Key Legislature: Wizards 109 vs Pelicans 89 — Coasting to Rainy Day Triple-Doubles with John Wall | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 109 vs Pelicans 89 — Coasting to Rainy Day Triple-Doubles with John Wall

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Updated: February 24, 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 vs Pelicans, Regular Season Game 55, Feb. 23, 2016, by Kyle Weidie (@truth_about_it). Photo: instagram.com/washwizards.

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It started as an all-too-common miserable affair. Rainy day, late-arriving fans, dead arena, the tease of Alan Anderson actually playing (but not), and your sub-.500 Washington Wizards—you’ve heard the refrain.

If there was any buzz heading into Tuesday evening’s matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans in D.C., it was because of what the other team’s star, Anthony Davis, did in the previous game (59 points, 20 rebounds). Otherwise, Verizon Center fans could pick their poison: fall into a deep, perhaps eternal slumber due to a boring first half; or die of starvation if forced to pick Davis’ supporting starting cast out of a lineup before you could eat ever again—Alexis Ajinca from France; Dante Cunningham from Silver Spring, MD; Norris Cole from Dayton, OH; and Bryce Dejean-Jones from Los Angeles, CA. Those are Davis’ current meal tickets.

The second-biggest star of the night, John Wall, finished with a triple-double, but in the first half he coasted with 1-for-8 shooting from the field. His first make came late in the second period on finally an aggressive drive, but Wall was otherwise hoisting settlements from 28, 17, 15, 26, and 16 feet. And, fair enough: during said “coasting,” Wall managed to grab six first half rebounds and seven first half assists (to just one turnover).

The conditions were set up just right, believe it or not. With little resistance from the Pelicans, Wall produced a vintage cross-court sling pass for a Garrett Temple 3-pointer on the game’s first possession. And that was the cue for Wall’s teammates to at least move the ball. Wall picked up his third assist before the midway point of the quarter (two of them created 3s), and as a team the Wizards assisted on six of their nine opening-period field goals. The other three baskets came via a Marcin Gortat offensive rebound, a Markieff Morris iso hook shot, and a Kelly Oubre defensive rebound and jaunt all the way to the other basket for points. On the more important defensive end, Jared Dudley set the tone by harassing Davis and otherwise had all the help that he wanted. The Wizards were quite content with leaving any one of Davis’ meal tickets wide open, and with the only other offensive threat, Norris Cole, Wall was able to go under the screen each time, which provided even more support versus Davis. Gortat also roamed as he pleased like a ghost in a Polish snowstorm. Simply putting himself in the right spots led to seven first quarter points and three rebounds; by halftime Gortat had 13 and six.

Still, the Wizards shot 37.5 percent in the first quarter to New Orleans’ 33.3 percent, and it was quite draining to observe. The Pelicans punched back in the second period, winning it 32-30 to only be down three at halftime, 51-54. Concerns in the second 12 minutes involved these factors: Ramon Sessions pounding the ball in Randy Wittman’s offense while Bradley Beal attempted to trace a jigsaw puzzle with off-ball movement, Markieff Morris still looking lost, Otto Porter fading into the bushes, and former All-Star Jrue Holiday making an appearance off the bench for Alvin Gentry’s Pels.

The viewer teetered between ‘Will the Wizards just go ahead and use their talent (and health) advantage to take this easy victory?’ and ‘How will they blow it this time?’

Out of the half, Wall continued to either settle for a jumper or fire pin-point passes. Whatever the pitfalls were, it didn’t matter. Because, yo!, New Orleans’ pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop, and pick-a-nose defense were quite terrible. Wall picked up three assists to bring his total to 10 just 3.5 minutes into the second half, and all three led to Jared Dudley 3-pointers. Those dimes sparked something in Wall, which sparked a little something extra in his teammates (although Gortat and Dudley had been putting in work since the tip regardless), which sparked a lot of something in the arena. After Dudley’s third 3, the Wizards forced a Pelicans miss, Wall got the defensive rebound (his eighth at the time), and charged up the court, intent on getting Dudley a heat-check 3-point attempt. Well, Dudley missed that 3, but Dear Otto Porter got the offensive rebound, shuttled the ball to Wall, and Wall cleaned up with a 3-pointer of his own. At little bit later, Porter missed a 3 but there was absolutely no one near Gortat, once again, and he easily secured the put-back bucket. And a little bit after that, the play of the game: Gortat stole the rock candy from Kendrick Perkins, initiated a fastbreak, got John Wall the ball, and Wall returned the favor with an alley-oop back to Gortat. That put the Wizards up 16 points and they would finish the third quarter up 20 points, 85-65.

The fourth quarter was elementary. It was played to a 24-all draw but New Orleans never got closer than 16 points. Half of the allotted time in the quarter was even consumed when, somewhere around the midway point, Kendrick Perkins started a drive to the basket. Several minutes later (or maybe it was just seconds), Gortat, with shrubs growing around his feet, finally drew a charge on Perkins. At some point further on, Wall just kept on firing jumpers to secure that triple-double, getting points 9, 10, and 11 on a 3-point shot with 6:54 left. And with nearly three minutes left in the game and the Wizards holding an 18-point lead, Wall, allowing Randy Wittman to leave him on the court for probably too long, hit another 3-pointer, danced a jig in celebration, committed a foul, and then checked himself out of the game for the evening.

Was the 109-89 win the best example for the still-untrustworthy Wizards to build upon in their pursuit of the postseason? Negative to the Nth power. But did such dominance nonetheless help Washington increase their confidence while emerging from yet another game unscathed? Exponentially, especially considering the Wizards are 3-1 since the All-Star Break, and that one loss came on their third game in three nights. Final question: Could this Pelicans win be undone with a loss to the Bulls in Chicago on Wednesday night? Seeing as the reeling Bulls are currently tied for 7/8th in the East with the Charlotte Hornets and the Wizards are three games back of both teams, the answer is a resounding probably.

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.