D.C. Council Game 3: Wizards 93 at Heat 103: Beyond an Ability to Compete | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council Game 3: Wizards 93 at Heat 103: Beyond an Ability to Compete

Updated: November 4, 2013

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. 3: Wizards at Heat; contributors: Sean Fagan, Conor  Dirks and Adam Rubin  from in front of their television screens. 

[Will anyone listen to me?]

[Will anyone listen to me?]

Washington Wizards 93 at Miami Heat 103
[box score]

Jump to Council Player Ratings


DC Council Key Legislature

The expression “hang your hat” is one born as a question of identity. Going into the season, the Wizards were going to attempt to “hang their hat” on their defense (they were a top 10 NBA defense in 2012-13), and hope that another year of growth from Bradley Beal and John Wall would be enough to pull them through games. It is a fairly simple equation when you look at it, become a simpler/less refined version of Memphis’ “Grindhouse” and have the best player on the court win the game. On nights such as these where the other team has three better players than your “best player,” you are probably not going to win. But the hope is that against teams like Philly or Boston this would be a recipe for success and at least give the Wizards a chance against premier teams.

No such luck.

Instead of embracing that identity, or any identity for that matter, the Wizards as currently comprised look like any other bad team that reacts to the opponent’s play and allows play to be dictated to them. Sixty-one points at the half for the Heat. An innumerable amount of points in the paint scored against them by Philadelphia and Detroit. Missed assignments, missed rotations, failure to close-out, these are all things that a team which “hangs its hat” on defense would be ashamed to let happen. Yet instead of ratcheting up the effort on the defensive end, the Wizards flail about with no identity whatsoever. Are they an uptempo team? Do they want to use the pick-and-roll? Why does every play run by the second unit look like it was made up on the spot?

In other words, no fun.

This cuts to the heart of the matter. It isn’t embarrassing to lose to the defending champs, whose pride was hurt coming off of two straight losses. What is embarrassing is the lack of any sort of defining aesthetic that can be assigned to this Wizards basketball team. With the exception of a few sublime John Wall moments, the Wizards are a process-grade cheese team of the NBA. You can say what you will about the Gilbert Arenas playoff teams, how they failed to play defense and failed to advance past the second round, but those teams were fun. You could point to their swashbuckling, pell-mell style and root for it even while knowing all along that there were superior teams that would always defeat the Wizards.

Now, I’m not so sure what I am watching. I see John Wall trapped in a cage with only one true shooter—Bradley Beal—around him and the other shooter—Martell Webster—pinned to the bench. I see a team that crawls up the floor while their point guard outraces them to take on the opposing defenses one-on-three. I see a shooting guard who is shooting not off of set plays or within the flow of the offense, but because he can shoot and therefore does so, despite there still being 21 seconds on the shot clock. Every Wizards offensive possession feels like randomness. Every defensive stand is a adventure in circling the wagons. One could call it “chaos theory,” but that would too cool for the Wizards. Instead you can call it the System of Blah. Until the Wizards and Coach Randy Wittman decide what they are as a team you are only going to see sporadic moments of what looks like organized basketball. On some nights the team will win games due to its young talent, however, on most nights it will lose.

Oh, the Wizards were demolished by Heat. Sorry to bury the lede.

—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)


DC Council Chair

I plead the fif.

Nobody in a Washington uniform deserves accolades tonight. But if you put a gun to my head, I’d pick Martell Webster. Webster played a season high 33 minutes—and he was the only Wizard who played 15 or more minutes who did not commit a turnover (everyone else had at least two). But that’s about the most I can say.

The real star of the game was Miami’s ball movement. The Heat whipped the ball around the court like they were playing Monkey in the Middle against little kids. The ball did not stop until it found an open 3-point shooter or a man wide-open under the rim. Miami had a ridiculous 32 assists on 37 made baskets. That just about says it all.

—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)


DC Council Vetoed Participation

An embarrassment of riches greets the sullen observer, searching for someone to blame. With so much blame to pass around, perhaps it would be wise to reflect on the nature of fault, and its direction. To wit:

“What can everyone do? Praise and blame. This is human virtue, this is human madness” —Friedrich Nietzsche

Well, that’s just unclear. Are praise and blame worthy of recounting? Is this blog a farce?

