DC Council 35: Wizards vs Knicks — Just Enough to Put New York to Sleep | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council 35: Wizards vs Knicks — Just Enough to Put New York to Sleep

Updated: January 8, 2015

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Washington players from Game No. 35: Wizards versus the New York Knicks in the District.
Contributor: Kyle Weidie
 (@Truth_About_It) from NW D.C.


I missed a chance to witness history (at last a purported version of it) on a ho-hum Wednesday night at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. (Work stuff got in the way.) Instead, I got to witness to most routine yet closest wire-to-wire victory in the recent history of the Washington Wizards, at least in my lifetime.

Such is certainly is not defined by the margin of score or the stars who scored, and we’re obviously discounting those who didn’t play—Amar’e Stoudemire counts; Carmelo, certainly. It was, nonetheless, an NBA game in which the Knicks never really had a chance. Nor, with recent moves, do they even want a chance.

CSN Washington’s Steve Buckhantz posed a question to partner Phil Chenier, a decorated former NBA player himself, when it appeared that the game was out of hand, beyond watchable.

“When a team is as unproductive as the Knicks, is it tough sometimes to get into some kind of a rhythm or to play against them?” asked Buckhantz, his tone giving away the smirk on his face.

“Yea, I’m sure that’s one of those things,” replied Chenier. “They don’t have players like Amar’e Stoudemire or Carmelo Anthony, but you cannot allow yourself to think about that, to certainly slack in your play on either end of the court.”

“You’ve got to have some player there that keeps reminding you,” concluded Chenier, citing Paul Pierce as that player.

The Wizards didn’t allow themselves to get complete reminded, or perhaps they just shrugged it off. The starters, with either Otto Porter or Rasual Butler filling the 3 spot with Pierce out, were not the problem. Those two lineups finished plus-15 in 18 minutes. It was the bench which had trouble pulling weight against whatever level deep down in the catacombs unit of five men that New York trotted out on the court.

Which, is sort of why the Wizards found themselves in the position of waiving Glen Rice. Martell Webster was a drain on Wednesday night with a team-worst minus-11, but he’s still trying to work his way back into the season (and seems a long ways away). The unreliability of Kevin Seraphin, even though he’s having his best season, along with DeJuan Blair and Drew Gooden, are what keeps Wizards brass up at night. Luckily, against the Knickerbockers that didn’t matter. But with contests upcoming against the Bulls, Hawks, Spurs, and then the Bulls again, Washington probably is holding its collective breath, trying to be positive but hoping what they’ve seen recently doesn’t add up to staring down the barrel of a four-game losing streak.

Until the future, we shall evaluate what happen on Wednesday amongst individual Wizards still yearning for some sort of magical education.


New York





Nene Hilario, PF

24 MIN | 8-13 FG | 4-6 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | +21

Nene opened the night with a jumper, scoring the game’s first point from 18 feet before getting a steal 15 seconds later and earning a dime on a dunk from John Wall. He missed two more shots from distance in the first quarter—he was open—but also earned three shots within three feet (one, unfortunately, was a missed bunny à la Gortat). He displayed nice aspirations to work down low, even if the Knicks and Jason Smith weren’t exactly roadblocks. The Brazilian’s passing was on-point, per usual: his four assists only trailing Wall’s eight and Miller’s five; Nene also tallied three secondary assists. His appearance in the fourth quarter, which should have been unnecessary, helped put the Knicks to bed. Unfortunately, Nene almost put himself to bed after getting fouled by Jason Smith during a transition charge to the basket. Nene ended up getting a technical from the affair because he swung his arm/elbow in frustration and connected with Smith’s lower body as he was falling toward the basket stanchion. He would soon after head to the locker room early for treatment. #Pray4Nene.

