Sweet, Clichéd Revenge — Wizards vs Grizzlies, DC Council 27 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Sweet, Clichéd Revenge — Wizards vs Grizzlies, DC Council 27

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Updated: December 25, 2015

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards vs. Grizzlies, Game 27, Dec. 23, 2015, via Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It).

That Game Was…

It was a cliché game.

Visiting team smacked down the home team at their place, back down South, in Tennessee, about 10 days ago.

Visiting team from the South played on the East Coast the prior night.

The home team had all the reasons to win.

Except this home team, the Washington Wizards, has been anything but consistent, all season. This home team was without two starters (Bradley Beal and Otto Porter), as well as a starter last season in Nene and other counted-upon role players in Drew Gooden and Alan Anderson. Every next game with this home team is a White Elephant gift exchange—you could end up with a nice bottle of alcohol, maybe some wireless speakers … or a re-gifted, name-customized tchotchke from a theme park.

The Wizards started out in this cliché game by missing midrange jumpers, and in this something-or-something league, the Grizzlies made theirs—with an added bonus of a Mike Conley layup. Memphis led 8-2 early. But then Washington responded with a 10-0 run. All it really took was John Wall activating his boosters, maneuvering Jeff Green into a pretzel on the break a couple times, and sealing it with 3-point creations for Garrett Temple and Jared Dudley. The Wizards got up 12-8 and held the advantage until the very end. Washington led by as many as 22 points with 3:34 left in the third quarter, Memphis got as close as seven points with 6:13 left in the game.

The Grizzlies got within seven points late with a mere 6-0 run, generally due to Conley’s efforts. He scored 21 points on a fairly efficient 16 shots on the evening; he scored 18 on 14 shots in Memphis’ previous 17-point win over the Wizards, but also added 11 assists to two turnovers. On Wednesday in Washington, Conley managed just three assists (zero turnovers).

The Wizards, on this particular night, adjusted from prior failings in a particularly cliché manner, you see. They kept Marc Gasol from getting comfortable in his sweet spots (unlike last time) near the top of the key, i.e., Marcin Gortat crowded Gasol and actually contested his shots—it’s a simple game. And Memphis simply could not counter what was taken away enough times. Dudley maximized defensive potential out of the 4 spot, even when the Grizzlies went big and he was forced to matchup versus Zach Randolph. And when he needed help, on several occasions, the right Wizards defender poked enough of a threat to dissuade the action and recovered to make whatever counter resulted a little more difficult.

Overall the Wizards shot 45.1 percent from the field (37-82) and the Grizzlies slightly bested that with 45.8 percent (33-72). Washington, of course, made up for a seven-point deficit in points scored off free throws by outscoring the Grizzlies by 24 points from the 3-point line. Each team attempted 37 contested field goals, per NBA.com’s player tracking stats. Thing is, Memphis made 21 contested shots (56.8%), while Washington made just 16 (43.2%). The difference, in Washington’s overall 10 field goal attempt advantage, came in uncontested shots. The Wizards shot 21-for-45 (46.7%), while the Grizzlies shot 12-for-35 (34.3%). And really, it was role players hitting the uncontested shots for Washington: Kelly Oubre 2-for-3, Jared Dudley 4-for-6, Ramon Sessions 2-for-3, and Kris Humphries 2-for-3. The secret of the NBA: blue collar workers sealing their rivets when the boss ain’t watching. Is that cliché?

M.V.P.

John Wall didn’t shoot well again. Didn’t matter. He was still the driver, the backbone, the M.V.P. Over the last two games he’s tallied 33 assists to nine turnovers (several unnecessary ones, but that’s neither here nor there) and 26 total points (on 9-for-32 shooting—several unnecessary attempts, but that’s neither here nor there again).

Wall’s sixth assist against Memphis, in the first quarter, came on a nasty pass to Gortat at the 3:21 mark. Near the end of the first half, Wall played tough defense on a sometimes engaged, sometimes apathetic Green; the result: an errant pass turnover for the Grizzlies. In the first half of the third quarter, when Washington stepped on the other team’s throat for a change, Wall used a variety of changing directional dribbles and a screen from Gortat to carve an ‘s’ path around non-celestial bodies and navigate a midrange, uncontested shot make from Dudley. Grizzlies’ coach David Joerger lost his shit over this play, presumably because he thought Gortat wasn’t set in his screening (also see: the L.V.P. section).

