D.C. Council Game 11: Wizards 98 vs Cavaliers 91: In Which the Landslide Stopped Just Short | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council Game 11: Wizards 98 vs Cavaliers 91: In Which the Landslide Stopped Just Short

Updated: November 21, 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. 11: Wizards vs. Cavaliers; contributors: Conor Dirks, Adam McGinnis, and Sean Fagan, all watching from their very own safe places.

Washington Wizards 98 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers 91

[box score]

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DC Council Key Legislature

The Wizards played an excellent first quarter. But four minutes into the second quarter, Washington and Cleveland had combined for only four points, and the Wizards showed signs of stagnating. After a Martell Webster 3-pointer with 8:15 to go in the second quarter, the Wizards started to click, click, click like Internet users on a slideshow. Even with Cleveland scoring, the Wizards managed to stretch their lead from 11 points to 17 points before the end of the half.

Nene was the gear that turned first, as he assisted Webster’s 3-pointer before scoring four out of Washington’s next five baskets. Then John Wall took over, and continued to prove that people who question his ability to make plays for his teammates are not actually sitting on their duff and watching Wizards games. He assisted three of Washington’s baskets in the last six minutes of the second quarter. In what must be a relief to those who still have nightmares about the reign of Nick Young, Andray Blatche and JaVello Magoo, nine out of Washington’s twelve made baskets in the second quarter were assisted.

Most importantly, the large lead that Washington was able to build because of all of that ball movement became essential when the Wizards offense started eating the fat of its own stomach in the fourth quarter.

—Conor Dirks  (@ConorDDirks)


DC Council Chair

It must be an interesting source of consternation for the Wizards marketing department when faced with the ascendance of Bradley Beal. After a max contract extension, proclaiming himself as “the best” point guard in the league, John Wall was supposed to be the face of the organization and the totem around which other statues would be erected. Yet here comes Beal, breaking into the league leaders in points scored, dishing out a career-high in assists, and looking like the “real threat” on this current Wizards squad. This is not meant as a slight to Wall, who had a fine game of his own and has to watch in abject terror as his F-level backups casually give up the lead that he helped nurture. But no one was a sublime as Beal was on the night, who was a robotic 6-for-7 from 3-point land and helped the Wizards balloon their lead to 27 points. Perhaps the nervous marketers may have to take tips from their Miami cohorts and learn how to market two true superstars while leaving both parties’ egos intact.

—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)


DC Council Vetoed Participation

During the Wizards’ television broadcasts, they often put up graphics featuring the faces of players who are on the injury report. Otto Porter (hip flexor strain) and Chris Singleton (broken foot) have been mainstays all season. Al Harrington (sore knee) and Trevor Ariza (strained hamstring) are new additions in the last week. ‘Tis is the season of #NoMoreExcuses and owner Ted Leonsis refuses to give any injury-related qualifiers on his blog posts. But we should be realistic because this currently leaves 11 available players on the roster and fewer options for a second unit that has struggled mightily all season.

The bench was once again a disaster in Cleveland. They were outscored 56 to 10 by the Cavs reserves. They were saved in the first half due to the Wiz starters playing so exceptionally that they built 20-point lead. The Cavs bench was unable to capitalize on the Wizards’ weakness until the second half. Vesely did some positive things and Temple made a few nice plays. However, Seraphin (deservedly) rode the pine, Maynor falsely believes his slump-busting will consist of ball hog floaters, and Booker’s short tenure was disappointing. Finding capable second units is still a major problem for coach Wittman and it almost cost the team this victory.

—Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis) 


DC Council Top Aide

I need to track down what negative things were said about Nene in the Brazilian media after he missed a late go-ahead free throw in the Wizards home loss to the Cavs last Saturday night. Those harsh Portuguese words have sparked Nene to put away the next two games with clutch free throws. The half-court offense is built around his keen ability to work both the low and high posts. When it is rolling like it was in the first half on Wednesday night, the big man is usually involved with slick passes or creating chances at the rim with sharp head fakes. Nene’s combination of power and finesse was difficult for his his fellow countryman, Anderson Varejao, to check all night. Nene has now scored at least 20 points in three straight games, which is notable since they have all come after he called out his teammates following the loss in San Antonio for playing the wrong way. Wall or Beal might be the best players on the team, but Nene continues to be the most important.

—Adam McGinnis  (@adammcginnis)


DC Council Session

That session was … nerve-racking.

