D.C. Council Game 43: Wizards 101 at Jazz 104: Out of Tune With Above .500 Music
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. 43: Wizards at Jazz; contributors: Adam Rubin, Rashad Mobley, and Adam McGinnis from their homes in the District of Columbia
Washington Wizards 101 at Utah Jazz 104
Randy Doesn’t like … stuff.
Aside from the glaring late-game break down that led Trevor Ariza to launch an ill-advised 3-point shot, two other sequences were instrumental in Washington losing to the Jazz.
After impressive ball movement, the Wizards built a 43-30 lead with eight minutes left in the second quarter. They appeared to have the game under control and their maligned second unit was showing positive signs of life. Then Utah went on a 19-4 run—led by Alec Burks and Enes Kanter—to take their first lead of the game. The Jazz would never get behind more than six points again.
From the end of the third quarter to the beginning of the fourth quarter, Utah’s 18-6 run propelled them to a lead that they would never relinquish. Both of these runs exposed Washington’s bench once again. Utah’s reserves outscored Wizards reserves 52-18 and served as the difference in Saturday night’s contest.
—Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)
Maybe it’s because he’s close to his native Los Angeles, or maybe it had something to do with the lackadaisical defense of Richard Jefferson, but for the second consecutive game, Trevor Ariza scored 23 points and returned to contract-year form. His hot shooting was especially important in the first quarter, when Bradley Beal and John Wall seemed to be feeling the effects of playing their second game in as many nights and shot just 1-for-6. Ariza went 4-for-6 from the field, including 3-for-4 from the 3-point line, with 11 points.
Although Ariza did pull a disappearing act in the second and third quarters, he reappeared late in the fourth with two big 3-point shots as the Wizards unsuccessfully tried to mount a late rally. The Wizards are at their best (as they demonstrated in Phoenix on Friday night) when all three perimeter starters (Wall, Beal and Ariza) are clicking and making their respective defenders over-think. The Wizards lost on Saturday because Beal and Wall did not hold up their end of the pact the way Ariza did.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
To whom much is given, much is required. Ted Leonsis gave John Wall the maximum amount of money allowed under the collective bargaining agreement this off-season. It would have been nice if he showed up for the Utah Jazz game. Wall looked disinterested from the opening tip. Less than three minutes into the game, Glenn Consor lamented on the radio that he would like to walk down to the court and tell Wall to pick up the pace. It never happened.
Wall has a nagging habit of losing defensive focus against seemingly inferior talent. He did it against Paul Pressey and again against Trey Burke. He lost track of Burke on multiple possessions—most notably on Burke’s 3-pointer with 1:23 left in the fourth quarter which extended Utah’s lead to six. Wall left Burke unattended beyond the arc at the left elbow to cheat into the lane to intercept a pick-and-roll pass from Gordon Hayward to Kanter. When Hayward saw Wall overcommit to Kanter, he swung the ball cross-court to a wide-open Burke. It was a bad decision and a lazy play.
—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)
It’s a short list of candidates for top aide. No one is especially deserving. Bradley Beal made an early case with eight assists through the first few minutes of the third quarter, but he disappeared down the stretch, shot 5-for-16, and finished minus-12 in 31 minutes. Marcin Gortat’s line was decent, but he did not register a point in the fourth quarter when the Wizards desperately needed a spark. So, the coveted award goes to Nene, if only for his two dunks over Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter in the fourth quarter. Kanter had his way with the Wizards’ big men all night, but for two brief, shining moments Nene showed him what’s what.
I know, I know, two baskets is not that impressive, especially when Kanter was 11-for-13. But like I said, it was a short list. And Nene was 9-for-16 himself. OK, let’s move on.
—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)
That session … had me feeling envious.
Bench players basically have two main jobs: 1) Allow the starters to rest; and 2) Provide a spark on the nights when the starters do not have their best stuff. The Jazz starters looked lethargic and a step slow at the end of the first quarter, and in stepped Enes Kanter (10 points), Alec Burks (six points) and Brandon Rush (five points). Not only did their inspired play get the Jazz back in the game, but they erased the Wizards’ nine-point lead and managed to take a two-point lead of their own. Kanter finished with a game-high 24 points, Burke had 15, and the bench scored 52 of the team’s 104 points.
The Wizards’ bench, which was already weakened by Martell Webster seemingly still feeling the effects of possible food poisoning, provided no such relief. Trevor Booker did relatively nothing, Garrett Temple was steady, but not game-changing, and Kevin Seraphin scored all of his points in the second quarter when he tried (and failed) to go toe-to-toe with Kanter.
