The Week(s) in Wizards, the basketball ones — A New Year with .500 Problems | Truth About It.net

The Week(s) in Wizards, the basketball ones — A New Year with .500 Problems

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Updated: January 28, 2014

We’re a few days short of February, and the Wizards are still hovering around (but not over) the elusive .500 mark. In fact that mark has been so difficult to achieve, that after Saturday night’s loss to the Utah Jazz, Marcin Gortat openly wondered if the team is cursed. (Yes, it is.) This discussion surrounding the Wizards breaking .500 for the first time since 2009 has been in play since the first game of 2014 against the Dallas Mavericks. And considering the TAI crew is behind on their “Week in Wizards” posts, and the Wizards are still on the wrong side of that threshold, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to re-review what happened the first 11 days of the year.

Let’s go to the pixels…


Jan. 1: Wizards 78 vs Mavericks 87: Wiz Trip Over .500, Stumble into New Year

Memorable Moments: In the first game of 2014, the Wizards shot 37 percent from the floor, and the Mavericks weren’t much better by shooting 38 percent. Both teams played with the type of lethargy encouraged by New Year’s Eve benders. Trevor Booker was the lone Wizards standout in defeat with 10 points and a career-high 19 rebounds.

TAI’s Kyle Weidie (via the D.C. Council):

Top aide? Well, no one on the Wizards really helped. The Mavericks gave the home team a chance by shooting just as poorly from the field as Washington (DAL – 38.5%, WAS – 37.5%), but Dallas also helped their own cause by getting to the free throw line for 23 attempts, making 21. The Wizards could only muster 10 free throw attempts, making seven.

Perhaps lost in the ugliness of poor shooting and an inability to make it uglier with more free throws is that Dallas secured 12 offensive rebounds and 14 second-chance points (5-for-10 FGs, and the remainder earned via free throws). The Wizards got three more offensive rebounds than the Mavs (15), and took six more second-chance field goals attempts (16), but only made three of those for six second-chance points.

Wittman’s Take:

 

Tweet of the Day (via Game Storify):

20140101-tweet-conorddirks

 


Jan. 3: Wizards 88 vs Raptors 101: Me Ball Smacked Away By the Toronto Drakes

Memorable Moments: Getting outscored 36-16 in a quarter by the Toronto Raptors is not exactly a moment to be commemorating in hindsight, but that was the Wizards’ reality. Washington shot 18 percent, committed seven turnovers, and allowed the Raptors to shoot 56 percent, including 75 percent from the 3-point line.

TAI’s Kyle Weidie (via the D.C. Council):

Beal was more feeling himself on an early made jumper from the midrange baseline than he was concerned about keeping up with Terrence Ross, once falling way behind him off the ball and another time losing him all together to gamble for a steal. Ross countered with two 3-pointers.

Beal then had a nice chase-down block of Kyle Lowry, which people will remember. What people won’t remember is an inattentive John Wall almost immediately getting his pocket picked by Lowry, Beal throwing up his arms in exasperation, and then on the other end, Beal’s guy, Ross again, hitting his third 3-pointer in the first two and a half minutes of the quarter.

Coming out of a timeout, Beal had a goofy grin on his face. And on the first offensive possession, he took a handoff from Gortat and threw up the longest 2-pointer possible with two Toronto Raptors contesting. It clanged off the rim.

The Wizards, partially due to Beal’s soft defense against a driving Lowry, subsequently let Toronto get four or five consecutive chances to tip the ball in the basket from point-blank range. After it finally dropped, putting the Raptors up 61-49, boo birds started to fly in the Verizon Center. And that was the game.

Play of the Game:

Tweet of the Night (via Game Storify):

20140103-clintonyates-tweet

 


Jan. 4: Wizards 96 vs Warriors 112: #WittmanFace Frontrunners ‘Zapped’ by Lacking Energy

Memorable Moment: Just one game after getting outscored by 20 points against the Raptors in the third quarter, the Wizards went and got themselves outscored by 19 points against the Warriors in the same quarter the very next day. After the game, Randy Wittman called his team frontrunners, and questioned both their energy level and their judgement. Meanwhile, Warriors coach Mark Jackson had nothing but praise for his team’s effort:

“I got a group of guys that when you come in at halftime, they know what I’m about to say, they’re experienced, I got a veteran basketball team, and they know what we do right and what we do wrong. They are ready and prepared and they hold themselves accountable, and they did a great job of responding in that third quarter.”

TAI’s Sean Fagan (via the D.C. Council):

Key words to that make you pause in this statement: front runnersenergymistakes. Now I don’t believe that Wittman is passing blame on to his team, but these are three things that the coaching staff can address and has failed to get through to the team for the entire season. Holding players accountable, getting them fired up, helping limit unforced errors, these issues continue to plague the Wizards and plague Wittman’s tenure over the team. There isn’t a magic bullet to turn the Wizards into a team that consistently shows up to play, but some part of the message isn’t working right now and needs to be modulated.

