D.C. Council Game 29: Wizards 78 vs Mavericks 87: Wiz Trip Over .500, Stumble into New Year
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. 29: Wizards vs Mavericks; contributors: Kyle Weidie and Rashad Mobley from the Verizon Center.
Washington Wizards 78 vs Dallas Mavericks 87
The first game of 2014 was about as ragged and sloppy as you’d expect a game played the day after New Year’s Eve to be. There were wide-open shots missed, both offenses lacked fluidity, and the first two factors gave the appearance that the defenses were smothering, when in fact that could not be further from the truth. And it wasn’t as if both teams did not have anything significant to play for. The Mavericks were attempting to sweep their three-game road trip before returning home, and the Wizards were seeking to climb above the .500 mark for the first time since October 31, 2009.
With 4:59 left in the game, it appeared as if the Wizards were headed to the “promised land.” They had just erased a three-point deficit, thanks a 3-pointer by Bradley Beal and consecutive jumpers from Wall and Gortat respectively, and the score was 74-70 in Washington’s favor. Then the Mavericks must have placed an invisible lid over the rim where the Wizards were shooting, because for the next 4:13, the Wizards missed seven consecutive shots and watched Vince Carter (via five straight points) and the Mavs take a five-point lead. A pair of John Wall free throws with 46.3 seconds left broke the Wizards’ scoring drought and brought them to within three points, but Monta Ellis one-upped Wall by going 6-for-6 from the line over the last 17.9 seconds to ice the game for Dallas.
The Mavericks shot 38 percent from the field, 25 percent from the 3-point line (6-of-24), turned the ball over 15 times, were out-rebounded 46-44 (thanks to Trevor Booker’s 19 rebounds), and Dirk Nowitzki (who called himself the most expensive decoy ever after the game) was hobbled by a first-quarter ankle roll and shot just 3-for-14 for a season-low nine points. But still, the Wizards failed to capitalize, and once again find themselves on the wrong side of .500.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
Trevor Booker did his very best Dennis Rodman impression on Wednesday night by grabbing 19 rebounds to go along with 10 points. Seven of his 19 rebounds were offensive and gave the Wizards second and third chances to score, although the Wizards shot so poorly, they were rarely able to take advantage. His 12 defensive rebounds came against a Mavericks front line of Shawn Marion (who is older, but still athletic), DeJuan Blair (wide) and Samuel Dalembert (tall), and it did not hurt that Nowitzki was a non-factor after rolling his ankle.
Booker’s most impressive stretch came midway through the third quarter when he rebounded a long 2-pointer from Bradley Beal to keep the offensive possession alive, and then ended up scoring via an alley-oop from Wall. Thirteen seconds later, Booker rebounded a Nowitzki miss, Wall got him the ball on the wing, and Booker hit a 21-foot jumper. It’s a shame the Wizards wasted his yeoman’s effort, but it is encouraging to see a healthy Cook Book have a significant impact on the game.
Said Coach Wittman after the game:
“That’s what he can do for us. He was all over the place. Seven of his 19 [rebounds were] offensive. He’s been really solid for us. Again, 10 [points] and 19 [rebounds], pretty good night.”
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
Trevor Ariza’s last 3:42 of the fourth quarter. It wasn’t just that Ariza missed four shots in a two and a half minute span while the Mavericks erased the Wizards’ four-point lead and took a five-point lead of their own, it was the fact that Ariza’s off-the-mark attempts were wide-open shots. Wall did his job by drawing the Mavs to him, but Ariza could not convert. In fact, after hitting a 3-pointer with 8:08 left in the third quarter, Ariza did not score again. Monta Ellis didn’t have the greatest shooting night (7-for-18), but he converted nine of 10 free throws to help his team stay in the game. Ariza could offer up no such help to his team, as he went to the line once, and he wasn’t his usual disruptive self on defense for the second game in a row.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
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.
You want an x-factor? Vince Carter once again providing the Wizards with a slow death. That’s your x-factor.
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
That Session Was … A Lesson in Not to Ignore the Free Throw Line.
