Key Legislature: Wizards 102 vs Bulls 86 — This Time It's Personal | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 102 vs Bulls 86 — This Time It’s Personal

Updated: January 10, 2015

Truth About’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s) for Washington Wizards contest No. 36 versus the Chicago Bulls in the District, via Adam Rubin from the Verizon Center.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Adam Rubin.

Marcin Gortat and Nene did not mince words after the game. Rarely do NBA players characterize a game as a one-on-one battle. But both big men did just that:

“It’s a challenge. How’s it gonna be? Me and Nene or you guys. It’s about who’s going to win the battle. The NBA is about people having big tempers and egos. Me and Nene we definitely have egos and tempers. We ain’t gonna let anybody come in here and punk us like that. They did it one time and we didn’t like that so we were ready for this game.” —Gortat

“They came in here and took the first game and we are not going to allow them to take the second … Always going to have physicality against the Bulls. [Noah] embarrassed me, I embarrassed him. I always take it personally, especially Chicago.” —Nene

This was a statement game for the Wizards. This was Washington taking a Chicago team known for its physicality and beating the hell out of them. This was John Wall shedding the moniker of little brother to Derrick Rose’s big brother. This was Washington announcing to a national audience that they have arrived.

And it was over in an instant. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau remarked after the game that the first quarter—and really the first five minutes—”was the game, really. That was the start. We got ourselves in a big hole, 30-13.”

The first quarter could not have gone better for Washington. They set the tone early with blazing speed in the open court and smothering defense. Wall aggressively double-teamed Pau Gasol every time he touched the ball and the Bulls could not muster the necessary movement on offense to create open shots. Chicago settled for contested jumper after contested jumper and they did not go in. The Bulls ended the first quarter shooting 5-for-25 with one assist, and that included a 3-point buzzer-beater by Tony Snell.

Nene, in particular, seemed to take delight in manhandling Noah. He overpowered Noah on offense for easy layups and jump hooks and shoved him out of the way for defensive rebounds. Nene also neutralized Gasol in the paint by keeping his hand on Gasol’s hip and guiding him away from the rim whenever he tried to establish position.

The best exchange of the night came with 1:53 remaining in the fourth quarter and Washington holding on to a 10-point lead. As the vine at the top illustrates, Nene caught the ball on the right block, turned and faced Noah, then swung the ball at his face while simultaneously spinning into a right jump hook punctuated by a few choice words and a soul-crushing stare. On the ensuing defensive possession Nene shoved Jimmy Butler out of bounds while fighting for a loose ball and flipped it ahead to Wall who swung it cross-court to Beal for a 3-point dagger. That pretty much sums up Nene’s night.

But not all was rosy at the Verizon Center. The outcome of the game may have been decided in the first quarter, but a disturbing trend that emerged during Washington’s recent West Coast road trip reared its ugly head again in the second quarter; namely, the second unit’s inability to protect a lead. The second unit struggling, in and of itself, is not a major concern. The issue, however, is Wittman’s continued unwillingness to make in-game adjustments like staggering the starters’ minutes so that Wall or Bradley Beal remains in the backcourt at all times. Such adjustments are not necessary every night, but they are critical on nights like this.

Instead, Wittman watched from the sidelines in the second quarter as Aaron Brooks ran circles around Andre Miller and continued to feed Seraphin in the post despite Seraphin’s inability to anticipate and adjust to Chicago’s constant hard double-teams. The result? Chicago grabbed the momentum to start the second quarter and cut Washington’s lead from 17 to seven with four minutes left in the half.

Wittman seems to have an alarm clock in his head set to go off with six minutes left in the second quarter prompting him to put Wall back in the game. And it seems to be set in stone. Against Chicago, it didn’t matter. The starters entered the game and quickly built an 18-point halftime lead. But it will not always be that easy—recent losses in Oklahoma City and San Antonio come to mind.

After the Bulls game, TAI’s Chris Thompson asked Wittman about the second unit’s inability to contain Aaron Brooks and Wittman joked, “You had to bring that up?” before exiting the interview room with a typical non-answer answer. Wittman is rarely in the mood to talk strategy or entertain anything other than the most straight-forward of questions, but there were some hints in his management of the Chicago game that he may have learned something from the recent lost leads in Oklahoma City and San Antonio. For instance, Wittman kept Seraphin on a very short leash, subbing him out for Gortat after only two and a half minutes in the second quarter. Contrast that with how long Wittman let Seraphin play against the Thunder, even as he was getting abused by Kendrick Perkins.

Wittman also kept Wall and Beal in for the entire third quarter and then made sure one or both got significant run in the fourth quarter as well. It’s too soon to tell if these adjustments were an anomaly or whether they represent a structural change in Wittman’s philosophy but they were a welcome sign from a coach that has sometimes been accused of lacking creativity.

The Bullets.

  • Kevin Seraphin showed solidarity with his countrymen by wearing a “Je Suis Charlie” T-shirt acknowledging the terrorist attack in Paris.
  • Always fun to see genuine moments between players and coaches when they re-unite several years after joining forces. Before tip-off, Pau Gasol found Hubie Brown at midcourt and shared some memories. Their 50-win season together in Memphis in 2003-04 is still one of the most surprising and entertaining NBA runs of the last 20 years.
  • John Wall had a little fun at Derrick Rose’s expense by skipping down the floor after a Rasual Butler 3-pointer. Rose, if you remember, did the same move a couple weeks ago after he terrorized the Wizards in the fourth quarter of Chicago’s December 23 win over Washington.

The Vines.


Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.