“We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers—but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.” —Katharine Hepburn 

Randy Wittman needs a voice recording of this one on retainer.

“Blame is just a lazy person’s way of making sense of chaos.” —Doug Coupland

Hmm, sounds legit. How about one more, and let’s really stretch this thing out, let’s get cosmic:

“If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.” —Khalil Gibran 

I think, after reflecting, it would be more appropriate to say that no one is to blame, everyone is to blame, that television broadcasts are the wind, and we’re all trees. The secret? The Wizards are bad.

To fulfill the purpose of this section, I’ll just leave Trevor Ariza’s shot chart through three games here, and walk away.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)



DC Council Top Aide

If a system dies on the basketball court and no one is there to attempt to revive it, does anyone deserve an accolade?

—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)


DC Council Session


If you were all decked out in your Washington Wizards gear before the big tilt between the Wizards and the Heat, I apologize. Maybe it’s your most comfortable clothing. If so, kudos to Washington’s team store and its corporate partners. Any NBA team can beat any other NBA team on any given night, it’s true. But odds on this one weren’t favorable, with a Heat team on their home court after losing two in a row. If Dwyane Wade hadn’t played, odds kick a little bit towards the good guys. But he did, and they lost, and somehow it was worse than most people expected. Not worse because of the final score, which reflects a victory of sorts: the Wizards covered the hearty spread Vegas handed them (13.5) (bovada.lv had 12.5 before tip-off). No, this was worse because of the quality of play.

To put it simply: The Wizards are hard to watch. Far from the team that many ranked in the top half of the “League Pass Rankings,” Washington’s team doesn’t do the simple things that make the exciting things possible. On several occasions, a perimeter player would pass the ball to a forward or center on the block, and then … the three other players on the court took that as notice to stop moving, to leave the ball-handler on an island as the shot clock ran down. Similarly, when the Wizards secured an offensive rebound, the non-rebounders refused to show for their beleaguered big men, and those so-precious offensive rebounds were wasted in the form of turnovers or bad shots.

Comically, the team is still making decisions on the starting lineup based on balance with the second team. When the first team isn’t competitive, it’s a strategy worth revisiting.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)


DC Council Mayor

With no hope of stopping Miami on defense, Wittman turned to a small ball lineup of Wall, Beal, Webster, Ariza, and Seraphin at the end of the third quarter. Over the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, Washington cut a 23-point deficit to 11 and forced Erik Spoelstra to re-insert Miami’s starters. Aside from Washington’s 9-2 run to start the game, the small ball lineup was Washington’s only effective offense all night.

The small ball lineup with Ariza at the 4 is something to keep an eye on. If Washington cannot compete on the defensive end, Wittman may have no choice but to play his best offensive players as many minutes as possible.

Speaking of Washington’s defensive struggles, I fear we may be getting close to a “Falling Down” moment from Wittman. There are only so many blown rotations and uncontested layups that one man can take.

—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)


DC Council Players

John Wall

2 out of 5 stars

39 min | 11 pts | 1-4 3p | 4-12 FG | 9 asts | 1 stl | 5 TOs | 4 rebs

Wall is at the top of the key, he drives, goes airborne, wraps the ball around his back, probably realizes no one is open, the ball sticks to his back, and wobbles impotently out of bounds. This vision of futility, combined with the inexcusable play of his teammates, is what characterized Wall’s night in Miami. He wasn’t as bad as the scoring line suggests, but did let Mario Chalmers find open players all night by playing too far off of him (and because Mario Chalmers gets to pass the rock to All-Stars). He made a 3-pointer, but also missed three. As of now, he’s too inconsistent to be taking a ton of these shots in the game. —C. Dirks

Bradley Beal

2 out of 5 stars

41 mins | 19 pts | 6-14 FGs | 4-8 3PTs | 3-6 FTs | 3 rebs | 3 asts | 5 TOs

A better effort from Beal last night after the negative pixels had piled up on Beal for his poor body language during the Philadelphia game. However, Beal continue to look lost on the defensive end (and against a Miami offense that is designed to exploit the Wizards’ weaknesses) and his shots seem to come from outside the system, by which I mean the solar system as there doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to the Wizards offensive sets. —S. Fagan

Trevor Ariza

0.5 out of 5 stars

30 min | 13 pts | 3-9 3p | 4-16 FG | 0 asts | 2 stl | 3 TOs | 7 rebs

He’s killing the team with bad shots while he’s on the floor.