The Wizards appear to need to add a degree of difficulty to each win they obtain this season, and Wednesday’s night game was no exception. With the lead midway through the third quarter having ballooned to 27 points it was time for Randy Wittman to give way to his backups and let them finish with the mopping up for the evening. Instead, the Cavaliers rallied and slowly chipped away at the Wizards’ lead, eventually reducing it to a measly four points. How that lead was coughed up is as much of a story as how the Wizards came to obtain it—the Wizards simply do not have a backup PG able to run an NBA offense and everything grinds to a halt when John Wall leaves the game. Garrett Temple may be gritty but is unable to generate anything positive on the offensive end, and Eric Maynor may as well be playing 21 in the local gym by himself. Even in a game where you are scoring one basket for every two the opponent makes, a lead of the size the Wizards obtained should be easily preserved. Instead, Wittman had to reinsert all his starters late in the fourth to stave off the possible #SoWizards outcome.

—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)


DC Council Mayor

Randy Wittman has shown creativity in his malleable facial expressions (spawning #WittmanFace), but has a tendency to favor rigidity and constancy in his lineup choices with the exception of an occasional doghouse exile. In the last two games, however, Wittman seems to be settling into a new strategy. It may not be sustainable, but Wittman is keeping his “second team” viable by making sure they aren’t inserted as a unit, and that starters are leaked in and out of the group over the course of the bench run before settling back in with a full cadre of first-teamers. That said, the drop-off between units is still so steep that the presence of even one bench player for too long can be equated to lifting up your battle armor mid-melee and exposing your lower back tattoo.

“Then, again, with eight minutes to go we walked it up. No passes. We tried to do everything off of one option.” —Randy Wittman

It can’t be all good though, even in a win. With the game on the line, the Wizards ran four offensive sets through Nene and Beal in a row where Wall sat in the left corner. The two-man game which followed was hard to watch, especially when an entire shot clock ran down while Beal tried to get open for a Nene pass, and the other three Wizards were “coolin’” on the other side of the halfcourt. Fortunately, with the help of a foul call and a tough 10-footer by Beal, Washington was able to convert the questionable, repeated play call into some much-needed points. The above quote from Wittman intimates that he expects his players to freelance when his No. 1 option is problematic, but the Wizards may not be ready for on-the-fly deviation, and will need their coach to help with the play-by-play marching orders.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks) 


DC Council Players

John Wall

3.5 out of 5 stars

41 mins | 15 pts | 6-16 FGs | 0-1 3Ps | 3-3 FTs  | 4 rebs | 9 asts | 4 stls | 3 TOs

When you get embarrassed as a competitor, you can either wilt or go right back at it. In his rematch vs. Kyrie, Wall chose the latter option. From the jump, Wall was dominant by setting up teammates with slick passes, making highlight moves, and forcing Kyrie into bad decisions. The jumper is still a sore spot as he shot 1-for-11 beyond 12 feet. During the Cavs’ fourth quarter comeback surge, Wall mysteriously spent most of the time without the ball and hanging out in the corner. The result was that he had no assists in the final quarter. This appeared be more of a coaching design in the offensive sets than Wall shying away from the closing moment. It was bizarre. Bottom line: John has accumulated 37 assists in the last three games with only five turnovers and the team has a record two wins and one loss. Suck on that tattoo, Jason Reid.  —A. McGinnis

Bradley Beal

4.5 out of 5 stars

41 mins | 26 pts | 9-20 FGs | 6-7 3Ps | 2-2 FTs | 7 rebs | 8 asts | 0 stls | 6 TOs

Bradley was an automaton of 3-point brilliance in the first half. He almost literally couldn’t miss from behind the arc, and took full advantage of the open looks that John Wall loves to get for him. He also put a move on Jarrett Jack before halftime that looks like a staple for the future: catch the ball near the 3-point line and threaten to pull up on a desperately closing defender, get him in the air, slide two feet to the right, and get buckets/profit.

His defense, two nights in a row on opposing shooting guards, has been admirable and not indicative of the heavy minutes he’s logged. Beal might warrant a perfect 5 out of 5 stars, but he let Cleveland’s Matthew Dellavedova (who was plus-21 in the plus/minus department) bother him into more turnovers and a less than stellar fourth quarter. —C. Dirks

