DC Council 78: Wizards at 76ers — One-Way Traffic in Philly | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council 78: Wizards at 76ers — One-Way Traffic in Philly

Updated: April 9, 2015

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 78: Wizards versus Sixers in Philly.
Contributor: Conor Dirks from the District.


The Wizards shot an almost unbelievable, and franchise record 65 percent from the floor. This without the services of two of their best facilitators, John Wall and Nene. Cause for celebration. With a bowtie in his collar, and a pad and writing utensil in hand, Wall was still engaged throughout the night. Even with the Wizards up big, Washington’s starting point guard was hardly coolin’. During the third quarter, Wall stood up for minutes at a time, shouting either encouragement or direction to a team that was doing just fine on its own, thank you very much.  Still, I’m not convinced that the Wizards should trade John Wall. Call me crazy.

No, please, call me crazy.  Or Steve. But don’t call me “an easy A.”

Philadelphia gets (perhaps unfairly) clowned for tanking, for being an organization of robots, for treating human players like fungible assets, for relying too much on numbers, and more than anything else, for sucking. But they don’t suck hardly as much as they should, and before this game, had the NBA’s 11th ranked defense. What the Wizards did against the Sixers (even against the Sixers) is worthy of some unusually high grades.

Washington Wizards



Box Score

Philadelphia 76ers


Drew Gooden, PF

25 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +24 +/-

Comcast SportsNet’s Ben Standig wrote a very interesting piece about how much better the Wizards perform when Drew Gooden shoots 3-pointers. Of course, against the Sixers, Gooden went on to not take any 3s and the Wizards blew out the Sixers. With the guards and Gortat doing the scoring, Gooden did his best Nene impression, facilitating the wheel like a greased spoke. It also helped that on several occasions (and this is often the case with stretch 4s) defenders were forced to come out on Gooden, opening up gigantic swaths of space under the basket for cutters.

Paul Pierce, SF

22 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +22 +/-

Paul Pierce’s legs are just as veteran as he is. And while they certainly needed a break (Pierce just returned from a three-game rest), it sometimes seemed like his brain needed it, too. Proud early in the season, then angry, then recently looking like he was just going through the motions, his defense became as concerning as the constant clank of his 3-point shot against the front of the rim. Last night was different. Pierce smiled (!), hit some shots, lit some fires under some other people’s asses, hit Gortat with some nice passes, and played in a Wizards win. It was a good night.

Marcin Gortat, C

26 MIN | 8-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 4 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | +20 +/-

Gortat started out hot, and one could almost hear the “But it’s the Sixers” #wellactually crowd surfacing like long-forgotten monsters from a cold lake at midnight. It didn’t help that Gortat made it look so easy, popping wide-open under the basket with some creative baseline action, or trailing the play at full speed to receive a Gooden pass to flush an easy dunk. In a game that the Wizards needed to win to keep the hope of home-court advantage alive, Gortat’s obvious, grinning enthusiasm for beating up on the Sixers’ skinny front line was a positive. But please excuse Nerlens Noel from culpability, as he spent most of the night stuck on either Humphries or Gooden, and was only “in the area” for two of Gortat’s makes.Too often, the Wizards have been surprised (including by the Sixers on February 27) by inferior teams. And although Washington tends to pull out wins against lesser opponents, it was nice to bypass the struggle and get right to the good stuff.

Ramon Sessions, PG

29 MIN | 5-7 FG | 7-9 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 19 PTS | +22 +/-

The Wizards traded for Ramon Sessions for several reasons, most of which related to the fact that his legs don’t snag like unoiled gears when he runs downcourt. But what I like about Ramon Sessions, and what the Wizards desperately needed when he was acquired, is that he knows how to draw contact (Sessions still owns the team’s highest free throw rate by a P.G. County mile). He got to the line seven times in this game, drawing fouls on floaters and drives alike.Sessions trails only Martell Webster in percentage of total points scored at the free throw line, and Webster’s spot at the top is dubious, largely because he hasn’t been able to score any other way. Sessions gets 34.1 percent of his points at the line (and a team-low 3.4% of his points from midrange). It’s a fix for so many ailments. The Wizards score the third-fewest points per game in the NBA on drives, and Sessions’ willingness to foray into the paint can help with that.When Andre Miller was traded, it was also reported that the Wizards were concerned by Miller’s inability to stay in front of opposing point guards. Although it sometimes appears as if Sessions isn’t applying a ton of pressure on defense, his team-low 93.0 DefRtg speaks to how consistent he’s been defensively.

