D.C. Council 57: Wizards 115 vs Magic 106: Splash of Class Helps Magic Sugar Pill Go Down | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council 57: Wizards 115 vs Magic 106: Splash of Class Helps Magic Sugar Pill Go Down

Updated: February 26, 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. 57: Wizards vs Magic, featuring Rashad Mobley (@rashad20) and Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks) from the Verizon Center.

Washington Wizards 115 vs Orlando Magic 106
[box score]


John Wall Keeps It 100.



Stat of the Game.

The Wizards are 11-5 when they make 10 or more 3-pointers. Against Orlando, they hit exactly 10. But more 3-point attempts isn’t necessarily the key to ensuring a better chance at victory, at least not historically, at least not for these Wizards. In losses, the Wizards attempt slightly more 3-pointers (21.1) than they do in wins (19.7). That number might also be skewed by the way a basketball game functions for a team that is behind. In the final minutes, teams can expect to take additional 3-pointers if they have points to make up, whereas in wins, a team that is trying to hold a lead may take fewer 3-point attempts while running a slower-paced halfcourt offense.

Ultimately, and it brings me no joy to use this tired phrase, it’s about making shots. The shooting percentages of Beal, Webster, and Ariza (the team’s most prolific 3-point shooters) are stellar in wins, and below average in losses. Against Orlando, Ariza (5-for-5) and Beal (1-for-1) both shot 100 percent from the 3-point arc, and Webster went 0-for-2.

 —Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)


DC Council Key Legislature

Call them pesky, scrappy, hard-nosed, or whatever other synonyms for annoying that are available, but that would accurately describe the Orlando Magic’s play against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night. Each time the Wizards appeared to finally put a bit of distance between them and the Magic, there was Victor Oladipo burying a mid-range jumper, or Maurice Harkless driving to the lane like Dwyane Wade in his prime, or Nikola Vucevic ending a Wizards possession with one of his 10 defensive rebounds (14 total). Nene’s absence from the Wizards was justifiably discussed ad nauseam leading up to the game, but the Magic were without their leading scorer, Arron Afflalo (19.7 points per game).

The Wizards jumped out to an 86-69 lead with 4:46 left in the third quarter, thanks to a Trevor Booker jump shot, but the Magic responded with an 11-0 run to trim the lead to six, 86-80, with 2:27 left in that same quarter. Wall missed a jumper and a layup, Martell Webster missed a 16-footer, Trevor Ariza double-dribbled, and the Magic appeared to gain confidence heading into the fourth quarter. But not so fast.

Trevor Ariza decided to put on a one-man show over the last 2:26 of the third quarter, and the Wizards ended it with a 7-0 run. First, Ariza assisted on a Gortat jumper, then he found Gortat open in the post for a driving hook shot. After a technical foul was called on Orlando’s Tobias Harris, Ariza hit a free throw, then connected on a 21-footer to make the score 93-80—effectively ending any hope the Magic had at carrying momentum into the fourth quarter. Orlando still hung around late, but the Wizards never allowed their lead to dip below eight points, and the Magic never mounted a sustained run again.

—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)


DC Council Chair

John Wall was every bit the All-Star that he’s purported to be, scoring 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting, notching seven assists to only one turnover, and holding a wildly outmatched Jameer Nelson to 2-for-8 from the floor. In the first quarter, Wall took eight shots. Much to the delight of efficiency aficionados and the huh-I-didn’t-notice-but-that-makes-sense of others, all eight of those shots were either 3-pointers (2-for-4) or shots at the rim (3-for-4).

It seemed appropriate, in the wake of John Converse Townsend’s article about Washington’s offense (which has been predicated this season, to a large extent, on inefficient mid-range jump shots), to ask Wall about whether he was making a special effort to improve his shot selection. His answer:

“Just basically what the defense gives me. A lot of guys, they respect my jump shot, but they still want to test me early. I go out there and I’m making shots, and they’ve gotta change their game plan. And that’s something I like to make defenses do, and it makes it easier to get my teammates involved and get them the basketball.”

So maybe just a blip of efficiency (which, it should be noted, led to 13 first-quarter points) within the radar screen of an otherwise unchanged game plan. Still, a great example of what Wall is talking about (via establishment of his shot) came in the first quarter when he received a pass in the corner from Ariza and got his defender to bite on a 3-point fake (he had already made two in the game) before driving baseline and beating everyone to the basket.

For those of you keeping track, that’s 48 points, 16 assists, and two turnovers in the last two games for John Wall. There are still moments where hubris takes over, like when Wall tried to forcibly lace Jameer Nelson up in skates, pat him on the head, and push him onto the ice, but couldn’t quite shake him and instead ended up lobbing an underhanded “shot” while falling. He’s a perfectionist’s work in progress: already good enough, but still getting better.

