Key Legislature: Wizards 77 at Timberwolves 97 — Stood Up On Homecoming | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 77 at Timberwolves 97 — Stood Up On Homecoming

Updated: February 26, 2015

Truth About’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 58 versus the Timberwolves in Minneapolis,
via John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) from Brooklyn.

DC Council Key Legislature

by John Converse Townsend.

There is only one home for Kevin Garnett, the Big Ticket. And that’s Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

A montage of Garnett’s dunks, swats, and other great moments as a college-age kid, set to Kanye West’s “Homecoming,” whipped a sold-out Target Center into a frenzy on Wednesday night. Moments after tip-off, which the T-Wolves won, Garrett Temple ripped the ball from Kevin Martin and ended up on the free throw line (he made both).

Flip Saunders, and the fast-beating hearts of Timberwolves nation, demanded the ball find Garnett’s hands. It got there, eventually, but KG missed the long jump shot. The T-Wolves secured the offensive rebound and the possession ended with Andrew Wiggins missing one of two free throws. That single free throw would be only point Minnesota would score until the 5:35 mark of the first quarter: Ricky Rubio set up Nikola Pekovic for a layup for the team’s first field goal of the game.

The Wizards didn’t take full advantage of being given a half-quarter head start. Sure, there were some nice plays—a John Wall nothing-but-net 3-pointer(1), and a Kris Humphries tomahawk jam—but they shot 8-for-25 in the opening quarter and led just 20-11.

Kevin Martin, who the Wizards half-heartedly chased before the trade deadline, got loose in the second quarter. He scored 16 points on seven attempts, converted two and-1s, and picked up two steals to pad his stats. Yeah, the Wizards have a problem defending the perimeter. Single-basket contributions from KG, Pekovic, and rookies Adreian Payne and Zach LaVine pushed the Timberwolves point total to 31.

Washington upped it’s field goal percentage from the first quarter by more than 13 points, but threw the ball away seven times (several unforced errors) and were outscored in the paint, in transition, and on second-chance points. They managed just 22 points in the period. At the very end of the first half, however, the Wizards had two great looks that—had they gone in—could have silenced the crowd: 3-pointers from the left corner. Martell Webster had the first shot, wide-open, but long. The Wizards secured the rebound, ran a similar set: drive, kick, dish.

Here’s the result:

If you can’t tell, that’s KG rotating like a young Jan Vesely(2) to defuse the long bomb.

And if you didn’t notice, the score was tied at halftime, 42-42. Yes, even after the Wizards led by as many as 15 points in the first quarter.

Temple and Porter led the Wizards in third-quarter field goal attempts. Step-back jump shots after handoffs, or contested long 2s (neither player is really able to dribble out of pressure), or an air-balled 3-pointer. They combined for 10 points on 12 attempts. The rest of the starters—John Wall, Nene and Marcin Gortat—added four more points on four attempts, total. Kevin Seraphin made a 15-footer with 37 seconds left in the third quarter.

At the end of three, the Timberwolves led by 14 and the game was over. The home team had attempted 25 free throws to that point, making 21. The Wizards were just 5-for-5. “It’s terrible. We’re not putting the ball on the floor from the wing and attacking,” said Head Coach Randy Wittman, when asked about the disparity.

The bigger issue: Wittman’s Wizards were playing with a spirit that was visibly broken.

No pot of #WittmanJava, no amount of mental physicality, or back-to-basics fundamentality, or respect for the game and Phil Jackson’s basketball gods, or even defensive intensity was going to save the Wizards. Not even a 3-point barrage … well, perhaps THAT could have brought them back, but the Wizards, down double-digits, attempted just one 3 in the fourth quarter.(3)

The Wizards scored 17 points in the fourth, their lowest output by quarter on the night. They were outscored 86-57 after the first period and 55-35 in the second half … by the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that came into the game with a dozen wins and 43 losses. There is no good excuse.

