Key Legislature: Wizards 107 vs Warriors 114 — Statistical Anomalies Plus Moral Victories Still Equals a Loss | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 107 vs Warriors 114 — Statistical Anomalies Plus Moral Victories Still Equals a Loss

Updated: February 25, 2015

Truth About’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 57 versus the Warriors in Washington, D.C,
via Rashad Mobley (@rashad20) from the Verizon Center.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Rashad Mobley.

‘They’ say that when a shooter is in an extended slump and their pet moves and shots are no longer achieving the desired results, the cure is not more cowbell, but a series of easy looks. Easy can be defined as a free throw, a layup, or a breakaway dunk, but as long as that player can see the ball going through the hoop and glean a bit of confidence from that transaction, the groundwork for the comeback path can be laid.

Most famously, Ray Allen, who apparently will not be joining the Wizards or any NBA team this season, went through a horrendous shooting slump during the early rounds of Boston’s 2008 championship run, but found his mojo during the Finals against the Lakers using this method.

That same logic could apply to Washington’s 114-107 loss to Golden State on Tuesday night. The Wizards were severely slumping and had lost eight of ten games prior to playing the Warriors, and the last two losses were particularly embarrassing (a 38-point home loss to Cleveland, a 17-point road loss to the Pistons after leading by double-digits).  The disturbing, recurring themes in the string of losses were the defensive lapses, odd substitution patterns by Randy Wittman, a lack of production from the small forward position (Pierce, Webster, Butler, and Porter), a dearth of 3-point shots, and just an overall mediocre display of offense. Even columnist David Aldridge made it his business to point out the Wizards’ mental toughness against the Pistons on Tony Kornheiser’s radio show on Monday:

“The Wizards proceeded to let them [the Pistons] rain 3s on them, their rotations were bad again, and Detroit hit 13 3s, went on a run at the end of the third quarter and the game was over. Instead of saying we are down eight or nine we can get back in this, they just said ‘eh, the game is over’ and that’s what mentally un-tough teams do. They get hit in the mouth, and they just walk over the court mentally, and they just give in, and that’s what the Wizards have done the last two games. It’s not good, it’s not a good sign.”

Coach Wittman also acknowledged the team’s struggles before the game, and offered his view on what could cure his team’s ills:

“When you get into a situation like we are, confidence is low, and sometimes even coaches think too much, trying to get your team to play the way they are capable of playing. As I told our guys, it really starts number one with the belief in yourself, you gotta believe that you’re going to go out and play as well as you can, and then belief in one another, the trust in one another. We’ve gotta get back our identity, which was a team that played very aggressive whether you made a mistake or you didn’t make a mistake, whether a team went on a run or they didn’t go on a run, and that’s really what it boils down to.”

In the first 90 seconds of the first quarter last night, the Wizards gained some confidence by not just putting the ball in the basket (they scored nine points to the Warriors’ two), but also by controlling the pace and running the floor. Nene drew two quick fouls on the undersized Draymond Green, Marcin Gortat was outrunning the Warriors’ big men, and John Wall went where he wanted to go on the court. Even later in the quarter, when the Warriors recovered from being hit in the mouth and began to shrink the lead, the Wizards’ offense still seemed to be running fluidly. Washington shot 57 percent, Paul Pierce seemed to have awoken from his slumber, and even though the Wizards committed nine turnovers and relinquished their nine-point lead, there were moral victories to be had and reasons to be encouraged. Even Steve Kerr had to give the Wizards some backhanded compliments, “We got off to a horrible start in giving up about five fastbreak points, Gortat ran right past us, and that set us off on the wrong foot.”

The good vibes subsided in the second quarter, and the ghosts of the past two blowout losses reared their scary heads. The shooting percentage stayed high (50%), but the pace slowed, the fastbreak points dwindled from 13 to four, and the Wizards got zero points, four assists, and three turnovers from Ramon Sessions and John Wall. Still, the Wizards went on a 9-4 run at the end of the second quarter and they were only down 54-51 at halftime.

Unfortunately for them, however, this trend continued through the remainder of the game. The Wizards shot better than the Warriors (53.5% to 50%) out-rebounded them (45-29), got production from the small forwards (led by Pierce’s 25 points), and showed mental toughness against the NBA’s best team. Even Pierce commented after the game that he saw “urgency” in his team for the first time in two games.

But ultimately the Wizards lost because of their 26 turnovers—just eight in the second half; Golden State attempted 11 more shots than Washington on the night and scored 23 points off the Wizards’ turnovers. And when they weren’t turning the ball over, their defensive rotations were woefully slow, and the Warriors made them pay with 5-of-8 shooting from the 3-point line in the third quarter, and then 57 percent shooting from the field in the fourth quarter. Steph Curry would drive, maneuver his way around Wizards, and either score or swing the ball around the perimeter two or three times so his teammates could hit a wide-open shot before the Wizards players could even leave the ground to contest. Golden State’s possessions looked fluid and effortless, while the Wizards mainly relied on the rare Warriors misses and contributions from Paul Pierce and John Wall, who combined for half of the Wizards’ 56 second-half points.

It wasn’t as if the Wizards didn’t have chances to win, because they absolutely did. They tied or took the lead eight times in the third quarter thanks to hot hand of Pierce, the point guard play of Wall, and the hustle of Garrett Temple, but Curry had an answer via 2- or 3-pointers every time. The much-maligned Wizards bench tied the game on a Rasual Butler 3-pointer with 8:32 left and, later, Pierce would cut a five-point lead to three with a fadeaway jumper. But again, there was too much Curry, too many wide-open shots, and too many wasted possessions (5 fourth-quarter turnovers for Washington).

The scoreboard showed the game was close, but the stat sheet told an entirely different story (26 turnovers for the Wizards to just nine for the Warriors).

This was not at all lost on Warriors coach Steve Kerr:

“It’s weird because we weren’t turning the ball over and we didn’t have control of the game. We let them free in transition, and we didn’t guard very well in the half court, and Paul Pierce got hot. Normally we hold teams in the low 40s, I think they shot 53 [percent] or something, so they were able to hang in the game, because they were really good in half court, but they turned it over so many times that was the difference in the game … I’ve never seen a turnover disparity like that where the game turned out to be close in the end. It was a little weird, but we got it done.”

As the Wizards prepare to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road tonight, they can unabashedly play the moral victory card and rejoice in the resurgence of Pierce (who had to be helped off the court after banging knees on the game’s final possession), and the return to mental toughness and grittiness. But at the proverbial end of the day, the Wizards’ ills still caused the loss. Coach Wittman’s substitution patters remained erratic, as Martell Webster played 15 minutes and scored just two points while Otto Porter didn’t play at all. Gortat sat the entire fourth quarter despite having 16 points and 11 rebounds through three quarters (Wittman’s explanation was that Golden State went small and Gortat can’t defend off the dribble). The turnovers were there in abundance, and the defense continually allowed everyone from Curry to Marreese Speights find easy, open shots.

But if we use the Ray Allen theory, the loss against Golden State was about regaining confidence. The payoff and the win should come tonight in Minnesota


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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop,, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.