Key Legislature: Wizards 106 vs Heat 87 — Wizards Are The Healthy Ones For Once | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 106 vs Heat 87 — Wizards Are The Healthy Ones For Once

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Updated: January 21, 2016

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 vs. Heat, Regular Season Game 41, Jan. 20, 2016, by Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace) from the Verizon Center, D.C.

Charles Barkley often talks about “schedule wins”—meaning the regular season is a grind and when a team is playing its third game in four nights on a cold and snowy evening in late January without two of its best players (Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic) and loses two more top players during the game (Hassan Whiteside and Luol Deng), then sometimes a team takes the night off. This game felt like one of those nights.

Not to take anything away from Washington—who played aggressive defense (forcing 20 turnovers), shot well from the field (52.3% FG), and put its foot on the gas pedal in the fourth quarter (keeping the lead at 17 points or more for the entire final period)—but this Heat team just didn’t have it in them.

After the game Chris Bosh spoke sullenly about the current state of his injury-ravaged team: “With our situation, we are gonna drop [in the Eastern Conference standings], we know that. It just can’t be too far. The way things are going, I just want to get to the All-Star break and then regroup and talk about everything else after that.”

Doesn’t sound like a team that is mentally prepared to grind out wins on the road when four of their top players are wearing street clothes or injured during a game.

Randy Wittman, for his part, wanted no talk about Miami’s injuries. When asked about playing against a shorthanded team, Randy quipped, “Like us? I don’t want to hear about anybody else’s problems. We have enough of our own problems.”

The Great Nene-Gortat Debate.

For the second straight game, Nene and Gortat played meaningful minutes together. Against Portland it was eight minutes and against Miami it was a whopping 16. Wittman commented after the game that he may continue to play the pair together based on matchups.

If you only looked at the final score, you might assume that the front court reunion was successful. If you just watched the first quarter when Washington built a double-digit lead behind the front court stylings of Gortat and Nene, who combined for 13 of the team’s 26 points on a wide variety of low post moves, you might feel the same way.

But the final numbers tell a different story. Washington won the game by 19 points, yet the Wizards were minus-3 during the 16 minutes Nene and Gortat spent on the floor together. Meanwhile, Jared Dudley and Gortat were plus-18 in the 16 minutes they played together.

Having said all that, the front court debate is really a red herring. Wittman has given no indication that he intends to revert to the ways of yesterday, and the lineups of the past two games have been inspired more by injuries (and matchups) than anything else. The good news is that Nene is available to play meaningful minutes and he is back to his regular bruising self.

John Wall Was Upset.

You may have noticed John Wall yelling at his teammates (mostly Gortat) a lot during the game. I asked Jared Dudley what that was about. Dudley explained that since Miami did not have its starting guards, Washington picked up their ball pressure full court. Because of that, Miami broke the play open a couple times and Wall was frustrated when the help defender was late.

Wall mentioned the breakdowns in his post-game interview (“Sometimes we had a little bit of lapses.”), but he did not seem too bothered. It appears to be water under the bridge.

Young Kelly Oubre is Learning Fast.

There was a time earlier in the season when Oubre could not play more than a couple minutes without picking up two fouls. That is not so much of a problem when you are only playing 5-to-10 minutes off the bench, but it becomes a concern when you are playing starter’s minutes.

Wittman talked to Oubre a few weeks ago about the need to play more conservatively when he is in the starting lineup and Oubre took it to heart. I asked Kelly after the game about his defensive evolution:

“You got to be smart. You don’t want to put a team in the penalty. It’s a lot of negative things that come with getting early fouls—one of them being me sitting on the bench. So I was just trying to stay on the court a little longer. If I get two quick ones then I have to come out.”

Oubre said he has not relied on any particular advice from his teammates.

“I’ve just been watching around the league, watching how the refs call the game, and kind of learning as I go.”

One specific area of improvement has been how he contests jumpers. Early in the season he would slap at the ball on the release (often hitting the shooters wrist). Not anymore.

“Just got to go straight up. Don’t try to touch them, no contact, because the refs are looking for that now. Just kind of go straight up and straight down.”

Party Like It’s 2002.

There was an entertaining stretch in the second quarter when Nene and Amar’e Stoudemire went at each other on multiple possessions. I spoke with Amar’e after the game about their vintage showdown:

“It was good, man. We go back since draft day 2002. We are the last of our class, me and Nene, Drew Gooden and those guys. It felt good to compete. It’s a good battle. It’s always about competing at a high level. When you get a chance to compete you have to take advantage of that opportunity.”

Stoudemire finished with a season-high 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting in 20 minutes, and Nene countered with 16 points on 8-for-15 shooting in 26 minutes.

Winter is Coming.

WUSA9’s weatherman Topper Shutt was booed when his pre-recorded forecast shown on the Jumbotron predicted 16-to-30 inches of snow on Saturday. The impending winter storm was the main topic of discussion among team personnel and media after the game. There was speculation as to the status of Saturday night’s game versus the Utah Jazz, which is currently scheduled to tip-off right in the middle of the forecasted historic storm.

Dwyane Wade, who missed the game with shoulder soreness, wore a very elaborately knitted wool sweater to protect him from the very un-Miami-like weather.

Dwyane Wade addressing the media after Washington's 106-87 win over Miami (Photo - A. Rubin -  January 20, 2016)

Dwyane Wade addressing the media after Washington’s 106-87 win over Miami (Photo – A. Rubin – January 20, 2016)

Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
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.