DC Council 37: Wizards at Hawks — Startlingly Like That One YouTube Video Where The Bird Poops On The Guy | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council 37: Wizards at Hawks — Startlingly Like That One YouTube Video Where The Bird Poops On The Guy

Updated: January 12, 2015

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Washington players from Game No. 37: Wizards versus the Hawks in Atlanta.
Contributor: Chris Thompson from the North.


Well, that was deeply unpleasant. The Hawks are playing amazing basketball these days, and this was always going to be a tough test for the Wizards, but you had to think they’d have a little bit more to offer than what we saw Sunday afternoon.

Right from the outset it was apparent the Wizards didn’t have much of a plan for running the Hawks off the 3-point line, or disrupting their rhythm, or even, you know, grabbing defensive rebounds. And, at the other end, Washington’s attack seemed designed more than anything to commit disastrous live-ball turnovers, when they weren’t bricking layups and settling for (yes, as usual) midrange jumpers.

Last season this kind of loss would have been deeply dispiriting, and, yeah, even this season it’s hard not to be very troubled by what happened on Sunday. The silver lining, I suppose, is we’ve seen the Wizards get kicked around in other games this season and bounce back to string together wins on the other side, as they did after a gnarly beat-down in Dallas. They’ve got a tough couple of games ahead of them, and there are remaining tests on their schedule, but, look: they play in the Eastern Conference, they’ll be fine. They’re a good team. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, repeat that to yourself until the hurting stops.

Let’s get this over with.






Nene Hilario, PF

27 MIN | 6-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | -8

All things considered, Nene didn’t play especially poorly. He shot the ball well and, a few early hiccups aside, mostly played respectable defense on Paul Millsap. Place that lukewarm appraisal in the context of Washington’s total ineptitude at both ends, and it’s either dubious praise or a downright miracle. Who can say? [looks skyward] Who can say.

Paul Pierce, SF

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

The raw numbers, well, they lie, even as modest as they are. They tell a tale of a relatively ho-hum outing from Pierce: no turnovers, a couple of offensive boards, a few assists, nothing to get very worked up about one way or another. The truth is … well, The Truth is an old man, but the truth of The Truth’s outing is he was slow defensively all night, closed-out haphazardly on shooters, got lost on rotations, and was fairly worked-over underneath on the defensive glass. It was a rough outing. This is another one of those match-ups when Pierce really isn’t suited to play big minutes as a small forward. The Hawks utilize too much player movement and space the floor too well for a guy who no longer moves much like an NBA wing player. Sunday might have been a good time to try out smaller lineups, but Randy Wittman was in no mood for adventure. Is he ever? [looks skyward] Is he ever.

Marcin Gortat, C

19 MIN | 4-5 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | -18

Gortat followed up a brilliant game Friday night with an absolute train-wreck of an outing in Atlanta. Holy cow. Perhaps if the Wizards had utilized some of those small lineups Gortat wouldn’t have so often been in position to make no credible attempt to close-out on guys like Pero Antic, Al Horford, and Paul Milsap. Far, far too often Gortat was caught hanging out in no-man’s land, not convincingly defending anyone and nowhere near in position to help out on the glass. Somewhat distressingly, Sunday was the third time this season that Gortat has recorded just two rebounds, after never recording so few in any game last season and only twice being held to fewer than five. Yikes. [just glares skyward]

John Wall, PG

37 MIN | 6-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 8 TO | 15 PTS | -8

I want to caution everyone away from pointing to turnovers as the main plot device of any narrative retelling of Sunday’s demolition. That’s just too narrow a view—the Hawks were definitively better at everything, they are the better team, their brand of basketball is more cohesive, more coherent, more advanced, and just comprehensively superior to Washington’s.

Now, as for John Wall’s responsibility for Sunday’s atrocity, that turnover number is glaring. Sometimes Wall’s turnovers come as a result of daring playmaking, and, anyway, in general you’re happy to live with turnover counts on the high side when they’re the product of Wall’s particular brand of fearless, heroic basketball. But too many of his eight turnovers against the Hawks were the result of frenzied, sloppy, and predictable recklessness. Wall’s jump-passes are genuinely one of the coolest things in the NBA, night to night, but turnovers are a thing that will happen when a player picks up his dribble and leaps into the air without any certainty that there’s a safe place for the ball to go. The Hawks were expecting them. The Wizards needed a more decisive and cool-headed Wall and what they got is Happy-Go-Lucky Jumping Man.

