D.C. Council 60: Wizards vs Pistons — Single-Serving Salvation on a Still-Uncertain Path | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council 60: Wizards vs Pistons — Single-Serving Salvation on a Still-Uncertain Path

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Updated: March 2, 2015

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 60: Wizards versus Pistons in Washington.
Contributor: Kyle Weidie from the Verizon Center.

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The Wizards avoided a continued scrape along rock bottom on Saturday night. Whatever rock bottom means to you. As Flip Saunders once taught us, there is really, truly, no rock bottom. Just a continued abyss, an endless well, with jagged edges jutting out to tempt one’s grasp along the way. OK, we’re talking about sports, right? Not Bruce Wayne having to climb out of The Pit.

Randy Wittman was matter-of-fact, docile even, afterward. It was not a satisfying win but a relieving win. He was glad to get it over with. The coachspeak, in essence: ‘We did the things which we previously were not doing by which we were able to find prior success by doing.’ Or, in Wittman’s words:

“We got the win. We came out as good as we’ve come out both defensively and offensively. It starts with me and I have to figure it out. I can’t explain it to you, how you play one half and then as soon as a team makes any kind of run we stop playing. That’s what we do, we stop playing. I have to figure out how to help these guys overcome that.”

Feelings of continuance, as the Wizards plod along the remainder of the season in hopes of ‘finding a way,’ were eclectic. The locker room doors opened to allow the encroaching media a closer look after the game. DeJuan Blair, who received a DNP-CD along with Martell Webster and Rasual Butler, departed immediately while insisting that “The Dress” was, in fact, gold and white.

As Otto Porter tried to duck out but was teased, loudly and publicly, by Paul Piece, who called him a high school principal (by the manner in which Otto was dressed), explaining, in relation, that Porter’s duty was thusly to speak with the press. Otto did not. Pierce sat slouched in his corner stall near the showers—relaxing, relieved in brief, in pain; he had emerged from the contest with yet more bumps and bruises. John Wall joked with him about the event that caused the latest—nothing to be majorly concerned about, even if a shot to the side caused Pierce to go to one knee on the court.

Marcin Gortat was relatively short with the microphones and recorders—’it was just one win’ means very few, unsatisfied words from him. Bradley Beal sang praises to the Lord first and foremost, as usual; Nene did not share any accented thoughts; and Drew Gooden shared the thoughts of his pal, Aaron Rodgers: ‘R-E-L-A-X’ was the quarterback-inspired message. All I could hear in my head was “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood as inspired by the trigger mechanism, via brainwashing, in “Zoolander” that would cause Derek Zoolander to attempt to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia. The attempt was foiled by this song, which may or may not be a fitting descriptor for Washington’s season, whatever that means.

John Wall’s sound bites were relatively savvy, even if his on-court presence is a conveyance that his leadership must continue to improve. On this night Wall led his team in practical manners before celebrating single-serving success with a night out on the town. It should be noted that versus Detroit, opposing players shot 35.7 percent versus John Wall-defended shots. Over the previous six consecutive losses, that percentage was 52.2—a little defensive effort goes a long way. For reference, opposing players have shot 42.8 against Wall’s defense on the entire season(1).

These Wizards are human, after all. So what’s their next trick? Before we find out, let’s grade the trick that was…


 

Detroit Pistons

95

Final

Box Score

Washington Wizards

99

Nene Hilario, PF

30 MIN | 8-14 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 21 PTS | +7 +/-

Nene attacked the paint with aggression never consistently seen in Washington, evidenced by six trips to the free throw line in less than 30 minutes (he made five!)—this season he’s averaged 4.1 FTAs per 36 minutes (2.5 makes). He’s been visibly pissed at the losing streak and the referees, sometimes not even waiting until a play was over to complain. Eight of his 14 attempts came in very close proximity to the rim, where he made five. He made a nifty move in the first quarter versus Greg Monroe where he faked like he was going to initiate contact in the post and when Monroe braced for contact, Nene used his speed to jet past him and get to the hoop. He defended well, as usual, was more purposeful in grabbing rebounds than usual, and even got one of his often-taken but rarely successful fading one-foot midrange jumpers to fall. A couple of his ferocious dunks without regard for his fingers seemed to simultaneously send a message to the Pistons and his teammates.


Paul Pierce, SF

34 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-2 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +6 +/-

Is it 3-pointers that you want? How about a guy who is one of four players in NBA history to make more than 2,000 3-pointers? Of the 76 players who have made 1,000 or more 3s, Pierce’s career 37.1 percent ranks 42nd (that’s better than JR Smith (.370), Chuck Person (.362), Dan Majerle (.358), Steve Smith (.358), and Gilbert Arenas (.351), among others(2). This season Pierce is shooting 38.4 percent, the seventh-best rate of his 17-season career. So Uncle Paul bombed away, hitting two early in the game and shooting 4-for-7 from deep after three quarters. He missed his only 3 attempt in the fourth quarter but for the team to know that its ability to compete with a type of shot that’s worth 50 percent more than most other shots had to be a big boost to morale. Thanks, Hall of Famer.


Marcin Gortat, C

39 MIN | 7-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 17 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | +15 +/-

Gortat tied Wall for the team lead in plus/minus at plus-15. The Wizards made more of a concerted effort to go to him early and he found success with eight points, six rebounds, and two assists, playing all 12 first quarter minutes. Most of his opportunities came running the floor and he did a nice job defensively in a cross-match versus Greg Monroe. Gortat even saw nearly 10 minutes of fourth-quarter action: didn’t score but grabbed three rebounds, including a huge tip-out with seconds left. Nine of his shots came within five feet, and one was at six feet, one at seven, and one was an 11-foot jumper (that he missed). Five of his seven makes were assisted and none came from John Wall (Pierce 3, Beal 1, and Nene 1). So, an overall solid effort from Marcin, and from the Wizards to find him. One complaint: Gortat should sometimes consider a pump fake and his use speed to get to the rim/draw contract instead of missing a quick bunny.


