Key Legislature: Wizards 117 at Nuggets 115 (OT) — Wall and Lawson's Duel Ends Out of Breath | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 117 at Nuggets 115 (OT) — Wall and Lawson’s Duel Ends Out of Breath

Updated: January 27, 2015

Truth About’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s) for Washington Wizards contest No. 45 versus the Nuggets in Denver, via Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) from the East Coast.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Kyle Weidie.

The Wizards started out of breath. John Wall, soothsayer, foretold of such before the game.

Fifty-three basketball court minutes later the Wizards were still left gasping for breath, lucky that they didn’t have to play five minutes more. The chance of a veteran like Paul Pierce having his out of bounds pass picked off like [insert Skins quarterback name]. The chance of Ty Lawson intercepting the ball with (just) over three seconds left in overtime, within steps of the basket and down two points, tossing up a hot potato at the rim, and missing.

The outcome and all the work leading up to it came down to that last, half-assed gasp. Wall was right, though. He alone is the right lung of the Washington Wizards, his teammates make the left. Wall breathed just enough life into his team to leave Colorado with a win one game-night after blowing a lead late in Portland.

Denver moved the ball well early, combining that with altitude and second-chance opportunities to get the Wizards reeling. But by the five-minute mark, Wall and Bradley Beal, recipient of a Wall pass for a dunk, were running. Marcin Gortat, too. Wall twice used the center as a traffic cone, maneuvering around it and the defense with changes in direction for scores at the rim.

The pace continued, somewhat recklessly. This was followed by the normal confusion from Washington’s second-unit offense. The game became a symphony of screeching Metro rail escalators. Arron Afflalo was grinding shots, and Martell Webster echoed that noise. Jameer Nelson swiped 3-pointers past the net, J.J. Hickson and Kevin Seraphin exchanged fares. Darrell Arthur made change with his jumpers. Otto Porter, the soft thud of a rubber railing.

The first half train was led by Wall’s seven assists to zero turnovers; Ty Lawson paced the cars behind him with the same ratio. Nine different Wizards scored; eight Nuggets got on the board. Pierce chugged his way to the free throw line and Kris Humphries chugged everywhere. True to form, Beal displayed the strength of his jump shot and weakness in ability to maneuver off the dribble. Nene and Marcin Gortat battled Kenneth Faried and Jusuf Nurkic to a draw. The two teams were tied at 59 after one half, the Nuggets making up points against more a advantaged Wizards team by hitting three more 3-pointers (in five more attempts).

As the halftime #WittmanJava started to take effect, or whatever Randy Wittman used to rev up his players, if anything at all, the Wizards found themselves down a consistent seven-to-eight points over the meat of the third quarter.

“They getting tired!” you could hear someone repeatedly yell over the television broadcast minutes into the period. Seemingly a Denver supporter: it was usually said while Lawson had the ball. This contrasted with an obvious Wizards fan sitting behind CSN Washington’s Steve Buckhantz and Phil Chenier—the vocal minority was very audible over a mellow Denver crowd toward the end.

Both teams relied heavily on starters in the third, the Nuggets more so. Lawson hit a 3 in Wall’s grill; minutes later he was dropping a dime to Afflalo for 3. Both times Wall thought he could answer with his own 3 and both times he missed, and the Wizards were down eight with three minutes left. A timeout soon thereafter registered another notching in Wall.

To watch a point guard you’ve observed all of his pro career, the good and the bad, grasp a game by the lapels and dictate what’s fashionable brings a comfort that’s hard to truly appreciate. That’s why they get drafted so high, yet some still fade. The Wizards ran some action to get Rasual Butler a look from behind the arc, and he made it—Wall assist. Wall next passed up his own 3 to get Butler another look, but he missed. The takeover, the process, continued nonetheless—Wall hit a tough floater, bounced to Gortat on the move with an assist, dropped a dime to Webster’s hot flash hands. The Wizards pulled within one point and Wall had 11 assists, still zero turnovers to end the third quarter.

Randy Wittman ground his teeth and tinkered with his lineup into the fourth quarter, trying to be effective, trying to get keep the mileage low on those with escalating odometers. He had a short leash for his poorly-performing second unit in the second quarter. Early in the final quarter, before overtime, he rode the waves with good ship K.S. Life. Seraphin displayed newfound baseline drives, his patented hook shot, and even a recently discovered rebound put-back—six points in the period’s first two minutes. But then the kiddo settled for a jumper, later committed a couple bad fouls; a plus-3 in the fourth still added up to minus-9 for the game.

Nene, and Pierce, returned midway through the fourth. Nene was wearing tape around his body like war paint, or maybe I just expect him to bleed neon green like the Predator. He was a key part of the late-game action and the focus of Wall’s pick-and-roll game. Nene and Humphries served as Wittman’s rarely-used combination down the stretch—10 minutes together versus the Nuggets, 48 total minutes prior. Both relentlessly attacked Denver, Humphries on the glass and Nene in any way he could (he was so excitable that he travelled twice—it’s #NeneHands, not #NeneFeet). Nene was respectably physical, especially against Faried. Nene apparently knows what “buyer’s remorse” means in Portuguese.

But back to the evening’s proper owners: Wall and Lawson. The former continued to set up his teammates with action on the move—pocket passes, picks, rolls, and pops. The latter forced Washington’s defense into mismatch after mismatch, then he used his speed and acceleration to do damage. Wall totaled 19 points (16 shots), 16 assists, and two turnovers. Lawson provided 31 points (20 shots), 12 assists, and two turnovers.

The game’s final, waking inhale wasn’t as much exhilarating as exasperating. You have Faried’s missed free throws, Pierce’s knucklehead turnover from the baseline, and Lawson’s hiccup off the rim. The Wizards just happened to win. The duel of point guards exceeded hype and still entertained those watching nationally and internationally on NBA TV.

Adjusting to big narratives, John Wall needs help. Pierce has been close to what people expected this season, and Nene has been better than expected. Beal and Gortat are the two starters currently living below expectations, which isn’t to say they’ve been bad, or even less than good. It’s on the front office to strengthen the bench.

Wall also needs to help himself. The team is only one lung without him, but that doesn’t mean he needs to unnecessarily hold his breath. He lost focus during winnable fourth quarters in Oklahoma City and San Antonio. His only two turnovers in Denver came in the fourth quarter and overtime. One unforced attempt to be fancy with a five-point lead and 2:17 left in OT yielded another classic instance of “Faces of Randy Wittman.” Then again, without fancy stuff on our calamari, we wouldn’t be treated to Wall’s between-the-legs assists to Gortat. Got to let stars try to shine.

So Washington escaped, 117-115—give Wall credit for making his free throws, and credit chance otherwise.

The Wizards are a very win-and-move on team. For a team with 30 wins to 15 losses, they haven’t often enacted their will to bend an opponent. Which is alright when you’re a franchise with 14 seasons of 30 or fewer wins since 1990. Flaws are OK. As long as they are recognized. Are the Wizards growing up past them, or are they settling for a pretty damn good living with them?


Wally World.



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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.