D.C. Council Game 3: Nene and Gortat Go Big, and Otto Shines on the Game Changer's Court | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council Game 3: Nene and Gortat Go Big, and Otto Shines on the Game Changer’s Court

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Updated: November 2, 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. 3: Wizards vs Bucks in the District, Verizon Center home opener; contributors: Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) from the new media perch just above section 104.

Washington Wizards 108 vs Milwaukee Bucks 97
[box score]

DC Council Session

That Session Was … Not yet, Wizards.

There wasn’t much energy in the Verizon Center to start*. Wizards fans, or the D.C. metro area, can’t yet appreciate the season debut of a team looking to build on a playoff appearance and contend. The reported attendance was more than 2,300 below the arena capacity. (The last game of last season, the series-ending Game 6 loss to Indiana, was about 800 below the Verizon Center capacity; There were rows of empty seats at the very top.) On Saturday night, the Washington Post‘s Dan Steinberg provided pixel pictorials of empty seats and sleepers. So go the Washington Wizards, winning back fans one butt in attendance at a time. The team was able to use interior dominance against an inferior Milwaukee team to slowly escalate the ambiance from home library to a corner coffee shop to finally a stadium of screaming and passionate fans when John Wall sent a Jerryd Bayless shot attempt flying. And then there were the “Ot-To Por-Ter” chants. I don’t even remember a Chik-fil-A, if the opponent misses two consecutive free throws thing even happening, or at least fans getting geeked over it. An opponent in Milwaukee will always mean lacking support in D.C., but if the Wizards continue to share the ball like they did on Saturday night (28 assists, 40 shots, and an even better ratio of set-ups and hockey assists), the fans will eventually get over themselves, and the perceived entertainment value in quality of opponent, and realize that these Wizards themselves can be fun to watch. At least they are working on it.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)

[* New “creative liaison” Wale was on hand to guide the crowd through Wizards home-opening introductions to the deep background music and randomly spit out chorus of his track, “Ambition.” At best it was a sloppy performance. Twitter certainly didn’t react positively. As a fan of Wale’s music, I want him to do well … even if five years ago he was professing his loyalty to D.C., but as far as pro basketball went, it was Cleveland and Denver. The Wizards, even against good opponents, are a team that’s plagued with a late-arriving crowd. I’ve often wondered why they couldn’t start their games at 7:30 p.m. like they do in New York City. Washington can be hard to get around, too. It can be argued that people would still arrive late (and that later starts would mean commuters heading back to Virginia and Maryland would arrive home later—if the NBA would only speed up its supposedly fixed central replay system). A 7:30 p.m. start time might also mean more money for local businesses—not sure how Ted Leonsis feels about that, surely he would think about ways he could monetize. Either way, the Wizards, their in-game experience, and Wale—like Randy Wittman’s offense and bench mob—must continue to find ways to improve.]

DC Council Chair

#OttoGlass? #OttoOop

Otto Porter

4.5 out of 5 stars

37 mins | plus-2 | 21 points (*career high) | 7-11 FGs | 1-2 3Ps | 6-7 FTs | 5 rebs | 1 ast | 2 stls | 2 TOs

Paul Pierce can keep his hypothetical game ball. (Can you really imagine Pierce leaving the Verizon Center on Saturday night with a ball under his arm, maybe being pushed out in a wheel chair?)

Otto Porter gets to be the Council Chair. A lot of Wizards contributed to the win, but this was Otto’s coming out party. His previous career high was nine points, after all. Now we have twenty-one. Porter still needs to continue to prove himself, but now that he’s calmed down as an NBA soph, his wide-range of subtle tools are starting to show. He’s always been a smart (and willing) passer, he’s seeing passing lanes better (#OttoGlass!), and he’s sneaking around for rebounds.

