By George, Paul and CJ Shoot for Miles — Wizards vs Pacers, DC Council 11 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

By George, Paul and CJ Shoot for Miles — Wizards vs Pacers, DC Council 11

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Updated: November 25, 2015

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards vs. Pacers, Game 11, Nov. 24, 2015 at the Verizon Center, via Kyle Weidie (@truth_about_it).

M.V.P.

Make or miss league, huh? Sometimes. And sometimes it’s easier to make when you are 6-foot-9 with amazing handles, have multiplied confidence arisen from a shattered leg, and have a teammate equally capable of catching fire.

Paul George dropped 40 on the Wizards in just 19 shots (7-8 from deep, and 5-6 from the charity stripe). He added 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. He’s back, folks. And he’s a shooter who’s just taller than the other guys.

Don’t worry, it’s not that simple. Or is it?

NBA.com player tracking data conveys that George went 9-for-10 on contested shots (with a defender within 3.5 feet) and 5-for-9 on shots not as hotly contested. The 3.5-foot range of demarcation is rather arbitrary. George made his first seven attempts of the game. Otto Porter was within 4, 5, and 3.7 feet of three of them; Bradley Beal was within 2.4 and 3.8 feet of two of them; and Marcin Gortat was within 4 feet of one. Only one of George’s first six attempts was, by definition, contested, but those others were very close distances when considering the tremendous length of NBA players. But George was also pulling up from deep, deep. Three of those first six makes, which set the tone for the night, were 3-pointers. The NBA 3-point line around the arc is 22 feet, 1.75 inches. George’s attempts were from 27.5, 25, and 25.1 feet. Far out, bruh.

For the game, George’s “closest defender” field goal results: Porter (5-6), Beal (4-5), Gortat (2-2), Neal (1-2), Temple (1-2), Wall (0-1), and even Kelly Oubre (1-1)—the last versus the Wizards’ rookie so PG could get his forty.

Said George after the game: “I feel great out there. Well, honestly I just feel like I had a year to work on my game. Most of the time, players get a good two or three months in the summer to get better. I had a full year of sitting out and just getting better, and just learning because I knew the changes we were going with. They definitely put pieces around me to succeed and it is my job to take us there.”

The feeling great part was quite evident, as much as it was evident that Otto Porter is still a year or two away from being a top-notch defender (whether it be via more strength, more respect from the referees, or both), and that the only other rostered player physically capable of checking a player like George is Kelly Oubre, who is at least three years away from being a respectable defensive presence. And Jared Dudley, while a smart defender, is not in the athletic realm of someone like George. It be’s like that sometimes.

X-Factor.

CJ Miles is Indiana’s real stretch 4, despite the resistance and media hoopla surrounding Paul George playing that spot. Miles, a 6-foot-6 wing who’s a career 35 percent 3-point shooter (and in his 11th NBA season), started out being guarded by Kris Humphries and reciprocated the defensive relationship in return.

Miles attempted and made three 3-pointers in the game’s first five minutes. Humphries was the closest-yet-so-far-away defender on all of them. His first shot was simply testing the water. The data tells us that Miles possessed the ball for 5.6 seconds and dribbled four times while his realization he was being checked by the bigger, slower Humphries fueled his confidence. Miles fired the ball 25 feet away from the basket with Humphries 4.4 feet away. Made it.

The next two shots were of the catch-and-shoot variety. Miles didn’t dribble, only held the ball for 0.7 seconds on each. It was clear that Humphries realized that he should be conscious of his man’s capabilities, but he gave too much space nonetheless—he was tracked as 4.6 and 5.7 feet away from Miles’ next two 3-point makes. Humphries was soon after removed from the game and only saw four minutes of spot duty over the rest of the night, as Jared Dudley was inserted to start the second half. To that end, Miles went 1-for-6 when Dudley was the closest defender. But the opening damage had been done. Miles went 8-for-9 from deep overall, scoring 32 points on 16 shots and getting buckets on a variety of Wizards wanding in his direction.

Asked about his halftime insertion of Dudley for Humphries, Randy Wittman said, “It was a better matchup, I just felt. Nothing more than that … Just a gut feeling to try to get a different look to start the second half.” Pushed for an answer on if that’s a move the coach might consider making going into games when facing lineups like the Pacers starters, Wittman kept it brief: “Yea, we could look at that.”

L.V.P.

