D.C. Council 73: Wizards 101 vs Hawks 97: Wall and Gooden Clip Some Hawks Wings for Playoff Science | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council 73: Wizards 101 vs Hawks 97: Wall and Gooden Clip Some Hawks Wings for Playoff Science

Updated: March 31, 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. 73: Wizards vs Hawks, featuring Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks) and John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) from the Verizon Center, Chinatown.
Stats probably via the normal places, Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com/stats.

Washington Wizards 101 vs Atlanta Hawks 97
[box score]


Still Drew Gooden.





Stat(s) of the Game.

The key stat: bench points. The Wizards this season have had one of the least productive second units in the NBA. Their bench currently ranks 29 out of 30, scoring an average of 25.5 points per game. Even with the addition of fire-starter Drew Gooden (15 appearances), they rank in the bottom third (29.2). The Hawks’ bench is actually decent, coming in at 13 with 32.1 points per game (tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder).

But on Saturday night, when the Wizards starters were outscored 67-64, their bench stepped up big time. Led by Gooden (16 points, plus “M-V-P” chants in the fourth quarter), the Wizards second unit beat up on Atlanta’s backups, 37-30. And that made all the difference.

—John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)


DC Council Key Legislature

The Seesaw.


When Jeff Teague made a six-foot shot with 6:13 remaining in the game, Washington hadn’t scored for two minutes and Atlanta had rung off six straight points, bringing themselves within three points of the Wizards, 88-85. Perhaps consumed by renewed urgency (perhaps it chilled the soul, perhaps it lit a proverbial fire under several asses, perhaps it was the 73rd game of an NBA season and the Wizards knew it was their turn to make a run), Washington responded.

Andre Miller, who played extended minutes with John Wall and Bradley Beal in a new pleat in Randy Wittman’s traditionally starched rotation, began Washington’s run with a pull-up jump shot. After a missed 3-pointer by Pero Antic, Drew Gooden set a pick in front of John Wall, found himself between two defenders, and instead of waiting for Wall to use the screen, slid between the defenders. Wall saw him slip free, and lobbed the basketball towards his teammate as Gooden landed just above the restricted area. In one motion, Gooden caught the ball and banked it through, leaning into and over a recovering Pero Antic.

Paul Millsap turned the ball over on the next Hawks possession, and after the inbound pass, John Wall floated to the baseline before leaving his feet and lobbing an alley oop to Marcin Gortat. Even before Gortat flushed it home, Wall was bouncing with celebratory anticipation as he watched from just outside the baseline boundary of the court. Jeff Teague dampened Washington’s momentum on a runner in the paint, but Wall, left wide open above the arc, re-gripped the ball and raised up to drain a 3-pointer which would put the Wizards up 97-87 with 3:51 remaining.

But over the course of two minutes of acute agony, everything that could go wrong for the Wizards did so in that uniquely Murphy’s Law-esque/Wizards-esque way that controls what we’ve come to know, over the years, as #SoWizards basketball. (Sidenote: 2013-14 has seen reduced #SoWizards moments when compared to seasons prior). A missed shot by Beal, a missed shot by Gortat, two missed free throws by Wall, and an egregious miss by Gortat which had even the mighty Polish Machine retroactively worrying aloud in the locker room that he may have been “shot in the street” had the Wizards lost … these were your Washington Wizards from 2:38 to 0:07 in the fourth quarter.

Atlanta competed spectacularly in that same time period, and had a chance to tie the game when Jeff Teague beat Bradley Beal around a screen and drove the lane, protected by Drew Gooden. Gooden defended the play well, and fought off two Hawks for the rebound. Beal, realizing how many disapproving #WittmanFace looks he’d just been spared, gave Gooden a great big hug as Gooden held the ball up like the Stanley Cup and they both walked off into the sunset. This twilight promenade was of course interrupted by the fact that Gooden had to close the game out at the free throw line, which he did with remarkable sangfroid. When both teams cleared the court, over-curious liars claimed that Washington had cheated the seesaw by stuffing rocks in their pants, but that’s just a bad joke.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)


DC Council Chair

John Wall. (Was there ever any doubt?)

Sure, he missed four free throws—including two consecutive late in the fourth quarter, which kept the Hawks alive—but he also led all players in field goal attempts (20), field goals made (10), 3s made (3), points (25), steals (3), and tied Shelvin Mack with six assists.

