Opening Statements: Wizards vs Magic, Game 9 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Magic, Game 9

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Updated: November 15, 2014

Washington Wizards vs Orlando Magic

Tonight the Magic visit the District and engage the Wizards in a battle of mystical forces that may rend the 5th dimension asunder. There has been a rumor that the outcome of the game will actually be settled in a best two of three “Magic: The Gathering Match” between Moe Harkless and Drew Gooden, but no one has been able to confirm or deny the report.

Lame magic jokes aside, the Wizards might want to sit upright and pay attention for this game because the Magic are streaking. Winners of two straight against the Knicks and the Bucks, the Magic also gave the Raptors fits only to lose 104-100. This is not the same team that the Wizards faced in the second game of the season as Orlando has evolved into some weird swiss army knife of a basketball team, with the contributions coming from all facets of the roster. Evan Fournier remains the focal scoring point of the team, but noted Wizard killer Ben Gordon has been shuffled to the bench to receive a hearty dosage of DNP-CDs now that Victor Oladipo has returned to health. Like the Wizards, Orlando is a team in a bit of flux, still trying to discover out key narratives like: “Will Elfrid Payton ever shoot? Or… I’m still not sure why Channing Frye signed here in the first place?”

The Wizards should win tonight, if only because Orlando is coming off a back to back and Drew Gooden takes his deck building seriously. I turned it over to TAI’s Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks) to discuss all things Wizards and a few things Magic.


Teams: Wizards vs Magic
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Chinatown, Washington, D.C.
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WTEM-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards favored by 9 points.


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Q #1: The Wizards are 6-2 are no one appears to be getting too excited.

How much of this this is due to the fact that the Wizards have “only” knocked off the tin cans they were supposed to or is it the fact that they got completely mauled by the one elite team (Toronto) that they have faced?

@ConorDDirks: For me, it’s more the Northern Exposure than the simple schedule. The six wins are valuable, regardless of which teams they were pulled from in the early weeks. Remember that last season, the Wizards opened against Detroit and Philadelphia, and lost both. But the reason I’m not buying out the team store yet is the loss in Toronto. The Raptors, even after a tough loss to Chicago, look like the second or third best team in the East, and the confidence that they displayed in jumping out to and holding a lead against the Wizards is discouraging. It put the Wizards’ age, depth, and lack of ability to adapt (ironic via dinosaurs on other side) on display.

Q #2: The big man rotation off the bench still seems to be in a state of flux.

For all the plaudits that Ernie Grunfeld got in the offseason for constructing a veteran bench, it appears that DeJuan Blair is going to remain stapled to it and that Kris Humphries is going to cause as much psychic pain as elation. Does this situation fix itself? Should the Wizards have just retained Trevor Booker?

@ConorDDirks: The Wizards should have just retained Trevor Booker in a world where Randy Wittman frees him to open up his game beyond the paint. You’ll recall that Coach Wittman once demanded that Kevin Love stop shooting 3-pointers in Minnesota. Trevor Booker is NOT the next Kevin Love, but overtraditionalization of his role in D.C. may have hurt him. He’s been great for Utah this year, and if DeJuan Blair is going to stay on the bench, with Seraphin playing major minutes (seriously, we all assumed he was going to be the last big man off the bench), Booker may have been the better choice. Wittman’s benches are in a constant state of flux (just ask Drew Gooden), and I’m not sure we’ll see anything resembling a rotation for more than ten games at a time this season.

Q #3: John Feinstein’s radio show got cancelled. As great a writer as Feinstein can be, his criticism of John Wall seemed over the top and geared more to “start a conversation” rather than hold up to any objective reasoning.

Do you think that Wall will be perceived differently now that one of his biggest detractors has gone dark?

@ConorDDirks: Feinstein only exists as a Wizards critic because a large group of D.C. area residents that don’t watch the Wizards, or particularly like John Wall, are willing to take his word as bond. He is the ultimate sports-talk politician, throwing out belief system as fact, only to be validated by the voices of non-fans who in turn had their disinterest in the team validated. Those people are all still lurking, waiting for a sympathetic comment section to declare their take. Feinstein may be out of a show to call his own, but he’ll keep popping up for his Washington Post columns and for what Dan Steinberg described as “great radio” in guest spots on 106.7. I think it’s awful radio that does an active disservice to listeners and makes them look dumb at cocktail parties, but that’s just me.

Q #4: Oh jeez, Orlando. I mean ORLANDO. How much Ben Gordon is too much Ben Gordon?

@ConorDDirksHey man…you know Ben Gordon is going to go off for 20+ points, right? Right? That’s a lock.

Q #5: If the Wizards did change their name, it would mean the end of G-Wiz. Is this a bad thing? Is there a mascot retirement community? Is that where Hoops currently resides?

@ConorDDirksG-Wiz is having a crisis of identity. Lately, he’s been spotted humping sand, giving a game attendee a lap dance in a pink thong, and sitting in the penalty box at Verizon Center staring at his feet. It’s a mosaic verisimilitude, his flaws painting a more fulsome character than any cookie-cutter animal mascot jumping through a fiery hula hoop could ever create. I would never suggest that G-Wiz go with the advent of a new (or renewed) name. But, if we’re being honest, the lap dance thing was a little troubling, and combined with the pink thong seems like an irresponsible depiction, given the nearness of the Wizards Girls, performing their synchronized, choreographed dances a few feet away. But women’s underwear is funny? Or a presumably male mascot wearing women’s underwear is something people should laugh at? I don’t know. It just seemed a little greasy, and was a weird thing for G-Wiz to do. I thought that prank died at the Wizards Girls tryouts. But let’s move on. We all know mascots die alone under a suburban deck. The retirement community is just a bus that drops them off on the side of the road in Nebraska.

Q #6: Will Elfrid Payton ever shoot? Is this a piece of performance art?

@ConorDDirksI love Elfrid Payton’s game, but he needs to shoot. Remember that season that John Wall decided he wasn’t going to shoot 3-pointers? Not a good look.

Q #7: Who ya got?

@ConorDDirksWizards 97 Magic 92.

Sean Fagan on FacebookSean Fagan on Twitter
Sean Fagan
Reporter / Writer/Gadfly at TAI
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Sean has contributed to TAI since the the dawn of Jan Vesely and has been on the Wizards beat since 2008. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo and SI.com. He still believes that Mike Miller never got a fair shot.