Key Legislature: Wizards 96 at Trail Blazers 103 — Washington Wilts Under Long-Range Barrage | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 96 at Trail Blazers 103 — Washington Wilts Under Long-Range Barrage

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Updated: January 25, 2015

Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s) for Washington Wizards contest No. 44 versus the Trail Blazers in Portland, via Sean Fagan (@McCarrick) from the East Coast.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Sean Fagan.

When the Wizards offense is firing on all cylinders, it is easy to get behind Coach Randy Wittman’s philosophy of taking “open shots,” which may rely heavily on the derided long 2 but can effectively grind down the opponent if the Wizards adhere to Wittman’s mantra of locking down on defense. Against Portland, it appeared for most of the night that Wittman’s “old school” basketball was going to get the better of Portland’s “bombs away from behind the arc” approach. Washington took a 55-45 lead into the half with the offense shooting at a tick over 50 percent. Everything for the Wizards was working. John Wall couldn’t miss from the field and was distributing the ball with aplomb, Nene was holding his own against LaMarcus Aldridge in the post, and Bradley “Sad Panda” Beal appeared to have been rejuvenated by the cool air of the Pacific Northwest, attacking the basket and being aggressive on both sides of the floor. It was the best possible performance that Washington could have asked for against a strong Western Conference opponent, and yet it wasn’t enough.

Despite their best efforts, the Wizards were done in by Portland running one of those crazy newfangled offenses that relies on chucking it from deep and letting their two stars (Aldridge and Damian Lillard) get to line and convert free throws. With 4:28 left in the fourth quarter and Washington leading 84-81, the Portland offense started to punch holes in the Wizards defense. Wesley Matthews (noted Wizard killer) drilled a 3 with 4:08 remaining to pull the Trail Blazers within one. After Nene missed a contested hook shot, Portland went right back to the well with Matthews, who hit another 3 and put Portland in front for good at 87-85. The Wizards would valiantly stay within striking distance, but the stake was driven into their heart when Nene fouled out of the game with 1:07 remaining by contesting backup center Meyers Leonard’s 3-point attempt. Leonard converted all three of his free throws.

The sum total can be read as such: Portland went 13-for-31 from 3 and went 20-for-20 at the free line. The Wizards shot 5-for-15 from 3 (including Paul Pierce’s 2,000th) and were 11-for-14 from the line. Washington executed better, ran their offense almost perfectly (they ended up shooting almost 49% from the field, while Portland shot 40%), and still ended up losing the game. The blame should not be focused on a missed Nene free throw or Martell Webster’s air-balled 3 from the corner, but on the sole fact that no adjustments were made in the offensive scheme to counter a well-scouted offense that is solely predicated on long-range shooting. The Wizards escaped earlier this month with a win against Houston (a team that, like Portland, also shoots 3s in bunches) and it took a Herculean effort from Beal to pull out that win against the Rockets. Wittman is going to have to go into his bag of tricks and tweak something, because while the Wizards are fully capable of beating most teams with their current offensive set, they will nine times out of ten find themselves coming up short against a team that understands that three points is more than two.

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Sean Fagan
Reporter / Writer/Gadfly at TAI
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Sean has contributed to TAI since the the dawn of Jan Vesely and has been on the Wizards beat since 2008. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo and SI.com. He still believes that Mike Miller never got a fair shot.