DC Council Preseason Game 2: Wizards 81 vs Bulls 83: Waxed in Brazil
The D.C. Council Wizards game coverage from Truth About It.net is back for another season. Some tweaks have been made, some tweaks probably will be made as the regular season approaches, and obviously, this thing could use a new design (which is forthcoming). Until then, TAI’s Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It), Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20) and John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) will take you through key accounts of the game and also rate the performances of several Wizards. Leggo…
Washington Wizards 81 vs Chicago Bulls 83
Um, Wizards tickets please…
Click to get them served up for cheap via TiqIQ and TAI.
(The game’s defining moment.)
Before the Wizards and Bulls faced off, I happened to watch NBA TV’s 2013-14 season preview of the Chicago Bulls, and Isiah Thomas mentioned that the Bulls always seemed to be well-coached and well-prepared. Once Saturday’s game started and the Bulls ran out to 21-8 lead, I was unable to determine if this was a case of the aforementioned coaching and preparedness, or if the Wizards—the starters in particular—were unprepared, not coached up enough, and just flat out not ready to play.
Nene started the game with an airball, John Wall was called for palming and threw the ball away on at least two occasions, Ariza did absolutely nothing, and Jan Vesely was thoroughly outclassed by Carlos Boozer. Bradley Beal was the only starter who showed up ready to play, but he alone was not nearly enough to offset the struggles of the other four guys. Eventually the bench (led by Martell Webster and Eric Maynor) cut into the Bulls’ sizable first-quarter lead and made the game competitive again.
Maybe the Wizards were let down by the absence of Derrick Rose, maybe they were worn out by the week’s festivities, or maybe the excuse that it is still preseason still applies. The bottom line is that the Brooklyn Nets’ starters (minus Deron Williams) looked sharp last Tuesday night and the Chicago Bulls starters (minus Rose and Joakim Noah) looked just as crisp. The Wizards were missing a rookie (Otto Porter) and a defensive presence (Emeka Okafor), but as much as both players should contribute this season, their absences should not lead to this poor of a performance.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
(The most valuable player of the night.)
Let’s hear it for Bradley Beal!
On a night when the basketball seemed a size too big to fit into the hoop (Washington’s four other starters combined to shoot 20.68 percent), Beal found a way to get his. In 27 minutes, Beal finished with the best plus/minus among the team’s starters (minus-6), and scored a team-high 16 points on 14 shots. He was always under control, and he made his pull-up jumpers more often than he missed. Beal also chipped in with three steals, one block, one assist, and one rebound.
—John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)
(The least valuable player on the night.)
I’m sure Trevor Ariza’s promotion to starter during training camp was warranted in the eyes of the coaches. But from what he’s shown in two bits of live action, albeit during preseason, it looks like Ariza needs to go back to being the self-proclaimed “sixth starter.” The stigma that arrived with Ariza from New Orleans, as well as his other NBA stops, still exists. When he tries offense that involves dribbling, bad things usually happen. In the first half Ariza committed his prerequisite traveling violations, he got himself into trouble by picking up his dribble on the baseline a couple times, and he threw up a fading, off-balanced, well-covered miss (or two). Ariza cleaned up his act in the third quarter, when the Wizards in general played with more purpose, by hitting some shots without dribbling. Otherwise, in 41 total preseason minutes, aside from 12 points, Ariza has three rebounds, two assists, four turnovers, and seven fouls to show.
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
(The top assistant, or x-factor.)
It still makes me nervous that the Wizards’ backup point guard is a guy who doesn’t push the ball up the court, dribbles into corner double-teams, and throws weak, questionable passes. However, Eric Maynor’s second half play was just promising enough to help assuage a few of those fears.
He didn’t have the best shooting night (3-for-10), but he had a team-high plus/minus of plus-17, and he continues to get into the lane for 10-12 foot floaters. Maynor did control the tempo, particularly in the second and fourth quarters when the Wizards mounted two separate comebacks. His penetration led to open looks for Webster, Glen Rice and Bradley Beal, and the Wizards’ ball movement on offense just looked more fluid with Maynor at the point. There’s no point guard controversy on the horizon, and Maynor still needs to make better decisions, but against the Bulls, he was the main reason the Wizards had a chance to win at the buzzer.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
That Session Was … Boring.
