D.C. Council Game 33: Wizards 102 at Pelicans 96: Airwolf Makes It Look (Big) Easy in Crescent City | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council Game 33: Wizards 102 at Pelicans 96: Airwolf Makes It Look (Big) Easy in Crescent City

Updated: January 9, 2014

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. 33: Wizards vs Pelicans; contributors: Kyle Weidie, Conor Dirks, and Adam McGinnis from the former fringe of the polar vortex in Washington, D.C., and Sean Fagan from the somewhat colder, somewhat cooler Brooklyn, N.Y.

Washington Wizards 102 vs New Orleans Pelicans 96
[box score]

Jump to Council Player Ratings

The Opening Game Changer…



DC Council Key Legislature

As the sun set on the second quarter, a blood moon rose over the Crescent City. Jan Vesely’s 10 points at halftime, punctuated by a tip-in of a Wall miss (otherwise known as a “Grunfeld wet dream” in certain circles) with two seconds remaining, had the Pelicans double-teaming the boy-Honza-next door, who—on certain nights, when the moon is red and the stars weep—sheds his human skin and becomes something more, something awful, something Airwolf.

But Wizards, as we are all aware, will Wizard. Years of losing have left them unfamiliar with success, and unable to cope with the reality of NBA basketball: in every win, you’ll have to step on someone’s neck. Losses last week against the Raptors and Warriors flitted back into viewers’ collective memory, and the Pelicans (down 61-44 at halftime) started the third with a ton of energy (so much energy, even, that Eric Gordon looked like he wanted to be there). Just over three minutes into the third quarter, the Wizards were scoreless and the Pelicans were score-full, to the tune of eight straight points.





John Wall and Bradley Beal “activated.” The swing of the pickaxe that loosed the duo from their icy prison was a frustrating (in its prevalence, not its execution here on a Gortat screen) Bradley Beal 18-foot jumper that rocked the net about as sweetly as a grandmother rocking a newborn. Then, in what almost has to be considered the play of the evening, John Wall drove straight at four Pelicans from the top of the key, wrapped the ball behind his back as he stepped over and between the defenders, and shot the ball out to Bradley Beal in the corner for a wide-open 3-pointer, the likes of which will make Beal an All-Star, if he realizes what he’s got (cue “Big Yellow Taxi”).

One minute later, after a missed shot by Jrue Holiday and Marcin Gortat’s block on Alexis Ajinca’s layup attempt, Wall swung the ball to Beal again on the equivalent of a two-handed backhand tennis serve, and finding himself all alone, Beal broke Monty Williams’ heart, putting the Wizards up 69-52, and adding to a lead that became too big to blow before the Wizards almost blew it, but didn’t.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)


DC Council Chair

Boy Honza didn’t wear no cape in New Orleans—it wasn’t the voodoo. He pretty much did what he usually does—activity, rebounding, dunking, pointing for alley-oops like a kid off his Adderall in the early 2000s.

OK, so he did show more confidence (the swagger) than he ever has, and he did bust out a baby hook running through the lane a la summer league. Plus, did you see his screen shot pic from the TAI Storify? Arms definitely looking bigger. All of this is new to most, but yet another seen-before flash of potential is not. Thing is, in the death of the Pelican, Vesely might have put on his most encouraging flash yet.

But, as go #SoWizards, it’s only one game. Vesely could easily find himself buried under the minutes of Seraphin, Singleton, and Booker a week or so from now. The other kids want to eat, too, and there are only so many nipples on the mother cow.

But this is a step, a feel-good step. In particular because Vesely does all the little things, yet athletically, past dunks, he can do things, play at heights, that are rare. And that is, perhaps the biggest case for continued investment (more Honza time) … even if the Wizards relinquished the rights to his rookie contract.

All for the future, always about the future, but this evening, Young Jan was King of the Council castle.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)


DC Council Vetoed Participation

Otto Porter has been picked on enough. He made an olde college try on defense, otherwise, in his seven minutes, there wasn’t much participation to veto. And aside from Trevor Booker, everyone had a pretty good game. And Booker’s struggles, if you want to call them that, wasn’t really anything of his doing. Jan Vesely jumped out of Ted Leonsis’ birthday cake and became unavoidable for Randy Wittman. Plus, against Anthony Davis, Booker’s everyday struggle is at its worst;

If you want to really veto something, it’s John Wall and Bradley Beal’s too frequent inattentiveness toward getting back in transition defense.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)


DC Council Top Aide

Returning to one of his former NBA stops, Ariza was instrumental in the Wizards notching another road victory. Ariza began the game trolling #WizardsTwitter by launching repeated long 2s and questionable 3-pointers. On this Wednesday night, Trevor finally broke out of his shooting slump and the Hookah smoke was flowing thick. His adventurous dribbling was limited to a minimum—hell, at times it even worked out—and he was able to pick up easy buckets by crashing the boards effectively. The chill Cali native even showed some emotion after celebrating a wicked and-1.

