DC Council 62: Wizards vs Heat — Washington Did Win, Right? | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council 62: Wizards vs Heat — Washington Did Win, Right?

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Updated: March 7, 2015

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 62: Wizards versus Heat in D.C.
Contributor: Rashad Mobley (@rashad20) from the Verizon Center.

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Conventional wisdom in basketball and other sports says that a win is a win, no matter what the preceding circumstances may be. There have been countless post-game pressers by coaches and players alike, when a team has barely won, and everyone sticks to the script by basically saying, “We won, the issues are correctable, we’ll move on to the next game.”

Friday night, after the Wizards nearly witnessed and contributed to their historic collapse by blowing a 35-point lead(1), the all-we-care-about-is-the-win quotes were there in full effect.

“I ain’t giving it back, I’ll take it.” —Randy Wittman

“A win is a win, that’s the most important thing in this league.” —Marcin Gortat

The feel of Washington’s post-game locker room did not quite match up with the win-is-a-win message. Paul Pierce was visibly seething as he left the court, and didn’t look much happier as he sipped water and iced his knee in front of his locker. He did not speak to reporters after the game. Bradley Beal quickly dressed and did not speak to the media, either. Even John Wall and Drew Gooden, who graciously shared their thoughts and insights after the game, looked somber as they painstakingly delivered the post-win mortem.

In contrast, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had this to say about his team, who played without Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, and Luol Deng:

“I think probably what will go unnoticed is that we held them to 30 points in the second half and 11 in the fourth quarter. We were really doing a job covering ground. In that second half the same situation and the same actions in the second half where they were lighting us up. It is not a moral victory but I do commend the guys out on the court and their level of competition. They can look each other in the eyes as we get on the bus tonight and get ready for a big game tomorrow.”

Realistically, Coach Spoelstra and Wittman would have loved to switch places, but from a mental standpoint going forward, the Heat will feel empowered headed into their next game, while the Wizards will continue to wonder how the hell their increasingly defunct operation continues to break down.

But a win is a win right? As Warner Wolf would say, let’s go to the grades (or the videotape):


 

Miami Heat

97

Final
Box Score

Washington Wizards

99

Nene Hilario, PF

32 MIN | 6-12 FG | 8-8 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | -6 +/-

Coach Wittman was quite complimentary of the Wizards’ first half post play, and Nene’s performance was a big reason why. What he lacked in the rebounding department (he had none in the first half), he more than made up for with interior passing (three assists), scoring (eight points) and aggressiveness, which had been missing in his scoreless outing against the Bulls on Tuesday. Nene continued that aggressive play in the third quarter by scoring eight points, and helping the Wizards amass the 35-point lead. Even though the Wizards’ lead went from 35 to 19 by the time Nene sat on the bench 1:35 left in the third, he should have been able to sit for the rest of the game and prepare for Saturday’s night game in Milwaukee. But when Kevin Seraphin was ineffective in his two minutes of play, Nene was forced to log 10 fourth quarter minutes, and his effectiveness was slightly diminished by what might have been fatigue.


Paul Pierce, SF

22 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | +3 +/-

Pierce had seven of his 10 points in the first six minutes of the first quarter when the Wizards’ offense looked unstoppable en route to 40 points He sat out the second quarter, and his only basket in six minutes of play in the third quarter was a 3-pointer which gave Washington a 31-point lead. He checked out of the game with 5:45 left in the third when the Wizards still led by 29. When the Heat went small and played the 6-foot-7 James Ennis and the 6-foot-8 Michael Beasley in the front court to whittle the Wizards’ lead down to nine points, Wittman subbed Pierce back into the game, and much like Nene, he was ineffective and annoyed that his services were even needed when the lead had been so large. He took and missed two shots in the fourth, and looked angry walking off the court and angrier in the locker room. This is not why they brought him here.


Marcin Gortat, C

32 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 17 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +8 +/-

Remember in “A Few Good Men” when Colonel Jessup was about to be arrested, and he confidently said, “I did my job, I’d do it again”? Marcin Gortat, despite being crestfallen at the end of the game about both his team’s collapse and his sparse fourth quarter minutes, did his job. He had eight points and 10 rebounds in the first quarter, he had a double-double by halftime, and he (and Nene) rendered Hassan Whiteside—who had been averaging 14 points, 13 rebounds and 2.5 blocks over the last 10 games—quiet and frustrated on the Heat bench. But when the Heat went small, and the matchups favored Gooden, Nene or Otto Porter, Gortat was a mere spectator on the bench. He came in briefly with 8:27 left in the game, and then the front line of Henry Walker and Beasley started raining 3s, and he sat right back on the bench—a victim of unfavorable matchups once again. He was professional and restrained in his postgame presser, but the frustration has to be mounting.


