D.C. Council Game 19: Wizards 105 vs Bucks 109: The #SoWizards Way to Lose .500 | Truth About It.net

D.C. Council Game 19: Wizards 105 vs Bucks 109: The #SoWizards Way to Lose .500

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Updated: December 8, 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. 19: Wizards vs Bucks; contributors: John Converse Townsend and Sean Fagan from the Verizon Center, and Kyle Weidie from his pad in the District.

Washington Wizards 105 vs Milwaukee Bucks 109 (OT)
[box score]


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DC Council Key Legislature

During the Wizards “run to .500,” the pessimists and cynics were put on trial for their early season nay-saying. ‘See,’ stated the optimists/PR people/marketing experts, ‘you were wrong all along, this is a GOOD team.’ The pessimists, facing their own version of the Salem Witch Trial withdrew, walked back many of their early prescient statements, and decided to run with the good vibes that were surrounding the team. After all, it is much more fun to write and commentate on a team that is winning. It is even more enjoyable to talk to players who are winning. Losing begets negativity which begets less open discussions between players and scribes, which further begets a management structure less likely to grant access to said scribes.

However, during the Wizards’ winning streak, the issue that many critics refused to acknowledge which had been remarked on several times was how unsustainable the run appeared to be on the surface. To continue their winning ways, the Wizards would have to continue playing their starters a horrendous amount of minutes, limit the activity of the bench players, and do a rain dance for the health of their most fragile players. During the run, this mostly worked. Even without Bradley Beal in the lineup and Nene having a night off against Indiana, the Wizards continued to win, putting their starters on the floor for eons, using the their subs sparingly, and relying on the brilliance of John Wall and a healthy Trevor Ariza.

On Friday night in the Phone Booth against the second-worst team in the NBA, the nightmare scenario that “critics” had predicted came true in the most #SoWizards of ways. Martell Webster crashed into the Greek Freak after only 12 minutes of play and was escorted by medical personnel (and his wife) to the training room, never to return. Nene went out with a Nene, aggravating one of his numerous injuries and was not to be heard from again. With Kevin Seraphin on the shelf for the evening, the Wizards were forced to go to the deep end of their bench and put the minutes burden in the hands of Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, and the recently activated Otto Porter, Jr.

To say that the three were a complete disaster would only slightly be overstating the sheer basketball apocalypse Wizards fans had to watch. Chris Singleton, effective upon his return, fell in love with his jumper and shot the Wizards out of the game. Jan Vesely was a complete train wreck, accruing stupid fouls, getting out muscled by the quicker Bucks bigs, and taking a few terribly considered jumpers of his own. Otto Porter, oh God, Otto Porter was maybe the worst offender of the group, even though it was his first NBA game. Porter was a complete ghost in his NBA debut, completely disappearing on the court for long periods of time only to reemerge to make one horrendous rookie mistake after another. For a player the Wizards drafted to be “NBA-ready” from Day One, the results have to be incredibly disheartening. Porter looked over-matched and completely at sea on an NBA court, and his shot, which worried so many scribes prior to the draft, was as flat as advertised.

Despite the complete meltdown, John Wall almost singlehandedly won the Wizards the ball game before succumbing to fatigue in overtime. Once again, the depth of the Wizards’ bench played its part in the destruction, as Wall was unable to get any significant amount of rest due to the incompetence of his backups. The jokes that Gilbert Arenas would make a better backup than Eric Maynor are not so funny anymore, as they might actually be a serious suggestion made by NBA professionals. In the end, the Wizards lost a basketball game, two players, and their status as a “winning” basketball team to the worst team in the NBA at home.

In the end, #SoWizards.

—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)


 

DC Council Chair

Forced to play 1-on-5 against the Bucks for short stints and with very little help around him, John Wall put the team on his back and almost lifted them to a win. He took more shots (23) than any other player on the night, and took twice as many shots as the next closest Wizard, Trevor Ariza (12). Wall also took a season-high 13 free throw attempts, making 12.

