D.C. Council Game 30: Wizards 88 vs Raptors 101: Me Ball Smacked Away By the Toronto Drakes | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council Game 30: Wizards 88 vs Raptors 101: Me Ball Smacked Away By the Toronto Drakes

Updated: January 4, 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. 30: Wizards vs Raptors; contributors: Kyle Weidie and Rashad Mobley from blogger row at the Verizon Center and Conor Dirks from the stands.

Washington Wizards 88 vs Toronto Raptors 101
[box score]

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Nene, on the right way…



DC Council Key Legislature

I rewatched the third quarter this morning … you know, when the Wizards got outscored 36-16 under heavy doses of disinterest. Several Wizards can be faulted, and my colleague Mr. Mobley will go deeper into the gory third-quarter details below, but the tone was set by Bradley Beal putting the B’s in Basketball Brat.

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.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)


DC Council Chair

Nene. It is tough to name a most valuable player when a team lays a king-sized egg the way the Wizards did against the Raptors. It is basically akin to admitting moral victories actually count for something. But Nene deserves some modicum of praise for following the pre-game instructions of his head coach. Randy Wittman spoke before the game about wanting to see more offensive aggression from his team and the importance of manufacturing points via the free throw line when shots aren’t falling. Nene was one of the few Wizards to deliver in that department. He scored 10 points in the first half, and only one came via an outside shot while the rest came on hard drives to the basket. In the third quarter when Chuck Hayes and his Herculean strength got physical and held Nene without a field goal, he still went to the free throw six times, making five. Nene also had just one rebound in that third quarter, and despite his ability to manufacture points from the line, his inability to hit a field goal was just one of the many reasons the Raptors outscored the Wizards, 36-16. You see what I mean about moral victories?

—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)


DC Council Vetoed Participation

The paradox of choice! When more is less, and most Wizards are bad, despite the abundance of options, this freedom of choice is not beneficial. John Wall shot poorly (4-for-15), Bradley Beal shot poorly (6-for-16), Marcin Gortat shot poorly (4-for-9), Nene shot poorly (4-for-9). Meanwhile, seemingly every Raptors player not named Terrence Ross (5-for-14) shot the ball extremely well. It showed up in the box score, as the Raptors went on to shoot 50.6 percent from the field and 50 percent from the 3-point line, percentages that Randy Wittman will no doubt rub the team’s nose in after he’s done rewinding the tape of winter smacking them in the face. If I have to pick, it’s Bradley Beal, who didn’t get to the line, missed all of his 3-point shots, and insisted on inefficient, and largely unsuccessful, midrange attempts.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)


DC Council Top Aide

Trevor Booker. He rebounded well and gave himself and the team a handful (five) of  second chances. The problem with Booker in the starting lineup is two-fold. The lesser issue is that his physical limitations often prevent him from going right back up with offensive rebounds and converting these second “chances” himself. The bigger issue was on display against the Raptors.

It’s been a nice dream, having Nene come off the bench with Booker benefiting from the starters’ ability and more or less fulfilling the best-case scenario in most observers’ minds. But despite his energy and rebounding, Booker’s defensive lapses (like standing under the basket as Amir Johnson gathers a missed layup, pivots, and puts it back in) have brought the Wizards starting lineup from a plus-39 with Nene to a plus-7 overall with Booker, and more importantly, a slow-starting unit when jump shots aren’t falling.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)


DC Council Session

That Session Was … A Disgusting Display.

If you’ve never seen the clip of legendary Boston Celtics’ announcer Johnny Most slamming the dirty tactics of the Detroit Pistons, you should watch this clip (skip to the 29-second mark):


Johnny Most isn’t coming through that door (he passed away in 1993), but his words aptly describe the Wizards’ third-quarter performance. They shot 18 percent from the floor, committed seven turnovers, and scored just 16 points on 3-of-16 shooting. Conversely, the Raptors shot 56 percent from the field, 75 percent from 3-point range, committed just two turnovers, and scored 36 points.

