DC Council 79: Wizards at Nets — Move Along, There's Nothing To See Here | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council 79: Wizards at Nets — Move Along, There’s Nothing To See Here

Updated: April 11, 2015

 Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 79: Wizards versus Nets in Brooklyn.
Contributor: Rashad Mobley from the District.

It was highly unlikely that the Wizards were going to duplicate the offensive display they put on Wednesday night against the Sixers. It built confidence, they proved they could win decisively without John Wall and Nene, and at least for one night, they looked like a deep team heading into the playoffs. TAI’s Kyle Weidie discussed this in his Key Legislature piece after the game:

Washington won’t be facing Houston (or a team like them; Atlanta, maybe, but still: James Harden) in the playoffs any time soon, so the turning point in disguised blessings is the quality of opponent the Wizards have seen in winning five of their last six games—Charlotte, Philly, New York, a bummed-out Memphis team, and Philly. Lower-quality opponents and using them as an opportunity for playoff preparation, versus developing competitive confidence by beating upper echelon opponents (OK, the Grizzlies!), could better prepare the Wizards for impending matchup against the same opponent over an entire series—Toronto or Chicago.

The current version of the Brooklyn Nets are not a low-quality opponent, nor are they an upper-echelon opponent simply jockeying for a higher seed in the 2015 playoffs like the Wizards. The Nets are a hungry team fighting for the seventh or eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Nets played with desperation and focus, and the John Wall-less Wizards—save for an unexpected offensive explosion from Bradley Beal (and good offense from Marcin Gortat as well)—were passive, disinterested, and nowhere near the offensive juggernaut they appeared to be against the Sixers, even with Nene back in the starting lineup.

The Wizards aren’t as good as they looked on Wednesday, and they aren’t as bad as they played Friday night, but their lack of rhythm and consistency is a bit unsettling. Teams like the Spurs, the Rockets, and the Cavaliers—even when they lose—are in playoff mode already, and look poised to make deep playoff runs. The Wizards should still be hungry with homecourt advantage in the 4/5 matchup hanging in the balance, but if their effort in Brooklyn is any indication, perhaps they just aren’t that into it.

In the interim, let’s get into some grades.


Washington Wizards



Box Score

Brooklyn Nets


Nene Hilario, PF

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

Nene returned to the starting lineup after missing three games with a sore shoulder, and the rust showed. He did not look to score much and when he did, his rhythm and timing were understandably off. In the second and third quarters, Nene did some facilitating with both Bradley Beal and his frontcourt mate, Gortat, but that was nullified by his lack of defense in the post. Nene left the game with five minutes left in the third, with a twisted right ankle, and according to Comcast SportsNet’s J. Michael, his fasciitis has flared up once again. His performance combined with that injury aren’t exactly the best way to head into the playoffs.

Paul Pierce, SF

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

Watching Paul Pierce meander around the court was akin to watching Tiger Woods’ first-round at the Masters on Thursday. Pierce would be at the top of the key or just inside the 3-point line with an open shot, and based on who he’s been in his career, there was no reason to believe he would not take and make the shot. Instead, Pierce would pass the ball or take unnecessary dribbles, reducing himself to a non-factor. His lack of offensive pop just shone an even brighter and unwelcome spotlight on his defense, which has never been consistently stellar, as Joe Johnson drove by Pierce with little resistance. This game seemed like it should have been right in Pierce’s wheelhouse: It was against his former team, and a Wizards’ win would put them closer to that important home court advantage he spoke of at the start of the season. But Pierce had nothing of note to give in his 20 minutes of play.

Marcin Gortat, C

26 MIN | 9-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 16 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 21 PTS | -6 +/-

Before the game, Marcin Gortat told Comcast SportsNet’s Chris Miller that the key to playing Brook Lopez was to stay in front of him on defense and try to run the floor and outwork him on offense. Gortat carried out the offensive portion of that mission by missing just two of his 11 shots, gathering six offensive rebounds, and totaling more defensive rebounds (10) than Lopez had total (9). But defensively—particularly in the first quarter, which had the Wizards in a hole they never truly climbed out of—Gortat allowed Brook Lopez to do his best Kevin McHale impression.

In that first quarter alone, Lopez had 14 points, which matched what the Wizards scored as a team. Lopez came into the game averaging 25 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in his last 10 games, so Gortat had to know what was coming. But he allowed the slow-footed Lopez to take him off the dribble, was outmuscled in the lane, and not once did Gortat give Lopez a hard foul or some type of resistance. It isn’t totally Gortat’s fault that the Wizards were inept early in the game, and fell behind, but his lack of resistance against Lopez played a larger role than his offensive performance would otherwise let on.

Ramon Sessions, PG

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

There were not one, not two, but three 24-second shot clock violations in the first eight minutes of the first quarter, which falls solely on the slender shoulders of Ramon Sessions. Instead of directing traffic or getting his team into the offense, he’d prematurely pass the ball to Beal or Pierce, and then stand in the corner, seemingly hoping that the offense would run just fine without his involvement. He had made feeble attempts to get the ball back and create on his own, but his shot abandoned him early. If Gortat was partly at fault for the Wizards poor first quarter performance by not guarding Lopez, Sessions was the other guilty party by not being a floor general.

