Time To Sound The Alarm — Wizards at Raptors, DC Council 43 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Time To Sound The Alarm — Wizards at Raptors, DC Council 43

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Updated: January 27, 2016

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards at Raptors, Game 43, Jan. 26, 2016, Air Canada Center, Toronto, Ontario, via Troy Haliburton (@TroyHalibur).

M.V.P.

It’s a sad occurrence when 14-assist John Wall games get completely wasted, but this is the current reality of the Wizards—desperate to salvage the 2015-16 season. Get used to it.

Wall didn’t quite bring his A-game to Toronto in defeat, but he played well enough to give the Wizards a chance through three quarters. He scored 18 points to go with his hefty assist total—highlighted by a second-quarter tear where he scored or assisted on 15 of the Wizards’ 19 points to finish the first half, helping Washington climb back from a 14-point deficit to trail by just three at half.

Wall got into a rhythm, attacked the basket, and got to the free throw line (after a few dives where contact was clearly initiated by the defense but no call was made). Wittman implored Wall to continue attacking the basket—that the refs would have to blow the whistle eventually. But not even peak Wall could prevent the avalanche of 3s the Raptors used to use to bury the Wizards. Toronto shot 11-for-29 compared to the Wizards’ 4-for-15 showing from behind the arc.

In another battle between potential All-Stars guards, Wall again fell short. On Monday, Isaiah Thomas ran circles around Wall; on Tuesday night, it was All-Star starter Kyle Lowry who gave Wall trouble on the defensive end. Lowry finished with 29 points, and he, along with DeRozan (17 points), proved to be too much of a 1-2 combo for Wall. Must be nice to have that sidekick you can rely on to pick up the scoring.

L.V.P.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to navigate through a TAI D.C. Council and not find disdain for Randy Wittman, but let us draw our attention—momentarily—to #WizardsTwitter’s new public enemy No. 1: Gary Neal. It’s not Neal’s fault that now even the average NBA fan, familiar with the most rudimentary aspects of basketball analytics, can see right through Gary Neal’s box score mastery. He seems to contribute, but in extended minutes destroys a team’s chances of winning. Neal fills up the stat sheet scoring-wise because he’s a shooter and for some reason has been afforded an opportunity by Wittman to shoot freely when he’s in the game. His mere presence on the court, however, is detrimental to the Wizards.

Notice in the clip above: Neal, high-percentage shooter, passing up an open 3 only to miss a layup on a weak dribble-drive.

Last night Neal finished with a game-worst plus/minus of minus-20 in 22 minutes of game action. He was a turnstile on defense, often caught standing flat-footed in the paint as defensive rebounds floated over his head. Wittman’s reliance on Neal is just another bullet point in the case forming against the head coach. At this juncture, the Wizards would be better off having Jordan Crawford fly back from China to fill the microwave bench role—at least he would provide some flare and set-up play along with his inefficient shot-jacking. In a game where Bradley Beal was out, the Wizards (read: Wittman) struggled to distribute Beal’s minutes on the wing in a productive manner, and that directly contributed to yet another Wizards loss.

Wittman is the rotation decision maker and he blew it. He also blew the starting lineup again by staying faithful to the Nene-Gortat frontcourt, despite the fact that the combo has a Net Rating of minus-18 in the 47 minutes they’ve shared the floor this year, playing at a snail’s pace of 93.2 possessions per 48 minutes (which would rank dead last in the NBA). They’re constantly clogging up driving lanes and preventing Washington from playing the style that the players have grown accustomed to over the first half of the season. Jared Dudley agrees:

X-Factor.

Otto Porter got into a nice groove that had him somewhat resemble the jack-of-all trades player that had so much success against these very Raptors in the playoffs last year. Porter finished the game with 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field, also adding eight rebounds and four steals. Otto was active on the defensive end (despite allowing the Raps to shoot 8-for-12 against him), pretty much nullifying his counterpart James Johnson.

Despite his injuries, Porter has played some of his best basketball in the month of January, getting his field goal percentage up to .494 (.340 from from behind the arc). If he can continue his positive play, he will be a valuable asset to the Wizards’ attempt at a playoff push, especially if Beal misses extended time with a broken nose and concussion.

That Game Was … Cause To Sound The Alarm

To date, the most outspoken Wizard has been off-season acquisition Jared Dudley. Over the last few days, he has been more direct (even blunt) when referring to the state of the team. After Monday night’s loss, he mentioned how this team has a “tough time handling adversity,” and last night his quotable was, “Even though we’re struggling, you can’t let it get to you.”

What this sounds like is a savvy veteran who’s been in numerous NBA locker rooms and knows when a team has suffered a shot to their confidence. Dudley is a pro’s pro, so he’s not going to cause a stir with comments that could be viewed as divisive, but his coded language is clear enough: this team is lacking something in the leadership department and all of this losing and failing expectations may finally be getting to some of the Wizards players. The things that Dudley is saying are 100 percent true. The quicker this team can rally around the idea of this season not being over, the sooner they can actively work to tangibly make progress.

If they can’t, it’ll be another wasted year for a franchise with an All-Star guard entering his prime without a legitimate team around him.


 

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Writer
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. He is going into his second season writing for Truth About It, and also writes for sports analytics website numberfire.com. You can find him in a district bike lane in the Northwest neighborhood of Bloomingdale.




  • Steve Lescure

    With Beal out per usual, Wall and Temple throwing up bricks left and right, who is he supposed to bring in to shoot? Sessions? Neal’s the only option.