Key Legislature: Wizards 89 at Hawks 120 — Sunday Not a Fun Day for Washington | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 89 at Hawks 120 — Sunday Not a Fun Day for Washington

Updated: January 12, 2015

Truth About’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s) for Washington Wizards contest No. 37 versus the Hawks in Atlanta via Kyle Weidie from the District of Columbia.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Kyle Weidie.

No matter what time your Sunday starts, it will soon be over, and Monday will be here (or already is). Don’t take Sunday too seriously; it’s for relaxing, recovery. But that isn’t to say that Sundays can’t be productive.

The Wizards took a route of slumber, as often is the case for their Sundays. Washington is 1-3 on Sundays this season, 3-7 over the last two seasons. The Wizards are an even .500 on Tuesdays over the last two seasons and above .500 on all other days. Sundays are the pits for Randy Wittman’s team. So are the Atlanta Hawks.

Consider how the Hawks have treated the Wizards this season—in convincing wins in D.C. and Atlanta—as well as Washington’s lone win in its last six attempt versus the Toronto Raptors. The ceiling of third-best team in the East is the latest trend for Washington and the supporting evidence is there. Chicago, with its depth, might also be better.

Bradley Beal turned it over the first possession on a Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia. The next time Washington had a chance to conduct its offense, all primary options were stifled by the Hawks, leaving the Wizards to settle for an unideal, contested, and tough shot from Paul Pierce. Of course it went in. But the struggle of the day was real. Sometimes Atlanta’s first quarter ball movement made Washington look like a high school team—watching the passer, not the cutters; and seeming unable to cover anyone after Atlanta offensive rebounds. Beal would dribble into a corner, John Wall would dribble nowhere. Jeff Teague recorded three steals in the first quarter, Wall and Beal committed two turnovers each. The effort was more well-rounded: Nene could not keep up with Paul Millsap, and Marcin Gortat went from talking about punking the Bulls to being Punky Brewster in the paint.

Then there was the second unit. Simply getting the ball into Andre Miller in the post—a head-shaking first option to have—in order to run the offense was frustrating to watch; Kevin Seraphin and Kris Humphries don’t make the best 5-4 combo (minus-12 per 48 minutes when paired); Rasual Butler can be very limited without Wall on the court; Otto Porter once just turned the ball over while trying to dribble. Do you want more? The Miller-Butler-Porter-Humphries-Seraphin unit played five minutes versus the Hawks, all toward the end of the first quarter/beginning of the second quarter, and finished minus-9.

Early in the second quarter, the Wizards trailed by 20 points, thanks to a Kyle Korver 3-pointer. Then as fast as John Wall, a flash of hope. From the 8:43 mark when Korver hit that 3 to the end of the first half, Washington went on a 26-11 run. They tightened the screws on defense and Nene showed some spunk (8 points). Beal (7 points) managed not to slip all over the place, but did provide a scare with an ankle tweak. The Wizards only managed to turn the ball over twice (to eight assists—two each from four Wizards) over that half-closing stretch. It appeared respectable going into the locker room, 55-50 Atlanta.

Still, it wasn’t a clean run from Washington. For every nice play featuring primary, secondary, and tertiary assists—the ball movement Wittman’s team is known to be capable of—there was Wall missing a layup versus Teague, or Nene taking a bad-idea jump shot, which got me wondering how large, exactly, are Nene’s jeans. Are we talking a square 42-waist, 42-length, boot cut? Perhaps so.

An intermission with Wittman did not provide a coffee-induced buzz amongst Washington to start the third quarter. A second-half Sunday provided more random slipping on the floor from Beal (seriously, what was that?) and more turnovers from Wall (four of them in the third quarter). Atlanta continued to rain 3s and Washington had their Yakety Sax moments—a bearded gentleman named Pero Antic pulled a chair out from under Kevin “#KSlife” Seraphin and Kris Humphries fought a saxophone solo to make a spastic shot.

