D.C. Council Game 50: Wizards 93 vs Kings 84: God Forgives, but Defense Doesn’t
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. 50: Wizards vs Kings; contributors: Sean Fagan and Conor Dirks from the Verizon Center, and Rashad Mobley from his spot in the District.
Washington Wizards 93 vs Sacramento Kings 84
After a Bradley Beal 3-pointer put Washington up by 11 points with 5:33 remaining in the game, the Wizards offense went cold. John Wall walked the ball up the court, seemed to yell at Kevin Seraphin to clear out of the lane, and then turned the ball over on a one-versus-three drive to the basket. On Washington’s next possession, Trevor Ariza got a clean look at a 3-pointer over a recovering Isaiah Thomas, but it hit the front of the rim. Then Nene missed an 11-foot jump shot. All told, in those two minutes after the Beal 3-pointer, the Wizards scored 0 points. Cue “ugh, #SoWizards, I’ve seen this before, prevent offense, get a good shot, ugh, pitchforks, storm Randy Wittman’s castle, ugh, is Gaston here, ugh, five dozen eggs, ugh.”
Except, that’s not quite how it went. After two scoreless minutes late in the fourth quarter, Martell Webster sprinted ahead of Wall as Washington brought the ball up the court, and Isaiah Thomas, caught in a liminal state between Wall and Webster, couldn’t pick off the pass which led to a wide-open Webster 3-pointer, and the Wizards, who had been so cold when it should count most, actually increased their lead. How?
Because during those two minutes where the offense resembled an unthreaded gear attempting to catch a groove, the Wizards defense shut down everything Sacramento threw at it. After his missed 3-pointer, Trevor Ariza dove dramatically on the floor to wrestle the ball away from the several Kings attempting to secure it. The Kings were able to call a timeout, but like hookah smoke, Ariza hovered. When the Kings attempted to force the ball through to Rudy Gay on the block, Trevor’s alacritous arms activated, and he ruined another opportunity for Sacramento to take advantage of Washington’s failure on offense. It was Ariza’s second steal of those two minutes.
While the Wizards were missing shots, the Kings simply weren’t getting shots (0-for-1 during those two minutes). The offensive drought ended, and constructively, so did the game, when Wall picked off a double-teamed Rudy Gay’s cross-court pass and found Webster for the dagger that put Washington up 13 points, 91-78, with 3:29 left.
—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)
Nene/Trevor Ariza. Deep within the bowels of the Verizon Center, two floors beneath the practice court, there is a secret room which only bears a hand-painted sign which reads: “VETERANS ONLY.” Rumor has it that Susan O’Malley and Wes Unseld lie in state there much like Lenin in the Red Square. During the room’s heyday, Antawn Jamison used to sit in front of the room in his rocking chair, cussing out and barring admittance to anyone he didn’t like. Josh Howard used the room as a cryogenic chamber during his time with the Wizards, disappearing for months at a time from the locker room only to reemerge to hurt himself again. Rashard Lewis never found the room and gave up after a three-month search.
Today the room has been turned over to the duo of Nene and Trevor Ariza. They sit in their custom barcaloungers and have their own whiteboard in which they plan out what ‘THEY’ want to do during the next game. On Sunday night the message on the whiteboard consisted of two words: “Troll Boogie.”
Troll the young man from Sacramento they did, consistently and thoroughly. Much like a horse being bitten by black flies, Cousins was driven into an ineffective rage as he was nudged and prodded towards a classic Cousins performance of screaming at his teammates, taking plays off, and settling for shots from behind the arc rather than mix it up with Nene in the interior.
The greatest moment in an otherwise poorly played game came when Cousins and Ariza found themselves in a jump ball situation. On one end of the ball was Cousins, pulling at the bouncy object like a Rottweiler pulls at a chew toy, a look of confused rage on his face. On the other end was Ariza, refusing to let go, all the while sporting a look of serene bemusement. For a man who John Wall claims is going to “destroy the league” following his All-Star snub, Cousins is off to a poor start after allowing the Wizards to crawl inside his head. Shooting 3-16 from the field and socking Martell Webster in the family jewels isn’t destroying the league, it’s just more of the same selfish and erratic play we have come to expect from Cousins. #WizardsTrollFace forever.
