D.C. Council Game 1: Wizards Toasted by New Heat Era | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council Game 1: Wizards Toasted by New Heat Era

Updated: October 30, 2014

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council: setting the scene, providing the analysis, evaluating players, and catching anything that you may have missed from the Washington Wizards. Game No. 1: Wizards vs Heat in neon-lit Miami; contributors: Conor Dirks and Sean Fagan from D.C. and Brooklyn, respectively.

Washington Wizards 95 vs Miami Heat 107
[box score]

DC Council Session

That Session Was … Sloppy as You Like.

Some things are better when they’re disorganized. Barbecue, madcap attempts to find your friend after he disappears at his own bachelor party in Las Vegas, war efforts, those times when you are Julia Roberts and you go to the wedding of your best friend but you’re actually in love with him and you don’t know how to tell him with only days remaining even though people get divorced all the time but it all works out because it’s actually a movie that is being sold to viewers.

Season openers are different. The offseason language is always the same: working out, getting prepared for the season, fine-tuning. When a basketball team takes the floor for the first time in a given season, and the product is on display, sloppiness can be disappointing, especially given hypebeast marketing rhetoric preying on the excitability of fans. But that’s hardly fair, given Washington’s particular situation. In Game 1, the Wizards were without Nene (suspended), DeJuan Blair (suspended), Glen Rice Jr. (“healthy” but not “healthy enough”), Bradley Beal (broken wrist bone), and Martell Webster (putting out albums/recovering from back surgery).

Both teams were out of sorts to start the game, but while the Wizards only fell deeper into disarray, Miami found its footing on the strength of their remaining stars, shining all the brighter for the second leaving of LeBron James. John Wall, Washington’s counterpoint to Miami’s star power, came out of the gate strong enough, ending the first half with nine assists. But there were moments in the first half that foreshadowed what the second half made plain: Washington needs to adjust on both sides of the ball if they’re going to beat decent teams without Beal and Webster. When the offense runs through Drew Gooden III (second among starters in USG%) in a starting lineup that also features Paul Pierce and Marcin Gortat, something is off.

After a season of watching Wall find his shooters in the perfect places on the perimeter, it was frustrating to see him look up mid-drive, realize his teammates hadn’t freed themselves or were simply out of position, and then get either forced into an unfavorable and ill-advised pass or be flustered into bobbling the ball, having already committed to abandoning his shot.

And Washington’s defense, sloppy all game and anchored over the hill along with the majority of the players that populate the roster, slowed down considerably as the game went on. Randy Wittman told the Washington Post that the loss had nothing to do with offense, and that’s not exactly true, but running coachspeak through Google Translate reveals he’s probably saying that defense was the bigger issue. The 31-point second quarter and the 35-point fourth quarter for Miami raise their hands. And so it goes.

To close, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to say a few words about our friend Rasual Butler, whose pride was mortally wounded last night. I’ll keep this short:

Many a time, when a veteran collides with a rookie early in the young chap’s career, eager basketball enthusiasts will chirp, “Welcome to the league, rook!” But a single quantum event separated James Ennis’ debut from the predictable universe in which many of us live on a daily basis, and a branch universe was created solely to house Rasual Butler’s memory of Ennis yamming on him something awful. “Welcome back to the league, Tumbleweed Butler!”

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)

DC Council Chair

Paul Pierce

3 out of 5 stars

33 mins | minus-2 | 17 pts | 6-10 FGs | 1-3 3Ps | 4-5 FTs | 6 rebs | 5 asts | 2 stl | 1 TO

Pierce was a pleasant surprise in his Wizards debut, slotting into Trevor Ariza’s place with aplomb doing all the “Paul Pierce” things that one has come to expect over the years. He drew defensive attention, played decent defense and even showcased a nifty little two-man game that has begun to develop with John Wall. Perhaps the most important part is the ball didn’t stick in Pierce’s hands. The only complaint one could make is at his minutes, as 33 is a pretty heavy load to be putting on the Wizards’ second-most delicate Fabergé egg.

—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)

DC Council Vetoed Participation

Garrett Temple

1 out of 5 stars

31 mins | minus-2 | 6 pts | 2-8 FGs | 2-6 3Ps | 0-0 FTs | 7 reb | 1 ast | 2 stl | 3 TOs

Remember when Patrick Ewing made a cameo as the Angel of Death in “The Exorcist III”? I hope you don’t. It was not a great moment for anyone involved. I don’t want to say Garrett Temple is Patrick Ewing as the Angel of Death in “The Exorcist III,” but I doubt Temple would want this performance listed on his IMDb page.

Garrett Temple touched the ball plenty (42 touches, according to NBA.com/stats), but didn’t create (one assist). Shot the ball plenty (eight attempts), but didn’t score (six points). Tried plenty on defense, but didn’t do it well (got beat off the dribble often, and on an important late play switched onto Luol Deng only to overplay him and watch Deng lean in for an easy one).

Wittman may very well be keeping Temple in the starting lineup as a placeholder for Beal, in order to keep the second unit static. Or he may be attempting to balance the scoring ability of the second unit. Or he may have only started Temple because Rice wasn’t well enough to play. But I’m betting on the former, and the Wizards will need to find a way to get something more than conceptual defense from Temple during the next few weeks.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)

DC Council Top Aide

Drew Gooden III

3 out of 5 stars

34 mins | plus-3 | 18 pts | 8-11 FGs | 1-2 3Ps | 1-4 FTs | 5 rebs | 1 asts | 0 blk | 2 TO

Super. Scrap heap Drew Gooden from last year wasn’t a fever dream that we all produced in our collective consciousness and is still a productive NBA player. He cleans up scraps. He moves his feet on defense. He even appears to be a jovial bench presence. The problem is that he isn’t Nene and the fulcrum for this team is having a big who can rotate the ball and draw in the defense rather than put up a bunch of shots. If a successful NBA team is group of players who each know their roles, Gooden is a session bassist who was just told to do a 10-minute solo. The results are interesting on their surface but point to an underlying weakness that can’t be ignored.