With the Wizards attempting to blow the game, the team desperately needed some late buckets to put the Pelicans away and T. Kelly delivered with a huge corner 3-ball.

—Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis)


DC Council Session

That session was … the closest six-point blowout win in recent memory.

New Orleans out-scored Washington (30-15) in the final quarter, but was not able to make a full comeback. The Wizards built their lead in a spectacular second quarter. The much maligned second unit crushed the Pelicans at the jump and the starters continued the beating with good fortune. Jan Vesely was flying around, Wall was cooking and Wiz bigs were clogging the lane on D.

This team still lacks a killer edge to close teams out and their identity in only beating bad teams—mostly on the road—continues to define them. No matter the conditions, nine road wins before MLK Day is quite the accomplishment for this franchise.

—Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis)


DC Council Mayor

Ever the objectivist, Randy Wittman downplayed the role of home-court advantage and away-court disadvantage…

“I don’t buy into home and road. It’s 94 feet out there, the goals are 10 feet tall. We’re playing well on the road right now, there is no question about that, but I just worry that the guys understand how we’ve got to play. Not the result. How is it that we’ve got that result?”

Randy’s not buying it! Neither am I. But where I’m sure my path diverges in the wood from Coach Wittman’s is that I think the process was less a result of delivering a promised product, and more a result of making some shots that the team has been missing, and facing a below-average team (now that Ryan Anderson has been waylaid by a herniated disk). This is, as Wittman pointed out, an NBA basketball court which houses an NBA basketball team, so a win is a win. But flash-in-the-pan excellence will be just that until the Wizards can outplay a bona fide contender, or at least beat a few teams that are over .500 (currently the Wizards have only one win in 12 tries against over-.500 teams).

Part of that is coaching, and with a full roster (minus Harrington and Rice Jr.), Wittman will have to start embracing the agency of a decision-maker rather than constantly blaming losses (and qualifying wins, even, if I’m reading the above quote correctly) on whether his team was ready, or whether they were selfish, on any given NBA court, whether it be in Washington, D.C., or on the road.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)

DC Council Players 

Airwolf Airlines, First Class…


John Wall

3.5 out of 5 stars

33 mins | plus-5 | 20 pts | 6-14 FGs | 3-4 3Ps | 5-8 FTs | 4 rebs | 6 asts | 2 stls | 4 TOs

Wall was not his dominant self, and his lackadaisical ball-handling allowed the Pelicans to go on a late charge. But once again, he closed out the game with a huge defensive play by stealing the ball from PG Brian Roberts in the final minute. While his backcourt-mate Beal avoids driving, Wall attacks the rim and in New Orleans finished on several sweet moves. He also set up his teammates with dope dishes. Wall has developed a recent knack for making improbable shots and he banked in a 40-foot 3-pointer. —A. McGinnis

Bradley Beal

3 out of 5 stars

30 mins | minus-6 | 17 pts | 6-13 FGs | 3-6 3Ps | 2-4 FTs | 1 rebs | 4 asts | 1 TO | 2 PFs

Bradley Beal is going to take long 2-pointers until someone makes him stop. I’ve come to terms with that. When he makes them (Beal was 3-for-7 on 2-point jumpers), you tend to just focus on how pretty his shot is. It didn’t hurt that Beal scored in “other” standard NBA ways (he was 3-for-6 on 3-pointers and actually took four free throws, making two). But despite his third quarter salvo, where he made Washington’s first three shots of the quarter, and brought them back from their first collapse, Beal missed all five of his shots in the fourth quarter, none of which were near the basket. —C. Dirks

[Ed. note: Beal’s four free throw attempts came via the NBA bonus rule. He has yet to earn a trip to the line in 2014. —JCT]

Trevor Ariza

4 out of 5 stars

38 mins | minus-23 | 21 pts | 9-17 FGs | 2-7 3Ps | 1-1 FTs | 10 rebs | 2 asts| 1 TO

“Aw man, it still isn’t the offseason?” Trevor Ariza must have thought before last night’s game. After a series of games that saw #SoHookah phoning it in from Uzbekistan, Ariza woke up in a cold sweat and realized that there is a strong chance that neither the Clippers, Lakers nor Kings will want him come this summer. He also realized that he plays with one of the few PGs in the NBA capable of utilizing his talents to their maximum efficiency. In that truly infuriating Ariza way, he went on to have a monster night, throwing up insane put-backs, grabbing boards and making life miserable for the rotund marine birds. One would applaud the effort of the Alex Semin of the Wizards if one were not 90 percent sure he is going to mail it in on Friday against the Pacers. I mean, it’s like cold in Indiana, man. —S. Fagan

