Key Legislature: Wizards 113 vs Nuggets 117 — Last One In, Please Close the Door | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 113 vs Nuggets 117 — Last One In, Please Close the Door

Updated: January 29, 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. Bullets vs. Nuggets, Regular Season Game 44, Jan. 28, 2016, by Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace) from the Verizon Center, D.C.

The Washington Wizards finally showed a sense of urgency Thursday night. Unfortunately, it happened 10 minutes after their game against the Denver Nuggets, a loss, ended in a closed-door, players-only meeting.

Bradley Beal would not reveal any specific changes that were discussed, other than to say, “We know what we need to do now moving forward, and we are going to do it,” but the players’ post-game comments gave an indication of what was discussed.

1.) Defense—or lack thereof.

Randy Wittman acknowledged what everyone is seeing in his post-game comments: “We are waiting until the point of being embarrassed before we start playing hard from a defensive standpoint.”

Interestingly (and disturbingly), Byron Scott, as reported by TNT’s David Aldridge, said the exact same thing about his Lakers team after getting blown out by the Bulls in the first half Thursday night: “Why do we always have to be down 15 points before you guys start playing hard?”

The players echoed Wittman’s sentiment. To a man, they each said that defense has been the problem the last couple weeks.

Garrett Temple:

“We’re not playing defense the way we’re capable of. We have to fix it before it’s too late.”

John Wall:

“Defense. We can score with the best of them. …We don’t do a great job of getting stops when we need to. We play defense for the first half, and then in the third quarter we get down 15-to-20 points.”

Jared Dudley:

“Defensively, we have to start holding each other accountable. That starts with me helping these guys out more defensively. … Players are going to have to hold each other accountable during games more to be able to get under guys, and that’s something I’ll do a better job of going forward.”

Dudley was the only player who suggested that the team’s poor offense is affecting their defense:

“Our defense is sputtering. A little bit is because we are not playing hard enough. A little bit is because our offense is so bad at times, we’re turning the ball over and they are coming at us full speed.”

2.) Playoffs Are a Privilege, Not a Right.

After diagnosing the problem, the players acknowledged a stark reality: if things do not change, Washington will be on the outside of the playoffs looking in come April.

Jared Dudley:

“We can’t keep coming into this locker room talking about inconsistency because April 15 we’ll all be back at the crib.”

John Wall:

“It’s to the breaking point where you either want to be in the playoffs or you want to be sitting at home. Everybody can make excuses about us being injured, but we have a lot of guys that step up and play big roles.”

Garrett Temple:

“In a few games come All-Star break, if we continue to play like we’re going to play, then it’s going to be too late.”

3.) The Solution: Play Harder.

While Washington’s defensive execution has not been great, the general consensus is that it’s from a lack of effort, not execution.

John Wall:

“Breakdowns are going to happen. You got to help and recover and be there for that person. I think at times we lack that, and teams get too many easy baskets and wide-open shots that they shouldn’t.”

4.) Confidence remains.

Lest anyone think the season is lost, Wall, Beal, and Temple each remain confident that this season’s incarnation of the Wizards can recreate the magic, if you will, of the past two seasons.

Garrett Temple:

“I still have the same level of confidence [as the last two years] because of the guys in this room, because of what we’ve been able to do. Put together four-game winning streaks here, three-game winning streaks there. I have the confidence because of the type of guys we have in this room.”

Bradley Beal:

“We are still in a great position to make the playoffs. We still have 40 games, or however many games we have left. We have a great opportunity to make a run. It’s up to us to be able put it together and be able to get out here and get some wins.”

So what led the Bullets to call their closed-door pow-wow?

The official scorer’s report will show that the score was tied 99-99 with 5:41 left in the fourth quarter, but the game was not close.

Wittman was asked when the game was lost and he responded matter-of-factly: “What, was it 10-2 (Denver) a minute and a half in? Coming out of the locker room we lost it.”

The specifics of the game hardly matter. If you saw the Boston game or the Toronto game, then you know the drill. It was another listless, uninspired showing by this underachieving bunch. Washington came out flat against a team playing back-to-back road games and its third game in four nights.

Any hope of a Washington win was put to bed during a three-minute stretch beginning with eight minutes left in the third quarter when Denver went on an 11-0 run, behind three Danilo Gallinari 3-pointers and a Nikola Jokic layup, to take a 83-65 lead.

Washington would go on one of its patented runs, the ones that make the game oh-so-close but require too much energy to sustain until the final buzzer. “We spent a great amount of energy coming back, and it was a great comeback by us, but it’s unfortunate because you run out of gas,” Beal said. “You spend all that time and focus and energy trying to get down from 18, but we shouldn’t have been in that position.”

An usher who was stationed in the VIP lounge for the the duration of the game asked me the final score as we waited a very long time for Wittman’s post-game press conference to begin—117-113. “I didn’t know Denver was good,” she responded.

“They’re not, that’s the problem,” I said.

The players’ post-game comments are all well and good, but this team should be way past the point of talking about basic concepts such as, ‘playing hard.’ Wittman seemed flabbergasted and completely out of ideas when asked why the team seems to have the same issue with effort over and over again: “That’s a good question. I don’t have a good answer for you there.”

If Washington is going to turn its season around, the change will have to start with the players. Beal says they are up to the challenge, but actions speak louder than words. With the Wizards’ next three games at Houston and at Oklahoma City, and then at home against Golden State, the margin for error is slim.

Washington Gets the Charles Barkley Treatment on Inside the NBA.

The Wizards rarely grab the attention of the Inside the NBA crew, but on Thursday night they were the subject of some discussion. Charles Barkley called Washington “other than the Milwaukee Bucks, the most disappointing team in the NBA.”

Then, while Ernie Johnson narrated highlights of the Nuggets game, Chuck posed a question to Kenny Smith: “Why are the Wizards so inconsistent?”

Kenny chose turnovers and lack of half-court offense as the culprits. Barkley went with turnovers and defense.

When Chuck caught a glimpse of the Wizards home record at the bottom of the box score, he quipped, “10-15 at home. That’s disturbing.”

As if that national airing of D.C.’s dirty laundry was not depressing enough, Wizards players occupied two of the five spots on “Shaqtin’ A Fool.”

Back to the Bullets.


The Washington-Denver fiasco was a throwback night honoring the Baltimore Bullets, with a couple very special guests in attendance (Earl Monroe and Bernard King).


The half-time show featured DJ Kool and a confused Nikola Jokic.

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.