Wall was responsible for the Wizards’ last eight points in regulation—he assisted a Gortat layup, made four free throws, and Watergate’d a fading, Dwyane Wade-like midrange jumper with just over a minute to play. But the 102-97 lead that seemed so safe after that J (Wall was pounding his chest, playing to the crowd, and yelling “This is my city!”) disappeared in the next 40 seconds.

The Wizards had the ball last in regulation. Wall, of course, gave his team a shot at the W. He drove, collapsed the defense, and kicked the ball out to a wide-open teammate … but Singleton’s wide-open shot from the right 3-point corner was off the mark.

The one man band was a helluva show until overtime when the music stopped.

—John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)


 

DC Council Vetoed Participation

So, Eric Maynor and Garrett Temple combined for five minutes, three points, 1-for-4 shooting, two assists, and two fouls as a dead horse was beaten repeatedly and dragged through the streets. The gruesome point guard twosome didn’t turn the ball over … ‘great’ … but otherwise, this can’t last. The Wizards franchise is running Wall  into the ground and they are going to kick themselves when it comes back to haunt them.

Stat Fact: According to the “game score” metric available on Basketball-Reference.com (game score was created by John Hollinger and gives “a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game”), four of Eric Maynor’s best games this year came within the first five games of the season.

Now: a coach trusting and using him less and less while the player shows very little to absolutely zero improvement from being wholly terrible. If this continues for another 10-15 games, Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld will have to bite the bullet and do something. Otherwise, not having anyone to backup Wall is a serious threat to playoff hopes, even in the (L)East.

[FOOTNOTE: Maynor can also be indirectly blamed for Martell Webster rolling his ankle. Yea, yea, basketball injuries can happen at any time... Here's what had happened: The Wizards got the ball with 28 seconds left in the first quarter, Maynor ran a no-pass possession where he bricked a shot from the right elbow with around seven seconds on the shot clock, just under 11 seconds left in the period. The Bucks quickly went the other way off the miss as the Wiz-pups sauntered down the court. Nate Wolters and John Henson took advantage of oblivious defense from Maynor and Trevor Booker and got a lob-dunk in no time, leaving just under three seconds on the clock. Webster jetted the other way after the inbounds and threw up a desperation shot, landing on Antetokounmpo's foot in the process and spraining his ankle. If Maynor gets his head out of his ass on either offense or defense, that doesn't happen. But hey, coincidences.]

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)


 

DC Council Top Aide

Trevor Ariza did what he could to keep the Wizards in the game, draining key jump shots and keeping Eryan Ilyasova mostly quiet on the evening. However, he (like every other Wizard) had no luck in containing the comet that was Khris Middleton, who came out of nowhere to have a career night against the Wizards. Making under the radar players stars for the evening is a Wizards specialty, and this proved true again as Middleton drove the basket at will and shredded the Washington’s defense, plus supplied firepower from the perimeter. You could place some of that blame on the shoulders of Ariza, but it’s hard to fault the player for putting his energy in on the offensive end when the only other player who had an offensive aptitude was John Wall.

—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)


 

DC Council Session

That Session Was … #SoWizards.

This was a throwback to the days of yore when Wizards would Wizard and knuckleheads ruled the turf.

Washington was favored by 9.5 points, and why not? The Bucks had lost 13 of 14 games. But Wittman saw the danger in a trap game well before tipoff (more on that in the section below).

In his postgame presser, Witt said the Wizards played like it was a pick up game. Defense was “atrocious” and any sense of urgency was lacking. The ol’ ball coach saw “the same story” and, as he so often does, went home disappointed.

It was a vintage #SoWizards showcase:

  • John Wall trying to do it all by himself, not by choice, mind you, but out of necessity.
  • Allowing a no-name player, this time Khris Middleton, to have a career-night. Middleton actually scored a career-high 20 points by halftime … and finished with 29. John Henson had 19 points and a season-high 17 rebounds.
  • Porous defense.
  • Turnovers in the clutch.
  • Injuries. Injuries. Injuries.
  • Losing to a sub-.500 team that played much better than their record.