—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)
Trevor Ariza and John Wall did have positive contributions at different points during the game, but even in victory, the bad far outweighed the good. Ariza shot 2-for-11 in 37 minutes, and he missed several wide-open shots. Wall sizzled in the first quarter (nine points on 4-for-5 shooting), and fizzled over the remainder of the game (1-for-8 with three points), while letting Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas run wild with 30 points. It may seem petty to criticize their efforts on a night when the Wizards were victorious, but even an average shooting night from Ariza, and a more stout defensive effort from Wall on Thomas, would have led to a much easier victory for the Wizards.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
Coming up in the increasingly controversial (at least from 10,000 feet) AAU circuit, Bradley Beal and Ben McLemore were teammates. According to Beal, he advised his former teammate to not help off of him, lest he leave Beal all alone with an open shot. Poor Ben, a mere rookie, did not heed his advice. In the fourth quarter, Beal spotted up in the corner, and when McLemore rushed toward the ball-handler in the middle of the court, Beal called for the pass, rose up with the shooting form which gave scouts confidence that he would be a great shooter even when he wasn’t there yet, and swished a 3-pointer. And then he did it again. And then the game was out of reach.
While John Wall’s passing is built around inducing panic in defenders with his speed and being the planet-sized presence that draws opponents towards him like a time-lapse video of moon acquisition, Bradley Beal is Washington’s best slow-dribble passer. Initially limited to a two-man game with Gortat, Beal has slowly built the same rapport with Nene, and when he plays well, it’s often by building meaningful possessions off of his dribble, and by finding his big men while probing the defense.
—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)
That session was … changed by a dunk, almost.
With 3:33 left in the third quarter, Marcin Gortat made Quincy Acy look foolish in the post by spinning hard to the right, then scoring, then drawing a foul to give the Wizards a 73-56 lead. During the next Kings offensive possession, Acy took a pass from Isaiah Thomas, took one power dribble and returned the favor by doing this dirty little number to the Polish Hammer:
The dunk sent a buzz through the crowd, but more importantly it energized the rest of the Kings squad. From the 3:17 mark of the third quarter, when Acy threw it down, to the 9:27 mark of the fourth quarter, when Kevin Seraphin hit a short jump shot, the Kings outscored the Wizards 12-4 and made life uncomfortable for them. Bradley Beal’s back-to-back 3-pointers with 5:33 left in the game once again gave the Wizards a double-digit lead, and finally brought them peace of mind in a game that wasn’t all that aesthetically pleasing.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
Randy Wittman didn’t have many nice things to say following the win, but to place the blame solely on the players is to ignore the fact that for the second consecutive game Wittman made a series of bizarre coaching decisions that almost ran the good ship Wizards aground on the shoals. Wittman has decided to go full Eddie Jordan in the past few games, sending out a series of baffling lineups and substitution patterns that can only leave fans and pundits confused.
The primary source of confusion is Wittman’s sudden lack of faith in Trevor Booker, who once again received only a smattering of playing time and remained pinned to the bench in favor of Kevin Seraphin. Seraphin was allowed to play through his mistakes and almost cost the Wizards the game, as he was left on the court well past the point in which he was conditioned to play and once again became a black hole on offense. Seraphin is either being auditioned for a possible trade or there is something rotten in the state of Wizardom, because there is no way the Wizards can expect to win with Seraphin playing 23 minutes and refusing to fix his poor basketball habits.
—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)
2 out of 5 stars
36 mins | plus-9 | 12 pts | 5-13 FGs | 1-4 3Ps | 1-2 FTs | 2 rebs | 4 asts | 1 stl | 5 TOs
Comcast’s Steve Buckhantz and Phil Chenier seemed to obsess over John Wall’s inability to register a single assist in the first half of play, but his hot shooting first quarter was more than enough to offset that. Plus, Ariza and Beal missed open shots that would have added to Wall’s assist total. What was alarming about Wall’s performance was his lack of aggression and lack of fastbreak points. After going 4-for-5 in the first quarter, Wall fell in love with his jumper over the remainder of the game and went just 1-for-8 from the field. There were no dazzling coast-to-coast plays, there were no hard drives to the basket, and Wall had just attempts from the foul line. The man he was guarding, Mr. Isaiah Thomas, made it his business to get in the lane repeatedly and got to the line eight times, hitting all eight attempts. It sounds like nitpicking, but if the Wizards aspire to be a good team, they will get big performances from their All-Star players and put teams like the Kings away rather quickly. —R. Mobley
