DC Council Round 2, Game 2: Wizards at Hawks — The War Is Not Lost | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council Round 2, Game 2: Wizards at Hawks — The War Is Not Lost

Updated: May 6, 2015

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Second Round Playoff Game No. 2:
Washington Wizards versus the Atlanta Hawks in Georgia.
Contributor: John Converse Townsend from a loft apartment.


During the siege of Troy, along the Aegean Sea, the Achaeans (Greek to some) were hit with a cloud of arrows, which pinned Agamemnon’s army to the beach in the shadows of their own ships. Achilles, Terminator of the 12th century BC, was sitting on the sidelines, in street clothes, refusing to fight. Beef with the boss.

That was, more or less, Washington’s status going into Game 2. The early reports suggested that John Wall, certain mortal but the Achilles of this series, was going to play after suffering a hand injury in Game 1. But Wall walked out of the locker room in a suit, damaged. The Wizards’ record without John Wall (10-40) isn’t pretty. Ramon Sessions, Patroclus, son of Menoetius in the A-T-L, got the start in place of Optimus Dime.

Patroclus took the battlefield in Achilles’ armor, sending the defending army into a panic by hitting the great warrior Pyraechmes, leader of the Paeonian horsemen, in the shoulder with a spear. Dropped. Patroclus then slashed through tens of other legendary fighters on his way to the city walls—and he’d have scaled Troy’s walls had Apollo himself not fought him off. “Draw back, noble Patroclus, it is not your lot to sack the city of the Trojan chieftains,” said Apollo.

Ramon Sessions, roundball understudy, looked the part of hero in Game 2, leading all players not named DeMarre Carroll in scoring with 21 points. He opened the scoring in the first half, then after a shot of #WittmanJava in the locker room, led the second-half charge by scoring the team’s first 10 points. But he, and his Wizards (on Tuesday night), ultimately fell short: 90-106.

The feeling after the game, from the visitors, was that they “let one go,” even with John Wall on the sideline. “We feel like we can beat [Atlanta] with what we have,” said Paul Pierce.

“We can’t put all our marbles on John,” said Bradley Beal. “We can’t make him the savior. Other guys have to step up, me included.”

About that… John Wall is the best player in this series, on either team. The Wizards can manage wins without other players—Bradley Beal, Nene, or Kris Humphries—they don’t often get far without their favorite son. Wall ranked top 10 in Wins Above Replacement (11.77) and top 20 in Real Plus Minus (4.36). Stud.

So, here’s what happened in ancient history: Achilles, broken by the news that Patroclus was cut down in battle, stormed back into the fight like “a mountain falcon, swiftest of all birds, swoops down upon some cowering dove.” Or like Mars, the god of freakin’ war. He kicked down the city doors. Not long after, Troy burned and the Achaean army (minus Achilles, who’s killed because the gods don’t believe in #HeroBall) split the spoils. Epic.

Wall’s status: day-to-day.

“Good thing he’s got three days off,” said Wizards Coach Randy Wittman.


Washington Wizards



Box Score

Atlanta Hawks


Nene Hilario, PF

27 MIN | 0-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 2 PTS | -14 +/-

Nene didn’t look great in transition. He didn’t look great in pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t look great closing out on perimeter players. He didn’t look great off the ball, overhelping or trapping without positive effect, which was led to loose rotations and open shots from Atlanta’s franchise players.

Nene was held scoreless in Game 1 and has yet to made a field goal in this series. Maybe he’d look better on the bench. The Wizards probably would. A team-worst plus/minus of minus-14 isn’t a good look, bro.

(Wittman probably will keep riding Nene. If so, he should consider Nene in a five-man unit with John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, and Paul Pierce, which had a plus-1.29 plus/minus in the postseason before Game 2.)

Paul Pierce, SF

35 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -12 +/-

“Paul Pierce sucks!” chanted Hawks fans in Phillips Arena. Pierce, smack-talk pro, had to respond: “No I don’t.” Play of the game from The Truth.

His best basketball play: a swaying dive into the paint, which was followed by a no-look dump off to Gortat … who missed the open layup attempt but scored on the tip-in. Pierce was not credited with an assist, but certainly deserved one.