Bradley Beal, SG

23 MIN | 7-9 FG | 4-5 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 21 PTS | +24 +/-

On the very first play of the game, Sessions brought the ball up the court. Beal jogged from the right side past Gooden around the 3-point line, curling around to the left. Gooden received the ball from Sessions at the line while Beal lost his defender via a sneaky Gortat screen on the other side of the action and sprinted at the basket. Gooden saw the opening and fed Beal for an uncontested dunk.Beal and Sessions played well off of each other, each willing to fake and drive to the hoop. In the last two games, Beal has finally, finally, been more dynamic in his decision-making while handling the ball. A needle-threaded pick-and-roll with Gortat led to an open 3 by Sessions. A decision to pass up a jumper led to free throws. Beal (7-for-9 from the floor) only took one long 2-pointer all game (and missed it), while hitting all three of his 3-pointers. He showed some surprising aplomb navigating the defense on his way to the rack, and although his prettiest drive was despoiled by an uneven layup launched too early, he seemed to make a point of not settling at the #PandaRange as soon as the defense showed up.

Kris Humphries, PF

20 MIN | 5-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +2 +/-

Why ease your way back into the lineup when you can go 5-for-6 from the field and grab seven rebounds while providing the services of an “extend 4” (rather than a prototypical “stretch” 4, who can stretch the defense out to the 3-point line) in limited minutes and make everyone forget that you just missed more than a month’s worth of games?At this point in the season, the Wizards offense likely is what it is. And if it is in fact what it is, then Humphries can make that reality sweeter. His midrange shot is reliable, useful, and the space he creates when he steps away from the basket to take them opens up opportunities for other players. Or for himself. His first three shots of the game were from just about the same spot on the right baseline. All makes. And yet, in this game, Humphries showed he’s more than capable of lumbering towards the basket with those precarious-looking strides and dropping the ball in from up close.

Otto Porter Jr., SF

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

Otto’s statline looks like the early stages of a new game of Minesweeper. And his performance was almost as dull. That said, during the game, I realized that the Goggled One resembles Abe Sapien from Hellboy, and counted that as a win. Porter’s value comes from assets normally assigned to players described as a kind of adhesive, and with the doors bursting off the hinges, his glue was hardly necessary. It was fitting that Otto’s one basket came on the kind of neat, unusual cut that he is so good at creating. With Gortat backing down a defender and the shot clock running low, Porter kind of just presented himself in the lane, probably a little too early, and threw the ball up at the hoop for a layup when defenders switched onto him. He has, finally, earned minutes, and should continue to get around 20 per game as the playoffs approach.

Martell Webster, SF

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

Et non est in oblivione.

Rasual Butler, SF

23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +6 +/-

Butler had one of those “I can still do good things” games that complicate rotations and confuse coaches and bloggers alike. For, like Shakespeare wrote, our love is as a fever, longing still for that which longer nurseth the disease, feeding on that which doth preserve the ill, th’uncertain sickly appetite to please. Or something. When I saw Butler’s 3-pointer drop seamlessly through a previously unkind net, I did rejoice a bit. And a memory of 2014 wrapped around me like an electric blanket before a memory of 2015 dropped me in the bathtub. As strange as it sounds, Rasual Butler may be necessary in the playoffs.

DeJuan Blair, C

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

Ille nullo modo fuit.

Kevin Seraphin, C

22 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +9 +/-

What can I say? His 3-point attempt (created by intercepting a pass intended for a Wizards player half his size) at the end of the shot clock was a highlight of the year; he defended the rim well (Sixers shot 3-for-7 against him at the rim); and his touch-to-pass ratio (39:26) was pretty good by his standards. He also deserves credit for being in a position to get three easy baskets around the rim, especially after Jeff Green ended his life in the Memphis game. Necromancers do good work these days. The legend grows.

Will Bynum, PG

19 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +7 +/-

Will Bynum had a great game. Let’s get that out of the way. His first assist of the game was charitably scored (a bad lob pass to Kevin Seraphin, who then created the shot on his own), but the next six were a result of picking the right spots for the right players at the right time. Getting the ball to Humphries in the midrange, getting the ball to Rasual Butler behind the 3-point line for a wide open shot, driving to the basket and drawing a defender only to dump it off to Seraphin for an easy dunk. His injured hamstring may very well crop back up and hamper him down the road, and it will be interesting to see what the Wizards do if Garrett Temple ever returns from his injury, but Bynum looked good against Philadelphia.

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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.