On a night when no one but Ariza had the hot hand, and John Wall was admittedly fatigued, it certainly would have helped if the Wizards had at least one yeoman effort off the bench.
As an aside, the postgame session was … concerning. Marcin Gortat, when asked about the Wizards’ inability to break the.500 threshold, said (via the Washington Post):
“Maybe we’re cursed”
Someone should pull Gortat aside and let him know the “Curse o’ Lez Boulez” is real and (un)spectacular.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
For whatever reason, there seem to be more TAI pixels dedicating to defending Randy Wittman than other online spots for Wizards gatherers. I was against the Wizards replacing Flip Saunders with Wittman but have wanted to judge his performance fairly, and with context and nuance. He didn’t sign Al Harrington or Eric Maynor.* The 2013 Draft has yet to pay off any dividends. He didn’t acquire the worst bench in the NBA or extend the contract of an undeserving Andray Blatche (who still is paid by the Wizards to produce for another team).
[*Ed. Note: Of course, we don't know how much influence different coaches in the NBA have in terms of signing or drafting players. For instance, Clint Peterson relayed in the Jazz opening statements that coach Tyrone Corbin pushed Utah GM Dennis Lindsey to draft Trey Burke; Lindsey obviously listened. —K.W.]
One year ago exactly, I wrote this piece on Randy Wittman. The premise was that the injury excuses were over, and it was time to evaluate his job. He eventually passed Leonsis’ test (and mine) when the Wiz became a formidable foe in the second half of last season. Wittman earned another shot at running this club.
I picked apart some of his coaching decisions for the Wizards’ last game in Utah. So hey, let’s do it again! The bench gave the team a surprising spark in the second quarter, but he definitely left them in too long, and Utah got their momentum rolling. Wittman rolled out an offensively-challenged lineup of Temple, Ariza, Webster, Booker, and Gortat in the second half. It is hard to rip on him for Beal’s minutes limit situation, because his staff should be monitoring it.
Washington was down three with 20 seconds left and it was a perfect chance for a quick two. The Wizards were without a timeout, unable to advance the ball to half court, but that is less of a concern with 20 seconds remaining, because they would still have a chance to set up a good look for 3 after Utah free throws. Instead, they ran a long play that ended up breaking down with Ariza—for some bizarre reason—launching a terrible 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining on the clock.
Not having a final timeout to advance the ball, down three, proved costly, and it is something that Wittman likely lost sleep over. The worst part for Wittman is not fans in online communities wanting him axed, it is the relentless questions from the media of the Wiz’s inability to get a sliver above .500 that are surely coming his way until it happens.
—Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)
1 out of 5 stars
34 mins | plus-4 | 13 pts | 4-14 FGs | 1-3 3Ps | 4-4 FTs | 6 rebs | 4 asts | 1 stl | 4 TOs
Wall’s lack of effort was doubly disappointing given the team’s recent history of lackadaisical play in .500 games. Wall is the captain and engine that drives the team. He must take some responsibility for the team’s repeated failures in winnable games. Wall made a brief cameo on offense in the final five minutes, scoring seven of his 13 points, including an ugly 3-point bank shot with 3.6 seconds left. But it was too little, too late. —A. Rubin
3.5 out of 5 stars
31 mins | minus-12 | 14 pts | 5-16 FGs | 0-3 3Ps | 4-4 FTs | 5 rebs | 8 asts | 3 stls | 1 TO
It was admirable of Beal to put the Wizards’ loss on his shoulders by saying he should have hit more shots (Wall, on the other hand, blamed fatigue), but in reality Beal was not at fault. In fact, Beal did what Randy Wittman has been asking his players to do when their shots aren’t falling, and he found other ways to help the team.
He not only ran the point in the second quarter, but on several occasions Beal was John Wall-like in his ability to push the ball up the court and create fast break opportunities. It would have been helpful if he reprised his smooth-as-eggs closer role from the Phoenix game, but Beal certainly cannot take the blame for this loss in Utah. —R. Mobley
3.5 out of 5 stars
35 mins | plus-7 | 23 pts | 8-14 FGs | 6-10 3Ps | 1-2 FTs | 5 rebs | 1 ast | 1 TO
Much like Beal, who tried to blame the Wizards’ loss on his bad shooting, Ariza was hard on himself for rushing and missing a shot with 11.1 seconds left that would have tied the game, telling the Post’s Michael Lee:
“It was a bad shot, terrible shot. I should’ve tried to get to the basket.”