—John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)


 

DC Council Mayor

Milwaukee coach Larry Drew called timeout 26 seconds into the game. Whatever he didn’t like, Drew’s icy stare down seemed to focus on John Henson, and then Khris Middleton. Those two players went on to combine for 92 minutes, 48 points on 32 shots, 24 rebounds, 10 blocks/steals/assists, and two turnovers. Aside from John Wall, they were the best players on the court.

And speaking of Wall. He played great, but he was also part of the problem. He was not sharp early, his lack of floor leadership was the prime reason for the poor start, and one could easily assume that Wall was part of the “carefree” locker room attitude prior to the game. Thus, Wall’s coach, Randy Wittman, had some sharp words for Wall after the game.

On John Wall’s individual effort:

“We should have singlehandedly taken it over at the start of the game.  Somebody on this team has got to become the leader that doesn’t allow these things to happen. When I went into the locker room to talk to them before the game, I mean, the sense in the locker room was carefree unlike the last two weeks. I told our guys when we walked out, ‘We could be in trouble tonight. We got to wake these guys up.’ ”

Of course, let’s not remove any blame from Wittman’s shoulders. Larry Drew took action early when he sensed problems for the Bucks. Would could Randy have done?

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)


 

DC Council Players

John Wall

5 out of 5 stars

48 mins | plus-5 | 30 pts | 9-23 FGs | 0-5 3Ps | 12-13 FTs | 8 asts | 3 blks | 5 TOs

John Wall went at 90 MPH until the gauge finally read E halfway through overtime. There has been some commentary that Wall’s offense was shoddy on the evening, and though he did consistently lose Brandon Knight on the defensive end, he had to do everything else that his teammates refused to do on the basketball court. He broke out a vintage Dwyane Wade midrange jumper, drove to the basket with abandon, and made two spectacular blocks on Bucks who thought they had easy layups. In other words, John Wall was every bit the superstar he needed to be to win the contest. Unfortunately, since the rest of the team was busy tweeting at @WizGameEnt for song requests, he basically was left on his lonely island the entire evening. —S. Fagan

Martell Webster

n/a out of 5 stars

12 minutes |  minus-4 | 8 points | 3-7 FGs | 2-5 3Ps

Webster looked ready to have a big game against the Bucks, but his night was cut short after landing on Khris Middleton’s ankle after launching 26-foot floater at the first-quarter buzzer. Highlights included a corner 3, a tough, sweet layup off the glass, and communicating on defense—on a night when no one else seemed to be. —J.C. Townsend

Trevor Ariza

4 out of 5 stars

47 minutes | plus-2 | 22 points | 6-12 FGs | 5-10 3Ps | 12 rebs | 4 ast | 4 stl | 2 blks | 3 TOs

With Nene out with a right foot whatever and Webster injured bad, Ariza had to step up. He did, playing like he was possessed by some of that good-good basketball juju. He was surprisingly efficient from beyond the arc, going 3-for-5 from the corner and from above the break. Ariza is now shooting 27 percent on 3s above the break this season—he came into the game shooting 21.9 percent from that area.

Top Play: Double-teaming Brandon Knight on the wing with just over three minutes to play, stealing the rock, then tossing it up court to John Wall who was fouled and made both free throws to give the Wizards a 98-95 lead.

Worst Play: Bumping Wall out of bounds, down three, with 12 seconds to play in overtime. That blunder effectively ended the contest. —J.C. Townsend

Nene

2 out of 5 stars

25 mins | minus-1 | 10 pts | 5-8 FGs | 0-4 FTs | 2 rebs | 2 asts | 2 stls

Not sure at which point Nene decided that he’d had enough. He hit an 18-foot jump shot just past the midway point of the third quarter, soon after grabbed his second rebound in 25 minutes (off a missed Bucks free throw), and seconds later was subbed out of the game for Jan Vesely while Marcin Gortat shot free throws. Tweets from media at the arena surfaced en masse, declaring Nene out with tendinitis in his right foot. Sorry, teammates.

