D.C. Council Game 4: Wizards at Knicks — Washington Triangulates New York's Offense into Madison Square Hole | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council Game 4: Wizards at Knicks — Washington Triangulates New York’s Offense into Madison Square Hole

Updated: November 5, 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. 4: Wizards at Knicks in Madison Square Garden, New York; contributors: Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks) and Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace) from the District, on Election Night.

Washington Wizards 98 vs New York Knicks 83
[box score]

DC Council Session

That Session Was … Buckled Way Down.

At the half, the Wizards were down 45-40 to a New York Knicks team that, despite some early season success and Washington’s duo of disappointing injuries, still lacked the talent to compete with the Wizards on paper. When the team returned to the floor, it was with a far greater attention to detail on defense and an increased level of activity from almost every player. Despite forcing only six turnovers in the second half (compared to 12 in the first half), Washington’s defense was impressive. The team regularly denied the Knicks the ball in the post, and John Wall was enterprising on the perimeter, forcing the Knicks to make decisions before they were ready to move the ball.

Most importantly, the Wizards looked prepared for New York’s offense, specifically. The Knicks offense is slow (currently playing at the NBA’s slowest pace in 17 years), and predicated on Phil Jackson’s favored Triangle system. Washington’s focus on post denials, preventing back door cuts, and reaching the offensive player before the ball does on the perimeter disrupted New York’s offense in a way that Cleveland’s reactionary play could not during the season’s opening week. The Knicks shot 37 percent overall, which helped counteract hot 3-point shooting from Iman Shumpert (4-for-4) and others (53.5% on 3-pointers). All told, the Knicks scored 38 points in the second half (15 in the third quarter), one more point than their season low (37) in the second half of the opener against Chicago.

Quotes from Randy Wittman will always be more absolute than necessary, but Wittman’s post-game focus on the team’s defense was warranted when he told media, “Our defense was what started it for us and, really, ended it.”

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)


DC Council Chair


Paul Pierce

5 out of 5 stars

28 mins | plus-14 | 17 points | 5-10 FGs | 3-5 3Ps | 4-5 FTs | 5 rebs | 3 ast | 2 stls | 2 blk | 0 TOs

Pest. Closer. Pro. Watching Paul Pierce harangue Carmelo Anthony into looking like the ballhandler in a SEGA Genesis game, I remembered how it felt to watch the Wizards take on the Celtics, even in the down years, when Pierce was on the other side.

There are so many variables that go into each offensive or defensive possession in the NBA. Pierce’s minor predictions, each rainbow sprinkle on the larger confection, are brilliant. Dipping his shoulder for one second instead of two when a defender is gambling a certain direction so that he can lean into a head fake and spin the other way; knowing exactly where Anthony wants to shoot from and standing exactly there so that he can’t get the shot off. Pierce gets the Council Chair for his offensive output, combined with his defensive work on New York’s best player, Anthony, who shot 8-for-23, and turned the ball over seven times.

Imagine a centipede, moving each leg in a kinetic wave, not caring about the angles of the earth. That’s Paul Pierce as opposing teams try to defend him. That’s Paul Pierce adjusting to a ball-handler’s revised rules of engagement. He’s been in the NBA so long that he knows his way out of every game situation, and into every scoring opportunity. Pierce isn’t as agile as he was ten years ago, but he’s wicked smaht.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)

DC Council Vetoed Participation

Glen Rice Jr.

1 out of 5 stars

15 mins | minus-1 | 0 pts | 0-5 FGs | 0-3 3Ps | 0-0 FTs | 1 rebs | 1 asts | 0 stls | 5 PFs | 0 TOs

Rice is not shy with the basketball but he has yet to show the scoring touch that was on display in Las Vegas this summer. Washington desperately needs outside shooting and the opportunity is there. Wall is gift wrapping wide open 3-point attempts like Santa Claus on Christmas morning. Rice has a limited window to earn minutes before Beal comes back and steals his presents. Going 0-for-5 is not going to cut it. And Rice is not earning any praise on the defensive end either. He continues to pick up unnecessary fouls by reaching and overplaying his man too far from the basket.

[Ed. Note: One of Rice’s five fouls in 15 minutes wasn’t exactly on the up-and-up. Rice got called for a foul on this play, where J.R. Smith hit him in the glengarries. —CDD]

—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)

DC Council Top Aide

Garrett Temple

5 out of 5 stars

30 mins | plus-20 | 17 pts | 5-10 FGs | 4-7 3Ps | 3-4 FTs | 5 rebs | 2 asts | 1 stl | 3 PFs | 2 TOs

Temple basically has two jobs. Play solid defense and hit wide-open shots. That might sound like an easy task, but right now he is the only shooting guard on the roster capable of succeeding at both. In fact, he is the only healthy two-guard accomplishing either of those feats.

