DC Council 49: Wizards vs Hornets — Break Out the Epinephrine | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council 49: Wizards vs Hornets — Break Out the Epinephrine

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Updated: February 3, 2015

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 49: Wizards versus Hornets in the District.
Contributor: Conor Dirks from the Verizon Center.

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When Al Jefferson and Jannero Pargo heard, after the game, that John Wall was playing with migraine headaches and a swollen ankle, they were noticeably impressed. Pargo proceeded to recite his stat line from memory. They had no idea he was under the weather, or so the story goes. And Wall’s been fantastic, not noticeably hindered until last night, when he shot 4-for-14 against the Hornets (defended by Kemba Walker’s backup, Brian Roberts).

The game plodded along, minute by minute, quarter by quarter, until it became apparent that the Wizards would lose. Too late, the arsenal was deployed. Down eight with 1:44 to go, the Wizards finally broke out the Wall-Gortat pick-and-roll, neatly tucking two points into bed without supper in a matter of seconds. Then, on the next possession, after an Al Jefferson hyperbunny, the offense sputtered, faltered, fell back in a trust exercise into Paul Pierce’s arms, and he hit a midrange jumper to keep the Wizards in it. After a Gerald Henderson miss, Wall drove hard at the basket, colliding violently with the stolid Jefferson underneath the basket but earning an and-1 nonetheless. Down three with the shot clock off, the Wizards fouled. Henderson hit both, but Pierce responded with the breath of life: a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left.

But only so many holes can be dug, and only so many points can be made up. After Roberts nailed both free throws on the ensuing possession, Wall missed a 3-pointer with his team down four points. The buzzer sounded and unease reigned supreme. Why? How? When will the losing stop? How many ounces are in a pint? Grades below.


 

Charlotte Hornets

92

Final

Box Score

Washington Wizards

88

Nene Hilario, PF

28 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -11 +/-

Spasmodic and indignant under the basket due to whistles and non-whistles that seemed to conspire against him, Nene ducked, fought, and elbowed his way to a below average game. While he did well to shut down Charlotte’s Cody Zeller (2 points), Nene also missed a four-foot shot with 1:59 remaining in the fourth quarter that would have brought the Wizards within four points. Nene only made one shot outside of the paint (on four attempts).


Paul Pierce, SF

24 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -10 +/-

Playing limited minutes in supplication to archrogue Garrett Temple, Pierce nonetheless looked like one of the best players on the floor. Three huge 3-point shots (on 5 attempts) rattled in after above-the-break releases from Pierce. The Truth is now shooting 39.5 percent on 3-pointers this season, which is above his career average (37.1%) and a better percentage than he’s attained in all but three seasons over the course of a very long NBA life.

Pierce was conspicuously absent, despite his excellent play, during the meat of the fourth quarter. Garrett Temple checked in for Pierce with 5:09 remaining in the third, and Pierce did not return until there was 2:55 left in the game. That’s not why they brought him here. In the middle of a losing streak and offensive drought, Pierce (one of Washington’s few playmakers) may have been the key to a successful comeback.


Marcin Gortat, C

24 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | -11 +/-

A pick-and-roll big man who gets the ball on the roll far too infrequently is not “sacrificing” shots for the benefit of the team, he’s being sacrificed for the benefit of the other team. Gortat’s funk is not the symptom of just one ailment. Wall must look to get Gortat the ball more often, rolling to the basket, where he becomes one of the best finishers in the NBA. Gortat himself has to be more assertive, and to settle less often for backdowns and hooks near—but not in—the paint. The Polish Hammer missed every shot he took beyond one foot from the basket against the Hornets.

Jefferson had a good game, but Gortat played nice defense on Charlotte’s max man. Jefferson went 4-for-11 in the paint, and on many occasions, Gortat bothered his shot enough that it fell harmlessly off the side of the rim. However, the Wizards, and Gortat in particular, struggled to reconcile Jefferson’s considerable size with his ability to stretch the floor, and Jefferson punished them.

Gortat had a plea for fans of the team after the game, delivered via the media: “The only thing we can say right now is we definitely owe an apology to our fans for the last performances. The only thing we can ask for is to stay with us, be patient because we need them right now. We need them to be patient and understand the whole situation.”