4 out of 5 stars
34 mins | plus-11 | 16 pts | 6-10 FGs | 4-5 3Ps | 6 rebs | 5 asts | 1 stl | 2 TOs
After being embarrassed by Dion Waiters and the Cavaliers, Bradley Beal became almost exactly what the Wizards need him to be consistently: a multi-dimensional 3-point shooter who rebounds, passes well, and finds places on the floor to receive the ball with space to shoot. The over-dribbling, the over-confidence … the starry look in his eyes between the 17th dribble and the 14th 19-foot jump shot … nightmares of nights past. Free throws would have earned a perfect score. —C. Dirks
2.5 out of 5 stars
38 mins | plus-10 | 8 pts | 2-11 FGs | 1-4 3Ps | 3-5 FTs | 5 rebs | 2 asts | 4 stls | 1 TO
Ariza did his job on the defensive end by drawing charges, blocking a shot, stealing four balls, and forcing Rudy Gay into a forgettable night (2-of-11 from the field with just five points). Unfortunately, Ariza missed several open shots and had a 2-of-11 shooting night of his own to match Gay’s. Still, Ariza deserves credit for his hustle, despite the dismal shooting night. One on possession with 10:02 left in the third quarter, Ariza threw an errant pass, then hustled back on defense to get a steal of his own, which led to an easy Nene layup. —R. Mobley
5 out of 5 stars
35 mins | plus -10 | 18 pts | 6-13 FGs | 6-7 FTs | 5 rebs | 5 asts | 2 atls | 3 blks | 1 Crazy Boogie
It can be increasingly sad to watch Nene’s body slowly atrophy beneath him as he loses the hops and athleticism that defined him in his Denver days. However, with age come wiliness, which Nene employed to devolve DeMarcus Cousins’s visage into a pouty expression that Nene can only hope to aspire to in his most Il Divo of moments. In the second quarter it was Nene with the strip and steal of Cousins only to go “full court Nene” and hit the open man for the basket. In the fourth quarter, Nene was getting physical with Cousins and swatting his junk back into his face. Like #God, Nene is everywhere and everything at once. —S. Fagan
4 out of 5 stars
33 mins | minus -3 | 17 pts | 6-10 FGs | 5-5 FTs | 8 rebs | 1 Posterization
The only thing that anyone will remember of Sunday night’s game in years to come is Quincy Acy posterizing Gortat. Of Gortat’s play, they might mention the 3-to-4 bunnies he missed during the third quarter, which would have put the game out of reach for the Wizards and would have given the fans some much needed time with Otto Porter. What will be forgotten is how Gortat started 4-for-4 from the field and for the first seven minutes of the game appeared to be the only Wizard who realized that the game started at 6 p.m. He can’t speak for other people, but Gortat, for one, came to play. —S. Fagan
2 out of 5 stars
24 mins | minus-3 | 8 pts | 3-10 FGs | 2-8 3Ps | 2 rebs | 2 blks
After the game, Martell Webster told the media that he thought the Wizards should be seven games over .500 at this point in the season. Improved defense and a National Treasure-style quest to find his (at one point last year) top 15 stroke would have helped towards that goal.
But don’t forget that Martell spends much of his time playing with the second unit, and minutes played therein are heroic minutes. Surely, his looks, and thereby his shooting percentage, would be much improved simply by way of receiving the same opportunity that he did last season. Others might complain. Martell does not. —C. Dirks
2.5 out of 5 stars
12 mins | even-0 | 4 pts | 1-3 FGs | 2-3 FTs | 2 rebs | 3 asts | 1 stl | 1 blk
From 9:51 to 8:17 of the second quarter, Garrett Temple was completely dominant. He had two assists to Beal and Seraphin, he went 1-for-2 from the free throw line after being fouled by Kings forward Jason Thompson, and he stole the ball from Jimmer Fredette and converted on a 3-point play. Later in the fourth quarter, Temple atoned for his bad-pass turnover by sprinting back down court and blocking Isaiah Thomas’ layup attempt. He isn’t flashy, and his numbers rarely tell the story of his impact, but Temple continues to do his very best in keeping Eric Maynor glued to the bench. —R. Mobley
3 out of 5 stars
23 min | plus -10 | 10 pts | 5-9 FGs | 8 rebs | 2 TOs | 1M WTF
This is what one would call an “empty calorie” stat line. An illusion immortalized by JaVale McGee, the box score once-over you could easily be persuaded that Seraphin had a good game by glancing at the numbers and his sterling plus-10 on the floor. Closer analysis will leave you confused as to why Seraphin was on the floor 23 minutes and gasping for air (not his fault), and frustrated by Randy Wittman’s failure to give Seraphin the hook after another 20-foot hook shot from the right post. It was the best of #KSLife, it was the worst of #KSLife. —S. Fagan
(Null) out of 5 stars
5 mins | plus-5 | 0 pts | 0-0 FGs | 0 rebs | 1 PF
Well, this is awkward… Oh, hey Trevor Booker! Yeah, sorry about not playing you more. What’s that? You don’t understand. Don’t worry, I have a perfectly and particularly good explanation. It’s just that … no, wait, give me a second … really, I mean Kevin … yes, I’m aware he doesn’t pass or rebound … why do you always make me out to be the bad guy!? You always do this! Sometimes I feel like you don’t even know me. —C. Dirks
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