Before the game, Randy Wittman made a point to say that DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Patrick Patterson, and Terrence Ross have been playing well since the Rudy Gay trade, but he must not have conveyed that message to his team, because those were the very players who inflicted pain on the Wizards in that ill-fated third quarter. Ross scored 12 points; Lowry had four points, four assists, and two steals; DeRozan had five points; and Patterson had 11 points and did not miss a shot. When asked what he said to his team at halftime, Raptors coach Duane Casey said:

“The thing I was upset about was our defense. We gave up points in transition, weren’t getting back, weren’t executing our plans we had for their fast break, and that was the whole thing. We started to do that in the third quarter. We did a good job. Again, 29 assists, we got the ball moving. The ball was zinging around and we got it moving.”

When you compare those complimentary comments to Wittman’s unflattering remarks about his team, it isn’t difficult to see why I labeled the Wizards’ performance as disgusting:

“… we’re getting concerned with, ‘Why am I coming out? How many minutes am I getting? How many shots am I getting?’ rather than, ‘What is the team doing?’ and we didn’t do that tonight and that is disappointing because we’re not good enough to do it that way. For us to come out and start the game, and start the fourth quarter like that is disappointing. I don’t know how else to put it. We have to come back together. It is not about ‘me’ it’s about ‘us’ and it has to be focused on us and it was focused on individuals rather than the team tonight.”

—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)

The 3rd Quarter, according to the “Cook Book” …



DC Council Mayor

Amongst wanting his players to get smacked in the face by temperatures below 20 degrees, Randy Wittman said that “shocked” would be a better word to use than “surprised” when discussing the game’s outcome. Wittman went on to chide his team’s selfish play, something he’s seen “for the first time in a long time.”

“Sometimes you can get… You know, you feel good about yourself,” later diagnosed Dr. Wittman. “We’ve been playing pretty good, so maybe now it’s time to focus on ‘me’ a little bit. Let me get my numbers up a little bit instead of worrying about how we need to go about it. Numbers will take care of themselves. The right people will score the basketball that needs to score the basketball.”

John Wall was asked about Wittman alluding to his players developing a false sense of confidence and looking more for their own shots after beating Detroit twice in a row:

“No, I don’t see that at all. I think we’re playing the right way, we’re playing as a team. You can’t say that. I feel like we try to play as a team, we try to play the right way. The Mavericks game, we played as a team, we just didn’t make shots. So you credit that to their great defense, and that’s just us having one of those bad shooting nights. Tonight, you probably can say that we tried to move the ball, we tried to do the right thing, but shots wasn’t falling and we wasn’t having enough spacing. I feel like we didn’t have enough spacing tonight. You couldn’t penetrate if you wanted to, you couldn’t get open shots. You give credit to their defense. And they made the bigger shots than us, and we couldn’t find the rhythm again, and they ran away with the lead.”

The success of the Wizards rest in their backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal working well together. To date, they’ve been very compatible. And this isn’t to say that their skills haven’t also been complementary as of late, but it’s clear that they are the sore thumbs of immature and selfish play so far in 2014. Beal, more so than Wall, has been guilty of bad body language. Both could be guilty of trying to boost their own stats while the team pumps them for #NBAballot left and right. Wittman has to get his All-Star wannabes to focus against Sunday’s incoming All-Star, Stephen Curry, and his more complete sidekick, Klay Thompson.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)

Trevor Booker on Wizards ‘Me’ Ball, in contrast: 


DC Council Players 

John Wall

1.5 out of 5 stars

31 mins | minus-24 | 11 pts | 4-15 FGs | 0-3 3Ps | 3-3 FTs | 2 rebs | 6 asts | 2 stls | 2 TOs