But down 10 points after three quarters, the Wizards weren’t dead in the water. They cut the deficit to seven points early in the fourth quarter, barely—frantic defense, Seraphin livin’, and a Wall-Beal block party made a minor dent. That was at the 10-minute mark of the final stanza. But Wittman would throw in the towel by sitting Nene and Pierce, and then Wall by the 4:15 mark. During this time, the Hawks out-scored Washington 24-5, tucking hats over wizards heads and putting them to sleep. How? Atlanta built a 26-point advantage (that would end at 31) with a barrage of 3-pointers (4-for-4 from four different players during that 24-5 stretch). Meanwhile, the Wizards fired up long 2-pointers (Beal) and got taken in the paint (Mike Scott vs. Rasual Butler), amongst other acts of increasing basketball disinterest. Consistently losing Kyle Korver (or getting deceived by Atlanta’s quick passing) did not help; Korver score a game-high 19 points via 5-for-7 from 3-point land.

Wall committed eight turnovers on the day. Not a career high—that’d be nine, achieved three times in his career, most recently in a double OT win versus Boston—but enough to hurt. When combined with the seven turnovers Wall had against the Hawks in the previous meeting, it’s a growing concern. There’s just something about that Jeff Teague. The Wizards fumbled the ball 20 times on Sunday in Atlanta, leading to 31 points for the other team. Atlanta committed nine turnovers leading to eight Wizards points. Washington also committed 20 turnovers (allowing 18 points) in a late-November loss to the Hawks.

Atlanta got strong contributions from the bench—Dennis Schroder, 10 points, mid-first round pick; Mike Scott, 11 points, second round pick; and Pero Antic, 12 points, free agent find. Seraphin continued to be Washington’s comedy/tragedy Mardi Gras mask. He and Butler combined for 21 points on 9-for-16 shooting; the rest of the bench was 2-for-14.

Early in the broadcast CSN Washington’s Steve Buckhantz drew comparisons between Washington and Atlanta in their connections to San Antonio through coaching staff et al. and systematic intuitions of ball movement. It’s true. Last season advanced player tracking stats revealed that the Wizards, and the Spurs, were among the best in the NBA in passes per possession, which obviously isn’t a measure that correlates with winning, but a willingness to share the ball is a good start, recollecting the culture change in D.C.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer spent 19 years with the Spurs organization; Washington has its own connections, assistant coach Don Newman being one. This season Atlanta ranks second in points created by assists per game (60)—the Wizards rank sixth (57) and the Spurs fourth (57.3), via All three teams are capable of moving the ball very well, there’s no doubting that. But there’s a difference that continues to be staggering.

Atlanta gets 27.7 percent of their points from 3-pointers, ranked fourth-most in the NBA (Houston is first, 34.8%). San Antonio ranks 11th with 24.2 percent. The Washington Wizards get just 18.4 percent of their points from 3-pointers, fourth-fewest in the league. Of teams ranking in the bottom 12 in percentage of points from 3s, only Washington, Memphis, Brooklyn, and Milwaukee are currently playoff teams.

One might think it’s a stubborn insistence on Washington’s part to, like Memphis, be a dominant defensive team that works the ball inside. But the Grizzlies don’t fire up the ball from the inefficient midrange like the Wizards do, who get 24.6 percent of their points via midrange 2s, second-most in the NBA. Only the quite terrible New York Knicks out-do the Wizards in this category. Just 20.3 of Washington’s points came from midrange 2s last season. Are they seriously trending upward?

Turnovers are a noble accusation when assigning blame for Sunday’s 31-point loss to the Hawks. Wittman and his players don’t allow their factory to manufacture more chances from beyond the arc. Taking away from more efficient production is a stubborn dig in an exhausted area of the mine. The data supporting a long-run death in settling for 2s instead of hunting for more 3s is the dead canary that can’t be ignored. The Hawks made a season-high 16 3-pointers (31 attempts) on Sunday. The Wizards went 5-for-20.

Not all is lost for Washington, but they were certainly taken down a peg with their Sunday blues. The competition will keep coming—probably a good thing—with the Spurs in town on Tuesday (they’ll visit the White House to be honored for their championship the day of the game) and a trip to Chicago on Wednesday. They are currently fourth in the East, four games back of first place Atlanta. It’s nice to be a winning team with a test around most corners, but the criticism gets even more magnified—from Wall’s turnovers to roster inefficiencies that must be addressed. The Wizards have a lot of room to grow, as long as they don’t get pinned down with who they are.



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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.