He would have an easier time getting “his shots” against the opposition’s second string.

First paragraph of his obituary as a starter: Trevor Ariza, small forward for the Washington Wizards, tried to hypnotize LeBron with pump fakes and fancy dribble-things. LeBron didn’t move. Ariza launched a shot from the corner with LeBron in his face. Predictably, the ball hit the side of the backboard and went out of bounds. He loved too much. —C. Dirks

Trevor Booker

2 out of 5 stars

22 mins | 8 pts | 4-6 FGs | 6 rebs | 0 asts | 2 stls | 2 TOs

You can never fault Trevor Booker’s effort. But perhaps too many things have come to be expected of him and, instead of trying to maximize all the facets of his game, the Wizards should instead hone the things he is good at to a razor’s edge. Take the Heat’s Chris Andersen. The Birdman has spent years doing only the things he knows he is good at (rebounding, energy, system defense) and has discarded all other unnecessary skills. This is why he is still in the NBA despite his former problems with substance addiction. For Booker less is more, it is just too bad the Wizards need MORE from a player unable to give it. —S. Fagan

Marcin Gortat

2 out of 5 stars

32 min | 15 pts | 7-14 FGs |  11 rebs | 1 ast | 3 TOs

Gortat made his presence known early with two jumpers on Washington’s first three possessions and it looked like he might finally provide the low-post scoring Washington has lacked for so long. But he was not able to establish himself in the paint throughout the rest of the game.

Gortat put up nice numbers and was active on the offensive glass but he provided no resistance at the rim. To be fair, Washington’s defensive problems are team-wide, but it would be nice to have a rim protector to erase some of the team’s defensive lapses. Oh, and he hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer. That was nice. —A. Rubin

Al Harrington

0.5 out of 5 stars

12 min | 0 pts | 0-6 FGs |  0-3 3Ps | 0 rebs | 1 ast

You know the old guy at the gym who shoots every time he touches it? That’s Al Harrington. It’s great when he is draining 3s. Not so great when he bricks every shot. (The 0.5 is for a nice alley-oop pass to Seraphin.) —A. Rubin

Martell Webster

3 out of 5 stars

34 min | 13 pts | 4-7 FG | 2-4 3Ps  7 rebs | 4 asts | 0 TOs

Webster entered the game a little earlier than usual—at the 7:00 minute mark in the first quarter after Trevor Ariza picked up two fouls. Ariza had been playing LeBron James pretty well up to that point, with steals on back-to-back possessions. Webster did not fare as well. In a two-minute stretch, James hit three 3-pointers and a layup to extend Miami’s lead to seven with 2:22 to go in the first quarter.

Despite his struggles against LeBron, Webster made a strong case for more minutes with his all-around play and ability to space the floor. Moving forward, Wittman has to surround Wall with more shooters. And aside from Beal, Webster is the only one Washington has. —A. Rubin

Kevin Seraphin

3 out of 5 stars

15 min | 9 pts | 1-1 FTs | 4-5 FG | 0 asts | 0 stls | 2 TOs | 1 reb

I don’t have anything bad to say about Kevin Seraphin’s performance. For the second game in a row, he was plus-4 in on-court point differential. For the first time this season, Seraphin’s shots were measured and not indicative of a deep psychosis. He made just as many shots as Trevor Ariza with 11 less attempts. He took a free throw. You hope for more rebounds, but Seraphin’s attitude towards the ball once it has hit the rim is decidedly laissez-faire—C. Dirks

Eric Maynor

2 out of 5 Stars

14 mins | 5 pts | 2-4 FGs | 0-1 3Ps | 2 rebs | 4 asts | 0 TOs

Eric Maynor was there. He did some things. Thus far he has done an amazing impression of A.J. Price at twice the cost. —S. Fagan

Sean Fagan on FacebookSean Fagan on Twitter
Sean Fagan
Reporter / Writer/Gadfly at TAI
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Sean has contributed to TAI since the the dawn of Jan Vesely and has been on the Wizards beat since 2008. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo and SI.com. He still believes that Mike Miller never got a fair shot.