(An overall assessment of the outcome.)
Derrick Rose was held out and perhaps as a result, John Wall checked himself out. And without that star power, there wasn’t much for the Brazilian fans to get excited about. The spark of Taj Gibson’s play comes close, and Bradley Beal hitting jumpers was surely a treat, but otherwise, I can count the total dunks on one hand and the two teams combined to shoot 12-44 from deep. The game started with an airball from Nene and ended with Eric Maynor jacking a hero 3 at the buzzer, which missed. I suppose we should give Maynor some credit. Even though the Wizards could have/should have gotten a better shot, his attempt ensured that there would be no overtime. I mean, why work on a late-game situation when the outcome doesn’t count and you have a plane to catch? It’s a good question….
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
(Words of wisdom, etc., from Coach Randy Wittman.)
The game was close at one point in the first quarter, and for some of the fourth, but the result—a Chicago Bulls win—was never really in doubt. The Wizards led for a total of 28 seconds. Still, Washington had a shot to steal a win, but Randy Wittman dropped the ball up at the end of both halves.
With 23 seconds left in the second quarter, the Wizards, down 11, took a 20-second timeout. Wittman’s plan: isolate John Wall on Kirk Hinrich 30 feet from the hoop. Wall had a dreadful first half, but an iso may have worked, since the Bulls had been packing the paint. But as Wall inched closer to the 3-point line, Nene came over to set a screen which only crowded Wall and left him with virtually no other option than to fire a cross-court jump-pass to Bradley Beal, who somehow made a tough floater off the backboard to cut the Bulls lead to nine at the break. The Wizards got the result they wanted (points), but it wasn’t pretty.
Worse, at the end of the game, after Glen Rice had his game-tying effort blocked, the Wizards chose not to foul the Bulls. Instead, the team opted to let the Bulls take game clock from 30 seconds to fewer than 10.
There was a glimmer of hope when Jan Vesely grabbed a defensive rebound after Mike Dunleavy missed a 3, but the Wizards again let the clock run (they had three timeouts). With eight seconds to play, Vesely flipped the ball forward and hit Bulls PF Erik Murphy in the shoulder—clueless. Tick, tock. The loose ball was recovered by Maynor, who walked up the court, trailed by Rice and Vesely, before launching a desperation 3 at the buzzer.
Sure, Washington’s starters were planted on the bench, but there was no sense of urgency. And that, even in preseason, was troubling.
—John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)
2 out of 5 stars
22 mins | 3 pts | 1-9 FGs | 1-2 FTs | 5 asts | 4 TOs | 6 rebs
Wall did some good things: took two charges, kept up his intensity on defense, stayed active off the ball, and even slapped a Kirk Hinrich leaner to the floor.
But he looked terrible, mostly. As the point guard, one of Wall’s responsibilities, perhaps his greatest responsibility, is to run the offense and get his teammates in the best positions to score. But against the Bulls, the Wizards reverted to their old selfish ways, opting to play one-on-five. As the great George Karl once said, “Lazy and crazy isn’t going to make it work.”
Wall’s only make (on nine attempts) was a 22-foot jump shot, which seemed to be his go-to on offense, especially early during possessions (with 15 seconds or more on the shot clock). —J.C.T.
3.5 out of 5 stars
27 mins | 16 pts | 6-14 FGs | 2-3 3Ps | 1 reb | 1 ast | 1 TO | 3 stls
Beal shot the ball confidently, drove to the basket at opportune times, and didn’t look to force too much action. (Although, I continue to suspect that he wants to avoid passing the ball to Jan Vesely at all costs.) Beal even displayed a saunter/strut after made baskets—here’s to hoping that he doesn’t get caught not getting back on defense —K.W.