And here’s a fun fact, via Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy: John Wall had 13 points in a decisive third quarter, which means he’s now scored 13 or more points in seven different quarters this month, the most in the NBA in March.

—John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)


DC Council Vetoed Participation

By the books, it’s Bradley Beal. Every Wizard that entered the game,  save young Bradley Beal, posted a neutral or positive plus/minus differential. These plus/minus numbers don’t always give an accurate account of the player’s performance in the game, but when the number is as dramatic as Bradley’s was against the Hawks (minus-20 in 37 minutes) and none of your teammates have suffered a similar miscategorization, it’s a fairly reliable indicator that a player may have done more harm than good.

This is not to say that Bradley Beal is incapable of complementing John Wall’s increasingly consistent performances, eventually. Washington’s second fiddle apparent sometimes looks the part. On some nights, he’s lethal, a pitiless 3-point shooter that seems unaffected by late-game pressure. In this game, his poor shooting (5-for-15) and spotty defense undermined an obvious effort to get more shots at the rim, which was only successful in the sense that Beal took (but did not make) those shots.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)


DC Council Top Aide

Drew Gooden.

In Gooden’s mind, his exceptional, if not always dependable, play since joining the Wizards is bound up in the fact that he’s “still Drew Gooden.” Of course, this descriptor is loaded, and largely subjective. When Drew Gooden signed with the Wizards, he was “still Drew Gooden,” but to most that meant he was still the Drew Gooden whose career came to an ignominious end in Milwaukee after the Bucks used the amnesty provision to release him in July 2013, the Drew Gooden who was unemployed, drawing little (if any) interest from NBA teams during the better part of the season.

But “still Drew Gooden” trends more towards “been trill” than “still bad.” Accepting Drew Gooden has been a journey, and in many games this season the now debunked preconceptions held by many were forced into conversation with a more pleasant reality. The scoring (16 points on 5-for-5 shooting) is easy to praise, and incredibly necessary in the hunt for a replacement for Nene’s 14.2 points per game. The eight rebounds, including what would be the game-sealing rebound of Jeff Teague’s shot with the Wizards up 99-97, are indicative of a kinetic presence, a dissemination of activity that has surprisingly defined what Drew Gooden is: Washington’s third-best big man after Nene and Marcin Gortat.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)


DC Council Session

That session was … closer than it should have been.

“There is not a bad win in this league, we will take the win,” Wittman said after the game. “I am happy for them for that. Good back-to-back. We got to do better finishing games the last two minutes. That is the bottom line. We got to do better.”

The Wizards led 99-91 with two minutes to play. What did their offense—Wittman’s offense—produce? They got a midrange jumper from Beal (a miss), a 15-foot jumper from Gortat in the pick-and-roll (another miss), a Wall isolation (resulted in free throws, which he missed), a Gortat layup off a jump-pass from Wall into the paint (Gortat missed off the side of the rim).

Meanwhile, the Hawks scored six straight points at the free throw line to cut the lead to two points, 97-99. Jeff Teague then missed a reverse layup against Drew Gooden, who went on to sink a pair of free throws on the other end that all but ended the game.

Fact is, the Wizards haven’t been great in the final two minutes of games this season (they’re 4-9 in games decided by three points or less), and they are one of the worst NBA teams in the clutch this season. A big part of that problem is that the Wizards rank are 20th in clutch FG% (all those midrange jumpers don’t help).

But a win is a win, isn’t it?

—John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)


DC Council Mayor

It was a bit surprising to see Randy Wittman give Bradley Beal 12 minutes of run in the fourth quarter. Through three, Beal was 5-for-14 from the field, and he attempted just one shot in the final period, a 14-foot midrange jumper, which he missed.

Beal did go 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the fourth, so there’s that. He also totaled six rebounds and five assists when all was said and done (just the fourth time he’s done that this season), which makes his inefficient game (one of many) seem less disappointing … until you notice the plus/minus column in the box score. Beal was a game-worst minus-20.

Why not give, say, Martell Webster more time on the floor (3:19 in the fourth)? Because Beal is one of Wittman’s ‘guys,’ a player who wants the ball and won’t hesitate to shoot, contested or not.

—John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)

The End.

John Wall extra-graphic tee.



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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.