John Wall, PG

35 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 12 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +5 +/-

Wall could be criticized for being passive with his offense for much of the night, but through three and half quarters—despite having just four points—he had 12 assists and his team led by 30 points. Like the rest of the starters, he should have been able to enjoy the fourth quarter from the bench, instead of having to check back in with the lead down to 11. Despite the victory, Wall does deserve to be criticized for not being able to settle down his team during the Heat avalanche.

After the game, Wall was spot on in terms of his analysis of why the Heat mounted a comeback. He mentioned the Heat went small to spread the floor, he noticed how differently Heat players defended the pick-and-rolls in the second half, and knew Gortat and Nene were liabilities when seemingly all the Heat players set up shop outside the paint. He gets credit for that, but if Wittman deserves criticism for not making adjustments or making them too late, Wall deserves some heat (pun intended) for not finding or being the tonic for the Wizards’ ills. When the game was on the line, he reverted to an iso play that resulted in a missed long 2. The Wizards got the win, and Wall’s numbers were not bad, but there’s plenty of room for improvement and not even Wall is immune to that.


Bradley Beal, SG

33 MIN | 6-11 FG | 3-5 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +12 +/-

It is clear that the rust gained over his three-week absence is still not totally out of Beal’s system. His eight second quarter points were in rhythm, and he looked capable of leading the second unit, as he helped the Wizards’ stretch their lead from 19 to 28 points. He scored just six points the rest of the game and played the entire fourth quarter. He did not contribute offensively (three points and a missed free throw that could have cost the Wizards the game) or defensively as Shabazz Napier and Tyler Johnson controlled pace and the tempo. The Wizards have a laundry list of issues to fix, but this team would welcome the reappearance of the 2014 playoffs version of Beal.


Drew Gooden, PF

17 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +2 +/-

Gooden came in with three minutes left in the first quarter with the boundless energy of a young stretch 4. He made a 3-pointer, a mid-range jumper, and an emphatic put-back slam. He was ineffective for the remainder of the game, and played just five minutes in the second half.


Otto Porter Jr., SF

28 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -3 +/-

Here’s a list of the Heat role players who outplayed Otto Porter: Shabazz Napier (31 minutes, 16 points, four assists); James Ennis (29 minutes, 11 points and five rebounds), and Tyler Johnson (36 minutes, 11 points, five rebounds, three assists). The Heat role players stepped up when the starters could not go. Otto Porter is a role player who plays better with the starters, but Friday night his talents were needed to spell the starters and he did not deliver.


Kevin Seraphin, C

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

Kevin Seraphin started the fourth quarter with the following sequence: a turnover, a missed 17-footer, and then another turnover courtesy of a travel. Coach Wittman yanked him for Nene and he was never seen again. He owes Nene a bounce back performance in Milwaukee tonight.


Ramon Sessions, PG

13 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -2 +/-

The good news is that Sessions and Beal seem to play well together. Midway through the second quarter, Sessions was not only active on defense (two steals), but he pushed the ball up the court to get his own shot or to create good looks for Nene or Beal. The bad news is that consistency seems to be an issue for Sessions, which means Wall still does not have a reliable backup who can hold a lead and give him much-needed rest.


Garrett Temple, SG

18 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -12 +/-

Temple grabbed a big offensive rebound with 43 seconds left when Nene missed a jumper with the Wizards leading by just one point. Failure to secure that rebound would have given the Heat a chance to for a two-for-one option to win the game. Aside from two 3-pointers, Temple did not add much else to the game, but his hustle quite possibly saved the day.


Randy Wittman

In the spirit of trying to accurately and thoroughly answer postgame questions, John Wall may have lightly thrown Coach Randy Wittman under the bus. Wall mentioned that when the Heat were making their historic run to close the 35-point lead with Beasley and Walker, the Wizards were sticking with the same defensive schemes they’d use in the first half when Whiteside and Haslem were in the game. Wall also mentioned that the players had to make their own adjustments on the fly. Later in the same interview, Wall attempted to clean up the mess by saying Wittman and his coaching staff did adjust by putting in Pierce at the four, but by that time the lead was down to 11 points, and the Heat’s momentum could not be stopped.

It was a damning sequence from a coach who continually blames the Wizards’ skid on lack of effort, when an earlier adjustment or two might have done the trick. Players play and ultimately they are just as responsible for the performance. But the coaches have to help them. Coach Spoelstra was upset with his team’s first-half effort, and he implored his team to ignore the scoreboard, pay attention to their individual character and play better. But he also made a significant adjustment in deciding to go small, which allowed his team to maximize that elusive effort. Spolestra also did not hesitate to call timeouts in crunch time when it was clear his young team was either confused about what to run or unable to figure out how to run it. Coach Wittman’s team had a quarter-long run of confusing, baffling offensive possessions, and it almost cost he and his team the game. He gets credit for having his team ready to play, but the disturbing trend of good half, bad half continues.


 

Vines.

  1. To further illustrate how insurmountable the lead seemed, the Wizards held a double-figure lead from the 5:09 mark in the first quarter to the 8:32 mark of the fourth
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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, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.