D.C. Council Game 35: Wizards 107 vs Rockets 114: Washington Drained by a Hole in the Roof | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council Game 35: Wizards 107 vs Rockets 114: Washington Drained by a Hole in the Roof

Updated: January 12, 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. 35: Wizards vs Rockets; contributors: Kyle Weidie and Adam McGinnis from the Verizon Center.

Washington Wizards 107 vs Houston Rockets 114
[box score]

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Team Attention.


[photo – A. McGinnis]


DC Council Key Legislature

The Wizards were down by a game-high 25 points at the 8:15 mark of the third quarter. Around two and a half hours had passed since the game’s 7 p.m. start time. The remaining 20 minutes of game time couldn’t go fast enough. But isn’t that what makes the NBA so magical? Even the Wizards, with a midrange jump shot’s worth of talent, can come back.

Nene returned to the game for Trevor Booker with 6:36 left in the third quarter and the Wizards down 23; Martell Webster checked in for Bradley Beal with 6:04 left and the Wizards down 24. Those two, along with John Wall, Trevor Ariza, and the latest, greatest #KevinSeraphinLife whittled away at Houston’s lead, finishing the third period down 15 points.

Those same players started the fourth quarter and kept fighting back, even after Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones checked back in at the 10 minute mark of the final period with an 11-point Rockets lead.

James Harden came in a minute later when the Wizards had got within eight. Then six. That same Wizards lineup kept going all the way until they built a five-point lead with 5:26 to go. It actually looked like the Wizards might win. The 3-point shooting threat and solid defensive presence from Ariza and Webster helped spread the court and keep a steady ship. The passing and offensive prowess of Wall and Nene led the way. Then, most present of all, Seraphin benefitted from playing with good players.

But then the momentum swung back in Houston’s favor. On one end, Nene didn’t get a foul call that he would have liked to get, and that inability to convert on offense led to transition lanes for Houston. Webster, with no other choice, fouled Harden, who went 1-for-2 from the free throw line. The teams continued to jostle. With 3:35 left, the Wizards once again got caught switching in transition defense—Nene was matched up against Harden, and Ariza reached in on his drive with the help. Harden made both free throws, bringing Houston within 100-102 of the Wizards.

When Harden tied the game about a minute later, Ariza didn’t get out to meet Harden on the perimeter, but Kevin Seraphin also got in Ariza’s way, effectively setting a screen for Harden. Harden’s weaving layup made it 102 all. And with two minutes left, Beal and Ariza easily accepted a defensive switch, and Beal, duped by Harden, allowed The Beard to hit a jumper, adding a foul on the elbow. The Rockets took a 105-102 lead on Harden’s three-point play and didn’t look back.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)


DC Council Chair
Trevor Ariza. Ariza became the third player in the NBA this season to put up 20 points, 10 rebounds and five steals in a game. (Chris Paul and Andre Drummond are the others.) Ariza’s moxie was a large reason why the Wizards were able to come back, as he was flying all over the court making plays. Ariza was excellent in guarding James Harden, making him work to get his points. But late-game slippage in the team defense allowed Harden to make clutch baskets.

Ariza played almost the whole game (45 minutes) and seemed super bummed about the tough loss as he exited the Wizards locker room.

—Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)


DC Council Vetoed Participation
More perspective on Bradley Beal’s youth should be kept. Maybe his current struggles are simply a bout with a sophomore slump that occasionally rears its head. So, it’s understandable that Wittman provided one of the franchise’s future stars with time and opportunity at the end of a close game, even if it appeared to be an off night for Beal.

That said, Beal probably could have/should have stayed on the bench over the last three and a half minutes against the Rockets. Unless Martell Webster was tired, the drop-off between he and Beal defensively is, at times, noticeable. Harden is hard to guard, we know this, but Beal’s inexperience might have hurt in a late switch onto Harden with Ariza.

Down that late fourth-quarter stretch, Beal missed a settled-for midrange jumper while teammates watched the possession, he missed a corner 3 with 28 seconds left that would have brought the Wizards within two points, and he got rejected at the rim by Terrance Jones on a crucial possession. It just didn’t work out for him on Saturday. It’s OK, there will be better days, but on this evening, the participation, and a 4-for-16 shooting effort, could have been vetoed.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)


DC Council Top Aide

During pre-game warm ups, John Wall and Kevin Seraphin played a game of one-on-one that consisted of each player launching 3-point shots versus one another. I found it odd that Seraphin would spend time on shots that he would never take in a game. Well, maybe Seraphin should do this more often, as he was a game changer in Washington’s furious second-half comeback.

