D.C. Council Game 32: Wizards 97 at Bobcats 83: A Road Win Spelled D-E-F-E-N-S-E | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council Game 32: Wizards 97 at Bobcats 83: A Road Win Spelled D-E-F-E-N-S-E

Updated: January 8, 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. 32: Wizards at Bobcats; contributors: John Converse Townsend, Rashad Mobley and Sean Fagan two-hundred-some miles north of the Land of Pines.

Washington Wizards 97 at Charlotte Bobcats 83
[box score]

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DC Council Key Legislature

The first half was a real snooze fest. Three lead changes, 82 combined points, ugly basketball. Both teams played hard, both teams shot 42.9 percent. If you enjoyed those 24 minutes, good for you.

Things got interesting in the third quarter, though. With 9:30 left, it was a two-point game, Wizards up 47-45. That’s when the Wiz started to … well, play with a commitment to fucking defense. They forced five turnovers, scored eight points off those turnovers—the highlight was a Trevor Booker-to-John-Wall oop—and before the Bobcats knew what hit them, they were down down 19 (64-46).

That’s right. The Wiz Kids went on a 17-0 run (Booker and Wall combined for 13 in the quarter) and the ‘Cats didn’t score again till Anthony Tolliver made a free throw with 3:20 left in the third period.

Without that defensive pressure, the Wizards, who run the 10th slowest offense in the NBA (one spot ahead of the Bobcats), would have let Charlotte hang around, and may have blown the game late as they are so often wont to do.

By the fourth, that 19-point lead was cut down to seven. But Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson—it was a two-man show for Charlotte, since Marcin Gortat more or less shut down Al Jefferson, who looks like Nene will in two years—could only do so much. It wasn’t enough.

“Defense was big for us tonight,” Wall said post-game. “We didn’t have to double down on Al Jefferson. He’s demolished us in the past. Marcin came out and played for the team tonight. We had different guys score the ball and played on both ends of the court, and it was nice to get away from that three-game losing streak.”

Note: The jump-shooting Wizards (really, that’s all they do) didn’t even attempt a free throw in the third quarter, and only attempted 15 in the game. Charlotte made 15 free throws on 24 tries. BUT IT DIDN’T MATTER BECAUSE TAKEAWAYS (17) AND DEFENSE. KEEP THIS SQUAD TOGETHER. CHAMPIONSHI-I-I-I-IP!

Sorry. Got carried away there. The Wizards are now 15-17.

—John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)


DC Council Chair

All hail your reigning Council Chair … Trevor Booker?

Yes, on a night where it would appear that Bradley Beal would be the de facto choice, the Think Tank at TAI put their noggins together and decided that Booker was the most deserving of all the Wizards. Pourquoi, you may ask? In large part due to Cook Book turning up the energy when it was needed to bury a less talented Charlotte team. Booker rolled out some vintage Caron Butler jab steps, ate up Josh McRoberts, and prevented the “energy zap” which has afflicted the team. My last statement was that for the Wizards to pull out of another slide, they would need one of the stars to show up. Instead, it was the once and future starter who kept embarrassment at bay for another day.

—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)


DC Council Vetoed Participation

I am well aware that criticizing Trevor Ariza is low-hanging fruit these days, and I’m also aware that I thoroughly picked on him in yesterday’s Bobcats/Wizards Opening Statements post. But Ariza’s struggles have now crawled deeper into his head—much like those creepy eels from Star Trek II. His shooting has been off for four games, but against the Bobcats his lackluster first-quarter defense against Gerald Henderson was the big issue.

Henderson scored six points in the first two and a half minutes of the game. His first basket was the result of Ariza’s lethargic close out, and Henderson’s next two baskets were open because Ariza chose to run under screens from Josh McRoberts and Kemba Walker. Later, at the 6:09 mark of the quarter, Ariza gambled and tried to steal a Kemba Walker pass intended for Henderson—a move that usually works for Ariza and gets him scoring opportunities in the fast break. Not only did he mistime his steal attempt, but Henderson also snatched the ball away from Ariza and scored yet again.