—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)

DC Council Players

John Wall

2 out of 5 stars

37 min | plus-2 | 16 pts | 6-13 FG | 0-2 3P | 4-4 FTs | 11 ast | 3 rebs | 2 stls | 6 TO

The star system is, unfortunately, an inexact science and players will always be graded on the curviest of curves. So while a two-star rating might be seen as a brutal injustice levied against the Wizards’ star point guard, Wall is still be graded for taking advanced calculus while the rest of his teammates are stuck in remedial algebra. Even in advanced calculus, Wall had an entire passel of turnovers and played most of the first half only somewhat under control. Wall has already developed a nice rapport with Paul Pierce but the absence of Beal and the departed Trevor Ariza is going to force Wall into trusting teammates who are being forced to step up (Porter) or take over the game himself when the situation arises. Because Garrett Temple ain’t cutting it. —Sean Fagan


Marcin Gortat

3 out of 5 stars

40 mins | plus-3 | 18 pts | 7-14 FGs | 4-5 FTs | 7 rebs | 1 blk | 0 ast | 0 TOs

Miami started a small lineup (of Cole/Wade/Williams/Deng/Bosh) and the Wizards starters seemed to respond well. Gortat showed some very nice chemistry with newcomer Paul Pierce, patiently waiting for Pierce to draw a double-team late in the shot clock before showing on the baseline. (Then again, it seemed like Pierce yakked at Gortat after the Wizards won an uncontested jump ball and the Heat somehow came up with it.) The Polish Machine, in the first half, tried to impress Wade with an off-glass jumper from the left side, but who knows if it worked.

And the bad: the Wizards center lost focus on what should have been an easy lay-in, unaware that Luol Deng had closed the space behind him; Deng slapped the ball emphatically off of the backboard, and the Heat broke off in the other direction. Gortat struggled to account for Bosh’s versatility, especially without Washington’s defensive conductor, Nene, in the game. With no Nene to shepherd Heat players to favorable positions, Bosh went full velociraptor on the Wizards bigs.  —Conor Dirks


Otto Porter Jr.

4 out of 5 stars

24 mins | minus-11 | 13 pts | 4-7 FGs | 4-6 FTs | 4 reb | 0 ast | 1 stl | 0 TOs

Somewhere in the Verizon Center, Ernie Grunfeld is gleefully rubbing his hands together and demanding that his personal assistant draft several thousand “I told you so” notes to send out to Washington media members and the more vocal of Wizards fans. Summer was not a heat mirage—Otto Porter can jump and he is a basketball player. It may have taken an entire year of “learning” on the bench, but Porter came in for relief of Paul Pierce, understood the offense and demonstrated the headiness for which he was praised at Georgetown. Porter is a bit of a turnstile on the defensive end, but if that can be cleaned up then the Wizards may have found their second player for the small forward hydra. Sean Fagan


Kris Humphries

1 out of 5 stars

13 mins | minus-9 | 4 pts | 2-6 FGs | 0-0 FTs | 2 rebs | 0 asts | 0 blk | 2 TO

Kris Humphries’ offensive debut could easily be dismissed as rust compounded with the psychological debris of a quick stitch removal turnaround. But what was concerning about Humphries’ play was his defensive performance. Humphries looked lost on both sides of the ball; and worse, turned the ball over twice in limited minutes. Without Nene and Blair, it’s hard to say whether Randy Wittman will go with Humphries consistently, or if it’s just a stopgap measure until Game 2. —Conor Dirks


Rasual Butler

1 out of 5 stars

10 mins | minus-13 | 3 pts | 1-3 FGs | 1-2 3Ps | 0-0 FTs | 1 reb | 0 ast | 1 public shaming

No. Just NO.

In 2001-2002, when Jahidi White was still roaming the paint and the Wizards faced their darkest hour, a young pup named Rasual Butler was a member of the Miami Heat. He started 28 games for the Heat that year and was replaced in the lineup the very next by some young whippersnapper named Dwyane Wade. It’s 2015 and Butler is still clinging on in the league, albeit by his fingernails. While I applaud Butler’s tenaciousness in retaining a job, I can’t help but wonder if there is younger talent out there who can replicate Butler’s talents and at least have some degree of upside. —Sean Fagan


Kevin Seraphin

0 out of 5 stars

8 mins| minus-15 | 0 pts | 0-2 FGs | 0 rebs | 0 ast | 0 TOs

Lately, Kevin Seraphin has taken to posting inspirational quotes on his Twitter account. Last night, after the game, he posted something inspirational on Twitter that encouraged people who fail to not give up. I wish I could share it with you here, but it was deleted sometime in the night. Still, you get the gist: Seraphin failed to distinguish himself last night (two missed shots and zero rebounds in eight minutes while the Heat jumped way ahead), but he will not give up. Conor Dirks


Andre Miller

1.5 out of 5 stars

10 mins | minus-11 | 0 pts | 0-1 FGs | 0-0 FTs | 1 reb | 1 ast | 0 TOs

Old dogs can’t teach new tricks to new kids and other old dogs in just one game. Miller was largely ineffective leading the second unit, but it’s hard to blame him for it when so many pieces are missing, or just getting adjusted to playing alongside him in Wittman’s offense. Like encased miscellaneous pig and cow parts as a summer tradition, the Professor will persevere.

Still, even considering the low minutes count, the Wizards need Miller to keep the game close at the outset of the second and fourth quarters.

 —Conor Dirks


Good John Wall made an appearance.

Or two.

Or three.



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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.