Total Team Effort at the Turning Point — Wizards at Rockets, DC Council 45 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Total Team Effort at the Turning Point — Wizards at Rockets, DC Council 45

Updated: January 31, 2016

The D.C. Council…  TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards at Rockets, Game 45, Jan. 30, 2016, via Troy Haliburton (@TroyHalibur)

With the Wizards season seemingly on the brink after Thursday’s home loss to the Denver Nuggets, a players-only meeting may have been the catalyst that has, for now, staved off the final rights of the 2015-16 season. If that meeting was held in order for players to start holding each other accountable, then it succeeded: Saturday night’s 123-122 win over the Rockets was about as total a group effort win as this team could have. Washington’s bench dominated Houston’s, scoring 55 points on 20-for-29 shooting from the field, and the Wizards needed every last one of those points to hold off a 40-point night from James Harden(1).

The Wizards finally played a game worthy of bragging about and everyone deserves a sliver of credit. And for this, we will take a look at how each Wizard contributed. To the recap generator!

Washington Wizards


Box Score

Houston Rockets


Jared Dudley

37 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-5 3FG | 4-5 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +2 +/-

Dudley has to be the team’s M.V.P. for the night, if only because the Wizards won the first game after the aforementioned players-only meeting that Jared apparently initiated after the loss to the Nuggets. To be the team’s de facto locker-room voice, while also walking the walk by elevating his play, Dudley is quietly turning into an invaluable asset for this team. There is no coincidence that Dudley was re-inserted into the starting lineup, playing the most minutes of any Wizard, and the team found a way to fight through adversity and pull out a gritty win. If it weren’t for Dudley’s savvy play in the fourth quarter, the Wizards would have certainly folded when they got down six points with just over three minutes to go. Dudley was able to create a few easy points by converting at the free throw line and hitting a clutch 3. His career will never be mistaken for Paul Pierce’s, but Saturday night he brought 50 Shades of the Truth to the Wizards in their darkest hour.

Otto Porter Jr.

12 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-5 3FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +5 +/-

Porter left the game hampered by the same hip that’s been bothering him—the latest injury reports suggest back tightness on top of that. These nagging injuries limited Porter to only 12 minutes of game action, but just like every other Wizards player who saw significant playing time, he found a way to make a positive contribution despite his shot not falling. Porter continues to struggle from the 3-point line, going 1-for-5 on the night and bringing his season average from behind the arc down to 31.2 percen. Porter did, however, excel in the midrange and stayed active by cutting on the offensive end. Maybe that’s what we should see more of from Porter until he can get his shot into a better rhythm.

Marcin Gortat

27 MIN | 4-4 FG | 0-0 3FG | 5-7 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -2 +/-

The Polish Machine finished the game a perfect 4-for-4 from the field. If the Wizards would have let him check Dwight Howard one-on-one all night, Howard may have gone 40-for-40 on Gortat(2) in the low-post. Gortat struggled mightily defending his former Orlando Magic teammate, but he thrived on put-back attempts and even finished several plays through contact in crunch time that led to a very generous continuation call and a few other shooting fouls.

John Wall

36 MIN | 7-22 FG | 1-5 3FG | 4-5 FT | 8 REB | 13 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 19 PTS | -5 +/-

Wall struggled all night to get into a groove offensively, but for the first time in awhile he actually resembled the guy who made Second Team All-Defense last season. The three-time All-Star was as active as he has been all season on the defensive end, actually fighting through pick-and-roll screens and exerting energy to recover and contest shots at the rim. His ability to cover so much ground on defense paid dividends on the Wizards’ final defensive possession. Bradley Beal was beaten off-the-dribble by Harden, but at least Beal got beat to his left, forcing Harden to take a difficult shot with his right hand. An even more subtle, yet brilliant, play was Wall fighting for the rebound after Josh Smith’s put back attempt and heaving the ball down court as time expired, preventing a subsequent foul and game-extending play from the Rockets. On this night, Wall simply would not let his team lose. All-Star players tend to have those nights when their team’s most need them.

Garrett Temple

34 MIN | 5-14 FG | 1-7 3FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +3 +/-

It’s safe to say that Garrett Temple is completely comfortable in the pecking order of the Wizards offense right now, because he probably has never had this kind of shot freedom at any point in his basketball career. There were too many Garrett Temple pull-up jumpers and not enough spot-up 3s going in the basket. Temple shot 1-for-7 from 3, but 4-for-7 on 2-point attempts. Combine that with four rebounds and four assists, plus a lot of effort exerted on the defensive end against James Harden (even though Temple wasn’t able to stay in front his The Beard all night), and … well, Temple played about as good an all-around game as he could have.

Drew Gooden

11 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -1 +/-

In a super limited role as the backup 4-man to Jared Dudley, Gooden came in and played at max-solid levels for 11 minutes. Gooden finished with five points and five rebounds, getting a little Drizzle on a catch-and-shoot corner 3, but also playing tough defense and protecting the glass.

Nene Hilario

19 MIN | 4-4 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-5 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +6 +/-

Nene played a huge part in the Wizards’ most important win of the season, and the most valued portion of that contribution may have been with him in the visiting team locker room for the last eight minutes—because Dwight Howard joined him on the other side, likely left to ponder how he let the big Brazilian get the best of him. Dwight was dominating offensively for the majority of the game, until Nene came in and forced him to work just that much harder for positioning. Nene and Howard were involved in a tug-of-war during the second half, till Dwight finally had enough and began to lash out at Nene for his roughhousing. Both players were ejected, but the Wizards were able to take advantage of an experienced Gortat outplaying the inexperienced yet spry Clint Capela.

Gary Neal

16 MIN | 5-5 FG | 2-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -3 +/-

Gary Neal played about as well as he can, but still finished with a plus/minus of minus-3. To his credit, his jumper was falling and his scoring punch directly kept the Wizards offense afloat in the second quarter when no one—besides him—was able to hit from outside. Neal’s flaws on defense are well known, but on a night like last night, when his shot is falling, there is no doubt that he can contribute as a spot-duty player.

Ramon Sessions

18 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 3FG | 5-6 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +7 +/-

Ramon Sessions was the X-factor for the Wizards in Houston. He picked up the offense until John Wall was finally able to start manufacturing points late and also able to stave off several Rockets runs with his Harden-like ability to draw fouls on drives. Session finished the game with a team high plus/minus of plus-7, and he actually played a little bit outside of himself by knocking down two very important 3-pointers at critical junctures in the fourth quarter. On the season, Sessions’ 17.0 PER ranks fourth on the team and his contribution has been highly underrated.

Bradley Beal

30 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-5 3FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -5 +/-

Beal struggled with his shot but, like Wall, found other ways to help contribute. Beal’s four assists were paramount to a team devoid of playmaking, and his defensive effort was there, even though he had a tough time matching up with a hot James Harden. The biggest thing with Beal is that he played on the high end of his minutes threshold (30 minutes) and, for now, appears to have come away from the contest without any tear with his wear.

Randy Wittman

Randy Wittman may have embodied overcoming adversity more than any of his players. Witt was coaching with a very heavy heart after finding out that his older brother had suddenly passed away that morning. He responded with one of his better regular season coaching displays. Wittman went back to Jared Dudley in the starting lineup instead of Nene, and it seemed to open up the Wizards offense. Washington wasn’t able to capitalize on their open shots right away, but eventually that style of play was conducive to winning basketball. Wittman also made the coaching strategy play of the game when he (or his assistants, or Dudley) implored “Hack-a-Capela” in the fourth quarter, which allowed the Wizards to cut into the Rockets’ lead without taking much time off the clock. Clint Capela went 1-for-4 on hack free throw attempts, while the Wizards countered with five momentum-filled points. Wittman also drew up one hell of an after-timeout play that lead to an uncontested Jared Dudley layup. Per John Wall’s post-game comments, the Wizards’ strategy on the last defensive possession was to double Harden and force Josh Smith to try and beat them. These are all great moves that must be credited to the head coach—nice to see that Wittman has a little creativity left in the tank, showing flashes of the Playoff Possum King, even if only for one night.

  1. Harden averaged 33.5 points per game against the Wizards in the previous four contests against Houston.
  2. Who, by the numbers, is one of the Wizards best three or four defensive players this season.
Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. Bylines on bylines on bylines.

Will write for food.