D.C. Council Game 1: Wizards 102 at Pistons 113: A Bucket of Paint and Mr. Big Shot
Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council: setting the scene, recapping key points, providing the analysis, evaluating players, and catching anything that you may have missed from the Washington Wizards. Game No. 1: Wizards at Detroit Pistons; contributors: Kyle Weidie, Rashad Mobley, and Sean Fagan from in front of their television screens.
Washington Wizards 102 at Detroit Pistons 113
As exciting as it was for the Wizards to acquire Marcin Gortat, re-sign Martell Webster and draft the ghost of Otto Porter, the success of this team centered around the maturation of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Wall, armed with pristine health, something to prove, and supreme confidence after a strong finish last year, was primed to prove he was an elite point guard. Beal, after a rookie year that saw him unhealthy and shell-shocked, was eager to prove he was a much different player than last year. Wednesday night, both players had opportunities to power the Wizards to a win in the Motor City but fell just short.
With 6:20 left in the game, the Wizards trailed 94-87, and Bradley Beal missed a wide open 22-foot jumper. Chauncey Billups hit a 3-pointer in Beal’s face on the very next possession to put Detroit up 97-87. Then John Wall committed a charging foul on Will Bynum, and Billups hit yet another 3-pointer to give Detroit a 100-87 lead.
With about a minute left in the game, the Wizards cut the lead down to six, thanks to a Wall free throw, and a simple defensive stop would have given them a chance to make it a one possession game. However, Wall fouled Bynum, who hit two free throws to stretch the lead to eight points. Then after the Wizards took a 20-second timeout, Beal missed a 3-pointer with Billups’ hand in his face, then fouled Billups the very next time down the floor—Billups hit two free throws to put the Pistons up by 10 points. Steve Buckhantz didn’t come out and say “dagger” over the television broadcast, but he had to be thinking it.
The Wizards were weak in the post on both ends of the floor, and that certainly contributed to the opening night loss. But the centerpiece of this team is the Wall/Beal backcourt, and they both missed golden opportunities to lead their team to victory.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
Well shut my mouth, is that Trevor Ariza? Is that Trevor Ariza draining 3s with no remorse? Is that Trevor Ariza playing the defense he was traded for? It was! With the remainder of the Wizards’ starters still playing like it was the third game of the preseason, Trevor Ariza stepped up and pulled off somewhat of a throwback performance. He kept the Wizards afloat in the first half and got them back within spitting range in the second with frenzied defense. His play was so stunning that it obviously shocked Martell Webster into only taking one shot on the night. I’m not sure if this Trevor Ariza is going to pop up again (then again, CONTRACT YEAR), but even half of this performance on a nightly basis would be a pleasant surprise for the Wizards.
—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)
All Wizards bigs not named Nene or Gortat.
Yes, both of these guys had their issues, but all things considered, they brought more presence than not. The other guys … did they play? Starting
PF Trevor Booker and Kevin “Snakey” Seraphin were the issues. They combined for just under 25 minutes (Booker eating up 20 of those minutes) and four points on 2-for-5 shooting, plus six rebounds, four fouls, and two turnovers. Al Harrington wasn’t much off the bench, either. Detroit is a very tough matchup for Washington, and might be for the next several years (and as a side note, I honestly do not see the Pistons botching a potentially great Monroe/Drummond combo by not retaining Monroe next summer). But still, Washington has people with some talent, too … at least enough talent to provide more resistance in preventing the Pistons from out-scoring them 56-to-28 in the paint (Detroit went 28-for-38 on paint FGs, and Washington took less attempts than the Pistons made, 14-for-27).
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
Marcin Gortat. When Comcast SportsNet initially showed the Wizards’ starting lineup for the night, Gortat was listed as the starting center. Two seconds later, Steve Buckhantz swooped in and said Booker would be starting in his place. Gortat played just 17 minutes, but grabbed nine rebounds (four offensive). Starters Nene and Booker played 50 minutes between them and had just eight rebounds total (five offensive). Coach Wittman mentioned before the game that Gortat was still trying to pick up nuances of the Wizards’ offense and defense, but Gortat very quickly showed that, at the very least, he can rebound. If he can do it against a talented frontcourt of Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Josh Smith, surely he deserves a chance to start on Friday against Spencer Hawes and the Philadelphia 76ers.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
That session was … BEEFY.
All the talk going into this game was about how the Wizards were going to contain the Pistons front line. Contain them they didn’t. The Pistons scored 56 points in the paint, led by Greg Monroe, who obviously spent much of his offseason with the free throw doctor. More galling for the Wizards is that the patented Josh Smith “crazy jumper” went in more often than not on the evening, especially from long range. The tide turned slightly when the Wizards brought in Marcin Gortat, who quickly drew a pile of fouls on Andre Drummond and got him yanked from the game. But with Gortat limited (because of experience with the playbook and his own quickly accruing fouls), Monroe was left to feast on Nene, who looked completely out of his element trying to mix ‘bows with Detroit’s big men.
—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)
People complained about Wittman playing 11 players on opening night. (At the same time, some wondered why Glen Rice, Jr. didn’t get in the game; no one wondered why Jan Vesely didn’t play.) Nonetheless, taking issue with a deep bench in the first game is fruitless. Sure, cite the idea that mass involvement means inconsistent minutes which negatively affects the players. While sometimes valid, the inconsistent minutes excuse has plagued the minds of the very players displaying poor play for years. Even Vesely has made the same excuse.
