Key Legislature: Wizards 98 at Lakers 92 — John Wall Rolls Up Sleeves in Hollywood | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 98 at Lakers 92 — John Wall Rolls Up Sleeves in Hollywood

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Updated: January 28, 2015

Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s) for Washington Wizards contest No. 46 versus the Lakers in Los Angeles, via Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) from Washington, D.C.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Kyle Weidie.

Each game provides numerous data points that can lead one down a variety of paths toward the big picture.

John Wall’s game continues to ascend and, really, transcend into territory we’ve never really seen from an NBA point guard. Even his mid-gear sends defenses into a panic over what he might do, where he might go, to whom he might pass the ball.

In Los Angeles, where he likes to play in-season and sometimes calls his playground in the offseason, Wall powered his team to a comeback victory with 21 points (8-12), 13 assists, and nine rebounds. His four turnovers were acceptable though his 5-for-12 line from free throw line was tough to swallow. Wall also played on a sore left Achilles’ tendon (possibly, or not) , with what was described as a “migraine,” and, evidently, sore ankles—one of which was tweaked late in the game when Wall stepped on a baseline cameraman after a drive to the basket.

He was a warrior, and amazing almost to the point of routine. He drove hard to gnaw at the rim as necessary, attempting seven of his 12 shot near the basket (making four); he gained separation for smooth and timely midrange jumpers (4-5) like a leaf blower clearing a sidewalk path. Wall didn’t even have to attempt a 3-pointer.

But what about the rest of the Wizards? They got down to the very depleted (and already poorly-constructed) Lakers team by as many as 19 points in the first half (the halftime deficit stood at 11). The Lakers are one of the five worst teams in the NBA, and a double-digit hole was dug with both Kobe Bryant and Nick Young out due to injury on Tuesday night.

The mounting data points on the team as a whole continue to slice the question down the middle: Are the Wizards contenders, or are they middling playoff participants with confidence to beat lower rung teams but not the consistency to be a true threat. The theme, like Wall’s speed, is becoming too routine.

Wall finding Otto Porter, starting for a resting Paul Piece, for a corner 3 on the game’s second offensive possession did not strike any sort of apparent fear in the heart of Los Angeles. The Lakers played free like the Wizards of yesteryear—little pressure, idealistic ball movement, and a Jordan Crawford-esque (or Nick Young-esque) ability to splash jumpers without much thought.

But don’t credit the Lakers totally. The Wizards unnecessarily gambled on defense, leaked out on rebounds, and generally did not seem willing to respect their opponent. Wall and Bradley Beal were both aggressive on offense to start, but they let their assumptions get the best of them on the other end. Jordan Clarkson, 2014 Washington Wizards second-round draft pick that was sold to the Lakers for $1.8 million cash, and Wayne Ellington combined for 22 first-quarter points on 9-for-12 shooting. The backcourt duo finished with 46 total points (28 for Ellington, 18 for Clarkson) on 20-for-38 shooting. Ellington made his first three 3-pointers before the Wizards got wise, then he missed his next six attempts from deep.

The first half meandered along. Kevin Seraphin bricked long 2-pointers while Ed Davis scored points on him in bunches (eight in the second quarter). The second unit predictably sputtered. Sadly, the defense of Andre Miller and Martell Webster was no match for Ellington and Jeremy Lin (who hit a 3-pointer, of all things). Even Kris Humphries couldn’t get his reliable jump shot going early.

The stalwarts checked back in midway through the second quarter and chipped away at L.A.’s lead, mostly thanks to Nene’s mere presence on defense and the stylings of Wall. The Lakers got up 17 points with 2:35 left in the first half and then didn’t score again, as Washington closed the gap to 11. The Wizards merely maintained over the first half of the third quarter until Beal ignited his team with a much-needed scoring spark via nine straight points for his team. What it really was: Washington woke up on defense and outscored the Lakers 29-19 in the third period (11-2 on the fast break). Seems simple.

The Wizards didn’t dominate in the fourth quarter (23-16). Rather, they did just enough to ease the tension but not necessarily the frustration. Seraphin scrapped for points instead of settling, driving home how the onus, sometimes, is on Washington’s offense (and Andre Miller) to get him the ball in the right spots: on the block where he can unleash his deadly hook shot. Humphries and Nene added the right amount of muscle in the final stanza. Beal, perhaps because Wall was ailing, was given the ball more to create offense in the fourth quarter—it often didn’t work out. So Wall, naturally, picked up the slack with two straight 17-foot jump shots that gave Washington a five-point cushion with just over four minutes left. Beal returned the favor as the game slipped away from the Lakers. As Wall was visibly hobbling due to that ankle tweak, Beal commanded a 16-foot pull-up shot that served as the dagger which put Washington up seven points with 43 seconds left.

A win is a win, goes the mantra. And amidst a nice but barely satisfying comeback is the fact that the Wizards once again stumbled backwards into beating an inferior opponent. In this meeting at least, Randy Wittman had a project manager with sleeves rolled up in Wall to guide the initiative (while Clarkson did his best to steal the show and keep his name top-of-mind for Wizards fans).

Lesson learned? Not quite. There are more long days at the office, more data points, to come.


 

And now, for some stupidity without comment other than this sentence.

Swing from the Vines.

 

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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.