running—perhaps giving up an offensive board sometimes—and paced the Hornets 21-to-4 in fastbreak points (10-zip in the second half). Washington also found its way from beyond the arc, going 9-for-20 compared to New Orleans’ 3-for-19 effort from 3-point land. Credit Martell Webster continuing to hit (4-for-11), credit John Wall’s surprising 3-for-3 from 3, and credit Trevor Booker’s defense on Ryan Anderson. Anderson was 1-for-3 from deep in the first half, 0-for-7 in the second.
John Wall has been talking a big game about max contracts and hot box scores. “Everywhere is my sweet spot,” was recently told Grantland’s Zach Lowe. People laughed. Just look at this shot chart:
But he proved a lot of the doubters wrong, at least for a night, with a 12-for-15 outing against New Orleans. Here’s how he did it:
“He works every day—still a work in progress,” Coach Randy Wittman said of Wall post-game. “The shot is much more repetition the same shot over and over agains instead of taking different shots—a set shot, a jump shot, a fadeaway. Every day he comes in here and I think it’s just a repetition thing now. That’s what he’s got to continue to do.”
Rating five Wizards starters & two key subs on a three-star scale.
Maybe Wall’s status as a franchise player should be questioned every week. After a pedestrian interview with Zach Lowe of Grantland (honestly, did Wall give any answers that Wizards faithful hadn’t heard a millions times before?) his 1A status was called into question. Wall responded by having perhaps his most impressive game since his debut, unleashing a midrange jumper that had last been sighted in Bolivia. He doubled his three point total for THE YEAR, going 3-for-3 and went 12-for-15 on the night. It was a truly astounding performance, especially if you take the time to consider that many of the jumpers came with a hand in his face. This wasn’t the Wall/Rondo “back up and give them five feet” defense the Hornets were playing. Add to that the fact that Wall has has come to develop a real chemistry with his starting teammates (finding Webster on the wing, getting Nene the ball just where he wants it) and you saw the unstoppable player the Wizards thought they had drafted three years ago.Which leads one to the question, could this be a John Wall who is fully recuperated from injury and playing at around 99 percent? Not much has been made of Wall’s injury since his return, but the uptick in play demonstrates a player who is not only finally comfortable with his cast mates, but who is also rounding into form physically. If this is Wall at 99 percent, the pundits will finally shut up and John Wall can go back to being what he already is, an above average NBA point guard.
On a night where the attention rightly centered on John Wall, the performance of Garrett Temple was overshadowed. Temple did exactly what Coach Randy Wittman wants him to do every night he is in the lineup, play hard-nosed defense and make smart decisions with the basketball. The smart decisions can be seen from the five assists that Temple dished on the night; going 4-for-5 from the field can be seen as gravy. Temple benefits immensely when the rest of the team is shooting well, because the opposition will always attempt to leave him on an island to concentrate on the primary threats of Nene, Wall and Webster. Last night, Temple made them pay by taking it hard to the rack and dishing when the defense collapsed, which broke the back of the New Orleans defense. It wasn’t flashy, and it won’t get him any SportsCenter highlights, but it certainly is going to get him more burn in Wittman’s schemes.
Webster probably forced some 3s in the first quarter, but he was making them—he scored 11 points in the period going 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. He played just over four minutes in the second quarter before heading to the locker room to have his back checked out, and it was all downhill from there. The “Dictionary” went 2-for-7 (1-for-5 from 3) with two rebounds in the second half, finishing with 18 points.
Not a great night for the big man, which was alright as the Wizards bench of Seraphin and Booker stepped up to fill the void of his performance. Nene’s shot was a bit off and when he realized that, he basically took a backseat to the action. He also got demolished in the paint, as the Hornets scored at will on him and continually got second-chance opportunities. Still, it’s hard to be too tough on a guy who only played 23 minutes and spent much of the second half cheering on Kevin Seraphin. Here is to hoping that Nene left something in the tank for Phoenix.
Emeka had a quietly productive night (four points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block) against his former team, and that got him some love from the Wizards’ star point guard. “They are coming out higher and coming out to try to get the ball out of my hands,” Wall said. “It’s great when you have Nene, Mek and those guys you can find in the pocket who are unselfish, who can make shots and find other guys in the corner.” The chemistry is there. Lucky for Wall, Okafor looked no worse for wear after a hard fall contesting an alley-oop in the first half.
Seraphin came through with 10 key points off the bench on six shots, helping a less-than-stellar Wizards bench lineup (on paper) maintain. He did only grab one rebound to go with two turnovers and two fouls in 17.5 minutes. But let’s give Big Kev credit for a three things: three blocks, putting his body closer to the rim, and being more willing to pass and move the ball than I’ve seen him do in a long time. Let’s hear Randy Wittman break down Seraphin’s night:
Cook Book was the Cookie Monster and gobbled up a game-high 13 rebounds, five offensive, in 27.5 minutes. Booker didn’t try to do too much on offense (took three shots and made one), and he picked up a ton of fouls, five, but his defense on Ryan Anderson was key. Wittman gave it much credit after the game, mentioning Booker first amongst his accolades to the bench. Let’s go to Booker talking about his defense, post-game:
Wittman played his starters—John Wall, Garrett Temple, Martell Webster, Nene and Emeka Okafor—20 total minutes together on the night. Ten of those minutes came in the first quarter when the team managed to surrender 30 points to the Hornets. The starters managed three minutes and some change in the second quarter and seven minutes in the third, and they fared better on defense. But in the fourth, with the Wizards carrying a 10-point lead after three quarters, Wittman relied on the defense of Garrett Temple, Trevor Ariza and Trevor Booker to close out the game, with each playing the entire period.
Overall, Wittman did a good job of adjusting his lineup to personnel (Booker against Anderson, for example), as well as resting guys as necessary with a second game against Phoenix on Saturday. Wall played 33.5 minutes, Nene just over 23, Webster 32.5, Okafor 27.5, and the banged-up Ariza 22-plus minutes. No, Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely didn’t play, but the coach has settled in on a rotation number per game — about 9 players. That doesn’t mean the rotation of people is set and that Singleton and Vesely won’t get chances again. It means that if you have to disperse all those minutes, Booker is seeing a mere 17 minutes instead of 27.5 when he playing well; or that Seraphin can only get 10 minutes to build a rhythm instead of 17.5. It’s all in the game, folks.
The Wizards gave up 30 points to the Hornets in the first quarter, but cut that down to 20, 14, and 23 in subsequent quarters. Where did it break down? What did they have to change? John Wall tells it: