Chris Paul Colors Washington Between the Lines — Wizards vs Clippers, DC Council 29 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Chris Paul Colors Washington Between the Lines — Wizards vs Clippers, DC Council 29

Updated: December 29, 2015

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards vs. Clippers, Game 29, Dec. 28, 2015, via Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It).


I’m pretty sure Chris Paul didn’t read my gameday contribution to a 3-on-3 roundtable at ClipperBlog which touted my near-defiant siding with John Wall in matchups between the two point gawds today, and going forward. I’m pretty sure Paul simply had a quite clear memory of their previous matchup in Washington, in which Wall bested Paul and upon which was the basis of my written assessment.

I was way wrong. Go figure.

On a dreary, rainy and hazy Monday in D.C. (1), Chris Paul was the artist who created the intricate, within-the-lines pattern contained amongst countless unalike pages in a massive adult coloring book. That is, he scored 23 points with five rebounds, seven assists, and two turnovers; he had six points, four assists, and three rebounds by the midway point of the first quarter; he sat for the last 15 minutes of game action (27:27 of total court time); Chris Paul sort of dunked the ball, twice.

Meanwhile, John Wall tried to show he was a star who could compete with stellar individual skills of various ilk in the early going, while Paul simply dictated the pattern of the game. Wall missed a jumper off the dribble versus Paul in the first 30 seconds; Paul countered by forcing the switch that he wanted and nailing a jumper over Kelly Oubre. Once, still early in the first quarter, Paul back-cut Wall, badly, but didn’t even force an attempt from a disadvantaged position under the basket, instead weaved yarn until catching DeAndre Jordan resting his teeth on the rim with a pinpoint pass. For his next act, Paul rebounded his own miss from 17 feet … and then played creationist pulling Jordan like a camel through the eye of the needle to sew another basket for Los Angeles. After Paul’s third assist for Jordan’s third bucket at point blank range, giving the Clippers an 11-2 lead—still in the first quarter—Randy Wittman called timeout. Then, oddly, they just called the game. The rest was merely mindless consumerism of entertainment in the form of unscripted professional sports trying to be that episode in a series that goes really slowly because things need to be explained and lessons need to be learned.

All due to Chris Paul’s memory, and, I’m guessing, John Wall’s lack of one on this evening.

L.V.W. (Least Valuable Wall)

What John Wall has to deal with is not only being judged against his matchup—and games against big names are extra important to him, no matter what he says—but Wall must also be judged against a better John Wall.

There are countless basketball incidents which influence how a game starts and what results from there. What we know is that either John Wall can greatly influence that, or not.

Sure, Wall’s statline of 23 points (10-23 FGs), 11 assists, five rebounds, and six turnovers looks like it competed with Paul’s game. And there were many, many times out on the court where Wall was trying more than anyone else. But more often, Wall’s high usage rate and good intentions led to wasted possessions.

Wall’s Usage Percentage (2) for the season is 28.6 percent, ranked 18th in the NBA and second-highest of his career after 29.3 percent in his third season (3). The Wizards, however, are now 2-11 when Wall’s Usage% is greater than 29.0, 12-6 when it’s 29.0 or below. On Monday, Wall’s game Usage% was 35.5, his third-highest of the season. Sure, Wall’s first- and fourth-highest Usage% games of the season came in a Dec. 1 win in Cleveland and in a Dec. 19 win over the Hornets at home, but even with Bradley Beal out the Wizards normally won’t be as successful with Wall so ball dominant—there’s a point of diminishing returns. Paul, whose season Usage% is 25.4, dominated on Monday with a 39.6 Usage%, his highest of the season.

Conclusion: Usage Percentage, really? Clearly it’s not about how high it may be, but about the savvy of the point guard, well, using it. And in this single-serving game that was not snackable in any way for the Washington Wizards, Wall was less valuable than Walls of yore.

Dishonorable Mention: Marcin Gortat, after being named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, tied his season-high with 16 rebounds, but he only took (and made) two shots at the rim, went 2-for-8 on bunnies otherwise in the paint, and 1-for-3 on shots outside of the paint. Gortat and Wall both spearheaded overall defensive confusion that allowed Paul and Jordan to reign free; other Wizards responsible for rotating followed in the confusion, and it stayed that way for much of the night, whether it was two stars running the action or a poor man’s bench unit in Austin Rivers and Cole Aldrich. Gortat exited the arena before speaking to the media after the game.


