Key Legislature: Wizards 101 vs Knicks 87 — The Second Time's A Charm | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 101 vs Knicks 87 — The Second Time’s A Charm

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Updated: April 4, 2015

Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s) for Washington Wizards contest No. 76 versus the New York Knicks in D.C. via Rashad Mobley (@rashad20), covering it live from the arena that Wale currently claims.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Rashad Mobley.

It was rather fitting that Wale—whose newest release is entitled, “The Album About Nothing”—walked out of the Verizon Center with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. By that time, the Wizards starters were resting comfortably on the bench, their lead over the Knicks was hovering around 14 points, and, judging by the fans who followed Wale’s lead, the garbage-time minutes being played by both teams were meaningless and frankly meant nothing. But if Wale and the early-departing fans had watched the tail-end of Wednesday night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, perhaps they would have appreciated the relative ease by which the Wizards closed out the game.

Against the 76ers, the Wizards led by as many as 33 points in the fourth quarter thanks to yeoman efforts by the starters. Then the bench allowed the lead to be whittled down to 15 points, and the starters had to extinguish the fire for them. A win is a win, as they say in sports, but starters on playoff-bound teams need rest and relaxation, not unexpected game re-entries.

Friday night against the Knicks, the starters once again did their job, and they were once again led Mr. Optimus Dime himself, John Wall. After the Wizards went scoreless in the first 3:05 of the game, Wall repeatedly found Marcin “Give Me The Damn Ball” Gortat and Otto Porter for open, easy baskets. Most of Gortat’s shot attempts came from inside two feet (1), and Porter scored via an alley-oop and two consecutive wide-open 3-pointers (2). Sixteen of Washington’s points were scored in the paint, 12 were scored from the 3-point line, and Wall hit one midrange fadeaway jumper. Coach Wittman’s marching orders to his team are often to take what the defense gives, and due to the Knicks’ poor shooting and the Wizards scrappy defense, there was an endless amount of offensive opportunity at their disposal. It was 30-10 Wizards after the first quarter.

The second unit and Bradley Beal were stagnant in the second quarter, and when Wittman had to sub the starters back in at the midway point, they too had lost their momentum. Wall fell in love with his dribble-drive abilities, and although he still managed to accrue five more assists, he had three turnovers as well (3). Beal could not stay in front of Ricky Ledo (11 points in the quarter) and Kevin Seraphin, Drew Gooden and Marcin Gortat could not slow Quincy Acy (10 second quarter points). The lead at halftime was 54-44 (the Knicks outscored the Wizards 36-24 in the second quarter), and it appeared as if TAI editor Kyle Weidie would have yet another game to add to his examination of Wizards in clutch situations.

Wall and Beal restored order in the third quarter. Wall was still the master distributor with seven assists (and no turnovers), but Beal was noticeably more aggressive offensively and scored nine points (4-of-5 from the field). He wasn’t hesitant and did not pass up open shots, as he was wont to do in the first half; Beal was driving the lane and shooting the shots as soon as they became available. Beal sheepishly told TAI’s Adam McGinnis after the game that he didn’t notice a difference between his first half and third quarter play, but Beal was clearly looking for his offense a bit more.

By the end of the third quarter, Wall had 18 assists, Gortat had 19 points, Drew Gooden had 13 rebounds, and Otto Porter had 17 points. The score was 83-67 and the stage was set for the Wizards’ bench to redeem themselves after nearly blowing Wednesday night’s game. But they also had some help.

During the fourth quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Sixers, Coach Wittman sat Nene, Wall, Beal, and Gortat, but left Otto Porter (who has started for a resting Paul Pierce over the last two games) in the game. Porter scored 13 points in quarters one through three, but without the strategic distractions of Wall’s speed, the outside threat of Beal, and the inside-out game that Gortat and Nene bring, he lacked the confidence and the open looks in that crucial fourth quarter, and scored just two points. Against the Knicks, Wittman opted to play his traditional second-unit offense with Beal as the lone starter along with Sessions, Humphries, Rasual Butler, and Kevin Seraphin.

Washington’s play was uneven with Sessions and Seraphin turning the ball over and Beal and Butler missing shots they normally would make, but they were scrappy on the boards (led by Humphries with five in the quarter) and Beal managed to hit just enough big shots—including a 3-pointer to increase the lead from 14 to 17 points—to keep the Knicks at bay. Knicks Coach Derek Fisher helped the Wizards’ case by keeping Quincy Acy on the bench for the first five and a half minutes of the fourth quarter. Still, thanks to Wittman’s subtle adjustment and the intensity of the second unit, the Wizards were determined not to squander a sizable lead again.

“I told the guys to close the game out in the fourth quarter and do the right things, because they let it slip away the last game,” said Wittman after the game. “And it’s important to get their confidence to close out the game, which they did.”

Beal exited with 3:06 left in the game and a 14-point lead, and the remainder of the starters were able to rest and play the cheerleading role. When Wall was asked if he wanted to play the fourth quarter, he smiled broadly and said, “Nope, I wanted some rest.” His wish was granted. Wall had collected a career-high 18 assists through three quarters, the most since Rod Strickland’s franchise-high 20 in February 1998.

The Wizards defeated the two worst teams in the Eastern Conference and are now the proud owners of a two-game win streak heading into tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Beating up on bottom feeders has padded Wall’s assist total and inflated the previously low-confidence levels of both Gortat and Porter (Otto checked out with 17 points and eight rebounds on Friday night’s box score). But as Coach Wittman told the media after the game, “Don’t disrespect those guys like that, you gotta play the game, you guys (the media) rip us when we get beat by a team like this.”

Washington took care of business and shored up some areas that had previously been deficient. If Pierce plays in Memphis, Otto Porter, as John Wall alluded to in his postgame comments, needs to retain the confidence with the second unit that he gained with the starters. If Pierce sits, Otto will have to prove he can perform against a playoff team (4), and the second unit and Beal will have find ways to keep (or gain) momentum.

But for now, April’s two-game win streak over Philadelphia and New York sounds and feels significantly better than February’s two-game bottom-feeder losing streak to Minnesota and Philadelphia. Baby steps mean something, even when they come in game 76.


 

  1. Gortat went 1-for-4 on shots outside of two feet, 9-for-13 from the field overall.
  2. In his opening statements, TAI’s Troy Haliburton provided a bit of foreshadowing by writing this about Porter: “…Randy Wittman can help the Wizards offense by encouraging Porter to fire 3s in of a catch-and-shoot situations—it is his most effective shot. The Knicks allow opponents to shoot an NBA-high 38 percent on 3-point attempts, so there will be plenty of opportunities for the Wizards (PA) announcer to yell the patented “DC3″ chant.”
  3. Wall in the past has been accused by his coach of attempting too many risky passes.
  4. The Grizzlies are currently tied with the Rockets for the second seed in the West, each 10.5 games behind the first place Warriors.
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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.