He was stripped on the ensuing possession, and was routinely abused by DeMarre Carroll (but not Paul Millsap), but made sure to take advantage of open looks from beyond the arc, where he scored all 15 of his points, which kept the Wizards within striking distance.

Marcin Gortat, C

32 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | -1 +/-

Gortat scored on his first look, a second-chance lefty hook shot. On Tuesday night, Gortat was the only Washington player with a positive NetRtg, powered by a team-best OffRtg of 107.3.

But the story here is that the Polish Machine, who covered more ground than every big man other than Millsap, fouled out of the game with 4:26 left. That put the clamps on the Wizards offense, which often struggles late in the fourth quarter.

The key moment: the refs didn’t call what was a clear travelling violation by Gortat, then whistled him for a dubious offensive foul, his fourth, after the field goal attempt.

The camera panned to him on the bench after he checked out. Even with 10 points and nine rebounds, his disappointment couldn’t have been more clear.

Ramon Sessions, PG

40 MIN | 8-14 FG | 2-5 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | -10 +/-

What can you say? What a performance. A bit unexpected, even, but what a show. His “quickness, energy and defensive presence” that was promised by team president Ernie Grunfeld was on full display. Sessions scored 21 points on just 14 attempts and led the Wizards in free throw attempts—not much of a surprise, given he holds the team’s best Free Throw Rate. Sessions also held Jeff Teague scoreless (0-for-5) in one-on-one situations.

Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. He started the game with a turnover, rushing the post entry pass to Nene, who was still battling for position. But he hit a floater to open the scoring after being ignored for a couple possessions and was committed to going over every Hawks screen, at least early on, which earned him points in the gradebook.

Apollo described Achilles as a “far better man” than Patroclus. Yeah, the Wizards can’t wait to have John Wall back and they will on Saturday … unless, y’know, he has ligament damage and is forced to miss extra games.

Bradley Beal, SG

43 MIN | 8-22 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | -13 +/-

#PandaRange. Then more #PandaRange. Half of his 22 shot attempts came in that low-percentage zone between the paint and the 3-point line. Beal went 3-for-11, 2-for-12 on contested field goal attempts, and was blocked three times by Kyle Korver.

The young 2-guard tried to blame himself for the loss, as Todd Dybas reported after the game. “Said he did too much individual work on offense trying to make up for Wall’s absence.”

But there were also lapses on defense, which led to a trio of Korver treys in the second half—including one with just over three minutes to play, which extended Atlanta’s lead back to double-digits.

It’d be nice to see more than three shots from 3 next game.

Drew Gooden, PF

17 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -9 +/-

Not Gooden’s best or loudest game… He didn’t quite get the looks he’s used to with Sessions, and sometimes Garrett Temple, running the point but still managed to hit half of his four attempts: the first was a tip-in to cut the Hawks’ lead to one, forcing a timeout, the other was a corner 3 that tied the game at 71.

Otto Porter Jr., SF

31 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | -10 +/-

Otto has had an unexpected impact on the 2015 playoffs and he once again found ways to influence the outcomes with 15 points and five assists. That said, the weaknesses in his game are obvious—namely, ball handling and the tendency to take the midrange jump shot the defense gives him. The two are very much related.

Still, you have to appreciate the length, willingness to cut and even defensive presence he offers the Wizards, even if he sometimes got beat by the much smaller (and quicker) Kent Bazemore. Speaking of length, Porter came down with rebounds on eight of his 11 chances.

And he’s still making 3s, which is what matters most.

Kevin Seraphin, C

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

Seraphin checked in with 58.9 seconds left in the first half. His first offensive touch was a turnover—he allowed the rock to slip through his fingers—but, fortunately, the Hawks were unable to convert on the other end. Moments later, Seraphin tried a hook shot, which everybody saw coming. The bench big missed just about everything, which hardly anyone saw coming.

…That was the last anyone saw of Seraphin.

Garrett Temple, SG

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

Temple—one time—beat Jeff Teague with a right-left crossover, then scored on a switch righty layup that was just out of reach of the incoming defender. His only basket of the game. He also lost his footing on a potential steal, stumbled out of bounds, and turned the ball over.

It was his first game back since March 9.

John Converse Townsend on EmailJohn Converse Townsend on FacebookJohn Converse Townsend on InstagramJohn Converse Townsend on Twitter
John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.