D.C. Council Game 27: Wizards 106 vs Pistons 82: John Wall & Co. Slam on the Defensive Brakes
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. 27: Wizards vs Pistons; contributors: Kyle Weidie and Adam Rubin from the Verizon Center and Rashad Mobley from his home in the District.
Washington Wizards 106 vs Detroit Pistons 82
Both teams entered the game on the second half of a back-to-back set after ugly road losses. Mo Cheeks talked before the game about the importance of bounce-back games. His team did not get the message. Detroit sleepwalked through the first six minutes of the game en route to a 19-8 deficit, punctuated by a Marcin Gortat bank shot with 5:42 left in the first quarter. Most importantly—and surprisingly—Washington did most of its damage against Detroit’s imposing front line with nine of its first 13 field goals coming within six feet of the rim. Tone effectively set. Detroit never got closer than five points the rest of the game.
Bonus: Despite the Wizards’ fast start, the Pistons were still hanging around in the second quarter, down only 48-41 with 4:53 remaining. Wall and Beal put an end to that in dramatic fashion. The dynamic duo combined for 14 straight points highlighted by back-to-back corner 3-pointers by Beal, both assisted by Wall. When the smoke finally cleared Washington enjoyed a 62-41 halftime lead. Game over.
Mo Cheeks concurred after the game: “I thought that was the stretch when [the Wizards] went on a -0 run toward the end right there. I think that was the difference, we were standing there in that eight-, nine-point range, and then they hit those 3s. That -0 run was the difference really, and we just couldn’t recover.”
—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)
When all five Wizards starters score in double figures, you tend to tip your hat to the point guard. Yes, Marcin Gortat’s play might have been the difference, but John Wall controlled the game. He attempted just one 3-pointer, and missed, and he only got to the free throw line five times, making four, but Wall still scored an efficient 20 points on 14 shots and dropped 11 dimes to just two turnovers. There were several good-Wall moments on display from the get-go: drives to the basket; a show of the jumper; but more drives to the basket; increased, elementary chemistry with Gortat on the pick-and-roll; and a defense-splitting, left-handed scoop shot that overshadowed Brandon Jennings’ attempts to counter. Jennings had six assists and seven turnovers. The Wizards have a developing Point G.O.D. on their hands.
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
This one is a little too easy. On a night when it seemed no Wizard could do wrong, Jan Vesely defied the odds. Vesely managed to play only eight minutes before committing so many fouls that he was required to leave the game as per National Basketball Association rules. But wait, there’s more. Before fouling out, Vesely delighted the crowd with one of his patented airballed free throws.
Asked after the game if he had ever seen a player foul out so quickly, Trevor Booker remarked: “I was shocked when they said it was his sixth foul. I started looking around because I knew he only played a few minutes… Eight minutes, that might be a record.”
[Full Disclosure: At least two of Vesely’s fouls were bad calls. So, he should have lasted at least 12 minutes.]
—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)
Considering he was carried off the court by Trevor Ariza and Jan Vesely after Friday night’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, little to nothing could have been expected of Bradley Beal against the Detroit Pistons just one night later. The #SoWizards/Curse of Les Boulez theories alone had everyone thinking Beal would miss an extended amount of time, but good news came in the form of a positive MRI, and Beal went from shooting gingerly before the game to starting. One could easily (and justifiably) question his mental and physical toughness after reacting so drastically to what turned out to be “just” a bone bruise, but we’ll focus on the positive for now.
Beal had a couple of tentative drives and jumpers in the first quarter and over the course of the second, but for three and a half minutes towards the end of the second quarter, he single-handedly put the game out of reach. First, he shed his shy play and scored on a strong open=-court layup, and then he did more traditional Bradley Beal things by scoring eight points on jumpers—one 16-footer and two 3-pointers (all assisted by John Wall). By the time he was done, the Wizards were up 19 points and headed to a blowout win. One night Beal needed his teammates to carry him off the court, the next night he and his bruised bone helped to carry his team to victory.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
That Session Was…A Bit of Growth.