 —Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)


DC Council Vetoed Participation

The Wizards defense. Coaches and players never like kick another NBA team when they are down, out, or just bad, and they use platitudes like, “The other team gets paid, too…” and “On any given night…” to justify these statements. How true those types of statements really are is debatable, but the futility of the Magic’s offense coming into Tuesday night’s game was not. The Magic were 21st in the NBA in shooting percentage (44%), 21st in True Shooting percentage (52%), and 24th in points per game (96.6)—and most of these numbers were accrued with Arron Afflalo in the lineup.

Afflalo was out with a foot injury against the Wizards, and yet the Magic jumped out and scored 31 points in the first quarter on 52 percent shooting. For the game, despite the loss, the Magic scored 106 points, and shot 50 percent from the field. John Wall and Bradley Beal were able to keep Jameer Nelson (seven points, eight assists, six turnovers) from establishing any shooting rhythm, but Beal and Ariza had no answer for Victor Oladipo or Moe Harkless. Oladipo shot 10-for-20 with 26 points and was able to get off his shots with hands in his face, and Harkless was even more accurate, going 9-for-13 from the field for 22 points. At one point toward the end of the second quarter—with Marcin Gortat in the game—Harkless drove the lane three consecutive times and scored on three consecutive layups.

There is no doubt that Wizards wins will be tougher to come by without Nene, and Gortat will now be responsible for patrolling and protecting the paint. But if the Wizards cannot stop young perimeter players like Harkless and Oladipo, it does not bode well for their projected playoff run against team that will boast more experienced and talented players. But a win is a win, I suppose.

 —Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)


DC Council Top Aide

John Wall owned the first half with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but Trevor Ariza contributed in a supporting role with seven points and two steals over the first 24 minutes. When the third quarter began, and Wall’s mojo subsided a tad, Ariza elevated himself (and his game) into the starring role. He played the entire quarter, he was perfect from 3-point range (3-for-3), and he helped win his game-within-the-game matchup against Victor Oladipo by outscoring him 12-11. He finished with 22 points (7-for-10 from the field) and three steals. There was enough “we gotta step up” talk when Nene went down, but Ariza actually followed through, although his postgame face via Conor Dirks would lead you to believe otherwise…

 —Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)

[via @ConorDDirks]

[via @ConorDDirks]


DC Council Session

That Session Was … A Good First Hunt.

Forgive the pixels. They couldn’t help themselves. The Wizards, before the win last night, had only won seven times (out of 42 games) without Nene in the lineup in the time since the God-fearing Brazilian joined the team. So when Nene went down, the pixels held a clandestine meeting to discuss their options, and decided they would be pixels.

Forgive, but don’t forget. Wall observed that “everyone is talking about” how the team can’t win without Nene, and he was aware of the statistical basis for the belief. But on the first hunt without the team’s most important defensive piece, and conduit for offensive spirit, the Wizards brought back a buck.

Learning how to defend without Nene’s disruption of pick-and-roll action will be a work in progress. Rim protection might be a lost cause: Trevor Ariza was the best rim defender against the Magic, holding opponents to a manageable 50 percent shooting at the rim along with Gortat (53.8 percent shooting by opponents at the rim), while Booker (66.7 percent), Beal (60 percent), and the rest of the team (all 100 percent) struggled to prevent conversions near the basket.

Like a Trevor Ariza 3-point make that bounces high off the iron only to fall through the basket, the Wizards found a way to win despite the high and now indefinitely erected hurdle of Nene’s absence. They’ll need to refine the procedure, but the framework exists.

  —Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)


DC Council Mayor


Randy Wittman appreciates savvy humans. He praised Andre Miller’s leadership after the game, even while noting that Miller still has “moments when he has a little hesitation.” But even among all the savvy, there is room for doubt, for fear, for hearts in throats that beat more frequently than they should. When Trevor Booker went to the locker room with an injury during the first half, Wittman was (what do the kids say?) shaking his damn head:

“Trevor [Booker] in the first half got nicked a little bit and had to go back and get taped, and I was shaking my head saying things come in threes, with Nene and Kevin [being injured], but he ended up being OK.”

Wittman’s mood ring was a mix of lavender and light blue, and at times the levity even produced #WittmanLOLs, as it did when Wittman answered a question from a reporter about how he would use Drew Gooden:

“Oh, did we sign him?”

“Well, not yet, but…”

“OK. I thought you were up there with Ernie.”

Many yucks were upped.

Wins! Laughter! We are having all the good times! Nothing is wrong below the surface!

The Wizards will have their issues, and may at times be exposed by the league’s elite in Nene’s absence, but wins against teams like the Magic (11 of Washington’s final 25 games come against teams with winning percentages under 40 percent) will keep them on pace for postseason relevance.

 —Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)


End Vines.

Uncle Al Stuff…

Gortat Glass.

John Wall got this.


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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.