DC Council 26: Wizards vs Suns — Washington Flash Fried in Second Half Sunburst | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council 26: Wizards vs Suns — Washington Flash Fried in Second Half Sunburst

Updated: December 22, 2014

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Washington players from Game No. 26: Wizards vs. Suns in D.C.;
Contributor: Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks), from the Verizon Center.

Sometimes, death comes from above. Other times, it just comes. Over and over, Phoenix shattered any accumulated momentum possessed by the Wizards like it was porcelain, hitting step-back jumpers like they were fish in an undersized barrel, or slicing through the butter of a suddenly soft interior defense. Although a few 3-pointers (6-for-17) punctuated the Suns runs, it was victory through the banal pursuit of mismatches and open jumpers. Something the Wizards should be familiar with. History will remember this season’s Wizards team in the years before Cthulhu claims us, but not as fondly as it might have had they been able to take just one more win before their seventh loss. At 19-6, the Wizards tied the best Bullets/Wizards start to a season in franchise history. At 19-7, sole ownership of that distinction will have to wait another year.

Phoenix Suns



Box Score

Washington Wizards


Kris Humphries, PF

20 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -1

Humphries opened the game by botching a test of cross-court communication with Pierce and subsequently blowing a fast break layup. It didn’t get all that much better, and for the second game in a row, he was exiled to Randy Wittman’s “Chris Singleton Memorial” doghouse.

Paul Pierce, SF

27 MIN | 4-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -6

Pierce had the right idea, working himself open above the break for 3-pointers on several occasions, only to miss the well with almost each wish. After the win against Miami, Pierce warned of reversion to “bad habits,” specifically referring to his team’s defensive backslide. Pierce could be seen barking at his teammates on several occasions, though it’s unclear which of the bad habits he was in the process of addressing. Still, Wall and Beal have been adamant that they love Pierce’s in-game admonitions, and I’m hopeful whatever wisdom he transmitted sticks to their young bones like taffy.

Marcin Gortat, C

20 MIN | 3-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -6

Hard telling, not knowing. Gortat was tearing up his former team’s interior defense when he was summarily yanked in favor of the volume-shooting Seraphin. Late in both halves, Gortat was nowhere to be seen. Wall is the biggest loser here, since he’s deprived of one of his best options when driving to the basket. No Wizard sets better, or more frequent, screens than Gortat, who can sometimes generate the illusion of playcalling simply by way of freeing his smaller teammates from the shackles of their defenders with tireless screening. While Gortat gets the first shot of most games, Wittman tends to get away from his center at the end of halves.

The Wizards, allowing the second lowest amount of points in the paint in the NBA (37.2 points per game) on the season, were not as effective without a heavy dose of Gortat, losing the paint battle to the Suns 42-34.

John Wall, PG

38 MIN | 5-15 FG | 4-5 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -9

Wall was off from almost everywhere on the floor, and unlike former Kentucky teammate Eric Bledsoe, seemed to fall back on a halfcourt offense that was not moving around him like a well-greased gear. In the second half especially, after Phoenix figured out that the Wizards were gun-shy behind the line, Suns defenders clogged the paint and altered almost every interior pass thrown by Wall and others.

Instead of pushing the ball hard at the rim, Wall settled too often. Even late in the game, down more than a handful, when the Wizards should have been focusing on quick scoring possessions, Wall seemed to be intent on conducting his orchestral halfcourt arrangement larghissimo, rather than allegro.

Still, Wall had more assists (8) than the rest of his team combined (3), and his defense on Bledsoe was consistently good. Wall can change a game, but he can’t alter the fabric of reality, and he needed more from his shooters here.

Bradley Beal, SG

27 MIN | 4-11 FG | 5-7 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -10

In foul trouble early, Beal looked to be a particularly sad panda, almost reckless in his indifference to staying in the game as a result of his reaching and grabbing. But credit the kid for “shooting through it,” as they say, and for playing some dynamic defense against a tough matchup. Unacceptable, though, for the second game in a row, was Beal’s movement off the ball on offense. In an early halfcourt set, the benefit of such movement shone through, as Beal’s baseline cut pulled a defender off of Kris Humprhies, suddenly open under the basket. The rest of the game, however, was curiously bereft of the kind of movement that makes an offense like Washington’s (dependent on “open” shots) go.

As Randy Wittman said after the game, the Wizards “took shortcuts, did not set people up, did not fight to get open…” On the season, 64.6 percent of Washington’s field goals have been assisted. That’s the second highest rate in the NBA. Against the Suns, that number dropped to 32.4 percent.

Nene Hilario, PF

22 MIN | 1-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -7

Nene knows where to be on defense. The impact is notoriously hard to measure, but you’ll often see Nene standing in a place that both prevents the pass to his man and cuts off the ballhandler’s movement. He’s an effective middle linebacker for the Wizards defense, and an able facilitator on offense. But for all the Big Brazilian’s awareness, he played woefully nearsighted. Only two of Nene’s shots were at the rim, and the other six built a cruel constellation of midrange X’s on his final shotchart. Several attempts to demonstrate study of Dirk Nowitzki’s one-legged backwards fadeaway failed to be anything more than ambitious.

Otto Porter Jr., SF

15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -4

Otto’s going to get there. He got meaningful minutes again, even if his playing time is too often as dwarfed as his age by Rasual Butler. But with Butler playing lights out basketball, and Martell Webster on the brink of a return, Porter’s need to distinguish himself with defense, rebounding, and the all-around game he showed in college.

Rasual Butler, SF

32 MIN | 6-11 FG | 4-5 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | -12

Wittman relied heavily on the effortlessly dangerous Butler in the second half, with his team trailing most of the way through. Although Rasual has been as steady as a tightrope walker from behind the arc this season, the Suns defense did a fantastic job running Butler and others off of the 3-point line. His misses from deep, all highlighted by the 35-year-old swingman’s compass-drawn elevated jump shot, were witnessed from close range by Suns defenders. Stepping in from the 3-point line, Butler found space enough to drill a few midrange jumpers and had an incredibly nice reverse layup that didn’t even touch the backboard.

Kevin Seraphin, C

28 MIN | 7-12 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | -6

With every backdown and baby hook, Seraphin flavored and distributed his special brand of Kool-Aid to Wizards fans. Sure, it might taste a little funny at first, but once you accept that a paint-focused big man can be an “instant offense” player, accept that he will ignore defensive rebounds (all five boards were on the offensive end), and accept that he will say things like “I was trying to get everybody in the game involved but everybody was rushing” while passing the ball significantly fewer times (18) than any other Wizards big man despite playing seven more minutes, you’ll really enjoy watch——*

*a paper cup, tinged fire engine red with strawberry powder, rolls next to the crumpled body of a blogger.

Andre Miller, PG

9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -6

It’s tough to tell whether the Professor was on sabbatical or the students were snoozing through Chemistry 101. Miller looked uncharacteristically out of sorts, and Isaiah Thomas took advantage of his hands-off style by drawing up and draining isolation jumpers in the margins of Miller’s Trapper Keeper.

Randy Wittman

After the game, Suns coach Jeff Hornacek talked about using this game as a springboard for the rest of the season. Wittman’s Wizards, bounced by Hornacek’s Suns, have to be feeling the reverberations of that leap after getting soundly beat in the second half of the game. Trailing in the second half, Wittman inserted a small ball lineup to attempt to inject some 3-point shooting into the game for his team (at halftime, Washington had only attempted three 3-pointers).

Hornacek said after the game that the Wizards going small was the greenlight to release what some call the Suns “Hydra,” the 3-guard lineup of Thomas, Bledsoe and Dragic.

Words of Wittman


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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.