John Wall, PG

38 MIN | 8-14 FG | 6-7 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 22 PTS | +15 +/-

Wall drove the lane more on Saturday night and shot 8-for-10 in the paint. Over the prior six games, all losses, he averaged eight paint shots per game with just 3.7 makes. How did this happen versus the Pistons? Certainly it had something to do with the return of Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce to help space the floor. But what else?

From Wall’s mouth:

“I credit some to those guys being back, but also credit on we set screens and there was a lot of opportunities. Like I said, when our defense got us to opportunity to get steals and get into the open court, I was able to get into the paint. But we’ve been working screens, we’ve been working on me waiting on our bigs to set the screens and getting a better job of getting into the paint.”

Wall appropriately balanced being a faciliator with the need to be a scorer—in the right moments—on Saturday. Seems like it was contagious.


Bradley Beal, SG

33 MIN | 2-10 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +1 +/-

Beal’s shot was as rusty as one would expect—seven of his 10 field goal attempts were uncontested and he made just one of them. He only made two total field goals and missed several open 3-pointers. He’ll be OK once he gets his legs set. The encouraging part was Beal’s defense (not great but good) and the fact that he filled up the box with boards, steals, and dimes. Thirty-two minutes sounds like Randy Wittman met the minutes restriction (or limit—an average of eight minutes per quarter). Twenty of Beal’s minutes were split between the second and fourth quarters, when both he and Paul Pierce spent considerable time, with limited success, in a second unit lineup with Drew Gooden, Ramon Sessions, and either Marcin Gortat or Kevin Seraphin at center.


Drew Gooden, PF

20 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -5 +/-

LEGO man Drew Gooden doesn’t find his way onto the court in a last-gasp of an NBA career just to hang out. He’s always going to be active, perhaps sometimes spastically overly-active, but mistakes begotten by such frantic effort are ones a coach can live with. He hit 1-of-2 3-pointers, which was a delightful bonus. Gooden also hit his first three midrange jump shot attempts (and then went just 1-for-5 after that). His range need not always extend to the 3-point line (and further out of rebounding range) for the Wizards to benefit from him helping spread the floor. So when people ask ‘Why Gooden?’ past the obvious versus Detroit with Kris Humphries being hurt, DeJuan Blair being not as good, and Kevin Seraphin being an offensive ball-stopper, the answer is: Welp, he’s on the team.

One needs to be aware of diminishing returns with too much time; and sometimes his rebounding combined with size saves from having to play Paul Pierce at the 4 too much (outside of relatively desperate situations), sometimes that an already-hobbled Pierce might not be as willing to do or might rather save for the playoffs.


Otto Porter Jr., SF

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

There’s a debate around whether Otto would be better served playing with the Wizards’ starters (pretty much true) while helping preserve Paul Pierce in a reserve role, which would also provide a boost to the oft-struggling bench. This is a very valid and perhaps worthy thought.

I’ll offer this counterpoint: Yes, the Wizards are tad disappointed in Otto’s development, and it’s not that they don’t love the little things that he does and it’s not like major expectations are placed upon his jump shot needing to be great now. (Although, damn Otto, you gotta start hitting more uncontested jumpers.) The Wizards flat-out need the kid to learn some aggression. The big problem with his play was not that Otto didn’t fire away from deep, but rather that he should have attacked the basket. To stick in the NBA, he can’t always be who he was in college, in a limited offensive system in Georgetown. On Saturday against the Pistons Otto was steady, and he made everyone a tad giddy by playing next to Tayshaun Prince.

What stands out to me is the time he gave a meek jab step and then moved laterally, not toward the hoop, and fired up a missed jumper without even creating much space.


Kevin Seraphin, C

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

Seraphin bobbed along, didn’t do much, didn’t play much. Call us all surprised that he got more rebounds (2) than shot attempts (1, he missed). Greg Monroe gave birth to his own #KSlife on several possessions and Kev’s additional contributions of a single foul and a single turnover allowed some to, perhaps, rest-assured that while he has improved this season, his lack of overall development will not make anyone nervous about potentially losing Seraphin this summer.


Ramon Sessions, PG

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

Sessions didn’t make much of an impression as the jury continues to deliberate. There’s got to be something psychological about his inability to finish at the rim. He did follow a layup miss with a nice running-hook-floater type of shot. The lineup led by him alongside Beal, Pierce, Gooden, and Seraphin didn’t do much (minus-7 in seven minutes), but that crew did manage to go 2-for-4 from 3. The issues of that specific unit probably had more to do with the Seraphin-Gooden defensive combo rather than Sessions continuing to try to feel his way forward.


Garrett Temple, SG

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

Temple seamlessly faded back into the utility infielder role with the return of Pierce and Beal, which is also to say that Wittman probably wishes that 3-point ‘specialists’ Martell Webster and Rasual Butler were better defenders, with Butler being noticeably ahead of Webster at this juncture in the defensive department. Temple going 1-for-2 from 3 makes him 10-for-25 (40%) from deep over the past nine games (six-game losing streak book-ended by wins over the Nets/Magic and Pistons), which is better than you can say of either Butler (9-40, 22.5%) or Webster over the same time period (2-10, 20%), so that is that.


  1. Via NBA.com player tracking stats.
  2. Via Basketball-Reference.com.
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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 lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.