Of course, appreciation for what Otto is doing now somehow cannot occur without a slew of “I told you sos” in regard to whether Porter was a bust as a rookie. He was pretty bad as a rook, and there is no revisionist history. Was Otto a bust in terms of what’s normally expected from a third overall pick as a rookie? Probably so. Does that mean previously observant criticism put the nail in the coffin on Otto’s career? Not a chance. We’ve all seen players improve after poor starts, and we’ve all seen players fizzle after good starts. Point is, let’s appreciate what Otto’s doing now, showing improvement and perseverance, more than being in a rush to designate him as the same player all along whereas now, only the doubters are simply wrong.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)

DC Council Vetoed Participation

Andre Miller

0.5 out of 5 stars

10 mins | 0 pts | 0 FGAs | 0 FTAs | 0 rebs | 0 stls | 2 asts | 3 TOs

Andre Miller silently left the locker room without any media stopping him to speak. He played another relatively ineffective game, struggling to lead the second unit toward putting points on the board. It’s not all on Miller—we must remember the second unit part. He played four minutes with Glen Rice, Otto Porter, Drew Gooden, and Kris Humphries. That crew finished 2-for-8 from the field and minus-9 plus/minus. Miller also played four minutes with Garrett Temple and Marcin Gortat instead, with Porter and Gooden remaining the same, a unit which went 3-for-5 on shots and minus-1 in plus/minus.

Miller has yet to make a field goal on the season. He’s only taken two in 31 minutes over three games. He’s not counted on to score and his job in the early season is more to set up others and get Wittman’s offense flowing. But a point guard also needs to be a threat, especially in Wittman’s offense. It’s too early and Miller is too experienced to worry about his play too much at this point. When asked about Miller specifically and the second unit offense in general after the game, Wittman had an interesting response.

“I told the guys in there after the game, we’ve got to play with confidence,” said the coach. “Listen, you got an open shot, take an open shot. Go out and don’t play timid, and I think we’re playing to a little of that, some guys. When you do that in this league, you’re going to get eaten up.”

Wittman concluded, and reiterated, that everyone on the team should needs to play with confidence. Maybe that’s how the coach wants Miller to lead.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)

DC Council Top Aide

John Wall

4 out of 5 stars

38 mins | plus-25 | 19 pts | 6-14 FGs | 1-4 3Ps | 6-9 FTs | 6 rebs | 10 asts | 5 stls | 3 PFs | 4 TOs

Brandon Knight is a good player who is probably out to prove something after not receiving a contract extension from teh Bucks by the Oct. 31 deadline. Knight also was a year behind John Wall at the University of Kentucky. These two guards have all the reasons in the world to go after each other. And so Wall started the night out trying to be aggressive against Knight on defense—it was valiant, and Garrett Temple noticed (read below). Wall did have his struggles versus Knight, much to the chagrin of Wizards Twitter … and he can do better. But let’s not let that take away from Wall’s masterful game. As aware of Washington’s home opening woes as anyone, and desperate for a change, Wall managed to find a great balance of getting teammates warm while being a threat on offense himself. Wall tallied three assists in each the third and fourth quarters and snagged four steals in a game-changing third. Five of Nene’s buckets came from Wall assists, Gortat got one, and Temple and Porter converted two Wall assists each. Wall’s swag when blocking Jerryd Bayless was also phenomenal.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)


 

Post-Game Garrett Temple.

 

DC Council Players

Nene

4 out of 5 stars

33 mins | plus-15 | 22 pts | 10-12 FGs | 2-3 FTs | 6 rebs | 4 asts | 3 stls | 1 TO

The previously criticized jump-shot jacking of Nene (by me) has bounced back with the music of strings. He hit all four of his midrange jumpers against Milwaukee (missed a 3-point attempt as the clock was running down). And, honestly, Nene shooting from a distance, perhaps seemingly excessively, could be necessary in the early season to help him build rhyhtm, to keep him healthy, and to open up space inside for others. If Garrett Temple is Randy Wittman’s utility infielder (see below), then the catch-all Nene might be the Wizards’ man behind the plate.

BONUS: Nene was able to keep the more agile Jabari Parker in check; he put his body on the line for a couple loose balls; and he used that fun, almost precarious, move of his where he throws his shoulder into a defender, throwing himself off balance, when at the rim trying to score (and he did score, and he did not get hurt). —Kyle Weidie

—-

Marcin Gortat

4 out of 5 stars

38 mins | plus-26 | 20 pts | 9-14 FGs | 2-4 FTs | 9 rebs | 2 asts | 3 blks | 4 TOs

No post-contract let down for the $60 million man so far. Through three games he’s averaging 19.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 63.4 percent shooting. And Gortat had it working against the Bucks, refreshingly taking advantage of the smaller Larry Sanders (yamming on him twice). Sixteen of Gortat’s points came in the first half; in the second half his pal Nene got going. Gortat had some interesting tea leaves to relay about he and Nene’s working relationship to the media after the game:

“The Brazilian guy was working for me, that’s what was working for me. I just continued to play to my strengths. I think I was struggling during preseason and just changed … I came back to my routine from last year. And I kind of starting coming back to playing my basketball, and I just wait for the game to come to me. I’m not trying to force anything, I’m not trying to break the system.