Due to roster construction, this team is probably relying on Temple a lot more than it should. The offense (and particularly John Wall’s skill set) is built around creating open 3-pointers. Nobody does it better than Wall. But that system falls apart when no one can make those open shots. It is downright scary to imagine this offense without Temple hitting 50 percent from long distance. Temple is no Bradley Beal, but if he can continue to space the floor by hitting uncontested 3-pointers, the offense can survive a few more weeks of Beal’s absence. That is exactly what he and the team did in New York.

So, Temple gets a perfect 5 stars for saving us from watching Wall run a team with no 3-point shooters and for allowing us to dream about how good this starting five could be with a shooting guard who can not only knock down open shots but put the ball on the floor and create his own. Also, G.T. managed to get his first “Dagger!” call from Steve Buckhantz. 

—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)


Staring at the White Walls?


DC Council Players


3 out of 5 stars

24 mins | plus-8 | 6 pts | 3-10 FGs | 0-1 FTs | 7 rebs | 2 asts | 2 stls | 1 blk

Nene’s game, as is often the case, lived in the non-reported data, consumable at a rate of temporal normalcy in game time rather than at your leisure, or in the boxscore, or in the details. Shepherding the triangulating Knicks around the paint—and outside it—was Nene’s primary objective, and after a rough start, Nene shut down Amar’e Stoudemire, and everyone else that the Knicks threw at him. Washington came into the game fully prepared to defend the Triangle offense, and refused to let the Knicks get into sets all night.

Nene’s block of Jason Smith’s attempt in the paint was one of the best defensive plays of the game. Smith had no idea that Nene, watching him spasmodically pump-fake two smaller Wizards between him and the basket, was lurking. And when Smith went up, Nene grabbed his shot out of the air like a first baseman waiting for a routine infield throw. Barely leaving the ground throughout, Nene gathered the shot in, subtly nudged Smith out of bounds, and started Washington’s next offensive possession.

The Brazilian behemoth was frustrated, as he often is, by what he thought were a lack of calls in his favor. That righteous indignation showed most clearly when Nene seemed to catch an elbow near the top of the key, and just took a few steps back and shook his head while the game went on around him. Otherwise, there was a lot of contact in this game in general (Nene was 1-for-6 on contested shots), and the Wizards, with their imposing front line, may want to expect and embrace that contact rather than nitpick the officials. —Conor Dirks


John Wall

3 out of 5 stars

30 mins | plus-10 | 11 pts | 5-11 FGs | 0-0 3Ps | 1-4 FTs | 1 rebs | 7 asts | 2 stls | 1 PFs | 3 TOs

This was not one of Wall’s best games. It started out promising enough. After New York grabbed the opening tip Wall immediately showed tight coverage on Shane Larkin. This was a welcome sign after Wall was nowhere near Brandon Knight for most of Washington’s previous game against Milwaukee. However, Wall’s aggression proved overzealous as Larkin easily beat him back door for a layup. Wall continued his uneven play throughout the entire game, on no-less-than three occasions he blew by defenders only to see his wide-open layup attempt bounce off the backboard and rim. He also clanged three of his four free throws and looked surprisingly uncomfortable at the line.

In fairness, Wall also did a lot of things well. He continues to be a wizard at setting up teammates for open 3-pointers. Wall was brilliant versus New York in that regard. There did not appear to be anyone within five feet of Garrett Temple on any of his seven 3-point attempts, and Wall fed Paul Pierce in spectacularly unusual fashion on two above-the-break 3-pointers. —Adam Rubin


Marcin Gortat

2 out of 5 stars

22 mins | plus-3 | 6 pts | 3-6 FGs | 0-0 FTs | 7 rebs | 2 asts | 0 stls | 0 blk | 4 PFs | 2 TOs

We have seen Gortat play enough games in a Washington uniform to know that every so often he has a game like this. It is not that he played poorly, he just was never really involved offensively. Luckily, Gortat was not needed. Washington’s victory was a total team effort with six players scoring in double-digits and half of those being bench players. Adam Rubin


Drew Gooden

4 out of 5 stars

22 mins | plus-7 | 10 pts | 4-6 FGs | 1-2 3Ps | 1-2 FTs | 4 rebs | 2 asts | 0 stls | 2 PFs | 0 TOs