John Wall was minus-24 on the night—perfect symmetry with the plus-24 of Pacers star Paul George. This is the third game in the last six where Wall’s plus/minus has been in the negative twenties. He was minus-20 in last Saturday’s win over Detroit and minus-24 in the Nov. 10 loss to the Thunder. Aside from the number of turnovers (8 versus Indiana), nothing in Wall’s game has been in-your-face concerning. But he also appears to be running on regular old unleaded instead of premium. Although, he did hit three of four 3-point attempts.

“It’s been up-and-down. It’s frustrating for me. I mean, I think I was playing well at first today, but then only had nine shots in 30 minutes. It gets frustrating, but it’s all a part of me just trying to make the right reads and find guys,” Wall said when asked to assess his season to-date before giving credit to Indiana’s defense. He finished with 18 points on 5-for-9 field goals and 5-for-5 free throws with 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 8 turnovers, 0 steals, and 0 blocks.

Wall was also asked how he was doing physically. “Doing what I can do. Doing what I can do. I don’t make complaints. I played through a broken hand so I’ll be alright,” he said before releasing a curious chuckle as his postgame session with the media concluded.

It’s clear that Wall and his Wizards are going through some things. Thankfully or not thankfully, it’s a long season.

That Game was … A dazzling offensive duel turned into a sloppy, deer-in-headlights mess.

Wall botched the last play of the first half. Randy Wittman, appearing frustrated but totally at peace with having to remit another crucial possession to superstar chance, turned his back to get a head start on his halftime piss, frequently glancing back to peep the result. The result was Wall overextending time-and-space limits at that particular moment with a dribble to almost lose the ball out of bounds. He had to scramble just to get it to a teammate back in play. The game of hot potato on a Slip-and-Slide concluded with a rushed Gary Neal shot that pinged off the side of the backboard.

Of all the moments that add up to make a basketball game, this one was closer to the meaningless end of the spectrum. The first 24 minutes were over and the Wizards, by one valid measure, succeeded. George and Miles were throwing Velcro darts at a soft and welcoming thicket of material comprising the basket at which point the darts caught fire, scorching twine like a controlled forest burn. Through it all, the Wizards were just down one point, 61-62. They’d thrown some of those fire darts themselves—seven different Wizards attempted a 3 in the first half, and six different Wizards made a 3; collectively, they went 9-for-17 (53%) from deep.

But then the third quarter came and no amount of halftime #WittmanJava could change the previously set tone. Wall committed 4 of his 8 turnovers in the period—some were sloppy lobs of the ball up court in an effort to push pace, some were the result of George knowing Wall’s preferred passing lane on a particular play. Beal retreated into a smothering defense that ran several Pacers at him, and the Wizards went 1-for-8 from deep, getting outscored 31-21 in the period. George picked up where he left of with 16 third quarter points.

The Wizards just didn’t have it. They froze. Several second half wide-open 3-point attempts were missed with no defenders in sight—a defender 16.3 feet away (Beal), 11.7 feet away (Beal), 7.7 feet away (Porter), 8.9 feet away (Dudley), and 6.7 feet away (Dudley). Make or miss league, my friends.

Three Things We Saw.

#1) Two opposing teammates each scored more than 30 points in the Verizon Center—George with 40 and Miles with 32. The times that has happened to the Wizards in D.C. since John Wall entered the league:

  • Kevin Durant scored 34 and Russell Westbrook 32 in a Thunder win on Jan. 21, 2014.
  • Jerryd Bayless and Linas Kleiza each scored 30 in a Wizards win over the Raptors on Feb. 6, 2012.
  • Westbrook scored 36 and Durant 33 in a Wizards win on Jan. 18, 2012.
  • LeBron James scored 35 and Dwyane Wade scored 33 in a Heat win on Mar. 30, 2011.

#2) Gary Neal was Spurs Gary Neal in 29 minutes off the bench, scoring 23 points on 5-for-8 from long distance. The last time Neal made five or more 3s in a game: Dec. 10, 2012—he went 7-for-10 as a starter in a 134-126 Spurs overtime win versus the Rockets.

#3) Before the game, Pacers coach Frank Vogel said that he looks at lineup data “a lot.” His main, spread-the-floor unit of George Hill, Monta Ellis, Paul George, CJ Miles, and Ian Mahinmi (Indiana’s normal starters and last night’s starters), however, fielded a very poor NetRtg of minus-14.9 over 98 minutes heading into the contest. Versus the Wizards that crew went plus-12 over 18 minutes and put up a NetRtg of plus-37.9. They NetRtg on the season was cut in half, in a positive direction, and now sits at minus-7.0. My, how one game can drastically flip the script in the theater of small sample sizes.


 

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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.