These are the facts: between preseason mini-camp, training camp, and preseason, and neither Otto Porter nor Chris Singleton participating in most all team activities, there have been plenty of opportunities and settings for various Wizards to show their stuff. But no one really surfaced.
Everyone knows NBA minutes are scarce, especially ex-Wizards like Othyus Jeffers and Dominic McGuire—both recently cut from NBA rosters. The second-tier players who make some noise are the ones who can make an immediate impact no matter how long they play. Stay ready, goes the saying/cliché.
None of these concepts absolve Wittman from coaching mistakes—Nene and Marcin Gortat spent all of two minutes on the floor together in Detroit. And now Nene has an ailing calf? Well, that’s nice. (The latest reports have Nene being available to play in the home opener on Friday, but rest assured, this could be a “thing.”)
The players Wittman has been provided with, to date, have not shown enough, and that it will take a good eight to 12 (and perhaps more) games to better sort out a rotation. No, this isn’t ideal, and looking down the roster does not offer much encouragement, but at this point it should be more seen as a fact of the process, and not a torpedo dive into murky waters. Besides, the coach has bigger concerns that how many players people think he should play; he should be concerned about getting Wall, Eric Maynor, and all the other Wizards to run a crisp and competent offense.
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
1 out of 5 stars 39 min | 20 pts| | 8-21 FG | 11 asts | 3 stls | 4 TOs
Sometimes it isn’t the player you are, it is how you play the competition. Will Bynum is a notorious Wizard killer, but he shouldn’t be lighting up the self-proclaimed “best PG in the NBA,” taking him off the dribble as if he were a D-Leaguer. Wall looked terrible in the first half with a carryover of his preseason performance: ill-advised jumpers, lazy defense and a lack of killer instinct. He rectified that in the second half, but missed two key FTs which kept the Wizards from closing the gap on the Pistons. —S. Fagan
— Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) October 31, 2013
2 out of 5 stars 38 mins | 17 pts | 6-18 FGs | 2-6 3PTs | 4 rebs | 2 asts | 3 TOs
Beal’s poor shooting performance is not at all alarming, given that he’s a shooter sans a conscience. But in his inability to hit the big shot in the clutch, or stop Chauncey “Big Shot” Billups from doing the same to him, Beal contributed to the Wizards’ loss last night. Given his effort against the Pistons just one week ago, I expected more out of Beal. —R. Mobley
4.5 out of 5 stars 38 mins | 28 pts | 8-14 FGs | 6-11 3Ps | 6-8 FTs | 10 rebs | 3 asts
This Tweet might be all that’s needed:
— Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) October 31, 2013
But otherwise, Ariza hit open 3s (and the Pistons left him open a TON), he limited dribbling action, and he was awesome in the passing lanes—like a super Larry Hughes. Plus, he led the Wizards in rebounding. So, go Trevor! —K. Weidie
1 out of 5 stars 20 mins | 2 pts | 1-3 FGs | 5 rebs | 3 asts
Booker had three assists in the first seven miniutes of the first quarter, and he did keep three offensive possesions alive by aggressively pursuing offensive rebounds. But he lacked the prowess to make Drummond, Monroe and Josh Smith work on offense or defense, and, at this point, he’s merely biding time until Coach Wittman replaces him with Gortat. —R. Mobley
1.5 out of 5 stars 30 mins | 12 pts | 4-6 FGs | 3 rebs | 1 ast | 4 PFs
Nene came out hitting jumpers like we’ve rarely seen, and then, apparently, hurt his calf on one of those jumpers. Head-smack/#SoWizards/Sheesh! Well, at least the Wizards drafted Otto Porter. Wait, Otto’s not even a big man? And he’s hurt? Cue up the auto-#WittmanFace generator. Death to Snakey, long live Snakey! —K. Weidie
3.5 out of 5 stars 17 min | 9 pts | 9 rebs | 1 blk | 3 TOs | 5 PFs
Grading on a curve, no one should have expected the performance that Wizards got from Gortat on the evening. It’s one thing to suit up and work your way into the system by playing the other team’s second unit. It’s another to jump into the fire against the Pistons’ starting big men and start mixing it up down low and making Andre Drummond look like a fool. You saw brief glimpses of what the the Wall/Gortat pick-and-roll is going to look like, which will be a thing of beauty. You also saw the gaping donut hole that is the Wizards center position without Gortat anchoring the pivot. —S. Fagan
0.5 out of 5 stars 21 mins | 5 pts | 1-1 FGs | 2 rebs
Webster’s first attempt of the NBA season was a made 3-pointer. Awesome, right? Not exactly. That attempt was Webster’s only attempt of the game, and it didn’t come until 37 seconds left in the third quarter. After the make, you could clearly tell in his face that Webster was not a happy camper. The $22 million man received a team-high 21 minutes off the bench, so what’s next? —K. Weidie
0 out of 5 Stars 9 mins | 3 pts | 1-3 FGs | 1-3 3Ps | 2 rebs | 1 ast |
The backup point guard for the Wizards hit an inconsequential 3-pointer in the third quarter to cut Detroit’s lead to five, and he did little else for the remainder of the evening. The backup point guard for the Pistons, Will Bynum (who started in place of the injured Brandon Jennings), had 19 points, five assists, two steals, and factored heavily in the outcome of the game. Beal gets a pass for his lackluster performance because he was so strong leading up to this game. Maynor’s play seems to be a continuation of what he did in the preseaon, which is a bad first-game omen. —R. Mobley
Progress, You Say?
Bradley Beal and Long 2-Pointers.
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