Friday night against the Timberwolves, the Wizards were victimized by their inability to keep a lead, bad defense and “bully ball”—as Martell Webster (un)affectionately called Minnesota’s domination on the boards (they out-rebounded the Wizards, 48-35), on the free throw line (the Timberwolves made 31 of 38 attempts, the Wizards made 14 of 17), and Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic combined for 43 points and 21 rebounds. Coach Wittman said after the game he wanted his team to forget about the game, but he wanted to see growth.
One night later against a Pistons frontcourt that boasts Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, and the erratic Josh Smith, the Wizards once again jumped out to a big lead (19-8), and then allowed the Pistons back in the game, 42-37. But this time, thanks to strong second quarters by Beal (10 points), Wall (10 points and four assists), and an advantage on the boards (the Wizards won that battle 46-38), Washington didn’t let their oversized friends from Detroit come all the way back.
It is worth mentioning here that Josh Smith seemed even more disinterested than usual and Andre Drummond seem to catch the one-day version of whatever sluggish disease Smith has had all season. Still, the Wizards followed Coach Wittman’s instructions, put the second-half blowout against the Timberwolves behind them, and administered one of their own against the Pistons.
Said Wittman after the game:
“I thought that right from the jump ball we took the fight in a physical manner that we didn’t at all last night. This is a team very similar to Minnesota in terms of their bigs and what they can do in the paint and on the boards. That was really good to see and a good bounce back win for us after a disappointing game last night. It’s mind over matter when you get in at three o’clock in the morning and have to play after a tough loss.
“I told the guys when we left the locker room in Minnesota, ‘Alright, we’re not talking about this game anymore. Let’s put it out of our minds. Let’s learn from it, but put it out of our minds. Let’s go win a game back home.’ “
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
Randy Wittman’s opening remarks after the win over Detroit, unprompted by a question:
“Well, we got back a little bit of our identity that I thought we lost last night coming out of the Christmas break, of … We can only play one way and that’s with a physical presence on the floor.”
Wittman on keeping Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe off the boards:
“Physical presence, means just that: being physical. Not just turning and looking at the ball go up, but putting bodies on people. Guards coming in and putting bodies on people to help out. It’s pretty simple but something that’s not always done.”
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
4 out of 5 stars
30 mins | plus-24 | 20 pts | 8-14 FGs | 0-1 3Ps | 4-5 FTs | 11 asts | 0 stls | 3 TOs
Wall did most of his damage in the first 24 minutes of the game, just as he did the previous night in Minnesota. The difference tonight? He got others involved. He got Trevor Ariza the ball for wide open corner 3s, he assisted on eight of Bradley Beal’s 10 points at the end of the second quarter which effectively put the game out of reach. He did allow Brandon Jennings and Will Bynum to get in the lane at will one night after allowing Ricky Rubio to do the same, but his main job tonight was to lead the team after the previous night’s disappointment, and he did just that.
He also did this:
4 out of 5 stars
20 mins | plus-22 | 15 pts | 6-12 FGs | 3-4 3Ps | 0-0 FTs | 4 asts | 0 stls | 2 rebs | 0 TO
A collective sigh of relief filled the Verizon Center when Beal was announced as a starter only 24 hours after being carried off the Timberwolves’ court with what turned out to be a banged knee. We can talk about Beal’s Antawn Jamison-like overreaction to injuries at another time. Beal, like the rest of his teammates, turned in an efficient offensive performance, doing most of his damage (10 points) in the game-sealing 14-0 run to end the first half. —A. Rubin
3.5 out of 5 stars
26 mins | plus-30 | 15 pts | 5-11 FGs | 4-6 3Ps | 1-2 FTs | 6 asts | 5 rebs | 3 stls
Ariza atoned for his abysmal performance against the Timberwolves, with one of his finest all-around games of the year. He was a facilitator in the first half with five assists, but he did not do much by way of scoring. In the third quarter, Ariza came alive on both ends of the floor with 10 points and two steals, and played a major role in the Wizards extending their lead from 19 to 26 points. —R. Mobley
4 out of 5 stars
32 mins | plus-11 | 10 pts | 5-8 FGs | 9 rebs (4 offensive) | 4 asts | 1 blk | 2 TOs
As much blame is put on the perimeter guys when the Wizards allow opponents to attack their rim, such as in Minnesota, it should also be considered that some of Booker’s success against the Pistons is due to those same perimeter players. Against Detroit, containment of dribble penetration improved and game-planned hedge-downs on bigs and positioning otherwise helped do the trick against Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
OK, so let’s stop taking away from Trevor Booker. He played a brilliant game against the physically imposing Pistons front line. The Cook Book used his muscle, he chased long rebounds as if he knew where they would bounce, and he made a nice, composed post move leaving Monroe in the dust. Wizards players from John Wall when I spoke with him before the game to Nene in the scrum after the game, all agree: Booker starting has worked thus far, so why mess with a potentially good thing? (At least for now…) —K. Weidie
4 out of 5 stars
27 mins | plus-22 | 16 pts | 7-9 FGs | 2-2 FTs | 7 rebs | 2 blk | 1 ast | 2 TO
Apparently Marcin Gortat did not get the memo about the Piston’s overpowering frontcourt. Gortat owned the offensive paint in the first quarter, scoring four baskets within six feet of the rim to go along with four rebounds. He helped limit Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe to a combined 18 points and four offensive rebounds.