Kevin finally used his big body to his advantage by sealing off defenders for buckets around the hoop. He was even hustling, rebounding and guarding the rim effectively. Seraphin’s professional career has been marked by him often shooting the ball every time he touches it, getting lost on defense, and committing poor fouls and turnovers. On Saturday night, he contributed in other ways and can hopefully build off the stellar outing.

After the game, Dwight Howard recognized the contributions of Seraphin:

“He came in and played great. He did an excellent job on both ends. Rebounding and playing solid defense. Contesting without fouling. He played great. That is what you need from a guy who comes off the bench. He was ready tonight. Most guys when they don’t play  alot of minutes, sit on the bench and complain about not playing. When they get in the game, they never play well. He was on the bench the whole game, cheering for his teammates, when he got his opportunity, he shined. Even though they got the loss, if they would have won tonight, it would have been because of him.”

—Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)


DC Council Session

That Session Was … Simply Strange.




My Friday night began by witnessing a fight at a wine bar, so I should have been prepared for something wild on Saturday night, but two rain delays during an NBA game indoors? No one could have predicted that situation. There was something off about the contest from the jump. The power outlets on bloggers’ media row did not work, the arena WiFi was extra finicky, and a number of media colleagues were absent. I even watched the reviled Dwight Howard engage with fans and sign autographs for more than fifteen minutes.

The game was billed as Asian Heritage Night, but there were not that many signs of that, aside from some quick pregame ceremonies and a halftime show featuring Chinese dragons. During the delays, players from each team would fraternize with one another. Both Harden and Howard spent much time at the Wizards bench area. Howard entertained the crowd by partaking in a one-on-one game with a young boy who was sitting courtside.

The Rockets went on large runs after each delay and appeared to have the game put away in the third quarter before the Wizards turned it on with Kevin Seraphin leading the charge. Exactly, this game was odd. The Wizards ran out to a 23-3 run to begin the fourth quarter and the Verizon Center was electric. Then in true #SoWizards fashion, Houston closed out the contest on a 17-5 run to take home the victory.

In the Wall era, the games between the Rockets and the Wizards in Washington have resulted in memorable takeaways. Wall had his first career triple-double versus Houston in his rookie season, then there was JaVale McGee’s infamous backboard dunk in a 2012 MLK Day contest, and last season the Rockets launched 46 3-pointers in a Wizards overtime win. Now, we can add a bizarre, one-hour water rain delay to the list.

—Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)


DC Council Mayor

I bumbled through a question for Wizards coach Randy Wittman about Washington’s late-game defensive possessions against Harden and the Rockets after the Wizards had fought back to tie the game.

The gist of Wittman’s ultimate response: “Why did it happen? Is that what you’re asking? I can’t give you…”

He trailed off into the next question from the media. Rewatching the same stretch the next day, partially outlined in the Key Legislature, I couldn’t exactly describe what had happened, either. Somewhat unavoidable actions (or rather, poor Wizards offense), led to offensive opportunity for Houston. And with a superstar like Harden, the Rockets were able to calmly take advantage.

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.”

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)

DC Council Players 



[Chris Singleton – photo: A. McGinnis]

John Wall

3.5 out of 5 stars

43 mins | plus-1 | 23 pts | 8-22 FGs | 1-3 3Ps | 6-8 FTs | 2 rebs | 10 asts | 3 TOs

Not a bad night for Wall stat-wise. Unfortunately, he had too many gaffes on crucial possessions, either via a settled-for jump shot when his team could have used a better percentage chance, or via inopportune turnovers (although he only had three). Wall picked up three of his 10 assists during the Wizards’ charge in the first portion of the fourth quarter, but didn’t tally any more after that. And then there was that missed layup from point-blank range when the game was tied at 102. —K. Weidie

Bradley Beal

1.5 out of 5 stars

27 mins | minus-26 | 13 pts | 4-16 FGs | 0-4 3Ps | 5-5 FTs | 2 rebs | 2 asts | 1 stls | 0 TOs

Following my Twitter feed, it might appear that I have soured on Bradley Beal with harsh and critical words. I still like him as a player, and he is a talented young guy. But it has been frustrating to see him become a one-trick pony of contested 20-foot jump shots. He has no confidence on his drives, constantly settles for tough shots that are almost pre-determined, and rarely uses his athletic body to stand out in other areas aside from shooting. He even had the worst plus/minus on the Wizards against the Rockets (minus-26). The most infuriating aspect is watching Beal lightly jog back on defense, especially after his misses, and him often sloppily losing track of the ball. These are normal growing pains of a 20-year-old basketball player and easily fixable mistakes. However, the Wizards’ success is tied to Beal finding solutions sooner rather than later. —A. McGinnis