(Vine’d: Nene attempts a corner 3, gets a dunk soon thereafter; Something or another versus Jason Smith; Pray for Nene)

Otto Porter Jr., SF

24 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +11

The statline doesn’t do justice to the idea that on nights like this, Otto Porter certainly gives the impression that he’s starter material. With Paul Pierce resting, he stepped in and meshed well with the starters, as he often does. The Wizards are 35 points worse than opponents over the 622 minutes that Porter has played this year. But in the 63 minutes he has played with Wall, Beal, Gortat and either Nene or Kris Humphries (headliners in one of the NBA’s best starting units), the Wizards are 10 points better than opponents. Now, this doesn’t mean that Porter could (or should) be a starter next season (for which Pierce has a player option). Nor does it mean that Otto would/could be a bulk-minute starter in the near or midrange future—could depend on his 3-point shooting (33% today isn’t very bloggable). What it means is that Otto Porter just sort of fits in—somehow battling Quincy Acy for a board; awkwardly guiding his wiry body down the lane; coming off the forgettable screen action for a jump shot the defense is willing to concede; cutting to the right spots to receive a pass. Did I mention that rebound over now-villain Quincy Acy?

(Vine’d: step-back Otto; Otto vs Acy)

Marcin Gortat, C

29 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | +19

With Polish dignitaries in attendance (replayed pre-game via TAI’s Polish correspondent and conveyed post-game by Gortat), you expected that he would be more motivated than normal to perform well in the first quarter. The Wizards usually try to feed Gortat early, anyway, to get him on the right track. Gortat did his part by not settling for a jump shot until the four-minute mark in the first quarter (an 8-foot miss) and finished 3-for-4 in the period with six rebounds. There’s a still some struggles for Gortat overall on offense, but it’s good that he continues to make running the court and the extra pass check-the-box actionables. Cole Aldridch hit a hook shot on him early, but otherwise Gortat was able to be in tune but coast on defense versus New York’s front line.

(Vine’d: On the move from Wall; Runnin’ with Wall)

John Wall, PG

34 MIN | 5-9 FG | 7-9 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | +18

Wall’s play in the first quarter, for the most part, could be described as measured. This is more than a developing trend: it’s the realization from Wall that games, like seasons, can be long, too. He tried to push pace early versus the Knicks, but in a sense that almost balanced not wanting to pick on New York too much with avoiding the desire to get reckless, cocky, against the hapless. His ball pressure was strategically active, picking up two steals in the first which then became a sprint the rim. Wall won the race, he always does. End-of-quarter shots are always reserved for Wall, too. At the end of the first quarter, a shot jack and a miss. At the end of the third, a hard drive to the rim and a trip to the free throw line. In addition to his eight assists, the game manager (better than pleated pants and collared logo shirts) also picked up four secondary assists. Wall was the steadier of the ship on this night. Even though he only saw 4:42 of action in the fourth quarter (the Knicks were gaining ground), Wall finished plus-10 in plus/minus during the period, plus-18 on the night.

(Vine’d: Wall a thief; Wall still (or steal, amirite?) a thief)

Bradley Beal, SG

29 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +17

“I just have to put more legs into it. I was a little lazy in the first half and I needed to pick myself up, energy-wise,” said Beal to CSN’s Chris Miller during an on-court interview after the game. Tell me about it. He was off early and you could tell over television that he wasn’t into the game. Not all of Beal’s five first-half misses (in five attempts) were forced; he settled for ones that weren’t. He broke the ice by hitting all of his four 3-point attempts in the second half, two coming in succession midway through the third quarter, putting Washington up 20 points. Overall, Beal was 2-for-6 on uncontested field goals, giving credence to his lazy legs admission. So, would be nice for Beal to get himself up more consistently (and not make assumptions about teams like the Knicks).

(Vine’d: Back-to-back 3s with #PandaTouch)

Kris Humphries, PF

22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -4

As the plan to keep Nene properly maintained, Humphries, the not-so-secret weapon, was first off the bench with five minutes left in the first quarter. He didn’t wow statistically but made a noticeable impact on the game. Seems like Humphries got more than seven rebounds (on nine rebound chances)—he’s probably the best on the team in chasing long rebounds. And 1-for-4 on uncontested field goals won’t always happen—he’s shooting 54.1 percent with no defender within four feet or more this season (95 attempts).

