Key Legislature: Wizards 108 vs Magic 99 — Humpty Dumpty Set-Up by Wall | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 108 vs Magic 99 — Humpty Dumpty Set-Up by Wall

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Updated: November 15, 2015

TAI’s Key Legislature… The game’s defining moment, its critical event, the wildest basketball thing you ever saw, or just stuff that happened. Wizards vs Magic, Regular Season, Game 8, Nov. 14, 2015, by Troy Haliburton (@TroyHalibur)

It’s only November but the Wizards are in midseason form of putting undue stress on their fanbase with ease. At halftime of Saturday night’s tilt with the Orlando Magic, the Wizards found themselves down 56-50, looking lackadaisical for a team coming off of three days rest since the derailment of the #KD2DC train.

Notoriously late-arriving D.C. fans were actually filling up the lower bowl of the arena against a middling Eastern Conference opponent, and the atmosphere in the arena was palpable heading into the second half. Fans at the Phone Booth were ready to get behind the hometown team and all they needed was a spark. Many of the fans donning John Wall jerseys may have expected their two-time All-Star to be the catalyst who started the run. Instead, they got a heavy dose of Garrett Temple (starting in place of an injured Bradley Beal) and Kris Humphries.

Wall whipped this beautiful pass to Temple as the Wizards made a 13-4 run in the first four minutes of the second half that allowed fans at Verizon Center to become full participants in the outcome of this game. Then Humphries took that energy and turned Saturday into Hump-Day.

In the locker room after the game, Magic forward Aaron Gordon could only tip his hat to Hump’s effort. “It was difficult. Kris Humphries made 3-pointers, but I have to do better and contest,” Gordon said. “Whether I wasn’t in the right defensive coverages or my closing speed needs to be faster, it just wasn’t enough. It was a couple things here and there that we could have done differently. Seeing something like that stuck because we know that we can do better than that.”

How could Gordon have known that Hump was capable of a solid Dirk Nowitzki impersonation? The guy hadn’t hit a 3-pointer in a decade before this season, so it’s not surprising that that information might not be at the top of opposing team’s scouting reports. It all might change going forward, as Humphries is getting into a groove with his shot from behind the arc, and all he needed was a big performance like against the Magic to have the confidence to let it fly. Humphries is now 13-for-28 on 3-pointers this season—a 46.4 percent clip. If Humphries is able to at least establish himself as a viable threat on the outside, it will serve the Wizards well throughout the season in terms of floor spacing.

The next biggest factor that allowed Washington to walk away with this much-needed win was an increase in defensive intensity, which may have been a byproduct of Randy Wittman’s decision to insert Garrett Temple into the starting lineup over Gary Neal, who had started in the Thunder game in place of Beal. Temple seemed far more comfortable with Wall than Neal has this season, allowing Wall to use his speed and driving ability to set up shot after shot. Temple had his best game of the season and tied his career high with 18 points. Temple also did an admirable job chasing around Magic guard Evan Fournier and holding him to 7-for-17 shooting, including 1-for-6 from deep.

Temple credited the Wizards defense for getting stops and getting out to run as factors that allowed Washington to take control of the game: “I think our pace changed. When we were able to get stops, we can run, but even when we weren’t getting stops we still run. We pushed the ball. John [Wall] was able to use his speed. Me and Otto [Porter] were able to get out and run. Like I just said, the ball movement in the second half, and fourth quarter, was great.”

If the Wizards are serious about maintaining this pace-and-space style of play, then a player such as Temple is a perfect supplement as a 3-and-D lite option, and may be deserving of more rotation minutes even when Beal returns from injury.

Bullets.

  • John Wall has to find a way to better protect the ball. As the Wizards’ floor general who has the ball in his hands for a team-high 27.6 usage rate, 4.3 turnovers per game is too damn high. In an effort to play fast, the Wizards sometimes look careless trying to advance the ball to the front court.
  • The Wizards are 3-0 on the season when holding opponents to under 100 points. A lot has been made about the Wizards’ evolving offense, but defense has been the bread and butter of this team’s success over the last two seasons. The Magic were coming into Saturday night’s game having won five of their last seven with an offensive rating of 101.3 in those games.
  • Marcin Gortat was able to bounce back from a one-rebound performance with a solid 13-point, 10-rebound outing, but he was not the Wizards center who made the biggest impression on the night. Nene is having a quietly efficient season with his per 36 minutes numbers looking eerily similar to Gortat’s (Nene is averaging 13.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per 36, while Gortat is averaging 13.9 and 9.8). The difference between the two, per the eye test, is that Nene is much more comfortable taking advantage of the complicated screen action and dribble hand-offs which structure the offense. For example, the clip below shows Nene faking the hand-off and using the space created from the hard cut by Sessions to attack the rim.

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
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Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. He is going into his second season writing for Truth About It, and also writes for sports analytics website numberfire.com. You can find him in a district bike lane in the Northwest neighborhood of Bloomingdale.