Martell Webster

3 out of 5 stars

36 mins | 15 pts | 5-11 FGs | 2-8 3Ps | 4 rebs | 5 asts | 1 stl

So, this might be an issue. It is now fairly apparent (though the sample size is small) that Martell Webster is at his best when playing with the starters and cannot generate his necessary offensive output when playing with the second unit. Of course, this is in direct odds with the play of Trevor Ariza, who, before the Wizards recent uptick, was the one player producing consistently on a nightly basis. The question “Ariza or Webster?” is far less interesting than the contortions that Wittman is going to have to put himself through in order to get the maximum productivity from each player. Webster is still porous on the defensive end but his energy takes a noticeable swing upwards when he finds the ball in his hands. As the guy who recently received the big contract it would behoove him to shelve the calm North Pacific vibe when playing with the second unit and start demanding the damn ball, because a return to the Invisible Man Webster upon Ariza’s reinsertion into the starting lineup would be unacceptable for a team with playoff aspirations. —S. Fagan


4 out of 5 stars

38 mins | 24 pts | 10-16 FGs | 4-4 FTs | 8 rebs | 6 asts | 1 stl | 1 blk

I have always wanted to ask #Pray4Nene about his thoughts on referees. I have a feeling that his candid answer could not be said out loud in a place of worship. He is constantly bitching at the refs or furrowing his brow at them. It sometimes is confusing because he will start complaining to refs after a play (for no apparent reason) when you realize that he is upset at call from awhile back. Early in the Cavs game, he went up for a shot and got hacked without a whistle. The Wizards bench was incensed. To his credit, Nene didn’t mope or act out foolishly, as many players do when frustrated at the officials, but used it as a motivation and executed on a series of excellent plays. We learned from a Jumbotron segment during the Minnesota game that his teammates recognize Nene as the neatest player on the team and he likes all of his stuff organized. (Seraphin is the messiest, by the way.) His Diva nickname continues to make sense with this OCD behavior.   —A. McGinnis

Marcin Gortat

2 out of 5 stars

32 mins | 8 pts | 3-7 FGs | 6 rebs | 3 asts | 2 blks

Scene – Midway through third quarter, the Wizards have opened up a lead on that night’s opponent and Marcin Gortat goes to take his deserved rest on the bench after doing another night of yeoman’s work.

Scene – Marcin Gortat is hastily reinserted into the game with only a few minutes remaining, the Wizards once sizable lead having been reduced to rubble. Wizards fans openly wonder whether Randy Wittman blacks out for large chunks of the fourth quarter and forgets that he has the Polish Hammer languishing on the bench.

I have attended this play a few times, it is getting rather boring. —S. Fagan

Jan Vesely

4 out of 5 stars

22 mins | 4 pts | 2-3 FGs | 8 rebs | 2 blks | 3 TOs

Reminder that we are grading on a curve and that Jan Vesely getting four stars on the evening is not the same as Bradley Beal earning 4.5. However, with the Wizards bench a chaotic mess it is very interesting that Honza of all people has stepped up and tried to fill the gaping void. What impressed about Jan’s play last night was not the classic “little things” that Vesely always does (tip-back rebounds, keeping the ball alive, making the smart pass) but the fact that somewhere between Summer League and being ensconced on the bench Jan Vesely decided to grow some balls, or to put it NBA parlance, “confidence.” Vesely is not a physical force but he out-rebounded and out-hustled the portly Anthony Bennett, and threw his body around with abandon. Most importantly, Vesely did not pick up any of the cheap fouls that have plagued his career and was able to provide Nene and Gortat the respite needed on the end of a back-to-back. —S. Fagan

Trevor Booker

0 out of 5 stars

4 mins | 1-2 FGs | 2 pts | 0 rebs |  

It was an off night for Cook Book as he took an ill-advised jumper and repeatedly gambled on defense in his brief four-minute stint. With weekend back-to-back games upcoming, Booker should have opportunities to turn it around. FYI, Trevor’s birthday is coming up soon and he is looking for suggestions on ways to celebrate. —A. McGinnis

Eric Maynor

0 out of 5 stars

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

After checking in for the first time, Eric Maynor proceeded to do what he always does. He “did him,” as they say in the States. But Randy Wittman didn’t like it. Why? See below. —C. Dirks



Garrett Temple

2.5 out of 5 Stars

20 mins | 4 pts | 2-5 FGs | 0-2 3Ps | 2 rebs | 0 asts | 0 stls | 0 TOs

Man, if Garrett Temple had a 3-point shot, he might actually be a sorta/kinda answer as a backup guard. His almost-adequate control on offense and attention on defense sets him light years apart from Eric Maynor, and now that Randy Wittman has satisfied Team President Ernie Grunfeld’s cyclic need to see an inordinate amount of execrable data on his most recent signings before they are benched, prepare to see a bit more of Garrett Temple (20 minutes), a bit less of Eric Maynor (7 minutes), and a better product for your time and money. —C. Dirks


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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.