After the game Gortat explained his improvement from the last time Washington played the Pistons on opening night: “It was right after the trade and pretty much it was 48 hours—three days with the team—that I had to play the first game so I am quite sure I was slightly better this game than I was the first game.”
It will be interesting to see how Detroit’s big men respond in the rematch on Monday night. —A. Rubin
3 out of 5 stars
18 mins | plus-0 | 3 pts | 1-4 FGs | 1-2 FTs | 2 asts | 3 rebs | 4 stls | 2 blks | 1 TO
The game was out of reach for most of the 18 minutes that Temple was on the floor but if we have learned one thing this season, it’s that no lead is safe when the bench comes in. So, give Temple credit for maintaining the lead while he was running the offense. Temple’s four steals and two blocks are a testament to the pick-up game quality which permeates the fourth quarter of an NBA blowout. —A. Rubin
1 out of 5 stars
25 mins | plus-3 | 7 pts | 3-11 FGs | 1-5 3Ps | 0-0 FTs | 2 rebs | 4 TOs
Martell Webster should probably not hang around D.C. during the 2014 Christmas holiday. He hung around D.C. this year to maintain the sharpness of his shot, but for the second game in a row his shot was off the mark. The best he looked all night was in the first three minutes of the second quarter when he hit a 3-pointer to put the Wizards up 10, followed by this dunk, which should have been a three-point play opportunity:
3.5 out of 5 stars
19 mins | plus-12 | 7 pts | 2-4FGs | 3-4 FTs | 5 rebs | 3 asts| 2 stls | 3 TOs
Before he even stepped on the court, Nene racked up at least two points to the Lord. He checked in for Trevor Booker on his very own bobblehead night and found himself with a dunk a mere 10 seconds into his campaign (thanks to John Wall, smart guy). Keeping Nene happy is always the right thing to do, even if his stat line won’t get any parades in Brazil. (Nene still finished a plus-12 of the bench; Jan Vesely and Martell Webster were next best off the bench at plus-3.) Afterward, Nene claimed that he had no pride about starting, that the team was playing well with Booker in that roll. Until next diva time…—K. Weidie
2.5 out of 5 stars
21 mins | minus-4 | 4 pts | 2-8 FGs | 8 rebs | 1 ast
#Slenderman Otto had his best game as a pro, and even at this, a break-down-the-lane dunk, potentially assisted by Nene, was called off due to an offensive foul by Marcin Gortat. The Polish big was doing what he always does going down the court, trying to take up space, according to John Wall, but this time got caught. Nonetheless, Porter got his limbs on some deflections, bounced around to various spots on the court, grabbed a bunch of rebounds, and eventually, after five hard-fought misses, scored his first NBA bucket at the Verizon Center. Hey, it’s a step. —K. Weidie
Andre Drummond studies game-tape on an iPad with the unlikeliest of NBA assistant coaches, Rasheed Wallace. —A. Rubin
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