Henderson ended the game with a season-high 27 points, but he established his rhythm because of his 11 first-quarter points, and that falls squarely on the shoulders of Trevor Chilliza. The Wizards still won, but it may have been a hell of a lot easier without Henderson’s hot hand.

—Rashad Mobley (@rashad20)


DC Council Top Aide
They say there’s a first time for everything. Against Charlotte, Marcin Gortat earned recognition as the top aide, a first (I think). Sure, he was only 2-for-7 in the paint (typical), but he still scored 18 points. He led the team in free throw attempts (5), which helped the war effort. The Polish Machine/Hammer also grabbed 13 rebounds, blocked three shots and, for three hours, made Al Jefferson’s $14 million contract the worst joke south of the Mason-Dixon line.

—John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)


DC Council Session

That Session Was … The Miniaturization of Grindhouse.

No, the Wizards were not the Grizzlies of two years ago, but a defensive mindset was evident for at least one evening. After three games in which the Wizards had no sense of offensive flow, it was nice to see the ill-timed jump shots and horrible bricks emanating from the men in orange trim and Carolina blue. If you are going to run a slow-paced NBA offense, you had better show the necessary commitment, and for once the Wizards decided that the effort was worth the payoff.

—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)


DC Council Mayor

Going into last night’s game, Coach Wittman had to know that his team’s success depended on two factors: the play of Marcin Gortat against Al Jefferson, and the Wizards ability to show up in the third quarter.

He ensured Gortat would play well by benching him the entire fourth quarter against the Warriors on Monday night, and his motivational tactic worked to perfection.

Wittman gave Gortat the ultimate vote of confidence by playing him a team-high 38 minutes. And he played played some of his most aggressive defense of the season against Jefferson, who had 27 points and nine rebounds against DeMarcus Cousins in his previous game.

At halftime, Wittman did not mention one word about the Wizards’ previous third-quarter performances. Said Wittman after the game:

“I don’t dwell on that. These guys know what the last three games coming out of halftime have been. It’s not something I need to harp on, I just told them let’s go out and get a good warmup, and a sweat breaking, so we’re ready to go.”

Wittman’s minimalist approach worked and the Wizards held the Bobcats to just 16 points on 26 percent shooting in the third quarter. On offense the Wizards were led by Trevor Booker (eight points) and Gortat (four points and five rebounds)

—Rashad Mobley (@rashad20)

DC Council Players 

John Wall

2 out of 5 stars

32 mins | plus-13 | 17 pts | 5-16 FGs | 2-7 3Ps | 5-5 FTs | 8 asts | 2 rebs | 0 stls | 0 TOs

OK, if John Wall wants to rebrand himself as a 3-point specialist and get dressed up as Mark Price in his prime then who am I to judge? However, when Wall goes 2-for-7 from deep and you can’t seem to move Martell Webster or Trevor (my contract just lost another decimal place) Ariza beyond the arc then you might want to start considering your offensive sets. Yes, the jump shot is improved. Yes, Wall is not Rondo. This is understood. However, it doesn’t mean that Wall should be taking more shots from behind the arc than your two specialists combined. —S. Fagan

Bradley Beal

4 out of 5 stars

31 mins | plus-24 | 21 pts | 10-18 FGs | 1-3 3Ps | 0-0 FTAs | 3 ast | 2 rebs

In the first quarter, Wizards fans saw the impossible: Bradley Beal scored a layup. Like, he noticed that slow-ass Jefferson was still chasing Gortat to the rim, decided to put the ball on the floor, got into the paint, left his feet, and pretty much dropped the ball into the basket. Incredible.

Problem: That was just one of two attempts in the paint for Beal, and, as you can see in the stats above, he failed to make it to the line for the fifth time in six games…

Beal decided to launch a dozen (that’s 12) midrange Js between 16 and 20 feet, when he could have easily scooted by Jefferson (for slow-ass reasons) or Bismack Biyombo, who’s no killer as a pick-and-roll defender. Fortunately for the Wizards, Beal was locked in, smiling, and was able to make eight of those sometimes questionable shot attempts … because when they don’t fall he’s pretty worthless. Good for No. 3.

