D.C. Council Game 44: Wizards 88 at Warriors 85: Splash Bros Get Dunked by Uncoined Backcourt
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. 44: Wizards at Warriors; contributors: Kyle Weidie and Conor Dirks from the District, and Sean Fagan from Brooklyn.
Washington Wizards 88 at Golden State Warriors 85
John Wall vs Harrison Barnes : GET ‘EM!
Fueled by Wittman’s Java or Panda Power (but definitely not Blue Magic heroin), Bradley Beal owned the third quarter in Golden State (and the fourth quarter, for the most part).
Beal started the game with good intentions but seemingly rattled nerves. Barely 70 seconds into the night he was jacking his first look in an offensive set… Miss. Almost 20 seconds latter he was committing a bad turnover via an awkward jab step. And about 20 seconds after that, Beal found his way into the mid-paint area for a look, but seemed to make the shot tougher than it needed to be… Clang. In the first half he finished with two points on 1-for-7 shooting with two turnovers, but four assists.
Third quarter: Beal forced an early look, a step-back from 21 feet… Made it anyway. He then tried to drive, but got turned away at the rim by Andrew Bogut. Beal took, and made, another tough shot at the 8:31 mark, making a turnaround fadeaway from the baseline. “I still say he’s working really hard to get shots,” noted Comcast’s Phil Chenier. But Beal was also working otherwise: he’d tallied four rebounds over the first half of the period. And as he hit tough shots, things opened up for him even more. Beal got an assist from Nene for another bucket, then he soon after went around a Nene screen for yet another jumper, finishing the third quarter with nine points on six shots.
And when the fourth quarter came around, momentum and confidence had been constructed. Three-pointer, 3-pointer, 3-pointer… Beal picked up nine fourth quarter points in about two minutes and five seconds flat, scoring 18 second-half points and making all the young pandas of the world fuzzy inside and out.
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
When it becomes difficult to single out the performance of one single player in a game that relied on a “total” effort from the team, it only seems fair that Randy Wittman earns his first honored appearance in this space in the new year. After a deflating loss to a horrible Utah team, the Wizards could have spiraled out of orbit over the next five games, losing contests experts predicted them to lose, and once again tumbling down the mountain with the only hope of clawing their way back to .500 resting on their ability to show up and play even with the Eastern Conference.
Instead, Randy Wittman managed to coax “his” ballgame out his charges, slowing the pace of the game down and never letting the Warriors start running up and down the floor and raining 3-pointers like a winter storm. He coached a disciplined performance from a Team USA-snubbed John Wall, didn’t hook Beal after his poor first half, and even managed to get Nene up and running at operating speed.
Basketball purists may have thumbed their noses at the way that the game was ground to a halt or how the Warriors “played down” to Washington’s level. Wizards fans will take the win with the knowledge that it might be an oasis amongst the next slew of games.
—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)
Eric! It’s been too long.
All of those game hours spent sitting by Sam Cassell. Maynor was a sponge, baby. He soaked it up. Cassell inveigled him into making passes early in the shot clock, and into moving the ball towards the basket instead of farther out towards an ever-deepening perimeter unfazed by the cadence of Maynor’s rock-pounding. And then coach called his name. For the first time since early December, Eric was the first point guard off of the bench.
With 16 seconds left on the shot clock, Maynor passed the ball to Nene, who nailed a long jump shot. An early shot clock assist! But unfortunately, the early success galvanized Maynor into reclaiming his identity: bad 3-pointers and ill-advised floaters in the lane. For his efforts, Maynor received Randy Wittman’s inarguably prudent vaudeville hook. He was replaced in the backup role by Garrett Temple in the second half, who completely outplayed Grunfeld’s “day one” signing and filled the box score in one minute less (5:31 total) than Maynor received. And so it was briefly #MaynorTime. The world spins on, having witnessed another failed audition.
—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)
Nene’s jumpers. Twelve of Nene’s 16 points on the night came in the first half, six in the first quarter and six in the second. Three first-half makes came on five jumper attempts, and three makes came on four shots near the rim. Nene went 1-for-6 in the second half, missing a couple jumpers, but his spoonful of sugar in the first half was just what the Wizards needed until Bradley Beal got his fill of #WittmanJava heading into the third quarter. When Nene wasn’t hitting in the second half, he did an amazing job playing help defense against Stephen Curry and other Warriors perimeter shooters when called upon.
