Key Legislature: Wizards 103 at Sixers 94 — Washington Earns Victory, Technically | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 103 at Sixers 94 — Washington Earns Victory, Technically

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Updated: February 27, 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 Sixers, Regular Season Game 57, Feb. 26, 2016, by Bryan Frantz (@BFrantz202).

Ah yes, a technical victory—the best kind of victory, really.

For much of an otherwise nondescript Friday evening in Philadelphia, the Washington Wizards were trailing the Philadelphia 76ers. It was painfully, mind-numbingly expected. Luckily for the Wizarding folk, John Wall was the No. 1 pick in 2010 and Evan Turner was the No. 2 pick.

Wall dominated the second half, leading Washington in points, rebounds, and assists, and if not for Robert Covington’s random 10-rebound outburst after halftime, he would have led the game in each.

Wall in first half: 4 points, 2-for-6 FG, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 block

Wall in second half: 19 points, 7-for-13 FG, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal

Not unrelated: The Wizards shot .392 from the field in the first half while being outscored 52-48; in the second half, they shot .465 and won the scoring battle handily, 55-42. Washington came out with notably more aggressiveness in the second half, duly represented by their disparity in free-throw attempts by half—four in the first half to 13 in the second, including five alone by Wall.

And all this undeniably came about in part due to the final play of the first half, in which Wall sprinted down the court, weaving through the defenders as his teammates half-heartedly jogged to their assigned spots on the floor, and laid up a sweet finger roll at the buzzer, all in 5.1 seconds. As the ball slipped through the net, the All-Star point guard violently swung his right fist through the air, let out a carnal roar, and nodded at somebody, likely a stranger, in the stands.

Then he sauntered into the locker room, having cut his team’s deficit to the then 8-49 76ers to four.

Visibly hyped by his own ridiculousness, Wall came out with a fire that changed the game in the third quarter, scoring 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with three rebounds, and four assists, all without a turnover. By the time he had put the finishing touches on his not-quite-masterpiece-but-still-valuable-piece-of-art third quarter, Washington had taken a four-point lead it would not relinquish.

Though the Wall Star was quite clearly the best player, and just about the only game changer on the court Friday night, I want to call attention to a few other performances of note.

First, Otto Porter came out hot in the first quarter, scoring nine points on 4-for-7 shooting, and he added four rebounds, an assist, and a steal. Over the final three quarters, Porter went 0-for-5 without a point or assist, though he did add six more rebounds, two more steals, and a block. While Washington obviously has so, so many things it needs to improve upon, this game reaffirmed my frustration with the formerly goggled one. He completely faded into the background after the first quarter, in part because he was not targeted by his guards, in part because he didn’t do anything dynamic. He lingered on the wing in silence, thinking about how he might finally solve that darn Rubik’s Cube or something, until it was time to hustle back on defense. The Wizards need him to be much, much more active on the offensive end, and if he ever gets smacked around by Paul Pierce, they could have a true third piece on their hands.

Second, Friday marked another step forward by Markieff Morris, but also a quick flash of the old Suns Markieff Morris. Washington’s newest addition not named J.J. Hickson started the game coming off the bench, but after an impressive second quarter (team-high 8 points on 3-for-5 shooting, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal), Morris started in place of Jared Dudley to open the second half. Then bad Markieff came out, and he picked up his third and fourth fouls in just 66 seconds. On his way to the bench (hey Jared!), Morris was obviously perturbed.

Finally, Ramon Sessions deserves plenty of credit for keeping the Wizards afloat in the fourth quarter when Wall was resting. Statistically, he wasn’t great, scoring just six points (3-for-5) and grabbing two rebounds, but he wasn’t bad enough to put the Wizards back in a hole and he allowed Wall to get enough rest to matter. Wall still played 39 minutes and Bradley Beal played 28, but if Sessions had pulled off the appropriate Wizards maneuver and allowed Nik Stauskas or Ish Smith to put up huge numbers in the fourth quarter, those minutes would have been inflated. So, Sessions, I guess thanks for doing enough to help the Wizards beat the Sixers?

Three Disturbing Trends

  1. Wall’s unfortunate habit of playing hero ball at odd times makes me uncomfortable, as do his totally unwarranted heat checks. He makes one, maybe two shots in a row, and suddenly he launches a step-up 3 or, in one case, a difficult fadeaway from the inside the 3-point line in the corner. Every so often he makes one of them, and it’s awesome, and I get why he does it because the frustration of watching Nene throw up yet another semi-contested 18-footer has to get to him. But if Wall can just learn to control the wild shots and instead stick to what works best for him—drive and shoot or drive and kick, ideally—he can take his offensive game to the next level.
  2. Again with Wall: I don’t like that he keeps saying after games Washington needs to focus more on defense when he has been well below his defensive standard this year (103.6 Defensive Rating this year compared to 98.1 last year, for starters). Sure, his blocks and steals are up this season, but he gets burned time and again by opposing point guards, and he often looks nonchalant or disinterested on defense. Put in perspective, it’s not a huge deal; the Wizards have so many things to worry about aside from John Wall’s defense that this is literally not in the top 20 problems for them. But it’s not a great look, regardless.
  3. The Wizards seem to complain about calls, or lack thereof, more this season than they have in recent years. While it’s gone on for months, it became overbearingly obnoxious in this game. As Washington is struggling through a disappointing season, the Sixers are struggling through what is likely to be their third sub-20 win season in a row, yet seemingly every time the Wiz miss a shot or turn it over, the offending player immediately jerks his head toward the ref to voice his discontent. Philadelphia has all the reason in the world to be frustrated, but it just sorta went about its losing business. The biggest offender has been Nene, but that’s not especially different from other seasons. Wall, Gortat, and Beal do the same thing, albeit less frequently than the large Brazilian fellow, and the best reasoning I can come up with is they feel slighted. This fits in nicely with the whole theme of the Wizards feeling entitled (to a spot in the playoffs, to star calls, etc.), and it makes the team much less fun to watch. In their defense, this particular area of concern could have come via Paul Pierce’s influence.

Other Things That Happened

https://twitter.com/MaxRappaport/status/703373838680264709

 

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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.