Trevor Booker

0.5 out of 5 stars

16 mins | minus-2 | 2 pts | 1-2 FGs | 4 rebs | 1 ast | 0 TOs

Trevor’s solid burn in the starting lineup finally came to end in New Orleans. The undersized Booker was neutralized by the lengthy Anthony Davis. He became tentative on the offensive end and was largely a non-factor. But Cook Book was the star member of the #WizardsWobble. —A. McGinnis

Marcin Gortat

2 out of 5 stars

31 mins | plus-5 | 11 pts | 3-10 FGs | 5-6 FTs | 14 rebs | 1 ast | 2 stl| 2 blk

Despite being, as John Converse Townsend put it in his proxy-resolution, a “very large human,” Gortat has struggled to convert baskets near the rim. Against the Pelicans, Gortat’s three makes were all almost identically situated, two-foot shots from the right side of the basket. Gortat missed everything from straightaway and to the left, jumper or otherwise. But credit Gortat for this: through the first three quarters, Anthony Davis only scored inside once, on a fast-break dunk that couldn’t have been defended even if Gortat was in the area code. During the Pelicans’ fourth-quarter rally, the voodoo-tune tone-shifted macabre for Gortat’s inside presence, but some of that was on Wall and Beal, who weren’t doing enough work to slow down the diving Pelicans in the halfcourt. Fourteen rebounds? Trevor Booker nods in approval. —C. Dirks

Martell Webster

1 out of 5 stars

21 mins | plus-7 | 6 pts | 2-6 FGs | 2-3 3Ps | 0-0 FTs | 2 rebs

Martell only made two shots, but they were both key 3-pointers that helped propel the Wizards’ massive second-quarter run. Webster will have to contribute more if the Washington is going to pull out a victory in weekend games versus Indiana and Houston. —A. McGinnis


3.5 out of 5 stars

27 mins | minus-3 | 11 pts | 4-6 FGs | 3-5 FTs | 4 rebs | 3 asts | 1 blk | 4 TOs

Stats once again sometimes lie. Without Nene playing QB on the second unit, Jan Vesely doesn’t go nuts and the 3-point specialists don’t get their open looks. Nene’s bout with the ouchies may have been the best possible outcome for this team because the bench has transformed under his leadership from the worst in the league to a group that can “sometimes” keep a lead or even extend it. If Nene wants to use his special relationship with God to make Otto Porter into something relevant, well all I can do is #PrayWithNene. —S. Fagan

Garrett Temple

2.5 out of 5 stars

15 mins | plus-1 | 2 pts | 1-3 FGs | 0-1 3Ps | 6 asts | 1 stl | 1 block | 0 TOs

During last season’s end-of-year media interviews, the Louisiana native was asked about New Orleans changing their name to the Pelicans. Temple was not a fan. From Ben Standing of CSN Washington:

“Out of the 30 NBA teams, I really wished it wouldn’t be New Orleans,” Wizards guard Garrett Temple said. Having grown up in Baton Rouge and played collegiality for LSU, Temple understands the significance of the Pelican to the Bayou state. That’s just not enough for his endorsement. I learned about that in sixth grade in Louisiana history that the Pelican was the state bird,” Temple noted. “Not that I’ve seen a lot of pelicans in New Orleans.”

Well, Temple might dislike the bird but he did a pelican impersonation, swooping in from behind to block Tyreke Evans on a fast break. Garrett’s steady ball-handling and six assists were positive contributions to the Wiz’s second unit. —A. McGinnis

Jan Vesely

5 out of 5 stars

23 mins | plus-13 | 12 pts | 6-8 FGs | 0-2 FTs | 7 rebs | 1 blks | 1 TO

Two Council Chairs in one week. It’s more than just ironic exhilaration. Vesely has long resembled an “energy guy off the bench,” one of the malleable basketball concepts that sometimes manifests itself in the form of humans who grab offensive rebounds, tip-ins, block shots, and try their darndest. But he hasn’t always been that guy. With a microscope, observers can plainly see the flaws in the recreation: his hands are bricks, he can’t hit free throws, he… SHUT UP, CONOR.

Vesely only played 23 minutes against the Pelicans, but he grabbed five offensive rebounds, shocked the New Orleans crowd with a gazelle sky hook, grabbed graceful oops and barely touched the rim on the way down, and, finally, to the shame of Pelicans everywhere, drew a double-team, trumpeting his arrival as an NBA player. He was a joy to watch. —C. Dirks


End Note: Takeaway Vines


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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.