Friday was a day off from regular work (and the Wizards, sort of). Future wifey and I made an afternoon of grabbing lunch at a previously unvisited spot, and then we painted some ceramics (shout out to All Fired Up! in Cleveland Park—there’s a D.C. flag-themed oven spoon holder in my future).
Then naps, then drinks/dinner with the future wifey’s cousin and the cousin’s fiancé. The idea was to have the game on somewhere; the cousin’s fiancé is also a dedicated D.C. sports fan. By the time the four of us walked into a pre-dinner bar option—some place inexplicably called the Blue Banana on Georgia Avenue, which, to its credit, had the Wizards game on three of its several well-placed televisions—the game was over. Brooklyn was up 25 and it was early in the second quarter. We were the only people in the place who cared or paid attention for the rest of the game; I was just happy that no one changed the channel. Later on, I would get to explain to the future wifey—and show to her on YouTube—that Reggie Evans is most famous for grabbing a tall blond man’s nuts from behind during a playoff game. Thanks, Internets.
What had happened? Deron Williams happened. The Nets took a 38-14 lead after one quarter in which Williams went 7-for-7 from the 3-point line. At half, Brooklyn was up 59-33. The Wizards made a half-hearted attempt to once almost get within 10 points with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, but A.J. Price was called for travelling as he made a 3-pointer (inducing the above #WittmanFace).
The game was decided within the first five minutes, 4:39 to be exact, when Williams made six 3-pointers. Otherwise, merely a prerequisite display of basketball over the remaining time on the clock—including Randy Wittman’s cute game of “Hack-a-Reggie [Evans]” toward the very end.
It’s a long season, 82 games for each team they say. So you can imagine an air of “Aw, shucks, what could we have done?” arising when a star like Williams sets an NBA record by making nine 3-pointers in the first half. He finished the night with 42 points and shot 11-for-16 from long distance.
“Just a hell of a shooting display. He got hot. Don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything quite like that before in the first half.”
Williams made the first eight 3-pointers he took. So lieu of the normal D.C. Council, let’s pull back the layers on those first six that effectively put the game out of reach, which I had the pleasure of breaking-down on a Saturday morning.
1st 3-pointer – 10:32
Reggie Evans got an offensive board despite the presence of both Nene and John Wall by being an immovable object in the right area. Evans immediately kicked out his board out to Gerald Wallace, who then swung the ball to Williams. Martell Webster ran at Williams to contest on the rotation, but he was too far away. It all happened very quickly.
2nd 3-pointer – 10:04
Wall and Trevor Ariza were slow to get back in transition. Wall sagged off to cover Ariza man’s heading into the right corner, but he didn’t stop the ball, nor Williams. Ariza was trailing on defense and the whole arrangement left a pocket of non-coverage on the right wing. Splash. (BTW, Williams started the transition possession by poking a lazy Ariza pass away that was intended for Emeka Okafor.)
Meanwhile, the Wizards just couldn’t make shots early. Ariza missed, Webster missed, and even easy opportunities in transition were bumbled away with misspent lob attempts. The passes weren’t crisp and that started with Wall.
3rd 3-pointer – 9:05
This one came on an out-of-bounds play that Comcast didn’t really catch. Yep, they were busy showing a #WittmanFace instead. All you could really see was Wall standing flat-footed with a hand in Williams’ face and the shot going in. Re-watching from the perspective of the YES Network, Wall lazily went under a screen set for Williams and just wasn’t that into closing the gap. Deron got the ball from the inbounds passer and it was as simple as that.
[First Randy Wittman Timeout, Nets up 11-0]
4th 3-pointer – 8:13
Wall and Ariza got caught up in a switch (screen set by Joe Johnson on left wing), and Ariza, for some reason, backed way off of Williams. The guy hit three straight 3s to start the game and Wittman had already called timeout to address that, yet Ariza sagged off.
5th 3-pointer – 7:42
Wall inexplicably chased Williams’ first pass to Wallace on the left wing. Webster was on Wallace, and they were far away from the basket. So there really could be no excuse in the world as to why John Wall would leave a shooter who is already 4-for-4 from deep to give a meaningless double-team. Wallace made the quick pass back to Williams as Wall got caught behind a screen, giving him a clean look from the top of the key. Buckets.
6th 3-pointer – 7:21
Brook Lopez blocked a haphazard Ariza drive and Brooklyn went the other way in transition. Williams dribbled down the court with a smile on his face—according to the Nets broadcast team—and he caught Webster backpedaling. Watergate.
[Second Randy Wittman Timeout, Nets up 22-2]
“A quickly developing nightmare here in the first quarter.”
Williams later hit his seventh 3-pointer with four minutes left in the first quarter and finished the period with 23 points. John Wall seemed to fade from responsibility on the last 3, lightly jogging next to Gerald Wallace in early offense and leaving Martell Webster to cover the middle, and stop the ball, and Williams again.
Webster allowed Williams too much space before he realized he was on an island caught in the path of a tsunami. Game over, thanks for playing, Wizards.
Deron Williams is great, but he can be nightmare fuel when the other team rolls out the red carpet for him.
[screen shots courtesy of @LedellsPlace]