Key Legislature: Wizards 89 at Pistons 106 — Ignition Failure in the Motor City | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 89 at Pistons 106 — Ignition Failure in the Motor City

Updated: February 23, 2015

Truth About’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 56 versus the Pistons in Middle America,
via John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) from the East Coast.

DC Council Key Legislature

by John Converse Townsend.

The Washington Wizards lost to the Detroit Pistons, 106-89. Not a soul from sea to shining sea is surprised.

I have thoughts, but first, a word from the head coach, Randy Wittman:

The way Wittman broke the game down postgame would suggest that it was close: a contest that went down to the wire. But it was not. The Wizards surrendered their five-point halftime lead less than six minutes into the third quarter and would trail the Pistons for the rest of the game.(1)

They were outscored 35-19 in the third quarter and 24-18 in the fourth. That’s 59-37 in the second half.

What happened?

“We played the last couple of minutes of quarters like it was a pickup game,” Wittman said. “It’s a snowball effect. It is the little things that add up to big things, and they continue to get bigger and bigger as we speak.”

There is some truth to that.(2) Even Ted Leonsis has blogged about less than ideal late-game execution.

But what a wonderful quote.

The pickup game reference. Pickup games are typically played without free throw attempts; shots inside the arc count as one point and beyond-the-arc attempts are good for two. The Wizards went 9-for-14 from the free throw line. The Pistons: 19-for-25. The Wizards attempted 17 shots from beyond the arc (one more than their season average, wow!) and made six. The Pistons were 13-for-32 from 3.

The snowball effect. The little things being packed together, adding up to BIG things, which get BIGGER like Gremlins in a 1984 nightmare comedy… Wittman’s Wizards shot a better percentage from the field (43.5%) than the Pistons (41.5%), but all that earned them was an “L.”

So while the Wizards were doing their best to run an #AggressiveMidrange offense, 102 of Detroit’s 106 points came from 3, the paint, or the free throw line, per WTOP play-by-play announcer Dave Johnson. Basketball in the 21st century!

The Wizards scored 75 of their 89 points in the same fashion, 48 of those 75 came in the paint (beating Detroit in that area by four).

After Friday night’s loss to the Cavaliers, the Wizards’ worst in nearly 40 years, Wittman wondered where the team’s “edge” went. He said his players lacked “meanness, toughness.” So in the second quarter, up nine points, Wittman subbed in DeJuan Blair, unskilled laborer, for $60 million man Marcin Gortat. The Pistons scored five unanswered points in the next 67 seconds.

But the problem, in Wittman’s world, wasn’t questionable rotations, including again having both John Wall and Nene on the bench at the same time, but shot selection. (The blame is almost always on the players.)

“We took three of the God-awfulest shots we can take, all 3s, like we’re smoking-hot from 3,” he said.




Rasual Butler was pretty open when he caught this pass with the Pistons’ defense on its heels. Caron Butler showed he still has something left in those old legs with a decent close-out. Not the worst look. Front iron.



John Wall, All-Star, fired this wide-open 3 in transition, aiming for the two-for-one to end the first half. Wall has hit 45.5 percent of his 3s from that spot on the floor, above league average. He missed, front iron.



It was Rasual Butler’s very well-contested 3-pointer from the corner. Cartier Martin wasn’t fooled at all by the Wizards go-to play at the end of quarters: a John Wall ISO followed by either a pull-up jump shot or a kick-out. Airball. A truly ‘God-awful’ attempt—but the only one.

Even with that series of possessions, which was not nearly as embarrassing as Wittman suggested, the Wizards had a FIVE-POINT LEAD at halftime. They led by eight in the third quarter. And they lost … by 17.

The fact is Wittman, asking Otto Porter to fire 19-foot jump shots out of timeouts, did little to suggest that he’s brought any imagination into his offensive sets, game plans, or film sessions. John Wall & Co. let a double-digit lead disappear. In the process, they attempted more long 2-pointers than either 3s or shots at the rim.

Wittman’s Washington Wizards, once again, failed their #BasketballMath test.

Washington’s Second Half Shot Chart


The Pistons deserve credit, of course. They’re 18-10 in their last 28 games.

“This group has been fantastic,” said Head Coach Stan Van Gundy about his players after the game. “They were 5-23 at Christmas, and I don’t know how many teams would have kept it together at that point. Since then, we keep making changes, and they keep figuring it out, and now we’re in the playoff race.”

New guy, Reggie Jackson, who started 0-for-8 from the field, finished with 17 points on 18 shots, adding five assists and five rebounds along the way.

“He got himself really hyped up to be out there,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t know if anyone noticed, but the first time we took him out of the game, he threw up on the bench.

“Once he got calmed down in the second half, he looked like the player we traded for.”

The Golden State Warriors, owners of the NBA’s best record (43-10), are next on the schedule. It’ll be a battle between two squads with philosophies so different it’s difficult to tell whether they’re even playing the same sport. And it’ll very likely be a bloodbath, in favor of Steve Kerr’s bunch.

(Sometimes, however, there’s a feeling that this is the type of game even these Wizards will win, especially if the defense really only has to concentrate on Klay Thompson, assuming Steph Curry rests again.)

The Wizards have lost eight of their last 10 and have gone 14-17 since starting 19-6 against a string of chump squads. They’re predictable, not at all improved from the 2013-14 version, and just one step above average at best.

And still I see no changes.

It’s not just disrespectful to the game. It’s insane.

  1. … save for a 15-second span in which the game was tied at 71.
  2. Through the first 7 games of February, the Wizards were 43-for-109 (39.4%) on shots within the last two minutes of any quarter (non-OT). John Wall is 11-for-34 (32.4%). After Sunday afternoon, the Wizards are now 45-for-120 (37.5%) and Wall is 11-for-36 (30.6%).
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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.