Nene also took advantage of less defensively inclined David Lee, some—perhaps he could have done more. Still, in a win, Randy Wittman will take all that he got from his big man. Plus, Nene made both of his free throw attempts. Total bonus.
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
That session … a stern lesson to Western Conference teams expecting an easy win.
You could forgive the Warriors for a certain amount of hubris in expecting to roll over a Wizards team that lost to the Jazz. Such is the plight of Wizards opponents, as you never quite know which team is going to show up for the game. On Tuesday night, the Warriors got the “gritty” Wizards and paid the price for their arrogance, much like the Phoenix Suns before them. It is unlikely that the Wizards are going to catch either the Clippers or Spurs napping, but an overconfident Portland team could be had dependent on effort and commitment to Randy Wittman’s gameplan.
—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)
Bradley Beal’s minutes limit has forced Randy Wittman to meticulously plot out (or completely wing it and hope for the best) the time that Beal will be or will not be on the court with the starters, and this has largely precluded him from using the staggered lineups of the early season, where Beal would take over as a primary ball-handler during extended periods of rest for John Wall. Whether by luck or by calculations in his Lisa Frank cheetah-addled trapper keeper, Wittman deftly plucked Beal from the game halfway through the fourth quarter, knowing full well that his shot could ostensibly cool off during such a rest, and didn’t reinsert him until there was 2:40 left in the game.
As it turned out, Beal did go cold, and missed both of his shots in those final three minutes. But that’s hardly the point. Having Beal on the floor, on a night where he was hot, helped to ameliorate Washington’s floor spacing issues when the defense locked down. Beal played 30 minutes and 34 seconds; hopefully Washington’s training staff knows about rounding down.
Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and lollipops. In his postgame press conference, Wittman admitted that it “wasn’t a pretty game.”
It doesn’t necessarily have to be. But Washington’s halfcourt offense resolves too often in favor of John Wall jump shots, which is unfair to Wall and to the rest of the team. Teams with less talent than the Wizards move the ball more effectively than Washington does, even if Washington does average more player touches per possession than most of the teams in the NBA. It’s difficult to know how much of this issue is a coaching issue (i.e., does the coach say “move the ball” or does he implement a method for moving the ball), and how much is a failure to execute an otherwise sound gameplan. So for now, the concern over Wittman’s work product is speculative.
—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)
2.5 out of 5 stars
36 mins | plus-8 | 15 pts | 6-19 FGs | 3-6 3Ps | 0-0 FTs | 8 rebs | 5 asts | 3 stls | 5 TOs
Wall kept the Wizards in the game with his extraordinary defense on Steph Curry (who was 8-for-23), and kept the Warriors in the game by not progressing possessions beyond waving his teammates out of the lane to prepare for an isolation fadeaway. The sooner that John can complement his strengths by avoiding uncreative, predictable possessions, the better. But it’s called “hero ball” for a reason, and Wall hit the last shot of the game, a long 26-foot 3-pointer that had more steez in an atom of its rotating leather surface than Jordan Crawford’s finest yawning sideways sideline lean. —C. Dirks
3.5 out of 5 stars
31 mins | plus-3 | 20 pts | 8-19 FGs | 4-7 3Ps | 0-0 FTs | 7 rebs | 4 ast | 6 TOs
Not too long ago, when Bradley Beal was having one of those anti-Nick Young games and dishing more than he was swishing, Phil Chenier engaged in some techno-babble hyperbole, claiming that Bradley Beal’s mind was “like a computer.” In the first half, Beal must have been defragmenting his hard drive (1-for-7), but the bloatware was long gone by the third quarter, where Beal went 4-for-6.
In the fourth, Bradley Beal did the math. Nine points for Beal minus five points from his mark, Klay Thompson, equals four total points, or one more point than the differential in the game. One is also the amount of minutes (rounding up) that the Wizards pushed Beal over his 30-minute limit, which very few people will notice since Beal seemingly escaped unscathed and the Wizards got an unexpected win. —C. Dirks
4 out of 5 stars
38 mins | plus-7 | 9 pts | 3-9 FGs | 1-3 3Ps | 2-4 FTs | 11 rebs | 2 asts | 3 stls
Perhaps Ariza should be given more credit for his clutch defense against Stephen Curry on the game’s final possession … maybe the Top Aide, maybe even the Council Chair.