The next day, Nene told the press: “I need to step back and I need to walk away a little bit.”

Whatever is clever, get well soon, and #Pray4Nene. He certainly does not have to be dubbed a malingerer, but he is a chronic Nene. —K. Weidie

Marcin Gortat

2 out of 5 stars

39 mins | plus-3 | 14 pts | 4-7 FGs | 6-7 FTs | 8 rebs | 2 blks | 2 TOs

Gortat returned to his previous pattern of being afraid of bunnies, and all the soccer footwork in the world couldn’t save him from having his soul devoured by John Henson. Henson blocks Gortat. Henson slips around Gortat for the dunk. Henson skies over Gortat for the rebound. Even without his Brazilian wingman, Gortat had to know his play was lacking against an NBA frontcourt that possessed only one player proven to do damage on the boards. Instead, Gortat spent the entire night helplessly watching as men in green jerseys jumped over him on their way to another easy bucket. —S. Fagan

Jan Vesely

0 out of 5 stars

16 mins | minus-10 | 2 pts | 1-2 FGs | 2 rebs | 1 ast | 5 PFs

Jan Vesely gave Otto Porter a front row seat into what a draft bust looks like when he fails. Quick fouls? Check. Out of position? Check. Terrible jump shots that will give you nightmares? Triple check. It was a throwback Vesely performance, and that isn’t meant in a good way. Now with Nene suffering an ouchie, Seraphin out with a “doghouse” (and a sore knee), and Martell Webster’s timetable unknown, we may be subjected to quite a few more Honza throwback performances before all is said and done. —S. Fagan

Chris Singleton

2 out of 5 stars

33 mins | minus-5 | 7 pts | 1-10 FGs | 1-4 3Ps | 4-4 FTs | 8 rebs | 2 asts | 3 stls

Chris Singleton started out in the most excellent of ways: he made a nice drive that earned him two made free throws and then rolled in a 3-pointer. And while for the rest of the night he was more aggressive than usual (the lack of such has gotten him a seat on the end of Wittman’s bench before), Singleton did go 1-for-10 from the field and missed a wide-open game winner. His discomfort on offense looks to be much too much for his inconsistent defensive abilities to overcome.  —K. Weidie

Trevor Booker

3 out of 5 stars

26 mins | even-plus/minus | 9 pts | 3-6 FGs | 3-6 FTs | 9 rebs | 2 asts

Trevor Booker has some of his usual defensive lapses that he hasn’t been able to completely cure over his four seasons in the league, but dammit he hustled, he made his presence felt, and he released his inner beast. It was a lot more than you ever see out of Wiz-pups Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin. With Nene out indefinitely, the Wizards are going to rely on Booker’s toughness more than ever. —K. Weidie

Otto Porter, Jr.

1 out of 5

14 mins | minus-1 | 0 pts | 0-3 FGs | 2 rebs | 1 ast | 2 PFs

It was a quiet debut for the rookie out of Georgetown. “I wish I could have helped more than I did,” Porter told the media in the locker room after the game.

If he seemed tentative, overmatched, or out of his element, it’s probably because he was. Porter on the speed of the game: “Guys is flying by, you’re like ‘whoa!’ at first.”

But Wittman, now well aware of who Porter is, remains confident that his rookie will find his sea legs … eventually. “We knew he would be [nervous], he’s a young kid, he’s gonna be fine. We gotta get him in to understand the games, and speed, quickness and everything.”

Not exactly a rousing endorsement, but it’s something. J.C. Townsend

WATCH Porter’s postgame media session:

 

And Porter’s first NBA possession:

 


 

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