D.C. Council 52: Wizards 112 at Rockets 113: Ariza's Missiles Not a Problem For Houston | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council 52: Wizards 112 at Rockets 113: Ariza’s Missiles Not a Problem For Houston

Updated: February 13, 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. 52: Wizards at Rockets; contributors: Rashad Mobley and Adam McGinnis from their homes away from the road.

Washington Wizards 112 at Houston Rockets 113
[box score]


[Ariza #7, #8, #9 & #10]



DC Council Key Legislature

There were four seconds left in the game, and the Wizards were up just one point, 112-111, after James Harden’s free throw (via a questionable call on Trevor Ariza). Before the Rockets ran their set play, Comcast SportsNet’s Steve Buckhantz made this astute observation to the viewing audience: “So you gotta watch these screens being set now by [Dwight] Howard.” Ideally, Randy Wittman, one of his assistants or perhaps one of the better Wizards defenders would have shouted out the same type of advice to Bradley Beal and John Wall, since they were in the vicinity of Howard and Harden, who figured to be the beneficiary of said pick. Any sage advice went unheeded, and the Wizards’ defensive stalwarts were nowhere to be found.

Trevor Ariza fouled out of the game when his arms were entangled with Harden’s off-the-ball, and Nene fouled out two minutes earlier via an offensive foul. Even Marcin Gortat, who may have been able to provide a bit of resistance to any pick Howard intended to set, was planted on the bench, because he too fouled out with 3:36 left in the game.

Howard set a firm screen on Wall without any resistance from Kevin Seraphin, and Wall neither saw nor anticipated Howard’s arrival. Harden ran off the screen, caught the ball and began his drive to the basket. Beal was fooled by Jeremy Lin, who feigned a pick and then retreated to the 3-point line. Seraphin, who was now the last line of defense in front of the basket, did not attempt to block the shot or deliver a hard foul (although in fairness Harden had hit all 16 of his free throw attempts to that point, fouling would not have been a winning strategy), and he simply stood there with his hands up while Harden drove by him and hit the game-winning layup.

The previous night against the Grizzlies, as TAIs John Converse Townsend observed in the “Key Legislature” segment, Coach Wittman was unable to draw up a game-winning play. The very next night, admittedly against a great player like James Harden, Wittman’s team seemed ill-prepared defensively, and yet another game was lost in the waning seconds.

—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)


DC Council Chair
Trevor Ariza, next man up. Ariza must have watched Beal’s 37 points on a 15-for-24 shooting performance in Memphis and decided he wanted a piece of the action in Houston. He started off “slow” with 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the field (3-for-5 from the 3-point line), but in the third quarter, he simply showed off.

Ariza scored 21 of the Wizards’ 36 third-quarter points and was a perfect 7-for-7 from 3-point range (7-for-10 from the field overall). Fifteen of those 21 points were scored in the last 3:19 of the quarter, when the Wizards cut the Rockets’ 19-point lead down to just three points. Unfortunately, Ariza’s magic expired at the end of the third quarter: he went scoreless with three fouls in the fourth quarter and was left staring into space as James Harden hit the game-winning basket.

Without his yeoman third quarter effort, the Wizards may not have even been in the game, especially considering Martell Webster, the Wizards’ other 3-point marksman, was limited by injury and was held scoreless. Ariza finished with a season-high 32 points, and set a career-high by connecting on 10 of his 14 3-point attempts.

—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)


DC Council Vetoed Participation

TAI’s boss man, Kyle Weidie, recently wrote an excellent piece on Marcin Gortat about how his strong offensive numbers don’t back up the unfair flack he receives from some Wizards fans. So, of course, Gortat validated all of those critics with a stinker in Houston. The Polish (Hammer) Flower again got into early foul trouble, and Houston’s first-half dominance on the glass was a direct result of Gortat’s soft play around the hoop. He struggled guarding his ex-teammate Dwight Howard and even Terrence Jones was pushing Gortat around. Marcin eventually fouled out. The Wizards are going to need better production out their Polish center if they are going to make a strong playoff push.

—Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)


DC Council Top Aide

John Wall bounced back from his worst outing of the season against Memphis to have an outstanding floor game versus the Rockets. Wall finished with 14 assists, three steals and zero turnovers. Houston had trouble staying in front of Wall all evening. He still settled for way too many jumpers, but did a draw foul on a key drive with four seconds remaining in the game. The All-Star point guard knocked down both clutch free throws to give Washington a two-point lead before Harden’s flop and Howard’s grab gave Houston a controversial win.

—Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)


DC Council Session
That session was … complete hose job by inept officials

Few want to hear the media, or anyone else, blame a loss on the referees because it is tiresome behavior and often an attempt to shift responsibility away from the team that came up short. Sure, the Wizards could have benefitted from playing with more energy at tip-off and playing, or from playing better defense. But Nene’s six missed free throws, for example, were killer and those are all on him.

Many of Washington’s close losses this season can be summarized quickly with a “they didn’t deserve to win that one.” Tuesday night’s defeat in Memphis is a prime example. However, Washington deserved to win this game in Houston. They fought back after digging themselves a deep hole, shared the basketball (28 assists to just nine turnovers), knocked down 16 3-pointers, and got clutch stops in crunch time.

They were unable to overcome the one-sided officiating. Houston shot 47 free throws—31 more than Washington—and the Wizards were whistled for 13 more team fouls than the Rockets. Three Wizards players—Ariza, Gortat and Nene—fouled out, while Houston did not have a player with more than three fouls.

The painful ending (about which even Phil Jackson shook his head) was an insult to those watching, and why many casual sports fans dislike the NBA. The league should reprimand these officials for their atrocious performance. Official Dick Bavetta was born in 1939, and it is quite clear that his ability to keep up with best athletes in the world has to be re-evaluated. The NBA needs to step in and do something before more outcomes like this are affected by Bavetta’s poor judgement and thus stain his long, illustrious career. (The NBA already gave him a pass on all of this.)

Ariza was in disbelief.


Ariza tried hard not to be candid about the terrible call.


Wittman was “sad” that game was taken from his team.


Hopefully, Washington owner Ted Leonsis sent a message to new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and voiced his displeasure because the conclusion to Wednesday night’s action was unacceptable. Leonsis doesn’t have to act like Mark Cuban over the officials, but he needs to let customers of his team know that he has their back in stolen losses like this one. At least publicly, it looks like Leonsis is pleading the fifth.

—Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)


DC Council Mayor

What’s a Randy to do?

His starters didn’t really fare all that well together. They played 18 minutes as a unit to the tune of minus-16, shooting 39.5 percent from the field and 1-for-5 from the free throw line. Opposing units against the Wizards’ starting five shot 73.1 percent from the field and 11-for-16 from the line over the 18 minutes.

The night was saved by Ariza’s hot shooting, but even he was minus-7 when on the floor. More advanced statistical deception:

Washington’s best five-man unit was four minutes of Wall, Ariza, Otto Porter, Trevor Booker, and Marcin Gortat. They were plus-13, which is of course deceived by 6-for-7 shooting from deep (Lord Athreeza.)

But who was really deceived? Did the referees get deceived by James Harden in the end? Or did the basketball gods deceive the heroics with their creation of a single play that sticks out like a fish flopping violently on a pier.

Randy Wittman is the fisherman, and his team could not have closed out the first portion of the season in a more disappointing way. Sometimes you just gotta weather the storm. What really matters: how torn up will the boat be after the break.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)


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Stat of the Game.

The Houston Rockets committed just 19 fouls, while the Wizards committed 32—18 of those fouls came from starters Nene, Gortat and Ariza, all of whom fouled out. Houston went 35-of-47 (74-percent) from the line, led by James Harden, who was perfect from the free-throw line (16-of-16), while the Wizards shot a paltry 8-of-16. Usually Nene is the only one who has a legitimate gripe about the lack of fouls called, but in this instance, the entire team got the shaft.

And Trevor Ariza’s shot card is sparse, but efficient.

—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)


End Vines.


Refs granted Harden a timeout.


Wittman was angry about the decision.


Seraphin’s game-winning attempt just missed.


And more…



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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.