Coach Wittman’s Comments:

 

Tweet of the Night (via Game Storify):

20140105-benagent0-tweet

 


Jan. 7: Wizards 97 at Bobcats 83: A Road Win Spelled D-E-F-E-N-S-E

Memorable Moments: The Wizards shed their third quarter woes and put the Charlotte Bobcats away with a 17-0 run, led by Booker and Wall who combined for 13 points. Jan Vesely also did this:

 

TAI’s Sean Fagan (via the D.C. Council):

No, the Wizards were not the Grizzlies of two years ago, but a defensive mindset was evident for at least one evening. After three games in which the Wizards had no sense of offensive flow, it was nice to see the ill-timed jump shots and horrible bricks emanating from the men in orange trim and Carolina blue. If you are going to run a slow-paced NBA offense, you had better show the necessary commitment, and for once the Wizards decided that the effort was worth the payoff.

Play of the Game:

Vesley’s dunk would have won, were it not for this John Wall pass:

 

Tweet of the Night (via Game Storify):

20140107-el_doubarge07-tweet

 

The Return of Finger Guns?

 


Jan. 8: Wizards 102 at Pelicans 96: Airwolf Makes It Look (Big) Easy in Crescent City

Memorable Moments:  The night belonged to Jan Vesely who had 12 points, seven rebounds (five offensive), and did his best to mirror a poor man’s version of the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis. Trevor Ariza also emerged from his mini-slump and put up a double-double (21 points and 10 rebounds) against his former team. But the night was Honza’s.

TAI’s Kyle Weidie (via the D.C. Council):

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.

Play(s) of the Game (The Unsung Heroes Version):

 

Tweet of the Night (via Game Storify):

20140108-bulletsforever-tweet

 


Jan. 10: Wizards 66 at Pacers 93: Middling Effort in Front of #WittmanFace Fam

Memorable moments: Sadly there were no memorable moments to be had from this debacle of a game. There were fleeting good moments like when Nene went coast-to-coast or when John Wall went to behind-the-back gather at full speed he seems to fancy so much. [Ed. note: Been saying for years he's the best in the NBA at that move. -JCT] But as the score indicates, this was a blowout, and the Wizards got a front row seat to see why the Indiana Pacers were (and still are) currently the East’s best team.

TAI’s Rashad Mobley (via the D.C. Council):

Normally after games like this, the good folks here at TAI use the Council Chair slot on a player who wasn’t great, but didn’t suck as much as the others did. If I had to choose, Bradley Beal fits that bill after Friday night’s loss to the Pacers, only because he led the team with 17 points. But, much like Dan LeBatard who discarded his Baseball Hall of Fame vote, rather than vote under circumstances he deemed unfair, I am refusing to pick an M.V.P.

The Wizards did not shoot well, they were out-rebounded 61-41, they could not take advantage of an off-shooting night by Paul George (eight points on 2-for-14 FGs), an off-shooting night by Roy Hibbert (12 points on 4-for-10 FGs), and they had more turnovers (14) than assists (13). There’s nothing valuable about any of that from the Wizards’ perspective.

Play of the Game:

Remember in high school when the basketball coach would say if all five of his players touched the ball, without it hitting the ground once, he’d spring for ice cream? I think the Wizards may have gotten lucky after this play:

Tweet of the Night (via Game Storify):

Randy Wittman’s mother and father showed up:

20140110-truth_about_it-tweet

But Lance Stephenson released a special kind of storm on their son and his team:

 


Jan. 11: Wizards 107 vs Rockets 114: Washington Drained by a Hole in the Roof

20140111-wizards-rockets-leak-trash-can

Memorable Moments:  There were two rain delays, a large Rockets lead that turned out to be just as leaky as the Verizon Roof, a mid-rain delay one-on-one match between Dwight Howard and a kid, and a Wizards comeback that fell short. In defeat, Trevor Ariza played James Harden tough (25 points), while putting up 23 points, 14 rebounds and five steals of his own. When the night was over, the Wizards uneven effort was characterized by Coach Randy Wittman as AAU-like.

TAI’s Kyle Weidie (via D.C. Council):

Meanwhile, Wittman was left questioning his team in a number of ways.

“If we come out like we do at home, nonchalant, taking it for granted, no sense of urgency, shortcut everything, which is what we did the first two and a half quarters….” That was part of what would become a laundry list of issues from the coach.

And later on, when asked a question about the success of Kevin Seraphin, Wittman went back to his point:

“The main point is at home here … we just have no—you know, I don’t know what the term—sense of urgency in coming home and protecting home. And we don’t. We just go out and play like it’s an AAU game.”

In the locker room afterward, I asked Trevor Ariza what he saw, describing his coach’s prognosis of lacking urgency and ‘AAU ball’. Ariza’s opening response:

“AAU ball? Dang, coach.”

Play of the Game:

Tweet of the Night (via Game Storify):

20140111-ryanjkelly-tweet

 

Next up:  The week(s) in Wizards: Jan. 13 to 19, and Jan. 20 to 26.

 


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