Key Legislature: Wizards 111 at Knicks 108 — Wiz Reap What They Sow in the Garden | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 111 at Knicks 108 — Wiz Reap What They Sow in the Garden

Updated: February 10, 2016

TAI’s Key Legislature… The game’s defining moment, its critical event, the wildest basketball thing you ever saw, or just stuff that happened. Wizards at Knicks, Regular Season Game 50, Feb. 9, 2016, by Troy Haliburton (@TroyHalibur).

On Tuesday night, Washington’s pro basketball team took on a team that was reeling through this fading 2015-16 NBA season at a much more alarming rate than even the Wizards. The New York Knickerbockers are coming off their worst seasons in their storied franchise history, and almost any positive result would have been cause for celebration among Knicks faithful. That calm embrace of slow progress changed, however, when Kristaps Porzingis began showing flashes of a young Dirk Nowitzki. Expectations changed, you see, and Phil Jackson decided not to waste another game developing his team under shaky tutelage—he canned head coach Derek Fisher.

Carrying all of that baggage into the game against the Wizards should have hindered the Knicks, and for the first half of Tuesday’s game it looked as though Fisher might have been the least of the franchise’s problems. For the Wizards, there was pace, there was space, and there were a whole lot of 3-pointers. The Wizards shot a blistering 16-for-26 from behind the arc (a season high in 3-point makes), doubling up on the Knicks (8-for-26) in makes, even though they had the same amount of attempts.

The key difference between the shooting numbers of these two teams is one dynamic point guard. John Wall finished the night with 17 assists (and just one turnover). Wall has an innate ability with precision to put the ball right in the shooting pocket of teammates so that when they catch the ball, they are already in an optimal position to lock and load and get a quick release. These extra milliseconds afforded by great passing can be the determining factor in a make-or-miss league.

As promising as the Wizards looked in the first half, however, they looked equally as disjointed in the second half, specifically the third quarter. The Knicks outscored the Wizards 33-20 in the period as some of Washington’s warts began to show.

While Jared Dudley is one hell of a role player, and might be one of the most tradeable assets in the entire NBA, his deficiencies as a starting 4 are easy to expose when there is a major talent (and height) discrepancy. Duds did a great job matching up with Kristaps Porzingis in the first half, but in the second half he was no match for the 7-foot-3 Latvian prodigy. Porzingis scored 14 of his 20 points in the third quarter, putting on a dazzling display of shooting touch and an array of moves around the basket. The Zinger’s play almost single-handily got New York back into the game, and Carmelo Anthony was intent on finishing the job that the rookie started. And he would have succeeded if it weren’t for a confident John Wall down the stretch.

Wall put the Wizards up for good with a go-ahead layup at the 6:18 mark of the fourth period. The Wizards should have been sailed comfortably to victory after a 3-pointer by Wall increased the lead to 10 with 1:50 to go, but then the #SoWizards experience awoke.

Beal missed three of four free throws and had a crucial turnover. Wall took two ill-advised shots in an attempt to invoke a Steve Buckhantz “Dagger,” instead of letting the game flow naturally as he had for the previous 47 minutes. Luckily for the Wizards, they were beneficiaries of the new NBA rule that allows for restricted area offensive charge/defensive block calls to be reviewed. And so a game-swinging play (that was almost a potential and-1 for Aaron Afflalo and a two-point Knicks deficit) ended up being an offensive foul and turnover for New York. The Wizards held a five-point lead instead.

Three Things We Saw.

#1.) Bradley Beal has played about as aggressive as he’s ever been since he came back form his broken nose. He was assertive with his offensive decision-making in New York, attacking the rim when he believes he can beat an opponent off the dribble, and not hesitating on his catch-and-shoot opportunities. If the Wizards are going to make a post-season run, not only will Beal have to stay healthy, but he will need to elevate his game to a near All-Star level. The best way for him to do that is to continue attacking the basket and get to the free throw line, and to increase his attentiveness on defense. On Tuesday night Beal had four steals and was a major factor in holding Aaron Afflalo to just 11 points.

#2.) The Wizards rotation could finally be forming into shape with the return of Nene and Kris Humphries in the frontcourt rotation, and the absence of Gary Neal in the backcourt rotation. Both Nene and Hump looked a little rusty coming off of injury, but in the long run their presence will be needed to help the Wizards in the rebounding department. Neal’s absence meant we got to see Kelly Oubre play, and even though the rookie did not take a single shot attempt, he still found a way to blend in on the court and contribute. In Randy Wittman’s partial defense, it has been a long time since the Wizards have had anything close to a full arsenal, but it will be more than fair to judge his coaching going forward as the team’s health seems to have turned a corner.

#3.) The Wizards shot an abysmal 17-for-25 from the free throw line (68%). On the season, the Wizards shoot 75.2 percent from the fee throw line, which ranks 22nd in the NBA. In New York, the free throw shooting woes almost cost them the game. It would have been the second such game this season—the first was the Toronto home game in which Wall missed two free throws in the last seconds.

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.