Key Legislature: Wizards 97 at Pistons 95 — Two Plus Two Equals Five | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 97 at Pistons 95 — Two Plus Two Equals Five

Updated: November 23, 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 Pistons, Regular Season Game 10, Nov. 21, 2015, by Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)

Five seconds is an eternity in the NBA. Five seconds is long enough to watch the play develop in front of you and either attempt to run it or call a timeout. As an NBA player, you might spend an extra second of that considering where you are headed to after the game, or the series of events that have led you to this moment. You might consider your shoe deal. However, rarely do you expect the refs to blow the whistle on a five-second violation with the outcome of the game still very much in doubt. At the very least, you’d expect to receive all five of your allotted seconds.

On Saturday night with 9.2 seconds remaining in the game and the Wizards clinging to a precarious two-point lead over the Pistons in Detroit, the referees blew a five-second violation on Otto Porter and left Coach Randy Wittman apoplectic on the sidelines. Porter, as in the inbounder, had enough time to fake one inbounds pass to Bradley Beal before turning to his second option, John Wall in the backcourt. It was at that moment that the refs whistled Porter for five seconds and promptly gave the ball back to the Pistons with a chance to either tie or take the lead.

With the aid of replay, we can note that even if you tried to count “five Mississippi” as fast as possible while leaving off the ending P-I, you wouldn’t blow the whistle on poor Otto as fast as they did. Porter’s face couldn’t even betray rage but registered somewhere between grim resignation and blank befuddlement. He was cheated of his final second (the NBA later acknowledged the error in its Last Two Minute Report), and it was that act of blatant thievery that could been the “sliding doors” moment of Mr. Porter’s career.

Or perhaps not.

But it was Otto who had to overcome the slings and arrows of referee bias and ultimately find himself guarding Detroit’s final shot—a 3-point attempt by Marcus Morris that would have sealed a win for the Pistons. Porter covered the ground between Ersan Ilyasova and Morris, leaping out to close down the latter player who received the ball at the top of the key. Morris created just enough room with a head fake to launch a 3, but it touched nothing but air on its way to the basket. On that play, two things of note should be recognized:

  1. Porter had to cover an ungodly amount of space to leap out and guard Morris. He literally sprinted six feet in less than a second to be in time to disrupt the shot.
  2. Porter didn’t commit the cardinal Wizards sin of fouling a spotty shooter behind the 3-point line. Formerly known as the Al Thornton Special and now called the Garrett Temple Special, it would have been easy for Porter to allow his momentum to carry him into Morris. Instead, he kept his hands up just enough to disrupt the shot.

Porter was allowed his redemption but getting angry at the zebras is a losing proposition; in any case, the Wizards had performed poorly enough throughout the game to deserve a loss, but it did seem that the stars were aligned against them for most of the evening. Besides the phantom five count, there was also a moment where the clock simply did not run, giving the Pistons an additional 10 seconds of time with the ball. That and the fact that the Palace at Auburn Hills is built upon an ancient burial ground of the Kardashians—thus rendering Kris Humphries completely ineffective.

In the end, the time-based shenanigans in this contest will have little effect on the Wizards, who crawled two games over .500 on the backs of the ageless Nene and perpetual journeyman Ramon Sessions. But the game would have been lost if not for Porter’s ability to cover six feet in less than the time it takes to say “one Mississippi.”


  • Andre Drummond’s streak of double-doubles was brought to a crashing halt, which is due in large part to the inability of the Pistons to get him the ball rather than any particular defensive acumen by the Wizards. Drummond only had six shot attempts on the night but bullied his way on both ends of the glass against the Wizards frontline. He was even wide open on final play but his teammates could not find him.
  • Nene was the MVP of the game with his 18-point performance and feisty hands, but his play resulted in some unintentional JaVale McGee PTSD. As much as one trusts Nene’s veteran savvy, one also has to openly question whether it is ever a good idea for Nene to take the ball all the way down the court and attempt a layup by his lonesome.
  • Kris Humphries had the opposite night of Nene and another ineffective night after his breakout performance against the Magic. The issue right now is that the Humphries experiment as a stretch 4 is still yielding more negatives (0-7 FGs and 0-4 3PTs), while neutering Humphries where he used to thrive in (getting the basketball on cuts or 18 feet from the hoop). There just isn’t enough consistency with Humphries shooting right not to continue feeding him the ball behind the arc, but Randy Wittman appears content to ride or die with his experiment.
  • Finally, the Marcin Gortat watch continues. Gortat took a beautiful feed by Wall to put the Wizards up by five with about a minute remaining but otherwise continued his season long disappearing act after erupting in the first quarter. His line of minus-22 stands out among the starters as the biggest eyesore (Nene finished plus-24), and it doesn’t appear that Wittman “calling him out” has helped Gortat find an uptick in his game.

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Sean Fagan
Reporter / Writer/Gadfly at TAI
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Sean has contributed to TAI since the the dawn of Jan Vesely and has been on the Wizards beat since 2008. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo and He still believes that Mike Miller never got a fair shot.