A Bad Day in the Make-or-Miss League — Wizards vs Heat, DC Council 32 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

A Bad Day in the Make-or-Miss League — Wizards vs Heat, DC Council 32

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Updated: January 4, 2016

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards vs Heat, Game 32, Jan. 3, 2016, from the Verizon Center, via Bryan Frantz (@BFrantz202).

M.V.P.

In March 2015, the Washington Wizards trailed the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors by just three points at halftime. Over the next 12 minutes, they proceeded to convert exactly one shot from the field: a Kevin Seraphin turnaround fadeaway that just barely dropped. Less than six weeks ago, the Wizards led the Charlotte Hornets by nine points with just under 10 minutes left in regulation. They lost by 14. Sunday evening, the Wizards were down 25-24 to the Miami Heat after the first quarter. They entered halftime facing a 50-31 hole that eventually morphed into a 97-75 loss.

I look forward to the impending first-quarter collapse.

Entering Sunday’s game, the Wizards averaged 26.5 points per second quarter, the fifth-best mark in the NBA. By about 7:10 p.m. EST, that number had dropped to 25.8, the eighth-best mark in the NBA.

There really wasn’t a “most valuable player” for the Wizards, honestly. I guess you could go with Marcin Gortat, who racked up eight offensive rebounds, but he was blocked four times (by my count) by Hassan Whiteside, who Gortat said of after the game, “I personally haven’t seen a better shot-blocker in the past nine years in the league.” It’s worth noting Gortat made his bones in the NBA as Dwight Howard’s backup in Orlando; it’s also worth noting that Wall disagrees with Gortat’s evaluation of Whiteside. When I informed him of Gortat’s comments, Wall responded, “Nah, man, Gortat says that about everybody who blocks shots.”

(Gortat came through with the best quote of the night for the Wizards, however. When asked about leaving the game briefly in the second quarter with an injury scare, Gortat responded: “I was just trying to get some camera time. I was good from the get-go. I was blessed by the gods, who gave me a body that doesn’t get hurt all the time. It was just a little tweak, that’s it.”)

Kelly Oubre had six points on 3-for-6 shooting to go with eight rebounds, an assist, and a steal, but he was out of place on several defensive possessions and didn’t offer much of a spark. Jarell Eddie entered the game, but that was about all he did, going 1-for-6 with three points. The two guys I mentioned in the Opening Statements who appeared in three of the Wizards’ top five two-man lineups in December, Ramon Sessions and Garrett Temple, combined to score 24 points, but they did so on 8-for-28 shooting.

Ultimately, Gortat has to take the title of “most valuable” Wizard, as he was the only player on the entire team to finish above .500 from the floor. But in my mind, the M.V.P. goes to the guy in the picture above, who is about as ‘Miami Heat Fan’ as one can possibly get.

L.V.P.

If we must settle on one player, without resorting to blind choices, John Wall would have to be the victim (culprit?). He wasn’t the worst player on the court, but he did play the biggest role in the Wizards’ collapse, mostly because he is usually the one to bail them out. Washington collapses with some frequency, far more often than the disastrous losses noted above would have you believe. But time and again, D.C.’s point gawd comes to the rescue and carries the Wizards to a win, or at least a semi-respectable loss.

Sunday night, that was not the case. Wall went 6-for-21 from the field (0-for-8 in the second quarter), managed just five assists—the age-old question: How does one accumulate assists when one’s teammates do not make shots?—and suffered from early foul trouble, which subsequently nullified his typical defensive aggression. As anybody who has watched the Wizards play in recent years knows, this team lives and dies by John Wall more than most teams do by their star players. That’s in part due to Wall’s transcendent talent, but also to Washington’s lack of playmakers not wearing No. 2.

X-Factor.

Whiteside blocked six shots, but it felt like so much more. After he blocked Gortat, Washington’s tallest player, twice in the first quarter, the Wizards were reluctant to drive to the basket. It’s only somewhat coincidental that Washington Wizards jacked up 29 3-pointers in the game, despite not being able to hit an open shot to save their lives, finishing with just four makes.

The Wizards have attempted at least 29 3-pointers in 29 games in franchise history. Their percentage against the Heat Sunday night—.138—was the worst of any of those games. Only one other time, a 5-for-31 outing against Charlotte in 2012, did they shoot below .200.

Not all of that was due to Whiteside, of course. After all, the Wizards got open look after open look after open look. There were plenty of things the Wizards could have done better, such as move the ball, use multiple screens throughout the play for somebody aside from the guy they wanted to get the ball, continue to attack the basket, attempt to draw Whitesdie away from the basket with switches—they did this one time, drawing Whiteside out onto Wall, who then launched up a 3 that Gortat easily rebounded and put back—or go small early to help decrease Whiteside’s impact. But the big man’s impact was tangible and totally changed Washington’s offense as the game progressed.

That Game Was … Over By Halftime.

The Wizards weren’t coming back from that deficit. They briefly threatened to, but too many things needed to start going their way. They needed to heat up, play smarter, play better defense, and stay out of foul trouble, while the Heat cooled off, got into foul trouble, and maybe had a few players run into each other and miss the remainder of the contest. It turned into a blowout as soon as the Wizards came apart in the second quarter, and they seemed OK with that. Nobody was furious in the locker room after the game—at least not that media saw—and the players were mostly lighthearted, albeit a bit frustrated, about the one-sided affair.

This is almost definitely because the result had been decided nearly two hours earlier and they’d already gone through the various stages of grief. Not a good result by any stretch, but at least nobody else got seriously hurt?

 

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Bryan Frantz
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Bryan is a D.C. native with a degree in something or other from UNC. He has important, interesting hobbies, but mostly he just weeps over D.C. sports teams. You can find him on the Metro, inevitably complaining about Red Line delays.