Key Legislature: Wizards 87 at Mavericks 114 – A New Year’s Resolution to Never Speak of this Again
Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s) for Washington Wizards contest No. 31 versus the Mavericks in Dallas, via Chris Thompson from the Maryland Free State.
by Chris Thompson.
A wise person texted me at halftime to say the following: “there’s no shame in the Wizards getting their [man parts] ripped off by a ludicrously stacked team on the second half of a back-to-back. But I’m not gonna watch the second half.”
We should all have that option. Not the genital mutilation part, of course. The not-watching. Ah well. There are pixels to generate, damn it all. We sacrifice for the common … good? Are there people who actually want to remember any part of this thing? That is a soul-darkening thought, to be sure.
Is there much shame in such a defeat? I don’t know. This felt like something about which the Wizards should feel tremendous shame. There’s losing, then there’s being humiliated, and then there’s competing in such a way that an impartial observer could be convinced your actions had been scripted by your opponent for the express purpose of removing even the slightest chance of your winning the game.
See, the Mavericks do a few things very well, a few other things passably, and some other things poorly. Yes, they are good, and yes, they are outrageously fun to watch, but they’re also wildly imperfect—they’re not a particularly good defensive team, for example—and they generally need some things to go right in order to run away from another good team, even at home.
One of those things is turnovers—the Mavs are best in the NBA at points from turnovers, as was pointed out ad nauseam on the Wizards radio party. If the Mavs have a defensive strength it is punishing sloppy ball-handling, an observable truth that lends maddening significance to the wholesale crappiness of Washington’s team-wide ball-handling in the first half. The Wizards coughed up 12 turnovers before intermission, the Mavs ran and ran and ran in transition, and, before anyone could catch their breath, the scoreboard was chasing Randy Wittman around with a bowling pin, howling obscenities. Or maybe I imagined that part.
With the game still, what, competitive? Surely not. Recognizably the sport of basketball? In the first half, with the game still on television and not yet officially over, Bradley Beal utilized a screen, squirted by Monta Ellis, and found himself angling into the lane with room to drive. As is occasionally his routine, he hesitated several beats too long, and Ellis poked the ball loose from behind for what certainly felt like a definitive moment, if only for the way it demonstrated some too-large gap between how ready these two teams were to share the floor, if not also for being appallingly representative of more-or-less what happened every time a Wizards player took the ball into the paint.
The Wizards have overcome early sloppiness in other games this season, but there’s a reason why this road trip was seen as a crucial and potentially illuminating test for this would-be contender: winning these kinds of games requires not so much the capacity for righting a wayward ship, but the precision to not let it off course to begin with. Perhaps this will be a useful wakeup call, in the end. The Wizards came out with energy but with something less than ideal focus, the Mavs pounced, and the Wizards were overwhelmed in that transaction, early in the game but decisively enough that recovery was simply not a possibility.
Let’s not make too much of this result. If we do, it is likely our moods will never recover. The Mavs are deep and good and were playing at home, the Wizards are deep and good and were playing on the road and on a back-to-back. It happens. Tomorrow, this miserable year will end forever. Let us resolve together that we will erase this one nauseating evening from our memories once and for all. The Wizards went down to Houston and won a tough game in impressive fashion, then the entire continent became Dark City, and when everyone awoke shadowy figures had rearranged reality in such a way that an extra loss had been tallied for Washington. Who can know how that happened? Who can say, with any certainty, that anything happened at all?
Come, O Langoliers, and wipe this worn-out past into oblivion.