DC Council 33: Wizards at Spurs — Old West Shootout Settled When Washington Runs Out of Bullets | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council 33: Wizards at Spurs — Old West Shootout Settled When Washington Runs Out of Bullets

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Updated: January 5, 2015

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Washington players from Game No. 33: Wizards versus Spurs in San Antonio;
Contributor: Chris Thompson
 from the DMV.

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Sometime in the next few days Elias Sports Bureau is going to confirm a suspicion of mine: that it is not very common for two teams to shoot a million billion percent in a quarter of NBA basketball, as the Spurs and Wizards did in the opening frame on Saturday night. I mean what the hell? Last year’s Wizards layup lines featured more bricks than there were in the first quarter of this game [stares daggers at Eric Maynor]. Unsustainable! That kind of hot shooting had to be unsustainable. This is not NBA Jam, after all.

Or is it??? The absurdly hot shooting carried through the third quarter. The teams entered the fourth separated by only a point and each shooting better than 56 percent from the floor. That, of course, is when Washington blinked. San Antonio dialed up the pressure, Washington’s offense dried up, and that was that. A miserable, incredibly frustrating fourth quarter saw the Wizards get systematically undressed by a more organized team executing a better plan of attack at both ends.

This was a missed opportunity, and disappointing. The Spurs at full-strength are great. The Spurs with Cory Joseph and Marco Belinelli starting in place of Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard are sharp, professional, competitive, and something way, way less than great, even at home. The Wizards needed this one.

There was talk before the start of this road trip through the West that it would tell us something about Washington’s legitimacy as a contender. They’re heading into the final game, in New Orleans, having lost three in a row for the first time this season and having given up 100 points in four consecutive games for the first time since March 2014.

They need a win tonight in a big way.


Washington Wizards

92

Box
Score

San Antonio Spurs

101

Nene Hilario, PF

26 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -9

Nene’s unique and largely welcome stuffing of the stat sheet somehow left out a column of some importance to NBA bigs. He’s never been a rebound machine, but a guy Nene’s size should be able to stand blindfolded in the lane with his arms outstretched and come down with more than a single rebound in 26 minutes of action. The Wizards lost the rebound battle on the night and gave up nine offensive boards, so, yes, there were opportunities missed. And while Nene shot well, it’s worth pointing out that six of his nine attempts came from outside the paint, a stat that is made more glaring by the fact that the Wizards desperately needed cheap points as the clock ticked away and San Antonio built what would ultimately be the margin of victory. In a game in which Washington’s players shot a total of just 13 free throws, a few fierce Nene drives to the cup might have meant the world.


Paul Pierce, SF

17 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -5

Nice as it was to see Yung Limbs Otto Porter get some extended burn, it sure would have been a relief to see Washington’s prize free agent, Paul Pierce, out there manufacturing points down the stretch, when the Spurs ramped up the pressure and the Wizards lost their shooting touch. Yes, it was the fourth game in five nights, and Pierce is an ancient-old dude, but this was a winnable game for a Wizards team with something to prove and much to gain from Pierce’s veteran savvy. The Spurs utilize an awful lot of player movement—perhaps the prospect of chasing Danny Green around baseline screens for 29 minutes was more than Pierce could bear—but, if anything, that sort of makes the case for developing small-ball lineups with Pierce as a stretch 4. Regardless of the specifics, when Washington needed the very offensive boost Pierce was acquired to provide, the old feller was resting his rickety joints on the bench.


Marcin Gortat, C

32 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -4

It’s seeming more and more like Gortat is in some kind of rut. It’s not just the five rebounds in 32 minutes. Gortat’s defensive rotations were slow and there were whole sequences in both halves when Tiago Splitter found himself wandering around unchecked in the restricted area with Gortat taking an awkward angle as a help defender. It was just another of too many recent games with long stretches when Gortat fails to make his presence felt at either end.


