D.C. Council Game 36: Wizards 102 at Bulls 88: 8-Man Rotation Steadies Ship in Windy City | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council Game 36: Wizards 102 at Bulls 88: 8-Man Rotation Steadies Ship in Windy City

Updated: January 14, 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. 36: Wizards vs Bulls; contributors: Kyle Weidie, John Converse Townsend, and Sean Fagan from places not named Chicago.

Washington Wizards 102 at Chicago Bulls 88
[box score]

Jump to Council Player Ratings



DC Council Key Legislature

The Wizards played basketball on Monday night, and they won! Winning makes majority owner Ted Leonsis happy:

“The Wizards shot over 50 percent from the field by moving the ball and going inside out last night. We played tough defense and it activated the team’s running game. We led for the entire game and the win was of high quality because we executed to [sic] the game plan.”

Quality—even “high quality”—is subjective, though. Chicago entered last night’s contest below .500 but with a winning record at home (11-7). Despite being a playoff team in the (L)East, for now, the Bulls are somewhere between a rebuild and a tank job. Former MVP Derrick Rose is out for the season (again) and Luol Deng has been cast away to Cleveland.

Still, I suppose I must give credit where credit is due. The Wizards, under a billionaire’s mandate to make the postseason for the first time since 2007-08, took care of business. They needed an eight-man “playoff” rotation, featuring Nene in the starting lineup (36 minutes, the most since Nov. 2013), to do it, but they got the job done.

The Wiz Kids survived Tom Thibodeau’s guns, germs and steel, shooting 52 percent from the field (they are just the second team to shoot better than 50 percent in Chicago this season). Solid. Our fearless leader here at TAI, Kyle Weidie, called it a “complete game.”

Beating average-to-bad teams (like the 2013-14 Bulls) was one of my key’s to a Wizards postseason berth, which I shared in a 5-on-5 season preview on ESPN.com:

“Now, if Wall & Co. are serious about making the playoffs, they cannot afford to lose to sub-.500 teams (15-20 in 2012-13).”

A win against the Bulls may seem like cause for celebration, but it really should be more of an expectation, something routine. If you must cheer something, cheer the team’s road record: 10-10. They were 7-34 last season.

—John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)


DC Council Chair
Nene strolled out for tipoff to join the other members of the starting five and one had to wonder if an argument would be settled tonight: Are the Wizards incapable of beating decent teams with the Big Brazilian on the bench, or does he absolutely need to come off the bench to make the the second unit passable?

It turns out that Coach Randy Wittman and Nene invalidated both arguments as the Wizards went with their shortest bench of the season (running out only eight players) and Nene chugged along for 36 minutes. That the Bulls have “decided” to be bad doesn’t take away from Nene’s performance, because while Deng was shipped out of town and Derrick Rose is injured there is still Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah to contend with in the paint. That Nene held up against a feisty Bulls frontline and still managed to leave the court not encased in a body cast is enough to give him the Chair for the night.

—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)


DC Council Vetoed Participation

When Garrett Temple is banking in half-court shots, everyone shoots .500 or better (with the exception of John Wall) and Otto Porter/Kevin Seraphin don’t get on the floor and allow easy mockery then this section can take a break for at least one evening. Well, with the exception of Nene’s free throw shooting. Gotta get those freebies, big fella!

—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)


DC Council Top Aide

One part Trevor Ariza, one part the glaring absence of Luol “Lockdown” Deng.

#BSanalytics Club VIP Trevor Ariza scored 16 points on 10 shots (3-for-6 from beyond the arc) and also pulled down more rebounds (9) than all but two players: Marcin Gortat (11) and Joakim Noah (16). Rookie Tony Snell was a nuisance at times, hounding Ariza on defense, but Ariza kept his dribbling to a minimum, didn’t turn the ball over, and even won Wizards fans half-priced pizza from that creepy Papa John guy by getting the team into triple-digits with with a pair of free throws in the fourth quarter.

—John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)


DC Council Session

That Session Was … Complete.

Well, it was relatively complete. The Wizards won three of the four quarters, but lost the third, 25-22, once again emerging from the locker room after halftime with lackluster energy. Chicago started the second half on an 8-0 run, the Wizards called a 20-second timeout at the 8:48 mark, and then didn’t break the ice in the period until the 7:30 mark–both Wall and Beal missed point-blank layups in the early going.

The teams clawed back-and-forth and Chicago held strong within four points, of Washington 61-65, with four minutes to go in the third. Then Trevor Booker hit a 16-foot jump shot, and then John Wall happened. The point guard used his amazing speed and excellently developing court vision to create 3-point shots for both Trevor Ariza (in the left corner), and Martell Webster (on the right wing). That 8-0 run in a span of 63 seconds gave the Wizards a 12-point lead and the confidence to ultimately finish out the game. Chicago did get within five points with 5:28 to play, but the rhythm that had been built by the new original starters keep the horns at bay.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)


DC Council Mayor

Maybe Randy Wittman became jealous that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau seems to get the most out of his players. Maybe Wittman started to feel “ramped up” pressure after starting 2014 with a 2-5 record.

Whatever it was, he strictly went with players that he trusted most on Monday night in Chicago, which meant moving Nene back into the starting lineup next to Wall, Beal, Ariza, and Gortat, and only playing three players off the bench: Martell Webster, Trevor Booker and Garrett Temple.