It was a bad shot, and it is admirable for Ariza to feel that way, but Randy Wittman drew that play up for Beal, who slipped. And the reason the Wizards were within three points was Ariza’s 3-point shot with 52.9 seconds left in the game. Ariza was the Wizards’ most reliable offensive option all night, and if there was a bone to pick with his performance, it would be his lack of disruption on the defensive end of the floor. He did not have a steal, although in his defense, it isn’t easy to get pumped to guard Richard Jefferson. —R. Mobley
3 out of 5 stars
33 mins | plus -2 | 19 pts | 9-16 FGs | 1-2 FTs | 6 rebs | 2 asts | 1 blk | 1 TO
Nene has been labelled a “diva” for many reasons. The obvious being that he goes by only by one name. The others are his constant complaining to referees and the perception that he doesn’t play through his assorted ailments. An unexplored angle is how he acts around the team when things go awry, as he rarely admits fault for a bad play. Late during the Suns game, there was a huddle where Nene was going off in his demonstrative manner, and no one challenged him. Even the hard-assed Wittman allowed Nene to rant away.
Against the Jazz, Nene had to foul because Gortat missed a rotation by the rim. Nene barked at his bromance buddy, and Gortat deferred immediately. Maybe Nene was innocent or guilty, regardless, such public displays could be something to monitor as the season progresses into the second half. Luckily, Nene backs it up on the court with toughness and power. Nene cut his turnovers down and had some sick dunks against the Jazz. He was also more effective in pick-and-roll situations than post ups. Derrick Favors got the best of him on the boards, but it was quite a grown man battle. —A. McGinnis
3 out of 5 stars
35 mins | plus -7 | 14 pts | 6-12 FGs | 2-2 FTs | 11 rebs | 0 asts | 1 stl | 2 blks | 0 TOs
Spending some quality time with his baby in his old home of Phoenix on Friday, I expected a possible hangover for Marcin Gortat in Salt Lake City. (His baby is his car, by the way.) But there was not a let down from the Polish Hammer on Saturday, who finally had a good game in Utah. There was, however, a bad sequence of him not looking for the ball on a John Wall pass that ended up in a turnover, and a failed flop might get him a message from the league office. Kanter and Favors did some damage in the paint, and Gortat should bear responsibility for some of that, but he did put up a double-double. —A. McGinnis
1.5 out of 5 stars
15 mins | minus-3 | 2 pts | 1-4 FGs | 0-0 FTs | 4 rebs | 1 ast | 0 PFs
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Trevor Booker faces a team with a front court that has height and bulk, and his powers are neutered and his minutes are limited. Booker’s sole highlight was a nice touch pass to Martell Webster to give the Wizards their largest lead of the game, 43-30. —R. Mobley
1 out of 5 stars
27 mins | minus-3 | 4 pts | 2-5 FGs | 0-3 3Ps | 4 rebs | 2 asts
Martell sat out against the Suns due to an illness that he was still battling in Utah. Other than his two layups in transition, he was mostly a non-factor versus the Jazz. Webster is a serviceable defender, but he was abused repeatedly by Gordon Hayward. The next few days off will help Martell get healthy and hopefully back to his productive ways. —A. McGinnis
1.5 out of 5 stars
14 mins | minus-9 | 6 pts | 1-4 FGs | 0-1 3Ps | 4-4 FTs | 2 rebs | 0 asts | 1 stls | 1 TO
Temple has been fairly consistent this season filling in for Eric Maynor while he keeps Chris Singleton company on the bench. But not Saturday night. The offense reverted back to its early-season ineptitude when Temple was on the floor. Although to be fair, outside of Nene, Ariza and Gortat, nobody was efficient on offense. —A. Rubin
2 out of 5 stars
13 mins | minus-10 | 6 pts | 3-5 FGs | 0-0 FTs | 3 rebs | 1 asts | 0 blk | 1 TO
Kevin Seraphin meet Enes Kanter. The Turkish big man had a field day down low against Seraphin (and the rest of the Wizards’ frontline) en route to 24 points on 11-for-13 shooting. After shining against Dwight Howard, I thought Seraphin would fare better against Kanter’s bruising style. He didn’t. Enes used some fancy footwork to jump-hook the Wizards to death. —A. Rubin
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