Key Legislature: Wizards 88 at Jazz 84 — Feeding on Long 2s, Saved by 3s | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 88 at Jazz 84 — Feeding on Long 2s, Saved by 3s

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Updated: March 20, 2015

Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 68 versus the Jazz in Utah.
via Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) from the District.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Kyle Weidie.

We’ll ignore the first half in Utah. The Wizards were careless with passes, or were in the wrong spots, or didn’t make cuts. Shaky knees seemed contagious. And it’s frustratingly captivating to watch them try to recover from such a rut.

One-handed passes slung across the court by John Wall were intercepted. Marcin Gortat had no interest in boxing out Rudy Gobert. Nene picked up two early fouls trying to force muscle over methodical. Washington survived on defense and Utah didn’t make shots—basketball, they say. That the Wizards shot 20 percent better than the Jazz (58.1 to 38.1) in first half and led by only two points (42-40) at intermission should say enough.

It wasn’t all about the turnovers, either (13 for the Wizards in the first half compared to just three from the Jazz). The Wizards gave up 10 offensive boards and 10 second-chance points. I thought we were going to ignore the first half.

Imagine for a second what an NBA locker room is like at halftime. Imagine the Wizards locker room. Do they talk? They must. How many “a’ight?’s” finish sentences for Randy Wittman? Many, I’d bet. His bow-legged waddle pacing, going over time-tested truths after conferring with his assistant coaches on a plan. Or is it more about rest? A concoction from a trainer, a seat at the locker, some stretching, a stat sheet. Those vocal on the team might say something like, ‘Hey, guys, keep doing [this]’ and ‘We gotta stop doing [that]’—Wall and Pierce lead the charge; Nene and Gortat get their say; Drew Gooden probably always speaks up, one can imagine.

Whatever transpired in the locker room it clearly didn’t matter. At least at first, in the second half. Pierce saved himself from going over a screen guarding Gordon Hayward and paid for it. Bradley Beal pounded the ball, and the offense, into a lumpy mass. A quick 8-1 run by the Jazz gave them a five-point lead, 50-45. Utah had been hot since the All-Star break but also playing above their experience level (but not necessarily talent level). The Wizards? Well, people, reporters for other teams—not just those who watch them every day—continue to wonder why they aren’t better. And why should they be?

Paul Pierce saved the day with 3-pointers, go figure: three in a quick span that was part of the game-determining 18-4 run midway through the third quarter. If not Pierce, maybe Trevor Ariza does something similar. Maybe.

Each of Pierce’s 3s came via an assist after a Utah miss—from Wall, from Beal, from Ramon Sessions. Pierce even assisted on a Wall 3-point make, after a Jazz turnover before his own third make that gave the Wizards a nine-point, 63-54 lead with 2:55 left in the third.

Pierce’s first 3 came from setting a ball screen for Wall and fading to the right wing. Hayward left Piece and this time, the Jazz wing paid the price. The second 3, about 90 seconds of game clock later, came in secondary transition action. Pierce faded to the left corner, stretching a confused defense, and the Wizards easily found him, wide-open. Pierce was simply the trailer at the top of the key for his 3 three. Sessions, unlike Andre Miller, who used to slowly pound the ball up the court on the wing in transition, often looking to initiate action with his own post0up, penetrated the Utah defense all the way to the restricted area, and when they collapsed, he found Pierce in the right place at the right time.

It’s almost elementary, or intuition, that Pierce knew where to be on the floor—beyond the arc, finding gaps in the defense, making himself available for efficient shots that produce more points per possession than usual. Pierce later travelled trying to inbounds the ball with 20 seconds left but made up for it by sealing the game with a walk-off steal, tossing the ball in the air at the buzzer—whether it was unwarranted “jaw-jutting” or him simply being pissed off that it came down to that: who knows, who cares?

Meanwhile, eight of Wall’s 13 shots came from 2-pointers outside of the paint and he made six (75%). Six of Beal’s 10 shots came from 2s outside the paint and he made three (50%). Normally they shoot 41.1 percent and 35 percent from those areas, respectively. Here’s to relying on shots that usually aren’t made. (And so we’ll now ignore how the Wizards almost blew a seven-point lead with under four minutes left and then a four-point lead with 20 seconds left.)

The Wizards still won’t allow you to learn much about them. A young kid oblivious to currency won’t learn to value of a dollar by finding one in the gutter. Finders, keepers, though.

Washington will happily accept an ugly win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. You wonder if they even know that their worst enemy is mostly themselves. You wonder if something so ugly actually makes them better.

You’re afraid that they think it’s only about making shots instead of finding good shots, and making them. Me too.

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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.