Key Legislature: Wizards 78 at Celtics 111 — Boston Waves at Wizards in Passing | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 78 at Celtics 111 — Boston Waves at Wizards in Passing

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Updated: November 28, 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 at Celtics, Regular Season Game 13, Nov. 27, 2015, by Bryan Frantz (@BFrantz202)

Alright, recap over.

But actually, these Wizards look broken. John Wall looks disinterested. Marcin Gortat looks like he aged five years in the offseason. Nene has at times been the spark off the bench the Wizards hoped he could be when they booted him from the starting lineup — in favor of a small-ball lineup, or something, if I recall correctly — but he’s mostly been hurt or otherwise missing in all but physical presence. Kris Humphries keeps starting games, only to earn the wrath of Randy by halftime and open the second half on the bench. Garrett Temple has been one of the team’s more productive offensive players! Kelly Oubre plays almost exclusively in blowouts, which, unfortunately, there have been many of already. DeJuan Blair has played 51 minutes already this season; he played just 180 throughout all of last season, and he’s not exactly earning more minutes based on his own merit. Randy Wittman puts on glasses and takes them off at seemingly random intervals, perhaps in an attempt to shake things up.

Bradley Beal and Jared Dudley have been among the few positives so far this season, and we can go ahead and throw Temple into that category, as well. Otto Porter has been hit and miss, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and curve his grade up toward the C-plus range. Screw it, toss in some Ramon Sessions, too. That’s about the extent of the individual positives we can possibly glean from the early portion of this Wizards season.

When the Wizards went 13-20 from Dec. 30 through March 8 a season ago, they had the merit of a 22-8 start to fall back upon. They’re now 16 percent through the regular season and have a losing record. It seems as though a players-only meeting is on the cusp, and one of two things generally follows a players-only meeting: 1) The team figures things out and goes on a run or 2) The coach gets fired. I don’t see Wittman getting fired any time soon. Then again, this ranks among the worst of times in his tenure because not only is the team a flaming bag of dog shit at the moment, but the Wizards were supposed to be pretty damn good this year. Not only did they just get blown out by the Celtics just two days after an historic collapse against the Hornets and three days after allowing an historic performance by the Pacers, but six of their seven losses have come by double digits. They’ve already suffered two separate three-game losing streaks; last year, their first three-game losing streak began on the last game of December via a road trip against the Mavericks, Thunder, and Spurs. Last season’s “rock bottom” came during the grind of a season, when the Wizards were simply slumping.

Now, the Wizards might simply be off to a rocky start. They have a new offense they’re putting in place and clearly lacking the personnel to make it work, but at the same time they look ticked off and aloof, and they’re calling each other out left and right. Already. We might not know what rock bottom is just yet. And this isn’t like a LeBron James-led team that is mediocre for the first fifth of the season or so, then goes .700 the rest of the way and cakewalks into the Finals — Washington hasn’t dramatically overhauled the roster and really has no excuse to be getting blown out in ways like this.

The first time the Wizards played the Celtics this season they lost 118-98. Friday night, they lost 111-78. That’s 229-176 over two games against a team that went 40-42 a year ago and whose most significant addition was probably Amir Johnson. The Wizards lost Paul Pierce, who was in many ways a steadying hand when shit hit the fan, and Kevin Seraphin, but they added Jared Dudley and Gary Neal, who have been among the team’s few offensive sparks.

No, what it really all comes down to is Wall. Ignore the numbers for now; there is plenty of time for analytical breakdowns, and there is plenty of it already available on these fine pages. Just by the eye test, Wall looks worse than he has in years. His body language is horrible, he’s taking plays off with alarming frequency, and his desire, of all things, seems lacking. That’s never been an issue with him, despite what one former ESPN radio host might suggest. Wall’s character has long been one of his most alluring features.

But throughout Friday’s game, Wall seemed totally content bringing the ball upcourt, kicking off an early pass to Beal or Porter, and spending the remainder of the possession lurking on the wing. That’s not his game, like even a little, and it renders the offense totally stagnant (sound familiar?). On defense, he was not the long, disruptive force he has emerged as in recent years, instead opting to casually dwell in the general vicinity of his man while four lesser defenders struggled to contain four mediocre Boston offensive players.

Wall is certainly not the only problem with the Wizards right now, and this 2015-16 season is obviously young and very much alive. But they’ve have been bad plenty of times before, including for the vast majority of Wall’s career, and he’s so often been the one bright light in a tunnel of dark and desolate D.C. sports putridity. We just haven’t seen Wall play poorly like he is now in quite some time, and we’re so used to him being the one saving grace that it’s rather jarring when he doesn’t emerge from the pit of despair to put the team on his back.

This most recent disaster ended (in all but tangible result) almost immediately after the opening tip. Wall started things off with a long 2 that missed, then Beal added a tough midrange banker from the left side that inspired what would later prove to be false hope. That was indicative not only of how the remainder of the quarter would go, but also of how the game would gradually and painfully play out. Beal finished the first quarter with 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting and one turnover; the rest of the Wizards finished with seven points on 1-for-12 shooting and five turnovers, though Wall did add four assists. The remaining three quarters featured much of the same, but Beal could not maintain his 44-point pace and managed just five points the rest of the way. Wall was good for just two assists after the first quarter, and the Wizards, who shot 30 percent from the field in the opening period, improved to just 32.1 percent for the game.

Humphries continued his remarkably ugly start to the season, finishing scoreless, again, to go with four rebounds in just 13 minutes of action. Thanks to Otto Porter picking up two early fouls and a third one shortly after returning to the floor, along with another tweak to Nene’s calf muscle, everybody’s favorite DeJuan made it onto the court in the first quarter — he didn’t embarrass himself, for a change, and actually managed five rebounds in 15 minutes. Jared Dudley was one of the few bright spots, piling up 19 points on just nine shots thanks to 3-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc and 6-for-7 free throw shooting, and he seemed determined to bring the Wizards back into the game in the third quarter. Dudley went 4-for-4 (3-for-3 from deep) with two rebounds for 11 points while playing every second of the period, in which Washington was outscored by just five. It was the only quarter the Wizards shot at least 40 percent (.471), and it was the only period they really had any hope.

The fourth quarter, well, we’re just not going to talk about it. Kelly Oubre played every second. We’ll leave it at that.

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Bryan Frantz
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Bryan is a D.C. native with a degree in something or other from UNC. He has important, interesting hobbies, but mostly he just weeps over D.C. sports teams. You can find him on the Metro, inevitably complaining about Red Line delays.