And, beyond that, the Wizards spent far too much time dribbling on Sunday. That’s a thing that they do, as part of their offense, and it doesn’t often hurt them, but I think we all hoped they’d learned, from the last Atlanta game, that the Hawks are long and grabby and will collapse in and dig down and swipe at every opportunity, and that maybe they’d come up with another plan of attack. Wall now has 15 turnovers in two games against Atlanta, and it’s no coincidence the Wizards have been thrashed in both contests.

[shakes angry fist at the sky]

Bradley Beal, SG

34 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -11

Beal spent Sunday dying on whichever screens he didn’t inexplicably go under, bricking bad jumpers, and getting thoroughly worked over by Kyle Korver. Korver is a very good player playing for a coach and in a system that cherish and make the absolute most of his particular strengths. In fact, his strengths overlap considerably with Beal’s: they’re both terrific perimeter shooters with limited floor games, they’re both long, athletic, hard-working defenders, and they both require an offense that utilizes their gravity on the perimeter while hiding their deficiencies in order to do their best work.

Korver plays in that offense, while Beal absolutely does not. His tentative dribble-game made him hopelessly ineffective as a ball-handler against Atlanta’s aggressive defense, but what was Plan B? [recommences the angry-fist-shaking] And Washington’s head-scratching defensive plan to dive under screens left him in bad close-out positions against Atlanta’s deadly shooters.

Kris Humphries, PF

13 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -14

I feel like you’ve got to work pretty hard to go minus-14 in just 13 minutes of action. Humphries saw just two seconds of the fourth quarter after spending the bulk of his minutes through the first three quarters pirouetting nonsensically while confusing basketball-like things happened around him. Actually, that was every Wizards player on defense.

Drew Gooden, PF

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

Wittman dusted off Drew Gooden for five minutes of garbage time burn, during which the Hawks outscored the Wizards by eight points while Gooden threw up a few heat-check jumpers.

Otto Porter Jr., SF

9 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -15

Otto committed two fouls and an indescribably clumsy and embarrassing self-inflicted turnover in five disastrous first-half minutes, then sat out all but the garbage portion of the second half. It was all garbage. One big helping of hot garbage. I need a drink.

Martell Webster, SF

13 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-3 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -11

Well, one thing’s certain: Webster still has a knack for drawing fouls on the perimeter. He’s slow on defense; his dribble game is as underdeveloped as ever; he never, ever seemed open; and we’re getting to the point where we have to wonder whether he should be playing at all. On the other hand, we’ll never know whether he can work his way into a rhythm if he isn’t given enough burn to show and prove. It’s a conundrum, you guys.

Rasual Butler, SF

22 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -24

Butler’s game-worst minus-24 came because, as has lately been the case, he really struggled to defend quick players on the perimeter. It’s fair to wonder what chance he has against a waterbug like Dennis Schröder, but, anyway, the match-up happened, and when it did happen, Schröder blew right by him. Again, this was a total wipeout, Butler wasn’t necessarily any worse than any other Wizard on Sunday, but he was bad, especially on the defensive end.

Kevin Seraphin, C

24 MIN | 6-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -1

This guy [shakes both fists at the sky, cries out]. Turnovers aside, poor Seraphin had one of his best games of the season. He shot the ball well, he rebounded well, he pulled off a slick driving move to the basket in traffic without hurling the ball into the stands, and he even dished some sweet dimes. Of course it would happen in a game in which the Wizards were almost never competitive. Gah.

Andre Miller, PG

7 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -18

Minus-18 in seven minutes. Seven minutes!

Garrett Temple, SG

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

Temple got into the game, but it was over by then, and he only participated in the way a rubbernecker participates in the scene of a horrible traffic accident.

He did dish one nice-looking assist.

Randy Wittman

So much about Washington’s approach to this contest was not right:

  • the constant high pick-and-roll stuff made Washington’s ball-handlers vulnerable to Atlanta’s grabby defense;
  • the confusing and incoherent on-and-off switching on the perimeter that disrupted the Wizards’ defensive cohesion far more than it did Atlanta’s offense;
  • sending Wizards’ defenders under perimeter screens (a strategy that worked against Chicago’s somewhat less 3-happy shooters) played right into Atlanta’s hands;
  • refusing to go small even while Paul Pierce was being systematically turned into a fire hydrant;
  • and seemingly forgetting to alert Marcin Gortat to the fact that Atlanta’s tall men are capable perimeter players.

A team like the Wizards can’t lose by 31 points to another NBA team unless the opposing coach fully gets the drop on Randy Wittman, and that’s what happened in Atlanta.



Chris Thompson