Wall and Washington Win a Winnable Game — Wizards vs Heat, DC Council 41 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wall and Washington Win a Winnable Game — Wizards vs Heat, DC Council 41

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Updated: January 21, 2016

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards vs Heat, Game 41, Jan. 20, 2016, at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., via John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend). Photo Credit: instagram.com/nba

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M.V.P.

The M.V.P. is John Wall, for the umpteenth time this season, even if he air-balled his first shot (a 16-foot jumper). Wall assisted on not one but both of Nene’s first two baskets—and it would have been three had the Brazilian not missed an uncontested shot under the rim. The star guard, after making a pair of free throws, also delivered a close-range score to Marcin Gortat. The Wizards, then, led 10-4. Wall would go on to hit a 15-footer and an above-the-break 3 (his 60th this season) to maintain the Wiz lead before getting a breather to close out the first quarter. (I have given him a pass for two errant-pass turnovers late in this quarter, because the 15-6 lead the Wizards built was orchestrated in its entirety by Wall.)

In the second quarter, Wall opened his scoring account with a scoop layup high off the glass, which he followed up with a smart defensive play—stepping in front of an off-ball cut into the key, and closing the open lane to the Wizards basket. He took two charges (easy calls for any ref) and dished a pair of frosting-sweet dimes before the first half was over: the first was a 30-foot alley-oop to a back-cutting Gortat, the second was a jump-pass which, springing up from the hardwood, surprised everyone, including Gortat, who finished the action with a dunk.

The once-again Eastern Conference Player of the Week, carrying the Wizards to a 14-point halftime lead, flashed a wide smile through his mouthguard. Job done. Miami, undermanned, etc., wouldn’t get closer than five points the rest of the way.

“Just being aggressive, beating them to the ball, talking, communicating,” Wall said after the game, asked about Washington’s pressure defense and quick start. “Sometimes we had some lapses, but at the end of the day we had a great job and that’s why we had a great start.”

L.V.P.

This was hard to call in the first half. It was either Bradley Beal for being invisible in five-plus minutes in the first quarter, or Garrett Temple for getting whipped off the dribble by whichever Heat player he was matched up against. Beal, of course, would find his rhythm and turn an early 2-for-6 shooting effort into an efficient 7-for-13 night overall; Temple would eventually stop chasing shadows and remind viewers why he’s emerged as the team’s best small forward. Game flow: the reason Truth About It’s D.C. Council accolades are handed out after the game.

So, the least ballinest player award goes to rookie Kelly Oubre, Jr. He didn’t play poorly—in fact, his basketballing was just fine, though perhaps he was too quick on the trigger—but when tasked with determining which player on any given night had the least impact on the outcome, sacrifices must be made. Oubre is the lamb in this one, as unfair as that may be. He had one steal, one block, one turnover, two fouls, and zero points in almost 20 minutes, a stat line which saves me from having to say more on the matter.

X-Factor.

Some people, including at least one Wizards staffer, after the game demanded this crown be bestowed upon the head of one Nene. Bradley Beal, too, thought that Nene was “awesome.”

“It’s probably the first time this year [Nene and Gortat have started together],” he said. “That reminds me of the past three years that we’ve all been playing together. It’s great to see those two out here working and battling together—and you never know, that’s what we may stick with and it’s giving us a different look.”

Winning makes just about any team seem like a big, happy, incredibly tall family. And while I wouldn’t go as far as to say Nene was awesome, he played well.

*checks notes*

#NeneHands were back and better than ever, which stymie sub-par creators like Hassan Whiteside and earned him five steals, plus the big man switched ball screens with purpose. On offense, Nene took it right to Chris Bosh time and time again, and once looked like a Pro Bowl defensive lineman running in a pick-6 on a fastbreak steal-and-score in the third quarter. However, without suitable explanation, Nene was outplayed for a few minutes by walking corpse Amar’e Stoudemire. For that reason (much more than his whatever plus/minus), he cannot be the X-factor.

Last night’s X-factor is … American professional basketball player Jared Anthony Dudley. Reasons:

  • Game-high plus/minus of plus-22.
  • Sizzling bacon action back-cuts.
  • Pick-and-pop star.
  • 10 points off the bench on nine shots.
  • 4 assists for the third straight game (7 of the last 9).
  • The continued (and uncanny) ability to pass open Gortat after forays into the painted area.

That Game Was … An Easy Must-Have.

The Wizards had lost five of their last six at home, but for all the injury talk, Miami was worse off to start the game and in a state of disrepair by the end of it. See, not having the services of Kris Humphries (whatever), Otto Porter (meh) and Drew Gooden (more like Who Gooden this year, amirite?) don’t compare to the missing pieces Miami played with last night: no Wade, no Dragic, no Beno, no Birdman; then, in the second half, no Deng (eye) and no Whiteside (oblique).

Deng was doin’ work, scoring the Heat’s last eight points of the first quarter and racking up another eight before exiting the game. And Whiteside … well, he’s got more swat than a militarized police force, but checked out with 6:21 left in the second quarter. Not before rejecting a Marcin Gortat hook shot, mind you. That first-quarter block was Whiteside’s fifth block on Gortat—in all, Whiteside has blocked 10 Wizards shots from six Washington players in two and a half games. Without Whiteside, there was no one left to protect the paint. John Wall and Co. finished the game with 46 points in the paint (7 more than their season average), 18 second-chance points (8 more than their season average), and shot .523 from the field.

“You’re not looking for moral victories or to keep it close,” Erik Spoelstra said post-game. “We honestly thought that we would have a chance to keep this a possession game. Toward the end of the third quarter, guys were running out of gas.

“I had to get guys out, I couldn’t stagger it the way I normally do. We thought we would be able to hold the floor and we weren’t able to. You have to give Washington credit. They put their foot on the gas the last few minutes of the third.”

Credit the Wizards for winning a game they had to win, but dock as many imaginary points as you’d like for them not doing so in any regular fashion. They’re 20-21.

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John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.