John Wall, PG

34 MIN | 4-14 FG | 7-7 FT | 1 REB | 10 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 16 PTS | -7 +/-

A Hindu creationism story goes as such: All species on earth are devolutions of the first consciousness, a primeval, divine being who was sacrificed, dismembered, and distributed in order to form our species, as well as the other aspects of the planet. Even the sun is an aspect of the mind of that first entity: purusha. Falling apart at the seams, unable to look into the light due to migraines and with a swollen ankle that hasn’t had time to go down, John Wall still managed to run up a double-double, get to the free throw line seven times, and play more minutes than anyone not named Bradley Beal.

But unlike the primeval man, Wall’s play is not being sacrificed in the creation of something good and worth creating. These are disappointing losses lost in disappointing ways.


Bradley Beal, SG

39 MIN | 7-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | -7 +/-

Bradley Beal took 16 shots and made seven of them. He took four 3-pointers and made two of them. The Wizards shot 15 3-pointers total, one below their season average of 16. As one of two emissaries of the shot in the starting lineup, Beal is obliged to do better, to seek more of these kinds of shots, much like he did against the Raptors. The alternative is one that fans should be familiar with: a little bit of space, an immediate pull-up from midrange, and frequently, a miss when a drive to the basket or more ball movement would have been better options.

Beal was routinely abused by Gerald Henderson, relying on help defense on Henderson backdowns in the post and praying that his big men could halt Henderson’s progress to the rim on drives. But Big Panda deserves some credit for converting 15 rebound chances into 11 rebounds. He crashed the defensive boards, and on a few occasions brought down a rebound among bigger bamboo trees.


Kris Humphries, PF

26 MIN | 4-8 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +6 +/-

One aspect of Kris Humphries’ game that I wasn’t prepared to appreciate is his ability to pick up the ball after receiving it outside the free throw line, get his shoulder tucked under the defender and gesticulate enough that a shooting foul is called. It’s an ability that might be more appreciated in Beal’s game (should he ever figure it out), but is nonetheless an appropriate part of Humphries’ #brand. Otherwise, Humphries played more minutes than Gortat, again, and always looks both ways before stroking his midrange jumpers.


Otto Porter Jr., SF

15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +3 +/-

Otto tried. At this point, with Rasual Butler fading and Martell Webster unable to crack the rotation, I’m sure Randy Wittman would like nothing more than to prop Porter up as Washington’s seventh man and premier wing substitute. And sometimes he looks the part. He flashed that “cog-in-the-machine” ability on a great inbounds pass to a cutting Beal and his effort always shows on defense, but he got lost in the paint on a few Charlotte possessions and it cost his team.


Rasual Butler, SF

7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +3 +/-

Like Phaethon after asking his father Apollo for the reins to the chariot that drags the sun across the sky, Rasual Butler is in a free fall, and the idyllic pastures of Washington’s halcyon days are burning.


Kevin Seraphin, C

19 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +9 +/-

Although he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, Seraphin rebounded and defended better than he’s known for, especially at the rim, where opponents shot only 25 percent against him. What most impressed me about Seraphin in this game was his passing. He touched the ball 30 times, passed it 21 times, and shot seven times.


Garrett Temple, SG

26 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +5 +/-

Some great steals from Garrett Temple (two of them pickpocketing Lance Stephenson around the four-minute mark of the third quarter on back-to-back plays). Temple played 26 minutes at a range of positions (should they even exist after the revolution) between the 1 (Andre Miller received a DNP-CD) and the 3, and Wittman “praised” his energy after the game while lambasting that of his teammates:

“One guy is not going to do it. I agree with you, Garrett comes out and plays, that’s kinda why I’ve done what I’ve done in going to him. We are not putting forth the extra effort.”


Randy Wittman

Randy Wittman took the blame for the lack of energy by his team, but if energy is the issue, the flu that is going around the team could just as easily be to blame. Washington is not losing because of energy alone. The team is losing because they don’t have an actionable plan against better teams, and right now, Charlotte (winners of 11 out of their last 14 games) is a better team.

Stretching the floor against a zone defense like the one Charlotte employed against the Wizards at times is paramount, and 3-point shooting can be the brick thrown through the stained glass window of such a scheme. But the Wizards did what they usually do, and were it not for a Paul Pierce 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining in the game, would have recorded their lowest scoring half of the year.


 

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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.