Done in By the 3 in the Big Easy — Wizards at Pelicans, DC Council 21 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Done in By the 3 in the Big Easy — Wizards at Pelicans, DC Council 21

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Updated: December 12, 2015

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards vs Pelicans, Game 21, Dec. 11, 2015, via Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace).

M.V.P.

NBA League Pass, you the real M.V.P. Thank god we live in the internet era. Growing up, if you wanted to know the outcome of the Golden State-Boston game, you had to call the George Michael Sports Machine hotline. Now, you simply pause the Wizards-Pelicans game in the third quarter, watch the Warriors double-OT victory, then hit play on Buckhantz and Chenier as if you never left.

Anyway, back to the events at Smoothie King Center. Washington lost in familiar fashion, giving up an ungodly percentage of 3-point shots (16-for-27) and failing to execute down the stretch. But the loss does not fall on John Wall’s shoulders. Wall, as has been the case all December, was spectacular. He scored 26 points (10-for-18 FG) with 12 assists and seven rebounds. It was not just the stats. Wall controlled the tempo of the game and was masterful in the pick-and-roll and set up teammates with controlled drives to the rim, resulting in several easy shots for Jared Dudley, DeJuan Blair and Marcin Gortat.

If there is one quibble, it’s the turnovers (5). But that’s to be expected when you ask one man to carry an entire basketball team.

On the other side of the ball, Tyreke Evans did his best James Harden impersonation. Evans, like Harden on Wednesday night, was coming off a horrific game in his previous outing (0 points, 0-for-5 FG, five turnovers). Evans, like Harden, made a concerted effort to bounce back versus Washington. Tyreke dropped an easy 27 points on 10-for-18 shooting (5-for-6 3PT), with seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Evans is not a great 3-point shooter but he pulled up with confidence all night and the shots kept falling.

L.V.P.

Perimeter defense. Washington’s opponents’ 3-point shooting has been astounding. Part of it has to do with weak-side defenders sagging into the lane too often and for too long and part of it has to do with ridiculously hot shooting. Whatever the reason, the 3-point shooting deficit is too much to overcome, especially when long-range shooting is supposed to be your specialty.

Case in point: Washington shot 12-for-27 3PT (44.4%) versus New Orleans. That’s a great percentage on a high volume. But it does not help much when your opponent shoots 16-for-27 (59.3%).

Garrett Temple stated the obvious after the game: “We have to find a way to stop teams from making so many 3-pointers.”

X-Factor.

It’s no secret that Jared Dudley is outmatched against most power forwards in the league. But Anthony Davis presents a bigger mismatch than most. With Omer Asik starting at center opposite Gortat, Dudley was tasked with keeping the ball away from one of the most skilled scorers in the game. Jared was up to the challenge. He fronted Davis on every possession and Gortat, who was free to help off of Asik, provided aggressive help over the top. The strategy worked. Dudley held Davis to 1-for-3 shooting and drew an offensive foul on the big man in the opening nine minutes of the game. Davis did not get rolling offensively until he started hitting jumpers over Gortat after Dudley went to the bench. Dudley ended the game with four steals, several coming off of entry passes to Davis.

Having said all those good things about Dudley, he failed to secure a loose ball late in the game that would have given Washington several more seconds on their final possession. New Orleans had the ball up 106-105 with 10.3 seconds remaining when Tyreke Evans inbounded the ball to Jrue Holiday. Holiday tried to pass to Davis in the paint but Otto tipped the ball into Dudley’s hands. Dudley could not secure possession and the refs called a jump ball between him and Holiday.

Despite the height advantage in favor of Dudley, Jrue won the tip and Washington was forced to foul Tyreke Evans. Evans only made one of two free throws and the Wizards gained possession with 4.7 seconds remaining in a two point game. It’s hard to place too much blame on Dudley since Gary Neal ended up with a solid midrange look to tie the game, but it never hurts to have a few extra seconds in those late game situations.

That Game Was … Pretty, Pretty Small.

They say necessity is the mother of all inventions. With all of Washington’s injuries, Randy Wittman has been forced into a lot of inventive lineups. With five minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Wizards leading 97-95, Wittman trotted out a lineup that would have been unthinkable last season: Wall, Gary Neal, Ramon Sessions, Otto Porter, and Dudley. New Orleans countered with an almost as diminutive lineup of Ish Smith, Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, and Anthony Davis. And so they danced, until Gortat entered the game with 43 seconds remaining.

Wittman’s wholehearted embrace of small ball—whether by choice or by force—is still a sight to behold for long-time Wittman watchers. This is the new normal for Washington, no matter how abnormal it seems.

Three Things We Saw.

#1) As if the film needed any more hype, several NBA teams have hosted “Star Wars” night during recent games. Friday night was New Orleans’ turn. Steve Buckhantz did his part.

#2) Friday night began with distressing news from the Wizard locker room. Bradley Beal was inactive due to soreness in his right leg—the same leg that previously had a stress fracture. Randy Wittman assured that the DNP was precautionary, but J. Michael of CSN reported during the game telecast that Beal’s availability for the remainder of the road trip is unknown and he reported after the game that Beal will undergo further testing. It’s all speculation at this point, but the team’s track record in these matters is not inspiring.

#3) Garrett Temple was thrust into the starting lineup at the last minute and played relatively well in Beal’s absence. He took six 3-pointers (making two of them) and swiped three steals. But it remains to be seen how well Washington’s offense can run without a true shooting guard who can manufacture his own shot. Without Beal, Gary Neal is the only scorer in the back-court. It is asking a lot of John Wall to not only score 20 points per game, but also manufacture shots for every other player on the court (not named Neal).

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Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.