As mentioned above, Washington’s low number of free throw attempts was the glaring stat of observation after the game. It certainly stood out in Randy Wittman’s mind, as he made it a talking point in more than one answer during this post-game session with the media. Coach Witt:
“The difference was that they were able … they had a tough shooting night, too. I’m sure they’re probably asking Rick the same thing, ‘Was it bad offense or good defense?’ … They got to the free throw line. Fourteen makes more than us, and we’ve got to continue to develop our games to get to the rim to get fouls on bad shooting nights. I think that was really the difference. We didn’t make shots, they didn’t, and they were able to get to the free throw line.”
And later on:
“From the standpoint of when you have a tough shooting night, where’s the openings to get to the free throw line, to overcome … that’s what we got to learn to get to next: the ability to get to the free throw line on tough nights. You make a couple free throws, get a layup, your confidence is tremendously turned around.”
So what did Bradley Beal have to say about getting to the line when the shots aren’t falling?
“It’s up to us players to be able to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. We have great plays and great sets that coach calls. It’s up to us to be aggressive. He loved the shots we were taking, but like he said, sometimes when your shot’s not falling, you have to attack the basket, and I think we probably could have done a better job of doing that.”
John Wall took a slightly different angle:
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
Randy Wittman probably wasn’t happy with the performance of several of his individual Wizards. But overall, he could not fault his team’s effort in fighting on defense, moving the ball (mostly), and looking for open shots.
“We got a little frustrated,” the coach said. “We got a little frustrated … a couple guys kind of put their heads down a little bit [after] missing another shot.
“Eighty-two games, you’re going to have nights where you go 4-for-13 or whatever it is.”
Let’s check the full Wittman quote in video form:
Only one Wizard went 4-for-13. His name was Bradley Beal.
And thus, we continue to see not unexpected signs that Beal needs to grow up—and his ability to get to the line has been questioned all season. But there’s no reason, with continued visual evidence of his progression otherwise, that he won’t get better at such—attitude—before season’s end, or even sooner.
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
3 out of 5 stars
42 mins | minus-5 | 22 pts | 8-18 FGs | 1-6 3Ps | 5-5 FTs | 7 rebs | 5 asts | 7 TOs
Tough night for the Game Changer. He magically got Dirk Nowitzki to step on his foot a minute into the game, which hampered the former MVP the entire night, but then Wall had to leave the court a bit later after being hit in the eye by a Nowitzki elbow. Wall was easily able to maneuver around Jose Calderon and Shane Larkin, but his shooters (Bradley Beal, Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza) shot a combined 10-of-36 (27%) from the field. And in the fourth quarter, when the Mavericks were in the midst of a 9-0 run, Wall had little to no energy left after playing the entire second half without a breather (thanks, Eric Maynor). The most damning stat of the night? The Wizards still have not been above .500 since Wall was drafted. —R. Mobley
He did do this, though:
2 out of 5 stars
30 mins | plus-6 | 10 pts | 4-13 FGs | 2-5 3Ps | 0-1 FTs | 2 rebs | 3 asts | 3 stls
The frustration of Beal was evident to more people than his closely-observing coach. On his ninth attempt of the game Beal made just his third bucket. This came early in the third quarter, and even with that midrange make, you could see the exasperation in Beal’s body language going into the timeout. Maybe he was frustrated at having to chase Monta Ellis around so much; instead, Beal should have made the smaller Ellis pay by attacking him more. After the timeout, Beal missed his next two attempts, both 3-pointers, and the frustrated looks probably didn’t help his efforts. —K. Weidie
1 out of 5 stars
34 mins | minus-15 | 8 pts | 3-14 FGs | 1-7 3Ps | 4 rebs | 2 asts | 2 stls
Ariza took 14 shots, missed 11 and seemingly all of them came without a Mavs player in sight. His lone highlight came in the first quarter when he stole the ball from Jae Crowder, scored on a layup despite being fouled, and converted the three-point play. Ariza is averaging a career-high 15 points this season, and I’ll readily admit that I’d gotten accustomed to his consistent contributions. But over the length of his career, Ariza has been known as a disruptive, complementary player, and against the Mavs—especially considering Wall was gassed—Ariza had nothing of note to contribute. —R. Mobley