Anxious minds on Twitter wondered and fretted over Otto Porter’s playing time. Stop it. Yes, he started the season behind the 8-ball. Yes, everyone needs to be patient with his game. Yes, he needs to get his feet wet (and has been given ample time since his debut to do so). But there will be time for more hand-holding later. It’s time for the Wizards to stop being stagnant on the pot and start defecating (on opponents). And while Otto’s play has ever-so-incrementally gotten better (meaning that he’s gone from not belonging on an NBA court to not getting his team killed when taking said court), Porter is still, at this point, nothing more than a warm body. And it make take years at 98.6 degrees for him to heat up in any substantial manner.

Otherwise, no, Wittman isn’t staunchly and stubbornly going to stick with an eight-man rotation from here on out. He’ll have to play more guys, he’ll have to look at matchups, and he’ll have to ensure that some main guys get rest. He will have to figure it out. But to get this one game against a very good defensive team in Chicago, Wittman had to do what he had to do.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)

DC Council Players 

Temple of Buzzer Beaters.

John Wall

3.5 out of 5 stars

36 mins | plus-10 | 19 pts | 6-14 FGs | 0-3 3Ps | 7-8 FTs | 5 rebs | 7 asts | 4
stls | 1 blk | 5 TOs

You know the Wizards played well when Wall was the only player in red, white and blue to NOT shoot better than 50 percent from the field. He still shot the ball well, especially away from the hoop, sinking five 2-point jump shots between 19 and 22 feet under pressure and on the run. Wall only made one layup, but it was a beauty. —J.C. Townsend

Bradley Beal

3 out of 5 stars

30 mins | plus -16 | 13 pts | 6-12 FGs | 1-3 3Ps | 0-0 FTs | 4 rebs | 4 asts | 1 stl

There were three shots attempted in the paint (one made). There were five 16-to-20-foot jumpers (three made). At some point Brad is going to alter his game a little bit if he wants continued success because either his disinclination to get into the paint or his happiness in settling for lower percentage shots is going to drive a TAI staff member over the ledge. Last night the midrange game was effective but Beal remains so one-dimensional (he hasn’t picked it up on the defensive end either) that one questions whether the offense is going to have to be forcibly changed to make him take advantage of his abilities. —S. Fagan

Trevor Ariza

3 out of 5 stars

40 mins | plus-12 | 16 pts | 5-10 FGs | 3-6 3Ps | 3-4 FTs | 9 rebs | 4 asts | 1 stl

The Octopus feasted. Trevor Ariza earned pizza for the fans, did little Trevor Ariza things and continued his newly rediscovered drive to earn a new contract. He even managed to keep his feet firmly on the ground and not engage in one of his mad scrambles towards the baskets. Know your roll, shoot the trey, pass the Hookah. —S. Fagan


4.5 out of 5 stars

36 mins | plus-2 | 19 pts | 9-14 FGs | 1-6 FTs | 5 rebs | 5 asts | 2
stls | 2 blks | 3 TOs

The fact that the Wizards posted a wire-to-wire victory with Nene starting for the first time since early-December is no coincidence. Wall has been dubbed the Game Changer, but Nene is the Wizards’ 250-pound key to victory: they’re 10-7 when Mr. Glass starts. The Brazilian got under Joakim Noah’s skin like a tattoo artist and left his mark on the action with a bang-bang-bang: three four-quarter jams (he has 19 dunks on the season) that helped put the game out of reach  —J.C. Townsend

Marcin Gortat

2.5 out of 5 stars

36 mins | plus-12 | 7 pts | 3-6 FGs | 1-2 FTs | 11 rebs | 2 asts | 2 blks | 3 PFs

The Polish Machine made shots at the rim, grabbed the necessary rebounds and didn’t get shoved around. Even more delightful, he only attempted one 15-footer on the evening. A commitment to not ranging too far away from the hoop is all we can ask for and the Hammer parked his tank in the paint. —S. Fagan

Martell Webster

2.5 out of 5 stars

27 mins | plus-2 | 12 pts | 5-9 FGs | 2-4 3Ps | 2 rebs | 2 asts

Not a barn-burning night for Webster—usually won’t be against the Bulls. But he got some open looks (thanks to Wall’s creation and spacing provided by Chicago), hit more than half of his field goals, and hit half of his 3-point attempts. As he tries to find more of a rhythm going forward, hopefully Webster can start to contribute in other areas. That said, it’s pretty clear that his game has suffered this season because he’s not in the starting lineup, often leaving Webster to compensate for the lesser talents of others. —K. Weidie

Trevor Booker

2.5 out of 5 stars

24 mins | plus-8 | 6 pts | 3-6 FGs | 0-1 FTs | 2 rebs | 2 TOs

Booker found himself back on the bench in Chi-Town, but took his reassignment without complaint: “Either way, starting or coming off the bench, I’m going to come in playing the same way,” he said after the game. The effort was there, as always, and he protected the paint like a security guard at the Art Institute of Chicago. Good enough. —J.C. Townsend

Garrett Temple

4 out of 5 stars

13 mins | plus-8 | 10 pts | 2-4 FGs | 1-2 3Ps | 5-7 FTs | 2 rebs | 1 ast | 1 stl

I put it on Twitter during the game and I’ll write it again: Out of any Wizard, Garrett Temple might have improved the most since the beginning of the season. That’s not saying a ton since Temple had a long, long way to go … and right now, he might only be achieving levels which led to Washington to re-sign him in the first place. But still, Temple’s offensive contributions lately, on top of his usual defensive effort, must provide some relief to Randy Wittman. Just call Temple, “Rolaids.”. —K. Weidie



Marcin Gortat & Bradley Beal:

Trevor Booker & Backboards:


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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.