The Game Changer didn’t do much game-changing in his 30 minutes of action. He helped set the tone for the evening by losing sight of Kyle Lowry and allowing him an open 3-point make 80 seconds into the game. Midway through the first, John Wall attacked the rim twice in a row to help curtail an early nine-point deficit. But then on the next possession he must’ve felt that he had the right to settle for a missed jumper. The rest of the night was pretty repetitive: falling for Lowry pump fakes, gambling for steals in the wrong way, and settling for jumpers. —K. Weidie

Bradley Beal

1.5 out of 5 stars

29 mins | minus-15 | 12 pts | 6-16 FGs | 0-3 3Ps | 0-0 FTs | 5 rebs | 5 asts

Beal’s numbers do not look that bad, but they should be taken with a grain of salt considering he had six points, three assists and three rebounds in the fourth quarter, when the Raptors had clearly taken their collective feet off the gas and were just playing not to lose. In the first three quarters of basketball, when the Wizards needed Beal to play at an All-Star level, he had just six points on 3-of-9 shooting. When he missed a shot, he hung his head on his way back down the court, and the few times he actually connected, his reactions were overly demonstrative, as he tried to unsuccessfully motivate himself. To make matters worse, Beal missed not one, but two dunks—the second coming via a failed alley-oop. The good news? Beal put up at least one effort on defense and blocked Kyle Lowry’s shot. —R. Mobley

Trevor Ariza

2 out of 5 stars

21 mins | minus-16 | 6 pts | 2-3 FGs | 2-2 3Ps 1 rebs | 1 asts | 2 TOs

The Wizards needed a lot more Trevor Ariza than they got. Why? Beleaguered by suspect offensive foul calls from Karl Lane, Trevor did some talking while he was walking, which earned him a technical foul. And then, like many NBA players do, he kept walking, kept talking. Nothing menacing in terms of visuals, but il divo, Joey Crawford, saw enough to eject him from the game. Personally, I think it says more about Joey Crawford than it does about Trevor Ariza, but who knows what foul litany of verbiage ol’ Hookahman was spewing into the universe? —C. Dirks

Trevor Booker

2 out of 5 stars

32 mins | minus-10 | 8 pts | 4-7 FGs | 0-0 FTs | 13 rebs (5 off.) | 2 asts | 2 stls

Dwane Casey called Trevor Booker the “Raptor Killer” before the game, and from a rebound-perspective, I guess Booker lived up to that moniker by grabbing 13 just one game after grabbing a career-high 19. But Booker did not add much in the physicality department, and Wittman was forced to replace him with Nene’s size and strength. In the pivotal third quarter, when the Raptors increased the intensity on both offense and defense, Booker went scoreless, rebound-less and field goal-less in five and a half minutes. Raptors forward Amir Johnson had 17 points and seven rebounds, and more importantly, the Wizards had to account for his presence on offense, which the Raptors did not have to do with Booker. —R. Mobley

Marcin Gortat

1.5 out of 5 stars

22 mins | minus-22 | 10 pts | 4-9 FGs | 2-2 FTs | 5 rebs | 4 TOs

You can’t really say that Gortat had a good game by most measures, but he was able to essentially battle Jonas Valanciunas to a draw. Valanciunas got the best of Gortat in the previous game in Toronto; this time J.V. only had six points on five shots with five rebounds in 22 minutes. (Certainly some of this had to do with all other Raptors being hot from the perimeter.) Gortat got off to a good start by scoring six points in the first quarter, but for the rest of the game he did his best non-dunking Jan Vesely impression on offense. —K. Weidie

Martell Webster

2.5 out of 5 stars

31 mins | plus-1 | 12 pts | 3-7 FGs | 2-4 3Ps | 4-4 FTs | 3 rebs | 1 ast | 0 TOs

When Martell Webster plays 31 minutes, he should get more than seven shots up. While Bradley Beal figures out where the 3-point line is, Martell Webster is still the smartest shooter on this team. For example, against the Raptors, Martell took seven shots. Four of those shots were from behind the 3-point line, two were at the basket, and only one of his shots was in the stat geek’s frozen tundra, the midrange. The Wizards need offense. They need smarter shots, but Martell is not a player who can create for himself. This means designed plays. This means concerted efforts by John Wall and Nene to get the ball to Martell in his spots. This means anything it takes. —C. Dirks