(Fun Fact: Josh McRoberts averages 1.2 more assists per game than Beal in five fewer minutes.) —J.C. Townsend

Trevor Ariza

1 out of 5 stars

23 mins | plus-15 | 4 pts | 2-6 FGs | 0-3 3Ps | 0-0 FTs | 3 rebs | 2 asts | 1 stls | 1 TOs

Ariza’s porous defense against Gerald Henderson has already been documented in “Vetoed Participation,” which now frees me to discuss his offense—or lack thereof. Ariza was justifiably tentative with the ball, and in his first few offensive possessions, he sandwiched an airball and an offensive foul between a smooth-looking 19-foot jumper. He didn’t score again until the third quarter, when he confidently drove the ball to the basket. But Ariza could not muster any type of offense in response to the bombs Henderson was dropping on his head, and he sat on the bench the entire fourth quarter. —R. Mobley

Trevor Booker

4 out of 5 stars

22 mins | plus-19 | 12 pts | 5-8 FGs |  2-2 FTs | 1 stl |1 blk |  0 TOs

The Cook Book seemed to take the Wizards’ third-quarter woes personally, because he made it his business to give maximum effort on both ends of the floor. He was jab-stepping and hitting 15-to-17-foot jumpers, which set up easy scores via post-ups and layups. On defense, he kept Josh McRoberts from accumulating a single stat, and of course he had a steal which led to this:

Said Wittman of Booker’s play:  “I thought Book in that third quarter really got us some solid play on both ends of the floor, just not on that offense.” —R. Mobley

Marcin Gortat

3 out of 5 stars

38 mins | plus-17 | 18 pts | 7-13 FGs | 4-5 FTs | 13 rebs | 3 blk | 1 ast | 1 stl | 0 TOs

I would quibble with Marcin’s inclusion as the Top Aide, but he was one of the better Wizards on the floor. He grabbed his rebounds, sunk his free throws and ate up the shot machine known as Al Jefferson. But … but he has to start converting in the paint. It remains mind-boggling that a player of Gortat’s dexterity keeps missing gimmes and finds himself out of position to grab his own misses. Perhaps a field trip to the soccer fields of yore would do him wonders. —S. Fagan

Jan Vesely

4 out of 5 stars

21 mins | minus-5 | 6 pts | 3-4 FGs | 0-1 FTs | 6 rebs | 3 stl | 3 blks | 0 TOs

BECAUSE I SAID SO. Did you see Otto Porter? Now look at Airwolf. Now back to Porter! Who gets the stars?! Young Honza, that’s who. —S. Fagan

Martell Webster

2.5 out of 5 stars

31 mins | minus-4 | 10 pts | 4-7 FGs | 2-3 3Ps | 3 rebs | 1 ast | 1 blk | 2 TOs

Webster checked in for Beal at the end of the first quarter. Appropriately, his first contribution a shot from midrange (which he made). That was pretty much the story of the night: Webster taking handoffs and pulling up for long 2s.

It’s silly that Webster, who shoots 40 percent from beyond the arc, can’t get more free looks from that area. Blame Wittman’s offense. The team’s best 3-point shooters don’t really have plays run for them. —J.C. Townsend


1.5 out of 5 stars

15 mins | minus-3| 7 pts | 3-9 FGs |  1-2 FTs | 6 reb |1 ast | 3 PF | 2 TOs

Nene was noticeably frustrated by the lack of calls he was getting on offense. He complained to the refs more than usual, which caused him to unsuccessfully press even more. He missed point-blank shots, his passes were inaccurate, and he was unable to take advantage of a rookie (Cody Zeller) on either end of the floor. —R. Mobley

Invisible Otto Porter

1 out of 5 stars

11 mins | minus-7 | 2 pts | 1-3 FGs | 0-1 3Ps | 1 reb | 1 ast

Some rookies, man. Cody Zeller didn’t look great in his 11 minutes either, but Zeller was active, which made him more of a threat than Porter. —J.C. Townsend






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John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.