Not even injures to Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce. Flip Saunders was dealing with injuries, too: Anthony Bennett (sprained ankle), Robbie Hummel (broken hand) and the only other small forward on the roster, Shabazz Muhammad (ruptured finger ligament).

There is no good excuse. They played a terrible NBA team with an all-too-familiar offensive scheme, run by inferior players, and lost at their own game.

Now, I could wrap up with another case for what Randy Wittman should do differently, or pardon Wittman and blame Ernie Grunfeld’s roster construct for the Wizards struggles, or argue that if you’re not going to shoot 3s, and insist on playing big, THEN PLAY BIG and get to the free throw line more than 20 times a game. But I’m not trying to do that. And I don’t think anyone really wants to hear more about either, because the shortcomings of both men and managers have been clear for years (at least in these parts).

The Wizards are slow dancing in a burning room. And they think everything is fine, just fine. No amount of pixels from blog posts, numbers from stat geeks who couldn’t get girls in high school, or five-game losing streaks are going to convince them otherwise. They’re running a billion-dollar business, after all.

They have to come to that stark realization themselves. Which may not be easy.

Stacks and stacks of psychological studies, produced by Stanford University or Yale Law School, have shown that people respond to scientific or technical evidence in ways that justify preexisting beliefs, as Washington Post staff writer Chris Mooney explained in his article (for Mother Jones), “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe In Science.”

“In other words, people rejected the validity of a scientific source because its conclusion contradicted their deeply held views—and thus the relative risks inherent in each scenario.


“And that undercuts the standard notion that the way to persuade people is via evidence and argument. In fact, head-on attempts to persuade can sometimes trigger a backfire effect, where people not only fail to change their minds when confronted with the facts—they may hold their wrong views more tenaciously than ever.”

After the game, Randy Wittman told the media that the Wizards can’t feel sorry for themselves. “No one else but who is in that [locker] room is going to get this turned around. That’s the reality of it. We’ve got to get through it,” he said.

Woe is we! Heard it all before.

Adapt or die. The Wizards don’t even try. Which leads me to this, an offering: Prospero’s Precepts. “These eleven rules culled from some of history’s greatest minds can serve as a general-purpose guideline for critical thinking in all matters of doubt,” writes Maria Popova over on Brain Pickings.

Prospero’s Precepts

  1. All beliefs in whatever realm are theories at some level.(4) [Stephen Schneider]
  2. Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.(5) [Dandemis]
  3. Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.(6) [Francis Bacon]
  4. Never fall in love with your hypothesis.(7) [Peter Medawar]
  5. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.(8) [Arthur Conan Doyle]
  6. A theory should not attempt to explain all the facts, because some of the facts are wrong.(9) [Francis Crick]
  7. The thing that doesn’t fit is the thing that is most interesting.(10) [Richard Feynman]
  8. To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.(11) [Charles Darwin]
  9. It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.(12) [Mark Twain]
  10. Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.(13) [Thomas Jefferson]
  11. All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second, it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident. [Arthur Schopenhauer]

Schopenhauer, you are the man.

Have a nice day, folks.

  1. …after Otto Porter saved a mistimed alley-oop, passed it to Temple in the corner, who swung it to Wall above the break.
  2. Bad joke.
  3. Back in Wittman’s day, they only used the 3-point shot to mount a comeback.
  4. Theories ought to be tested and, if met with failure, revised.
  5. Ted Leonsis said as much the other day, “Nobody knows nothing.”
  6. Progress is impossible without an openness to new ideas, to new ways of doing things.
  7. Also, never fall in love with the midrange jump shot.
  8. Fun fact: Sherlock Holmes’ progenitor was an early advanced analytics pioneer.
  9. Or incomplete.
  10. …Like, say, the 3-point shot, which doesn’t seem to fit AT ALL in the Wizards’ offensive system. Very interesting.
  11. Errors can include turnovers, but also questionable hires, or a contract extensions, even a secret ones.
  12. ‘The world is flat,’ for example, or ‘The first open shot is always the best shot.’
  13. Preach, Tommy. Preach.
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John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.