The way that Wall uses his speed to accelerate back on defense to bother, and often block, shots goes tragically unnoticed at times by mainstreamers. Even when making up for his own mistakes. One of Wall’s cross-court passes was intercepted by Matt Barnes. Wall made up ground—ground no one knew even existed in such a timeframe—to block the shot, which was incorrectly called a goaltend. Wall later got his revenge. After nailing a walk-up 3-pointer with 3:49 left, the type of shot that only really someone like him has the liberty to take, to keep a threatening Memphis at bay (by 13 points after the make), Wall sealed the game with an amazing block of Barnes and recovered the defensive rebound. It was a nail in the coffin. Yes, the Grizzlies were already in the coffin with most of the other nails sealing the lid, but negating a breakaway Barnes layup that would’ve kept the Grizzlies within seven points with 70 seconds left was as important as any other M.V.P.-like act that Maestro Wall conducted in the victory.

L.V.P.

Mario Chalmers, I guess? He played 4:48 before picking up two consecutive technical fouls at the 10:11 mark of the second quarter—after this coach, Joerger, picked up a technical trying to save him. Chalmers was called for an offensive foul after barrelling into a Kris Humphries screen. It was clearly an offensive foul, so immediate frustration was displaced. Maybe it was the culmination of other plays… So early in the game? One could suppose. Joerger picked up his tech almost immediately. Chalmers picked up two en route to the bench. Apparently, he audibly, and literally, asked for the second tech and his holiday wish was granted.

Later in the game, Joerger would again adamantly, and aggressively, protest what he thought were illegal screens (by the aforementioned Gortat). Perhaps because of punishment already doled out, he could do so with impunity. What NBA referee is going to toss a head coach without fair warning? None of it really mattered in the end, except for the fact that Memphis counts on their in-season trade acquisition, Chalmers, to help manufacture backcourt points off the bench. Instead, Vince Carter (once amazing, now merely a man) went 0-for-5 on shots (0-for-4 on 3s), and missed his one shot in the paint at the rim like a legally blind former carpenter putting hammer to thumb. Much respect goes to Carter for understanding the need to adjust his game on the basketball-age timescale—something Allen Iverson refused to do while still nearly capable. However, one scene of Garrett Temple hitting a step-back 3-pointer over Carter in a late-shot clock necessary iso possession—only to have Carter try to answer, but with a hammering brick from deep—was, well, quite a sight to see.

But yea, Chalmers is the L.V.P., because it would be unfair to give it to Carter and because no one on the Wizards really played poorly. Even DeJuan Blair pooted a floater in the hoop, and Gary Neal would be exempt for playing essentially hurt and going 1-for-2 on shots and 3-for-5 on free throws in 16 minutes.

X-Factor.

Baby Kelly Oubre, the NBA’s version of My Little Pony, has always been fun to watch. Even more so when his 3-point shot is falling. But mostly because this particular writer enjoys observing good defenders. Also, Oubre’s seven rebounds (a career-high) exceeded his game foul count for just the sixth time in his 20 NBA appearances. Success! Jared Dudley, after the match, even called the human whom he would only acknowledge as “rookie” one of the team’s better defensive players. Respect.

But Oubre is not the X-factor. Nor was Garrett Temple, even though both are worthy considerations. Temple, for his part in going 8-for-17 on the night, made three of his first four shots in the first quarter. Then he missed five consecutive shots—still within the first quarter. (Yes, Temple went 3-for-9 from the field in the first quarter, the same amount of makes and misses that Marc Gasol had for the entire game.) In the third quarter, never really needing halftime #WittmanJava, Temple went 4-for-5 from the field. And his only two attempts in the final quarter came from behind the arc; he made one: a rather important ATO (after timeout) 3-pointer that put the Wizards back up 10 points after the Grizzlies made that aforementioned 6-0 run to creep within seven points with 6:13 left.

The real X-factor: Jared Dudley. The NBA’s current leader in 3-point percentage (48.7%) shot 4-for-15 (26.6%) over his first seven appearances with the Wizards as he tried to recover from back surgery and get acclimated to the season. Since, Dudley has shot 34-for-63 from deep (53.9%). He only hit 1-of-2 versus Memphis. But it wasn’t the 3s, it was Dudley’s textbook boxing out; it was his defensive communication that John Wall credited after the game; it was his partaking in the variety of 50/50 offensive rebounds the Wizards were somehow able to procure. (Washington doubled-up Memphis on the offensive glass, 12-6.)

Worth watching, in conclusion: Dudley, after the win, getting insightful about defensive adjustments that Randy Wittman has recently made, helping the Wizards achieve their current three-game winning streak:

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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.