Shutting Down the Engine — Wizards vs Pistons, DC Council 53 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Shutting Down the Engine — Wizards vs Pistons, DC Council 53

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Updated: February 20, 2016

washington wizards, detroit pistons, truth about it, adam mcginnis, john wall
The D.C. Council
… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards vs Pistons Game 53, Feb. 19, 2016 from the Verizon Center, via Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis). (above picture via Monumental Sports) 

On Friday night in the District of Columbia, Washington accomplished a feat that had been elusive in their disappointing 2015-16 campaign thus far. Their 98-86 toppling of the Detroit Pistons marked the first time that Wizards have won both back-to-back to games in two nights this season—they handled Utah, 103-89, on Thursday night. And the two triumphs came at home, where this team has struggled this season (13-16 at the Verizon Center).

M.V.P.

From the jump, Washington pounced on Detroit and never let up. They built a 18-8 lead behind the spectacular play of John Wall. The three-time All-Star made three jumpers with two assists and a steal during the initial burst. Wall, along with Garrett Temple, successfully hounded the Pistons starting backcourt. Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope combined for 20 points on 8-for-29 shooting. Wall dazzled with 22 points, 8 assists, 8 rebounds, and only 2 turnovers in 35 minutes. HIs plus-24 was only topped by Otto Porter’s plus-29.

In what’s becoming the norm, Wall was simply the best player on the basketball court and controlled the contest throughout. The confidence level in his spot-up jumper has never been higher. His tremendous speed is still unstoppable in the open court. He picked apart the Detroit defense with his vision and dribbling. In the second quarter, Wall passed up an open 3 to whip it to Porter, who rolled in the 3-ball. Wall reacted like he made the shot. His unselfishness is as impressive as his pre-game dance moves in the lay-up line.

After Wall splashed a jumper, he flashed a smile to his mom, France Pulley, in the front row. The skippy John Wall is back celebrating, because winning always helps with happiness.

L.V.P.

It feels regrettable bestowing this dishonor on Markieff Morris in his first Wizards game. Morris spoke with the media beforehand to discuss his trade before he had even met Coach Wittman. Kief (can we use that name yet?), using Gortat’s description, did appear lost. After checking in, he immediately left his man Tobias Harris open for a corner 3. Later, he chucked up a terrible step-back long, contested 2, committed a three-second violation on a post move, and pushed off for a charge call. He somewhat settled down in the second half. It was funny to watch him and his twin brother, Marcus, guard one another.

I asked Randy Wittman about Markieff’s debut.

“He was good, the guy has no idea what we are doing, and that’s the hardest thing when you come out. He had no practice, couldn’t even do walk through today because he wasn’t cleared to play until 6 o’clock, the league said we couldn’t do anything. He had no idea, I just said just go out there and play like it’s a pick-up game, but I thought he was fine. He’s going to be fine, he’s an intelligent player, good basketball IQ, good size, we can do some different things with him from a defensive stand point that we haven’t had the luxury to do so I see a lot of good things.”

X-Factor(s).

Wall set the tone but the Polish Hammer was the difference maker. Marcin Gortat got involved in the offense early on rolls to the basket after setting monster screens. He cashed in several shots with a soft touch. Gortat finished with 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and plus-21. However, his superb defense on Andre Drummond was a key reason for Washington prevailed over Detroit. Drummond had 11 points and 13 rebounds but for the second straight game against Washington, failed to grab any of his team’s missed shots. This is remarkable, considering Drummond leads the entire NBA in offensive rebounds at over five per game. Gortat and Nene physically bodied the All-Star and his impact on the game was negligible, supported by Drummond’s minus-24.

That Game Was…boring, but satisfactory.

Washington took advantage of a sluggish Detroit squad. The Wiz opposed their will defensively and never allowed the Pistons a serious chance to make a comeback. This was a similar recipe to the Jazz victory. At the All-Star break, Washington was 21st in the NBA at defensive efficiency at 104.3 points allowed per 100 possessions. The D ratings against Pistons was 93.9 and 90.7 versus the Jazz.

In the post-game, Coach Wittman aptly pointed to this defensive improvement.

“We didn’t play as well as we could have offensively tonight, first quarter was pretty good, we had our ups and downs, and usually when we had our ups and downs offensively this season against this team, water was coming on board. When we play defense like that it gives us the opportunity to have a 15-point fourth quarter and win by double digits.”

Washington now has the playoff tiebreaker advantage over Detroit and will have it against Miami with a win in South Florida on Saturday night. The Heat will be without Bosh and perhaps Wade, so the Wizards need to take advantage and continue this post All-Streak momentum.

Notes.

  • Jared Dudley had two blocks for the third straight game. These six swats equaled his total for the previous 49 games. “In our defense, you don’t want to foul; wall up for the weak side to come and block. Obviously, athleticism doesn’t mean blocks all the time,” said Dudley. “It is about timing, not like I am jumping high.”

  • Nene said after the game that he was probably not going to play against the Heat due to the toll of three games in a row on his body. The Big Brazilian told me before the game that his calf will always be a lingering issue due to the physical way he plays inside. Later I asked him if there were any refs he liked in the NBA, he immediately shot me an icy glance that answered my purposeful mischievous question. We discussed the situation of George Karl in Sacramento and he relayed that players either hate or love him. He pointed out that Kings big man Boogie Cousins started to dominate lately and probably was due to being motivated out of spite towards Karl. Nene was concerned about the health of his former coach in Denver. Nene admitted after Washington’s game in New York to giving ex-teammate Kevin Seraphin the same advice that he gave him for three years about how to use his talents consistently. With the Knicks having a new coach, he stressed to Seraphin that he must take advantage of this new opportunity because it could be his last to stick in the league. He was encouraged by Seraphin’s strong outing versus the Wizards. Nene spent the All-Star break in Miami with his wife, sans kids, but the weather didn’t cooperate, so he spent most the of the vacation in the hotel.

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Adam McGinnis
Reporter / Writer / Media at TAI
Adam is a bro from the Midwest who's been bopping around the District of Columbia for years. He's down with a range of sports, etc. and has covered the Washington Wizards for TAI since 2010.