3 out of 5 stars

20 mins | minus-1 | 15 pts | 4-9 FGs | 7-8 FTs | 4 rebs | 1 blk | 4 TOs | 0 asts

Nene played a fair game and was pretty much the best Wizard on the court. But on a night like this, that’s not saying a ton. On a couple possessions, Nene was probably just as guilty of any Wizard in trying to force offensive action. The difference being, his forays were mostly in the paint, and he often drew fouls. Nene’s four turnovers: a bumbling travel in the paint, an inability to handle a loose ball, bobbling the dribble during a post move, and a spinning travel in the post. Toronto also seemed ready to combat any high post offense run through Nene (he didn’t tally any assists). —K. Weidie

Garrett Temple

2 out of 5 stars

17 mins | plus-11 | 2 pts | 1-4 FGs | 2 rebs | 3 asts | 1 stl | 0 TOs

John Wall rode the pine the entire fourth quarter (as did Eric Maynor, SAMESIES!), which meant the ball-handling duties fell into the lap of Garrett Temple. Temple had just two points and three assists on offense, but it was on the defensive end where he earned his two stars. In the fourth quarter, he pressured Greivis Vasquez full court and forced him into uncomfortable passes, and even when Lowry came in for Vasquez, Temple did his very best to contest all of his shots. Mop-up duty is never easy, but Garrett Temple’s willingness to play hard on both ends of the floor was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise forgettable game. —R. Mobley

Jan Vesely

1.5 out of 5 stars

9 mins | plus-11 | 4 pts | 2-3 FGs | 0 rebs | 1 stl

I take this opportunity to point out that during the final minutes of a blowout Jan Vesely set a mid-pass screen, while the ball was in the air, to free up the player who received that pass. This myth that Jan Vesely has a mind for the game is not a myth at all. He does. The play ended with a Vesely bunny. Unfortunately, the next Vesely possession ended with Jan being rejected by the rim. This duality defines dull John, the Yawning Wizard. —C. Dirks


From The Other Side: Frustration

Coach Wittman and Coach Casey had two distinctly different viewpoints as they entered their respective locker rooms at halftime. Wittman had to be encouraged that his team only trailed by three points, despite allowing the Raptors to shoot 50 percent in the first half. As frustrated as Casey must have been that his team defense fell by the wayside at the end of the second quarter, he was just as happy with his team’s second-half recovery, and he said as much after the game:

“Our attention to detail in the third quarter was huge, and we weren’t doing that in the first half, and that’s what I was upset about at halftime. The guys came out and played in the third quarter, and got it done.”

Conversely, the Wizards basically imploded in the third quarter. The shots weren’t falling—Beal, Ariza and Wall resorted to heroic, selfish ball—and they watched the Raptors extend their lead from three to 26 points. While the Raptors were buoyed by the halftime pep talk delivered by Coach Casey and his staff, the Wizards seemed to do the exact opposite. They shot poorly, their spacing on offense was below-average at best, and Trevor Ariza was ejected after getting sassy with Joey Crawford.

I asked DeMar DeRozan if he observed the Wizards getting frustrated in the third quarter and he basically answered, hell yes:

“That’s one thing we always want to do—to use team frustration against them. If they are arguing or whatever with each other, we have to take advantage of that, we keep playing hard, keep playing with our principles and hopefully they’ll fold. You could tell they had disagreements or whatever it was. You know sometimes you gotta let them handle their business, and understand that we have to try and take advantage of any little time they get knocked off focus, and just use that to our advantage.”

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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.