On defense, Sessions allowed both Deron Williams and Markel Brown to get into the lane at will, which put pressure on the Wizards’ interior defense. Sessions did regroup offensively late in the second quarter and early in the third, which is where the bulk of his 10 assists occurred, but it was not enough to offset his disappearance early in the game.

Bradley Beal, SG

32 MIN | 10-19 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 24 PTS | -22 +/-

After the victory over the Sixers on Wednesday, Bradley Beal told Comcast SportsNet that he was “locked in and in a different mode” after scoring 21 points in 23 minutes. Yet, for the first 16 minutes of the Nets’ game, Beal attempted and missed five shots, and he seemed content to let the offense run through Gortat and a struggling Sessions. Enter the mouth of Nets’ rookie Markel Brown.

Beal scored his first points of the game via a 20-footer, then he and Brown were engaged in a spirited trash-talking session, which took Beal’s game to 2014 playoff-like heights—an element of his game that has been noticeably absent this season. As Marv Albert would say, Beal showed the full repertoire. He scored off curls, jumpers, off the dribble and from the 3-point line. He was angry, but not out-of-control and reckless, and his shots seemed to come in the flow of the offense. Before his outburst the Wizards were down 27 points, and when he finally cooled off with four minutes left in the third quarter, the Wizards only trailed by 14.

Beal ran out of gas in the fourth quarter, and aside from Marcin Gortat, no other Wizards player had enough offensive rhythm to stave off the Nets. But if not for Beal and his adverse reaction to Brown’s loose lips, the Wizards’ ship would have sunken much earlier.

Kris Humphries, PF

14 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -13 +/-

Humphries played most of his minutes in the fourth quarter when the Wizards’ fate was all but sealed. But there was a two minute stretch in the second quarter, while the game was still in the balance, where Humphries showed hustle on both ends of the floor. He tipped in a missed shot by Bradley Beal, stole an errant pass from Joe Johnson, and started a fast break opportunity which ended in a Ramon Sessions dunk. It isn’t exactly the stuff that legends are made of, but it does represent an element that has been missing from the Wizards bench, and Humphries fills that void.

Drew Gooden, PF

16 MIN | 0-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | -26 +/-

The offensive magic was not there for Mr. Stretch 4 on Friday night. Gooden missed all eight of his shots from the field, and he only made one of the two free throws he took. At one point in the third quarter, Gooden had such little faith in his jumper that he attempted to post-up (something he rarely does) Bojan Bogdanovic with zero success. He didn’t shoot particularly well against the Sixers, but he found other ways to contribute with the five assists and five rebounds. Against the Nets he had seven rebounds, but they weren’t enough to sway or impact the game.

Otto Porter Jr., SF

28 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -40 +/-

Seven of Porter’s nine points and 12 of his 28 minutes came in the meaningless fourth quarter, so that part of his stat sheet is irrelevant. When Porter played relevant minutes in the first and second quarters, he had no offensive contributions of note, and he was repeatedly beat on defense by Joe Johnson and Deron Williams (via switches). Porter usually specializes in getting his hands on caroming balls that take awkward angles, but there were none to be had. Wall and Beal have said one more than one occasion that Porter needs to be as big of a star off the bench as he is when he starts. That was far from the case.

Martell Webster, SF

7 MIN | 0-2 FG | 3-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -7 +/-

There is a long form feature waiting to be written about Webster this season. He looks forlorn, hurt, and frustrated. He winces whenever he leaves his feet and lands, and his jumper looks as broken as Tiger Woods’ swing. The one time he looked close to his former self, he attempted a 3-pointer, missed the shot and was fouled, but he immediately grabbed his leg upon landing. He hit all three shots, but unfortunately, they came during that meaningless fourth quarter I mentioned earlier. Where have you gone, Martell?

Rasual Butler, SF

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

If this game were played in December, Rasual Butler would have come in late in the first quarter, and held down the Wizards on offense until Beal, Gortat or someone caught fire. But it is April, which means Butler sat on the bench and did absolutely nothing. It’s a hard lesson for a team that thought it was a good idea to sign the oldest player out of training camp.

DeJuan Blair, C

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

If Blair was in shape, he could have come in and physically bothered Brook Lopez in the first quarter, which he could do earlier in his career. Now, he comes in during the fourth quarter and is overly physical with the other team’s 11th man. Good times.

Kevin Seraphin, C

15 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | -30 +/-

Seraphin could not summon any of his magical post moves against the immovable Brook Lopez, which pretty much rendered him useless. His lone highlight of the night came via a fastbreak block on Mason Plumlee.

Will Bynum, PG

18 MIN | 0-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 1 PTS | -35 +/-

It turns out that Bynum’s 10 points and seven assists against the Sixers were the exception, not the rule. He did not run any offense and he seemingly flung himself into the Nets defense like a cannonball without any positive results. He ran the point guard for the first four minutes of the second quarter and the Nets lead went from 17 to 25 points. Coach Wittman yanked him out and put Sessions back in the game.

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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.