But as often is the case, Ariza’s efforts on a poor shooting night (with a relatively meager field goal attempt count for his potential) go a tad unsung … and could have had the chance of being ghosted by many were it not for his prevalent defense on that final shot.
Hookah Arms Ariza might have choked on air a couple times, but 11 boards and stuff like what’s below calls for four stars. —K. Weidie
4 out of 5 stars
35 mins | plus-7 | 16 pts | 7-15 FGs | 2-2 FTs | 7 rebs | 2 asts | 2 stls
You wake up some mornings and sometimes you can just feel the light of the Lord upon you as you go about your daily activity. You make jump shots, and you block garbage shots that the minions of the Devil (Warriors) throw up at the basket. It even gives you the energy to snatch the ball away from your enemy like you were 22 years old again and getting baptized for the ninth time.
Or so Nene might have you believe.
The truth of the matter is that it was Nene’s two free throws, the part of his game the Lord seems to taketh away most, which proved key to the Wizards pulling out the gutty win in Oakland. One can’t count on miracles everyday, but Nene making his freebies have become minor ones in and of themselves. —S. Fagan
2 out of 5 stars
37 mins | plus-8 | 4-6 3Ps | 12 rebs | 2 asts | 1 stl | 1 blk | 1 TO
In the last 49 seconds of regulation, Marcin Gortat managed to miss a bunny that even Reggie Evans would have hung his head in shame over. He also misplayed two rebounds and inexplicably looked like a giant man who had been asked to play basketball for the first time rather than a giant man who supposedly has great footwork and wily intelligence.
If this were the first bunny that Gortat missed, he would not get 2 stars, nor would he get 2 if it were the 50th he missed on the season. But at number 3,4958,903, a line needs to be drawn in the sand. Hence the cruel but necessary rating.—S. Fagan
1.5 out of 5 stars
23 mins | minus-11 | 8 pts | 4-7 FGs | 6 rebs | 2 PFs
Player development is not Washington’s strong suit. Unless, of course, we’re talking about how to develop high-energy offensive rebounders like Trevor Booker, who sporadically make you think they could be long-term pieces but play poor defense and are consistently at a physical disadvantage once they get a hand on one of the many caroms provided by an offense inexplicably determined to rely primarily on the fickle prolificacy of their many eager jump shooters.
Booker’s efficient offense belied the net effect of his floor presence: a team-low minus-11. —C. Dirks
3 out of 5 stars
28 mins | minus-2 | 10 pts | 3-9 FGs | 2-5 3Ps | 2-3 FTs | 1 reb | 2 asts
Advanced analytics will someday explain why Martell Webster took a 22-foot jump shot in the last minute, rather than look for something that was more “efficient.” Putting that one shot aside, Webster had one of his average nights where his hustle broke even with his cold shooting. —S. Fagan
2.5 out of 5 stars
6 mins | even-0 | 2 pts | 1-2 FGs | 4 rebs | 2 asts | 0 TOs
Temple got Maynor’s minutes in the second half, adding a nice driving layup (a missed jumper was his other shot attempt), and four crucial rebounds. On one particular possession early in the fourth quarter, Temple snagged a Curry step-back miss rebound off the bounce, pushed it hard down the court, and found Bradley Beal on the right wing for a 3-ball that gave the Wizards a seven-point lead. Eric who? —K. Weidie
1 out of 5 stars
7 mins | minus-5 | 0 pts | 0-2 FGs | 0-1 3Ps | 1 ast | 0 TOs
Eric Maynor played. Yes, yes he did.
Unexpected? Yes. A surprise? No.
Wittman was inevitably going to give him a chance. Maynor has been sitting next to Sam Cassell up front on the bench and has been putting on the ‘right’ display publicly. Assuming that he’s been doing right behind closed doors, too, even Maynor’s teammates would expect their coach to give him a chance, eventually.
Thus, it happened on the road in Oakland … where not much has changed, apparently. Maynor immediately picked up an assist on a Nene jumper, but he also boofed a runner in the lane, had a poor 3-point attempt, and pretty much lost out in his battle with Jordan Crawford. So there’s that.
Steez away, Internets. —K. Weidie
Stephen Curry Tricks.
#Steez vs. #MaynorTime.
Pass of the Night.