In another universe, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Garrett Temple, Jr. are able to counter, or even match, the efforts of Wesley Johnson and Jamal Crawford off the bench. In this universe, Oubre and Temple started for the Wizards while Johnson and Crawford combined for 35 points on 14-for-20 shooting (14, 5-8 and 21, 9-19, respectively), off the bench. Oubre went 2-for-6 with five points, and was often targeted as a weak link by Chris Paul’s offense, and Temple went 2-for-9 with six points. Temple’s shots, following the lead of tone-setting teammates, came more from a spin of roulette-wheel confidence, as opposed to actual strategy. After 0-for-4 shooting in the first half, the first play of the second half found itself resulting in a Temple 3-point attempt (fed by Wall). He missed, but the Wizards (Wall) got the offensive rebound. Within four seconds Wall fired up an open 3, just because he could but also grasping for anything from range to get his team’s (or just his) shooting confidence started. Wasn’t the best course of action, he missed.

Jared Dudley, we’ll also note, was way off his game. You can read his comments about it and Dudley’s thoughts about Doc Rivers and his departure from L.A. in 2014 in this other TAI post.

That Game Was … A lesson in Washington’s ceiling.

Which is shooting, because when shots are going in, it’s the easiest and best way to win. But when the shots don’t go easily go in, watch out, because these Wizards will now have a tough time grinding out wins otherwise—they are 1-10 when shooting below 45 percent (or 1-10 when sporting an eFG% below .500).

Randy Wittman’s grand assessment went like this:

“To start the game in the first quarter we let our ineffectiveness offensively affect our defense. In the first quarter we missed a lot of shots that’d been going down, and we let it suck the air out of us.”

The ever-insightful Jared Dudley wasn’t far off in his assessment:

“I thought they did a great job of confusing us. They put (Luc) Mbah A Moute on me, they switched all screen-and-rolls, and having DJ (DeAndre Jordan) back there anchor it really was a huge adjustment for us. He was playing soft, we missed some shots we would normally make, controlling the paint affected that and that carried over defensively.”

Before the game, Wittman said he expected to see the Clippers run even more pick-and-rolls with Blake Griffin out. On the season, the Clippers are ranked 14th in frequency that a play ends in the pick-and-roll ball handlers hands (17.2%, the Wizards are ranked 12th at 17.8%, per, and the Clippers are ranked fourth in times that action ends up in the roll man’s hands (8.4%, the Wizards are ranked 16th at 7.0%). After the game the Wizards’ coach was asked if his team executed defending the pick-and-roll how he’d wanted:

“First quarter we were too soft defensively in our coverages instead of being the aggressor. We let (Chris) Paul and DeAndre (Jordan) dictate what they wanted to do and we can’t do that. You got to dictate to them what they’re going to do in that.”

And Dudley:

“We’ve been having our point guard and center, John (Wall) and (Marcin) Gortat, control the two [Paul and Jordan], so we can stay home on shooters, and early on DJ made us pay— a couple slips, a couple lobs. And then we started helping out.”

Dudley, in his postgame comments, continued to credit the Clippers with going small and switching everything. This was another instance, in addition to the Grizzlies game in Memphis, where a team newly enacting a small ball scheme (out of injuries or necessity), while the Wizards have been aiming to do it all season, has been able to give Washington’s offense trouble. Dudley:

“Offensively, no real rhythm and flow, because they switched a lot of the stuff like that, and that’s something that teams, if they have the personnel, will probably start to do. And that’s something we’ll have to make the adjustment.”

Dudley went on to highlight how, with Mbah a Moute capable of switching, the Clippers were able to solve the seemingly easy puzzle of Washington’s offense, but that Toronto (Wednesday’s opponent), with Luis Scola, doesn’t switch as much. We shall see. The Raptors were surely watching the game film; can the Wizards adjust to keep a step ahead of the competition? Stay tuned, and stay woke.

  1. I, for one, would like to know Washington’s record during weeknight games on rainy days. Perhaps sometimes in-game weatherman and continued Martell Webster jersey number-wearer, WUSA CBS Channel 9’s Topper Shutt, whose mannerisms remind me of one Michael Scott from “The Office,” could get on those analytics.
  2. Usage Percentage (Usage%) is “an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor, per
  3. The 2012-13 season in which Wall missed most of the beginning with a stress injury but came on like gangbusters in his final 49 games.
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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 currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.