Remember the off-season bonanza that netted Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair as the centerpieces of Washington’s new and improved bench? Me neither. Through the first four games of the season, Randy Wittman has chosen to stick with the devil he knows. Against New York that was Gooden, and Drew rewarded his coach’s loyalty with an efficient jump-shooting exhibition. In addition, early in the second quarter Gooden was responsible for the dumbest and prettiest plays of the game on back-to-back possessions. First, he closed out on a Jason Smith jumper and inexplicably swung his arm into Smith’s hand after the shot was released. The ill-advised tactic had no effect on the shot and resulted in a three-point play. Gooden made up for it on the ensuing possession. Drew caught the ball beyond the arc at the top of the key and rose up for a 3-point attempt then—at the last possible second at the height of his shooting motion—he spotted Andre Miller cutting along the baseline and hit him with a perfect pass for a reverse layup. It was a solid game for the first big man off the bench. —Adam Rubin


Otto Porter Jr.

4 out of 5 stars

28 mins | plus-4 | 4 pts | 2-5 FGs | 0-1 3Ps | 0-0 FTs | 7 rebs | 4 asts | 0 stls | 1 PFs | 0 TOs

Otto learned his hustle as a volcano runner in Iceland. Otto learned his length as a staffing agency clerk in Tokyo. Otto learned to be an NBA player sometime between June 2014 and October 2014. Pop quiz: Which of these statements is the most believable?

It’s unreal how far the kid has come in such a short time. Porter hasn’t just held his own on the court this season; he has contributed in some very non-generic, tangible ways. On the season, Porter is scoring 10.5 points on 53.8 percent from the floor, averaging over 4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. You want hustle? Against the Knicks, Otto moved faster than any other Wizard, at a speed of 4.31 miles per hour, according to our player tracking overlords at NBA.com/stats.

You want length? Otto used his considerable wingspan to pull down seven rebounds, several of which were in traffic. Most importantly, Porter has been himself, the Otto Porter that affected every area of the game at Georgetown and became the third overall pick: aggressive, well-rounded, fantastic off-the-ball cuts that lead to a high field goal percentage, funky but effective shooting, and a defensive presence (Porter defended the rim successfully 66% of the time). Aside from one noticeable defensive error (when he bit too hard on his man’s drive to the right only to be caught out of position when he changed directions), Otto was as reliable as the dinner bell. And if anyone likes reliability, it’s Randy Wittman, who probably does have a dinner bell at home. —Conor Dirks

Andre Miller

5 out of 5 stars

17 mins | plus-1 | 12 pts | 6-10 FGs | 0-0 3Ps | 0-0 FTs | 2 rebs | 3 asts | 1 stls | 1 PFs | 1 TOs

Miller’s first three games of the season were unimpressive and the entire second unit struggled as a result. However, the 38-year-old returned to vintage form in the Garden. He was at his best protecting the double-digit lead Washington’s starters built in the decisive third quarter. New York came out firing in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter with back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers but the second unit held steady under Miller’s tutelage. Andre assisted or scored the first five baskets of the fourth quarter, including two leaning jumpers over Pablo Prigioni with six and a half minutes left to build the lead back up to 10. —Adam Rubin


Kevin Seraphin

4.5 out of 5 stars, and thousands of worldviews shattered

22 mins | plus-7 | 15 pts | 6-7 FGs | 2 reb | 0 asts | 0 blk | 2 TOs

It’s tough to leave Seraphin out of the accolades section above, because he’s so rarely considered for such things. Alas, life is an imperfect phenomenon and fairness is denied on a regular basis to all of us passing through the factory of existence on a conveyor belt headed for the candy press of death. While Seraphin still isn’t rebounding at a good rate or defending consistently, no one can complain about his offensive touch against the Knicks.

What’s confounding about Seraphin (and it’s a refrain I hear a lot on Twitter) is that he “has the skills” to be a force on offense, but can’t figure out the parts of the game that seem to be second nature to most players at this level (passing out of a double-team, passing ever, rebounding position). But contrary to the early season trend of Seraphin’s minutes coinciding with lost leads, Kevin led the team in bench scoring and held his own at the rim, only allowing one made basket there out of five New York attempts against him. He also passed the ball 28 times, which made me question every belief I’ve ever held. —Conor Dirks

Shotchart - Kevin Seraphin

Shotchart – Kevin Seraphin



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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.