REACTION: Truth Serum Clear as a Game-Winner Off the Glass | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

REACTION: Truth Serum Clear as a Game-Winner Off the Glass

By
Updated: May 10, 2015

So after blowing a 21-point fourth quarter lead the Wizards of Washington won the game on a Paul Pierce buzzer beater. It’s exactly how the basketball gods planned it—potentially cruel enough to both sides while knowing just one could win. Let’s react…

[image via @NBATV]

[image via @NBATV]

How it happened.

The Wizards got up by as much as 21 points—with 10 minutes left in the game!—with good ball movement; a Randy Wittman chess game of attacking with Nene (Pero Antic started for a flu-like-ridden Paul Millsap); and defense that stifled Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague, and any other Hawk that might have cared. The general public, and certainly Hawks fans—via the social media—were shocked, frustrated, and disappointed to say the least. And then just shocked. Paul “I called game” Pierce is 37 going on 38 years old.

Followers of the NBA were thrown down the “what happens in the regular season stays in the regular season” well again, thirsting to judge the future merely equipped with the knowledge of what happened in the immediate past. But it wasn’t all Atlanta’s downfall, the Wizards also looked good compared to their regular season selves (a playoff theme). Blue Kool-Aid with a G-Wiz fur garnish was passed out in sample cups around the Verizon Center suites near the end of the third quarter and into the beginning of the next. Up to that point, Washington had its 21-point lead, 24 assists on 33 made shots, and 10 total 3-pointers (seven more than the Hawks). Five Wizards scored in double-digits (to three Hawks), and Nene (tied with Teague) led the way with 16 points. Yes, Nene.

And so then Atlanta came back and Paul Pierce won the game with a step-back shot by jumping backwards over a shoestring and ducking under threatening Hawk claws while bouncing a ball from a sideways angle off a rectangle formed of glass into an orange ring that, believe it or not, could fit two basketballs through it at the same time. Fans went nuts.

The Hawks came back because head coach Mike Budenholzer gave his bench a chance, and they pushed the pedal to the Potomac (especially Dennis Schroder, who scored 12 points in Atlanta’s game-ending, but losing, 31-12 run). Washington’s offense also came to a screeching halt. Nene appeared winded from his strong, statement-making play early in the game. Wizards lead guards, Ramon Sessions and Will Bynum, during Atlanta’s run (21-3 up until Bradley Beal hit a free throw line jumper out of a timeout with 2:55 left to halt some of the bleeding), were slow to get into the offense, and their teammates weren’t moving that well, either. The sets didn’t start fast enough, Nene didn’t get deep position on the block, and high ball screens were rendered relatively useless. Atlanta’s pressure defense from Schroeder and Mike Scott also had a big influence. It could have been … so very Wizards.

Except it wasn’t. You should have seen Randy Wittman surf away from his press conference on Paul Pierce’s cape, muttering something about lessons that still needed to be learned.

What it means.

It means that the Wizards maintain the home court advantage that shifted in their favor after Game 1 in Atlanta and lead the series 2-1. It also means a significant confidence booster in knowing that they can beat, and sometimes dominate, the Hawks without their star, John Wall.

The Hawks are now getting judged versus their regular season but a couple factors are at play: 1) the Wizards are the more talented team, even without Wall, and 2) Millsap was ailing with flu-like symptoms as mentioned and Al Horford was not himself (he went to the locker room at some point to get a potential leg injury checked but it turned out to be a false alarm).

Oh, it also means the series isn’t over. Atlanta’s vaunted starters were still plus-7 in their 12 minutes together on Saturday. Washington’s new starters sans Wall? Plus-2 in eight minutes.

Hits.

Otto Porter led all Wizards in minutes (just under 40) and was the somewhat unsung hero—17 points and nine rebounds had Twitter calling Porter the new Shawn Marion. Pierce’s game-winner naturally overshadowed the strong nights of first Nene and second Porter (with a chaser of Bradley Beal, who had 17 points along with Porter and Nene). But Porter hit timely 3s, made even more timely cuts, and sent his body and limbs flying for rebounds like a eight-legged creature prepping its legs for contact with its prey as it repels from an un-grounded life on a barely-visible wire.

With that, let’s recognize Nene’s triumphant return (or entrance) to Wizards basketball and the series with his answer to the one, single question he took after a long post-game treatment session, a long post-game shower, and a long session of post-game fashion preparation.

Misses.

Jeff Teague showed that while he was an All-Star in 2015, he is perhaps just one of the regular season variety. He shot 5-15 on Saturday (in co-leading the Hawks with 17 points; the other was Schroder) and is now 12-for-41 (29.3%) for the series.

Kyle Korver was also a miss, only getting five shots off (four 3-point attempts), and making two 3s. The Wizards used a variety of defenders to smother him and turned to the elbows of Nene and Gortat to bruise Korver as he chased whomever he had to defend around series of screens.

The most miss: Pero Antic. Starting for Millsap, Antic was just what Dr. Lord Nene ordered. In 15 minutes Antic went 0-4, including a 3-point airball, and grabbed just one rebound. His beard really had no chance against Nene’s, much less his game after the Brazilian’s pride was severely questioned two games into the series.

Stat of Night.

The Wizards had the Hawks doubled-up in 3-point attempts after three quarters—Washington was 10-for-24 and Atlanta was 3-for-12.

The Wizards then shot just 0-for-4 in the fourth quarter (mostly rushed at the end of the shot clock), while the Hawks shot 4-for-11. Isn’t it funny how things work out?

What’s next.

Game 4 will be at the Verizon Center on Monday at 7 pm on TNT. John Wall, on ESPN’s Game 3 broadcast, said he would try dribbling the basketball in “two-to-three days.” As easy as that is to try to read into (‘when does the dribbling clock start?!’) is as unlikely that Wall even plays in Games 4, 5, 6, or even 7. But, you never know. ‘Sports’ can change so fast, always.

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.