John Wall, PG

36 MIN | 7-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -8

Wall shot the ball well and limited his turnovers, and his pace was a big factor in Washington taking the early lead. The Spurs were in the zone for much of the night, but Wall does bear some responsibility for Cory Joseph getting to the basket over and over and shooting 5-for-7 from the restricted area. We’ve seen him lock down much more dangerous players than that. It also must be said, in Wall’s defense, that, as in other games this season, Wall’s time on the bench seemed timed to end at exactly the point when the Wizards had ceded momentum, saddling him with responsibility for swinging the tide all on his own. He played well, but when the team needed something, anything, to go their way on offense down the stretch, it would have been nice to see him abandon patience and caution and dial up the aggression. They sure could have used a few more trips to the stripe when the game was slipping away.


Bradley Beal, SG

33 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -11

This was one of those games where Beal’s ball-handling turns were particularly choppy and tentative, and he took as many shots from the midrange (6) as he did from all other areas combined. This is especially frustrating because, when Beal gets to the rim, he’s generally a pretty solid finisher (even if below average), as he demonstrated on a smooth drive to the cup in the third quarter. Beal also dribbled into (and buried) another clean 3-point look off of a screen, a hugely important area for development in his otherwise timid off-the-bounce game. Then, late in the fourth quarter, Beal dribbled through a solid screen, passed up a chance at a pull-up 3, and harmlessly doinked a flat midrange J off the front of the rim. That sequence adequately summed up the last 15 minutes or so of action on the night.


Kris Humphries, PF

20 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +1

Humphries’ efficient scoring off the bench was important, as was his dependable work on the glass, two factors that account for his positive plus/minus on the night. On the other hand, seven of his eight shots came from the midrange, the one attempt he had at the basket was a miss, and he was yet another Wizards player who made no meaningful attempt to force contact and get to the line. He’s fallen in love with his jumper, which is dangerous because the Wizards offense apparently shares the infatuation.


Otto Porter Jr., SF

29 MIN | 5-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | -9

“Stretch” showed admirable aggression on the offensive end, especially after his recent run of troublingly quiet outings. Perhaps a DNP-CD wasn’t what was needed to kick him into gear, but it seemed to work. That is, until the fourth quarter, when the Wizards desperately needed a spark. Maybe that’s not the best time for the alarmingly thin de facto rookie to slide on his rec specs and say “I got this,” but that Otto reverted to wallflower status sort of highlights the room for growth that still exists in not just his skills but in his role on the team—expansion of which will almost certainly require that he assert himself at some point in the near future. Could Saturday night have been that moment? With Pierce strapped to the bench with oldmanitis, the Wizards needed the guy taking his minutes to manufacture something, and it didn’t happen.


Rasual Butler, SF

19 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | +6

Butler and Otto basically swapped roles tonight, with the majority of Butler’s minutes coming in all-bench lineups while Otto got extended burn alongside the starters. Perhaps because of a relative dearth of minutes with Wall, Butler was forced into a number of shots outside of what you’d consider his wheelhouse, and what I’m referring to, here, is pretty much any shot Butler takes off the dribble. Holy moly is he one clumsy ball-handler. He knocked down his first shot of the night, an open 3-pointer, but he also brutally air-balled a contested transition layup, bricked two pull-up midrange jumpers in one possession, and just generally didn’t have the stroke. But! …He played solid defense and rebounded the ball well, and the Wizards outscored the Spurs with him on the floor.


Kevin Seraphin, C

16 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -5

How do you record nine points and an assist in 16 minutes and finish with a negative plus/minus? By spending pretty much every defensive possession stumbling around like a klutz, helping late as a rule, and getting victimized by backdoor cuts seemingly every four seconds or so. The Spurs are a fast-moving whirlwind of an offensive team, Seraphin won’t be the last player to post something like a 6,000 DefRtg against them.


Andre Miller, PG

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

What happened to Turbo Gramps? The guy who went right at probable X-Man Russell Westbrook in OKC, worked him inside and out, refused to be denied? Where’s that guy? This guy, this crafty old guy wearing Turbo Gramps’ shoes and jersey, this guy is fine, I suppose, he’ll do in a pinch. But I’m docking points for taking valuable minutes away from a guy who can decisively eat up one of the most dynamic players in basketball. That guy would have made ALL THE DIFFERENCE against the Spurs. Cory Joseph and Patty Mills have no chance whatsoever against Turbo Gramps.

 

Not Exactly Defense.

 

Chris Thompson