Glass is Half Empty in a Win — Wizards vs Sixers, DC Council 48 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Glass is Half Empty in a Win — Wizards vs Sixers, DC Council 48

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Updated: February 6, 2016

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards vs. Sixers, Game 48, February 5, 2016, via Rashad Mobley (@rashad20), from the Verizon Center in D.C.

M.V.P.

John Wall had 18 points, a career-high 13 rebounds, 10 assists, and a Euro-step in leading the Wizards to victory on Friday night. He wasn’t facing Russell Westbrook, and his numbers certainly weren’t as flashy as the 41 points and 10 assists he amassed in the Wizards’ loss to Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, but he controlled the game against Ish Smith, who is arguably playing as well as any point guard in the NBA right now. Most important, the Wizards won.

Both Wall and Wittman downplayed the significance of Wall’s triple-double while playing up how good it felt to get a win. But Wittman did make it his business to play up his star guard’s 13 rebounds:

“We had talked where we are as a team rebounding, and it’s important that we get our guards back and help more. I think the importance of that is, [Wall] is going to give me 10-plus assists probably every night. The 13 rebounds I really like, just from the standpoint of getting back there and helping. We won the rebounding game tonight because of that. To me it doesn’t matter one way or another as long as we win.”

Wall also remarked that his renewed focus on rebounding made it easier for him to control the pace of the game:

“It is a lot easier. Just from watching Russell [Westbrook] when he rebounds the ball he don’t have to worry about waiting for the outlet pass, he just starts the break. I think it makes it easier for me, too. I don’t have to wait for the outlet pass, I can just get the rebound and go.”

Speaking of Westbrook, Wall was victimized by his wicked Euro-step last Monday when the Thunder defeated the Wizards—it “f***** me up,” Wall admitted. Against the Sixers, Wall broke out a Euro-step of his own. After the game Wall was asked why he doesn’t use the move more and he said, “I know how to do it, I just don’t ever be doing it because I be going to fast … I ain’t got it like James [Harden] or Russell [Westbrook] do.”

It was just the Sixers, though, and there will still be instances where Wall gambles and takes plays off on defense—seen in the third quarter when Ish Smith went off for 14 points and the Sixers cut the Wizards’ lead from 25 to 10 points. But as Coach Wittman has told the media during countless post-game pressers, a win is a win, and they aren’t always easy to come by in the NBA. The Wizards took the W and Wall was the engineer behind, aggressive from the start

L.V.P.

Otto Porter. Maybe it was the trade rumors, or maybe as Jared Dudley alluded to after the game it was Porter’s sore hip, or perhaps he’s just mired in a slump. Whatever the reason, Otto Porter played timid against Philadelphia. There is certainly no shame in going scoreless in the first half of a game, but Porter took just two shots in about 10 minutes of play. He hit the Wizards’ first basket in the second half on a 26-foot 3-pointer, but he scored just two points the rest of the game. Porter finished 2-for-8 from the field, good for five total points. He’s now failed to break double-digit points in two straight games, so now seems like a good time to mention that Kelly Oubre, who is capable of providing the very energy that Porter lacked on both ends of the floor, only played a minute of garbage time in the fourth quarter. As the kids say, “I’m just sayin’.”

X-Factor.

For the first time since December 9, 2015, against the Houston Rockets, Bradley Beal was in the starting lineup (it would have been nice to see him get that start against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, but that ship has sailed). He and John Wall (10 points each) were the main reasons the Wizards were able to score 38 points in the first quarter, and his offensive aggressiveness gave the Wizards some much needed versatility. Garrett Temple is a fine player who has the ability to hit the open shot (sometimes) and drive to the basket with purpose on the break, but as Dudley and Wall diplomatically said after the game, Beal’s presence in the starting lineup was truly missed:

“He just gives us more of a fire punch,” Dudley said. “He’s someone, out of everyone on our team … him and Gary Neal are by far the most aggressive to score, looking to score, to put pressure. He’s our best offensive player. Anytime you have that threat, people coming off and looking to pass, he’s looking to score. He’s the one guy besides John (Wall) who can give you 30. Anytime you have that on the floor, his spacing, he’s one of our best shooters. I’m glad to see him back there.”

“Other guys have been stepping up and doing a great job in their roles,” Wall said, “but with Brad starting it gives us another ball handler and he’s more aggressive and able to make plays.”

That Game Was … Bittersweet

A glass half-full kind of person would look at Friday night’s game as a step in the right direction. The Wizards are currently on the outside of the playoff picture and need to start accumulating wins to close the gap. With more than 30 games to play, they will need to win some challenging games against the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference and they will need to pick up some victories against the lesser teams, too. Against teams like the Sixers, the worst team in the league. Progress!

A pessimistic person who chooses to view the glass as half empty will look at the 25-point lead the Wizards relinquished and focus on how the  Sixers were able to stay just within striking distance the entire game. They will focus on Kelly Oubre’s lack of playing time, the inconsistent Otto Porter, and Randy Wittman’s inability to consistently keep the Wizards focused for 48 minutes.

A victory in Charlotte tonight will go a long way in providing some clarity.

 

 

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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.