Trevor Ariza

4 out of 5 stars

45 mins | minus-6 | 23 pts | 7-16 FGs | 3-9 3Ps | 6-7 FTs | 14 rebs | 2 asts | 5 stls | 2 TOs

Ariza didn’t win all the defensive possessions against James Harden, who went an efficient 7-for-14 from the field en route to 25 points (8-for-9 FTs), but Ariza did more than enough in containment. He filled up the stat sheet and is one of the Wizards who can be relied upon to give consistent effort. In the first quarter, Harden slid by Ariza with one of his patented ‘Euro-step’ moves (well, he didn’t patent it, but his version of the product is currently flying off the shelves). Tactically speaking, I asked Ariza after the game if there’s anything he could have done to stop that move by Harden. “You can’t really do anything. You can only hope he misses,” he said. —K. Weidie

Trevor Booker

1.5 out of 5 stars

18 mins | minus-15 | 8 pts | 4-5 FGs | 0-0 FTs | 4 rebs | 0 asts | 1 blk | 0 TOs

The bloom is gradually falling off the Booker flower, as it was another “meh” outing for the former Clemson standout. Trevor scored some buckets early, but due to the strong play of Nene and Seraphin, Booker only played five minutes in the second half. Wittman still is reluctant to discuss the topic or make a change, but Nene replacing Booker in the starting lineup needs to take place soon.  —A. McGinnis

Marcin Gortat

1 out of 5 stars

20 mins | minus-21 | 5 pts | 2-4 FGs | 1-2 FTs | 3 rebs | 3 asts | 1 stl | 4 PFs

It wasn’t really for lack of trying against his own sparring partner, Gortat is simply no match for Dwight Howard. Howard was often able to easily get post position and the Rockets tried to feed him. He got Gortat in foul trouble, he got Nene in foul trouble, and finished the first quarter with 11 points. Quick fouls against Howard in the second half and his teammates’ inability to find him rolling to the basket took Gortat further out of sync, opening the door for Kevin Seraphin. —K.  Weidie

Martell Webster

1.5 out of 5 stars

23 mins | plus-19 | 3 pts | 1-3 FGs | 1-3 3Ps | 3 rebs | 2 TOs | 3 PFs

Another relatively invisible game for Webster, who has attempted just 11 shots, making four, and is 3-for-7 from long distance over the last three games (69 total minutes). I still feel that his rhythm, and perhaps the team, would be better served with Webster starting. That said, with Gortat not being the defender that Emeka Okafor was, it’s understandable that what worked last season (Ariza coming off the bench), might not work best this season. —K. Weidie


3.5 out of 5 stars

27 mins | plus-11 | 8 pts | 3-10 FGs | 2-6 FTs | 10 rebs | 6 asts | 1 blk | 1 stl | 0 TOs | 5 PFs

In the Wizards’ locker room before the game, Nene was in rare form. He was still mad about the Pacers game and how he was called for a foul in his tussle with Indiana big man Ian Mahinmi. He waxed on about how he gets respect as if he were an NBA rookie (with Otto Porter seated next to him), and complained about the recent NBA schedule (four games in five nights). Although his shooting touch was off, the big Brazilian was solid versus the Rockets and actually got a few calls in his favor. The halfcourt offense is at its best when running through Nene in the high post, where he can pass to cutters, shoot the open jumper, or drive to the hoop. He is often good for a few shovel passes to his fellow Wiz bigs for an easy lay in, and Seraphin benefited from these dishes against Houston. —A. McGinnis

Kevin Seraphin

4 out of 5 stars

23 mins | plus-14 | 18 pts | 8-13 FGs | 2-3 FTs | 5 rebs | 2 TOs | 4 PFs

It wasn’t just Seraphin’s offense against Houston—we’ve seen him score before. It was his hustle up and down the court, his ability to hold space in the paint, and his improvement in being able to hold defensive positioning without committing a foul. It was a nice sign of progress to see, even if once he held up his hand long enough on his own made jumper to lose attention of Howard, who went right down the court and easily posted up in the paint. Kevin was lucky that Houston did not convert on that opportunity, and hopefully Kevin keeps learning. —K. Weidie

Garrett Temple

1 out of 5 stars

6 mins | minus-9 | 4 pts | 2-3 FGs | 1 reb | 0 asts | 1 TO

Garrett didn’t do much memorable, positive or negative, but Wall played the entire second half, which is a continued indictment of the Wizards’ backup point guards. —A. McGinnis


End Photos. 


[A beard for fearing – photo: A. McGinnis]


[Beal and Wall pregame – photo: A. McGinnis]


[#MaynorTime pregame post work – photo: A. McGinnis]


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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.