4.5 out of 5 stars
30 mins | plus-1 | 10 pts | 5-9 FGs | 19 rebs (7 off.) | 1 ast | 1 blk | 0 PF
Booker was a monster and pretty much the only positive for the Wizards on the evening. He put up a super-charged 19 rebounds (a career-high), out-hustling everyone on the floor. Booker even sported a made jumper and a lefty hook over Samuel Dalembert in the new year. Unfortunately, the defensively unaware Booker also showed up on a couple—but not as many as in the past—occasions, such as a Brandan Wright slip of a screen and open dunk early in the fourth that wrestled the lead back from the Wizards. Perhaps it’s instances like this that still keep Booker off the floor in crucial moments. —K. Weidie
2.5 out of 5 stars
27 mins | plus-8 | 12 pts | 6-11 FGs | 0-0 FTs | 5 rebs (all def.) | 2 asts | 2 blks
OK, so sometimes with Gortat you have to deal with a couple slow defensive rotations, perhaps a couple missed rebounds, but the effort is there. You also take a big who is willing to swing the ball from the high post, as Gortat did for a Bradley Beal corner 3; a big who has a jump shot that other teams must respect (especially per Rick Carlisle’s pre-game comments); and a big who’s fairly competent in his defensive awareness (if not quick). Good Gortat had a couple decent defensive possessions against Dirk Nowitzki (as did several Wizards; Dirk shot 3-for-14 for nine points). But Bad Gortat still has trouble finding ways to punish more with his Polish physicality. Medium Gortat picks up some bad calls from the refs and has plenty of pained looks on his face to show for it. —K. Weidie
1 out of 5 stars
22 mins | minus-20 | 8 pts | 3-9 FGs | 1-6 3Ps | 1 reb | 2 asts
Trevor Ariza’s ability to shoot and score this season has been a surprise, but Martell Webster is expected to provide instant offense off the bench or as a starter. Webster’s shots were not quite as wide-open as Ariza’s on Wednesday, but they were shots he normally makes, and he had no such luck. —R. Mobley
1 out of 5 stars
24 mins | minus-10 | 4 pts | 2-7 FGs | 0-2 FTs | 3 rebs | 6 PFs
As one member of the media so eloquently stated while waiting for Mavs coach Rick Carlisle to give his postgame presser, “Man, Nene had nothing tonight.” The referees had a hand in neutering Nene by assessing him at least three questionable fouls, but Nene did the rest all by himself. He took jumpers outside of his usual range, he didn’t consistently establish position deep in the post, and the few times he did, he either travelled or turned the ball over. The most damning example of this type of play occurred at the end of the first quarter when the Wizards were establishing momentum. Ariza’s three-point play gave Washington a 20-18 lead, but Nene missed two free throws and an 18-footer, and the Mavs went on a 5-0 run to end the quarter ahead. —R. Mobley
2 out of 5 stars
11 mins | plus-5 | 2 pts | 1-2 FGs | 1 reb | 1 ast | 1 TO
More and more, Otto Porter is looking like a competent NBA player, at least in terms of trying, slow acclimation, some defensive awareness, and deflections. There are still many more moons on Porter’s calendar before expectations start to set in. Remember how rapidly Bradley Beal improved after a slow start as a rookie? Not to say that Otto’s line of progression has to be as steep as Beal’s … let’s just keep observing. Otherwise, I found the handful of times that Porter was matched-up against Vince Carter entertaining. Once, Porter made Carter catch the ball on the perimeter instead of the post. Another time Carter drove it down Otto’s throat, Marcin Gortat helped, and the old man missed an old man shot. But hey, Otto is a young man. —K. Weidie
0 out of 5 stars
15 mins | minus-11 | 2 pts | 1-5 FGs | 3 rebs | 2 TOs | 2 PFs
Marcin Gortat picked up his second foul with 8:37 left in the quarter, and Kevin Seraphin came in the game, and promptly hit a hook shot the first time he touched the ball. That concluded the effectiveness portion of Seraphin’s evening. After that came the type of errors that only The Three Stooges could appreciate. He got in Trevor Booker’s way as he tried to tip-in a missed shot, he tried to squeeze passes through defenders instead of making the simple basketball play (an open layup), and then he missed open teammates, as Mike Prada demonstrated below. —R. Mobley
Kevin Seraphin took a shot here. pic.twitter.com/a2cnLKRqyI
— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) January 1, 2014
Cookin’ with Trevor Booker, post-game…
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