DC Council 77: Wizards at Grizzlies — 9-Game Streak of the Blues Ends in Memphis | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council 77: Wizards at Grizzlies — 9-Game Streak of the Blues Ends in Memphis

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Updated: April 5, 2015

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 77: Wizards at Grizzlies
Contributor: Troy Haliburton from the District.

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Riding high on a two-game winning streak (if you can two straight victories against NBA bottom-feeders a streak), the Wizards put together a gritty performance in Memphis that left even the most pessimistic fans believing in the potential of playoff success.

The Memphis Grizzlies are a top 5 team in the NBA, and they had just as much—if not more—to play for Saturday night because of the competitive nature of the Western Conference playoff race. While the Wizards seemed destined to be slotted in the 5-seed in the East, awaiting potential matchups with Toronto or Chicago, the Grizzlies can fluctuate between the 2- and 6-seed depending on the NBA’s nightly scoreboard.

Unlike the previous Wizards vs. Grizzlies JV meeting in D.C. last month, the Grizzlies actually showed the Wizards some respect by playing their full compliment of players (with the exception of Tony Allen; Jeff Green also departed Saturday’s session before the fourth quarter with back spasms). It didn’t matter, or as Marcin Gortat might say, it didn’t change shit. This game was won when Washington went on a 7-0 run with 1:31 left in the first quarter, giving them a 29-18 lead and allowing for a cushion that the Wizards would not relinquish. Of course, John Wall was the catalyst, producing all seven points in that run: scoring a layup himself and assisting both Ramon Sessions for a layup and Rasual Butler for a 3-pointer.

This team has every right to feel cautiously optimistic heading into the playoffs with a rejuvenated sense of purpose, and hopefully rejuvenated starting forwards—Pierce and Nene sat out again (didn’t even make the trip to Memphis). The Wizards were able to give players like Otto Porter and Kris Humphries an opportunity to play and get their playoff legs under them, as well as also run more offensive sets featuring Bradley Beal, which will hopefully prove to be invaluable experience.

Washington breaking a nine-game losing streak in Memphis was also nice (the Wizards last won in Blues City on Nov. 3, 2004, opening night of the FedEx Forum). Now, let’s hand out some real grades for a real win against a real team.


 

Washington Wizards

92

Final

Box Score

 Memphis Grizzlies

83

Drew Gooden, PF

30 MIN | 6-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | +6 +/-

Gooden continues to expand his range on that jump shot (he went 3-5 from behind the arc), and with the way he has played over the last month, he’s unlikely to see a major decrease in minutes heading into the postseason. Not only has Gooden’s presence on the floor opened up space for the Wizards offense, but his attentiveness and communication on defense has had a trickle-down effect on the rest of his teammates, especially young Otto Porter. Gooden may not have had his normal impact on the glass, but his tenacity in preventing Zach Randolph from taking over in the scoring department may have been one of the most important keys to victory.


Otto Porter Jr., SF

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

After three consecutive games with at least 15 points, Otto was due for regression towards the mean, but even in a game where he wasn’t hot offensively, Porter proved his value to the team by grabbing six timely rebounds and chipping in with three steals. Porter only averages 0.6 steals per game for the season, but in the month of April he is pulling off 2.3 heists per game. Porter just may be the 3-and-D player this team needs for a playoff run.


Marcin Gortat, C

31 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +11 +/-

Gortat didn’t get the offensive touches that he has grown accustomed to over the last few games, but probably won’t be too incensed about it in victory. He spent much of his 31 minutes tussling with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph—on some nights battling with bigs, not buckets, is what’s needed from Gortat.


John Wall, PG

36 MIN | 7-15 FG | 3-3 FT | 6 REB | 14 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 18 PTS | +13 +/-

John Wall continues to evolve as a player, an under-appreciated thing of beauty. Sometimes Wall has to put the team on his back scoring-wise, and sometimes he has to spoon-feed his teammates, like he did against Philly (18 assists), but he is really at his best is when he takes control of the game the way he did Saturday night. John Wall got his wish that was not granted in March with a duel against Mike Conley, Jr.—and outplayed him from the jump. The only thing keeping Wall from perfect marks is the five turnovers amassed. Those can prove to be very costly in tight playoff matchups.


Bradley Beal, SG

40 MIN | 10-21 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | 0 +/-

Beal scored 20 points on 21 shots without hitting a 3 or attempting a free throw, which should be of no surprise to anyone: he did a good job attacking the rim to get easy shots and fired his usual barrage of long 2s. The positive that can be taken away is that Beal appears to be growing comfortable shouldering more of the offensive load. There won’t be many nights where he will go 0-for-6 from 3, so I hope that he doesn’t get discouraged from hoisting them. With the ball in his hands more to create, Beal now also must remember to do just that for teammates.


Kris Humphries, PF

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

After missing 17 games, Hump appears to be getting his legs back underneath him, and his mere presence is a positive simply by allowing Nene to get much-needed rest.


Rasual Butler, SF

19 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +4 +/-

With Pierce missing his third straight game, Butler has come in and out of the lineup without much fanfare, but in Memphis he showed glimpses of the player that looked like the bargain bin steal of the year in 2014. Rasual was not afraid to let it fly and hit two 3s, including a very timely bucket with one second left in the first quarter, which propelled a Wizards’ run that seemed to dictate Washington’s dominance over Memphis. Welcome to the James Jones School of End-of-the-Bench Snipers.


Kevin Seraphin, C

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

Seaphin is beginning to understand that he can’t just be a jump-hook expert and maintain his spot in the playoff rotation. He’s going to need to be a better defender and a better rebounder, and Saturday night was the perfect example of taking a step in the right direction. Kevin was not afraid to get physical with Randolph, Gasol, and Kosta Koufas, and he ultimately was a big part in the reason why Washington was able to shut down the Grizzlies’ bigs.


Ramon Sessions, PG

20 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +5 +/-

Ramon Sessions is turning into a jack of all trades for the Wizards’ second unit. He acts as a facilitator while also maintaining the ability to create his own shot. On defense he’s active in the passing lanes, and just pesky enough to disguise the fact that he has slow feet. Sessions isn’t really known as a shooter, but he hits a few 3s here and there, including the only one he attempted in Memphis.

If Ramon can continue to just get in where he fits in, then Randy Wittman will likely continue to be innovative with his lineups that feature Sessions and Wall together. The duo has played 144 minutes together (over 19 games) and the Wizards are plus-21 during that time (not bad considering how much Washington struggled pre- and post-trade deadline). Wall only saw 10 minutes with Andre Miller on the season (over 10 games) and totaled a plus-9.


Randy Wittman

Randy Wittman may not be willing to talk to the media about the offense, but at last he is acknowledging, at least internally, that there are some things that he can do differently. Wittman has tried to get Bradley Beal more involved by increasing his pick-and-roll opportunities, and has even helped restore faith in poor Otto Porter’s confidence by entrusting him with meaningful minutes. Wittman has gotten creative with some lineup changes by playing Wall, Sessions, and Beal together—this lineup allows flow and floor spacing that the Wizards desperately need. The coach must also get of credit too for implementing a very effective defensive scheme that forced Memphis to move the ball from side to side and not initiate their high-post offense usually run through Marc Gasol.


Vines.

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
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Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. He is going into his second season writing for Truth About It, and also writes for sports analytics website numberfire.com. You can find him in a district bike lane in the Northwest neighborhood of Bloomingdale.