0.5 out of 5 stars
20 mins | 9 pts | 3-9 FGs | 0 rebs | 0 asts | 3 fouls
Ariza was terrible early, OK-ish in the third quarter, and otherwise didn’t even muster a rebound or an assist in his 20 minutes of play. —K.W.
1.5 out of 5 stars
30 mins | 2 pts | 1-5 FGs | 0-0 FTs | 9 rebs | 2 stls | 3 blk
If Otto Porter put up this type of stat line, it would be an encouraging start to a promising career. The fact that Jan Vesely is in his third season, and can only put up stat lines like this for a team that desperately needs front court help, is discouraging. It does not help that both Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer had their way with him at different points during the game. —R.M.
1 out of 5 stars
20 mins | 5 pts | 1-6 FGs | 3-4 FTs | 6 rebs | 0 ast | 2 PFs
Nene got the minutes reduction he requested (20 minutes in Brazil versus 22 against the Nets), but unfortunately, his production fizzled as well. He airballed his initial shot, he looked completely disinterested on both ends of the floor, and to make matters worse, he was booed by his own people at the free throw line. Not exactly the type of comforting performance you’d expect from the Wizards most productive front court player. —R.M.
2 out of 5 stars
28 mins | 10 pts | 4-9 FGs | 2-2 FTs | 6 rebs | 2 blk | 3 fouls | 4 TO
At halftime, the Wizards bigs—Nene, Vesely and Seraphin—had combined for two points in the paint. Seraphin made the single bucket, using his size (and elbows) to create space under the rim and finish, something Wizards watchers have not seen enough of since Seraphin entered the league. At the final whistle, the bigs had attempted just nine shots in the paint with Seraphin responsible for five of those attempts, making three.
The Wizards simply had no post presence and it would have been nice to see Seraphin eschew the long 2-point jumper he loves to take in favor of banging down low to produce easy scoring opportunities around the rim—he’s more than capable.
As for Seraphin’s defense, I’ll let Chicago Bulls color commentator Stacey King take it away: “[Taj Gibson’s] eyes got big, realizing that Seraphin couldn’t guard him in the post.” Gibson scored a game-high 18 points on nine attempts. —J.C.T.
3 out of 5 stars
20 mins | 10 pts | 3-10 FGs | 1-5 3Ps | 2 reb | 1 stl
Young Glen Rice continues to play with the type of aggression and energy that you’d expect from a bench player. He did not shoot well, but late in the fourth quarter he went on a 5-0 run to give the Wizards their only lead of the game. He also had his shot blocked by Taj Gibson late in the quarter, but again, that was the result of aggressiveness on a night when so many Wizards’ players were playing tentative. I’ll take that. —R.M.
4 out of 5 stars
22 mins | 15 pts | 4-8 FGs | 3-6 3Ps | 3 rebs | 1 ast | 1 stl | 0 TOs
Webster’s shot certainly looks as good as paid for over the summer. Hopefully Wittman’s not relying on the idea of Webster’s offense being a needed spark off the bench and considers inserting Martell back into the starting rotation, especially if his team’s offense continues to struggle. —K.W.
3 out of 5 stars
26 mins | 8 pts | 3-10 FGs | 0-3 3Ps | 2-2 FTs | 4 reb | 8 asts | 3 TOs | 1 stl
After the first preseason game, Kyle Weidie wrote that Eric Maynor needed a do-over. Maynor got one in the Wizards’ second game in Rio de Janeiro and played better against the Bulls than he did against the Nets. He dished out a game-high eight assists, which was nice to see, but, for a backup point guard, he seemed to be looking for his own shot too much—mostly long jump shots and a few awkward, one-footed floaters near the paint.
Most encouraging is that Maynor found a way to bring the Wizards back from a 15-point second-half deficit, something I’m not sure Wall would have been able to do the way he was playing. Maynor recorded four of his eight assists after Wall checked out with 4:43 left in the third quarter. —J.C.T.
If only some of the Wiz Kids could do things like this Taj Gibson guy…
Then there’s our friend Jan Vesely…
— Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) October 13, 2013
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