(Vine’d: Hard screen/dribble hand-off, smooth jumper; Finding space in the offense / gaps in the defense)

Martell Webster, SF

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

Well, at least Webster broke this ice on his season by hitting a 3-point shot. Now he has an album to drop and his wife is about to have a baby. No pressure.

In 37 minutes trying to make acquaintances Martell is 1-for-7 from the field, 1-for-3 from deep. Somehow he had managed to get fouled on two 3-point attempts so far (but is 6-for-9 from the charity stripe). If it weren’t for rust being noticeable (and his hair), you wouldn’t really see Martell. This shouldn’t diminish his contributions otherwise—at least two of his assists were impressive passes to a cutting Humphries after receiving a dribble-hand off from him, and a zip pass to Andre Miller in the post. Webster’s problem so far seems to be getting balance on his shot. With Rasual Butler continuing to play well (and neither Porter or Webster offering much more than him in terms of defense), one imagines that Wittman will continue to dole out more run to either Otto or Martell based on “feel,” which is OK. There’s plenty of time to figure it out.

(Vine’d: Martell’s 1st bucket of the season)

Rasual Butler, SF

24 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +10

Sometimes it seems Butler’s shot selection is getting less selective, which could also be construed as more questionable. The Wizards are trying to make the most of Butler’s unexpected shooting (49.1% on 3s) by running plays for him on the move instead of him just spotting up. This doesn’t, however, always result in open shots. So, curious: against the Knicks Butler was 5-for-7 on contested shots and just 1-for-4 on uncontested shots. A fadeaway jumper follower by a steal and a breaking, tough layup midway through the fourth help quell some panic and push a five-point Washington lead to nine within 14 seconds. Butler also welcomed Langston Galloway to the Knicks by blocking the shit out of one his shot attempts.

(Vine’d: The steal and finish)

Kevin Seraphin, C

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

Riding the #KSlife way is a test in how therapeutic the bullet that you’re biting is. He dropped two turnovers not long after checking into the game and pivoted like an uncoordinated dude trying to line dance to the Cha-Cha Slide before tossing up some sort of jumper—#KSlife definitely means wearing “Onesies” on offense. He finally got a shot to fall early in the fourth quarter; he nicely set up close to the basket and made one of his patented hook shots—this was, of course, 26 seconds after he bricked a 14-foot jumper. Midway through the fourth he committed a terrible loose ball foul trying to battle Cole Aldrich for a defensive rebound—of all things … of all things. This was when the Knicks got within seven points, which was narrowed to five because of Seraphin’s foul. Wittman couldn’t get him out the game fast enough after that transgression.

DeJuan Blair, C

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

DeJuan Blair nailed a floater. Simply nailed it. Someone owes him a pot of honey with a side of smoked salmon.

Andre Miller, PG

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

Prof. Miller had a tidy night, ignoring his usual defense. To no surprise, he posted up Shane Larkin, showing continued willingness to pick on the sort (hi, Austin Rivers), which is just as entertaining as when Miller posts the likes of Russell Westbrook. On one possession down low versus Larkin he spun in fluid motions not appropriate for someone his age and found a cutting Kris Humphries for a bucket at the rim. How Miller found Humphries or anticipated it all is a mystery as long as you refuse to accept that most of it was orchestrated by him.

And by the way, Miller is a great passer—and part of this is due to playing with him—but Humphries and Porter might be the best cutters on the Wizards, making Miller’s court vision possible. Not sure Washington has had a pair of players as savvy as finding open space on offense since Darius Songaila and Antawn Jamison roamed the hardwood in Eddie Jordan’s pro-style Princeton offense.

(Vine’d: Miller through the triangle to Seraphin)




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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.