“You guys see the great part with me and Nene working on the court. But Nene in the locker room, but me and him eye and eye, it’s a different story. It’s a challenge for me to follow this guy every time and do what he asks me to do. But end of the day, he’s a force. He’s an offensive force. He brings so much attention offensively, that people focus on him and that’s helping a lot of things for me. He was just great. The first half I was rolling and he was in the second half.”

—Kyle Weidie

—-

Garrett Temple

4.5 out of 5 stars

38 mins | plus-15 | 18 pts | 6-9 FGs | 2-4 3Ps | 4-5 FTs | 1 reb | 1 ast | 3 stls | 2 TOs

Randy Wittman afterward called Garrett Temple his “utility infielder … might play him at first base tomorrow instead of third base.” High praise from the coach that Temple has rarely let down with a compilation of compounded mistakes. Now, Temple is doing exactly what he needs so that his inefficiencies don’t stick out like a sore thumb. Now he is Washington’s mini-3-and-D guy. Most importantly, Temple is 6-for-13 (46.2%) from 3 on the season, really softening the blow of Bradley Beal’s absence (and Glen Rice’s working development). As important has been Temple’s defense, as he sometimes checks the other team’s best ball handler so John Wall does not have to. I asked Temple about his team’s ability to play the passing lanes—more knowing the scouting report of getting into a “zone” defensively?

Temple: “I think it’s getting into a zone. And it starts with John. He started picking up pressure. Brandon (Knight) was hot, but he was making some tough shots. On the wings we want to pressure. They have a little thing over there on the wall in the locker room about deflections. After the road trip, I came in and had the most deflections, and me and John were talking about who’s going to get the most this game. That carries over into the game and that filters over to everybody on the court.”

Kyle Weidie

—-

Paul Pierce

0 out of 5 stars

17 mins | plus-9 | 2 pts | 0-3 FGs | 2-2 FTs | 3 rebs | 4 asts | 1 stl | 1 TO

Pierce got thrown out, not completely sure why. The instant replay review of Pierce committing a clear path foul took much too long, but that’s not an excuse for him getting two technicals in a row during. Randy Wittman diplomatically defended Pierce as much as he could after the game, claiming in part that he and Pierce were not immediately aware that there was a Milwaukee Buck down the court from the man Pierce fouled, but it’s not like the replay wasn’t on the big screen and around on monitors otherwise. Wittman also said that Pierce deserved the first tech, but not the second. Whatever the case may be, perhaps it’s nice that Pierce is oblivious of—and near reckless in regard to—Washington Wizards lore and the type of games this franchise tends to lose: home openers for three straight seasons, most recently to the Philadelphia 76ers last season. Good thing John Wall remembered, and that Otto Porter wanted to protect his former college house. So instead, we celebrate the fact that Pierce moved the ball when he did play, gave the ultimate unintentional assist to Otto, and received the proverbial game ball. —Kyle Weidie

—-

Kris Humphries/DeJuan Blair

1 out of 5 stars, each

Humphries: 7 mins | minus-4 | 0 pts | 0-2 FGs | 1 reb | 2 asts | 1 stl | 1 TO
Blair: 4 mins | minus-5 | 0 pts | 0 FGAs | 0 rebs | 1 ast | 1 PF | 1 stl

Humphries was the first big off the bench for Nene with 4:41 left in the first quarter and played early into the second quarter; he didn’t play in the second half. Humphries at least didn’t take out-of-control shots reminiscent of a big man’s Jordan Crawford against Milwaukee like was sometimes seen in Miami and Orlando; instead, he focused on moving the ball. But of a guy who was said to have one of the best preseasons, Humphries has thus far fallen flat in the regular season. Blair hasn’t been seen enough to disappoint, which one might assume is partially the result of practice play. His debut game against Milwaukee: four minutes that Wittman called “solid” afterward. It’s early, so these two still have plenty of time to step up. It just doesn’t help that Kevin Seraphin has played the worst, and that the Wizards must continue to thank Dan Fegan’s lucky stars for Drew Gooden. —Kyle Weidie

 


 

Drew Gooden: 1st big off the bench.

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.