They Got The Jazz, They Got The Jazz — Wizards vs Jazz, DC Council 52 | Wizards Blog Truth About

They Got The Jazz, They Got The Jazz — Wizards vs Jazz, DC Council 52

Updated: February 19, 2016

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards vs Jazz Game 52, Feb. 18, 2016 from the Verizon Center, via Rashad Mobley (@rashad20).


I was really proud of our guys today. We stressed coming out and doing some things defensively that was important for us tonight to really try to speed the pace up and it all stemmed from what we were doing defensively. We came out and executed that plan as good as I could ask. We forced 23 turnovers and 34 fast break points, one of the better teams in the league allowing fast break points and to get 34 that was big for us, I really liked our pace and it all started, like I said, from our defensive pressure – Randy Wittman



Perhaps it is a cop-out to name Marcin Gortat and John Wall the co-MVPs of last night’s victory over the Utah Jazz.  But given that just a few days ago Paul George and Russell Westbrook should have been named the co-MVPs of the cartoonish All-Star game, and Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine were arguably tied at the end of the dunk contest, it is appropriate enough that the post All-Star performances of two Washington Wizards are recognized concurrently. Balance in the force is necessary.

Gortat had a rough start initially with just three points and two fouls against Rudy Gobert in the first 5:41 of first quarter play. He did manage to block three shots (one on Rudy Gobert and two on Raul Neto) but he was unable to get untracked offensively and the Wizards trailed by two points when he left the game.  Once Dudley subbed in for him, and Nene was the only “5” on the floor, the Wizards went on an 11-2 run to turn that deficit into a four-point lead.

Gortat re-entered the game with 10:08 left in the second quarter, and immediately went to work on offense.  First he hit an 11-footer and a tip-in layup on consecutive offensive possessions, then he scored two more baskets inside of three feet later in the quarter.  He was an equal opportunity offender as he scored on Gobert, Trevor Booker and Derrick Favors.

In the fourth quarter, when the Wizards led by 12 with 3:32 left and were looking to close the door on the Jazz, Gortat’s offense and defense were once again on display.  First he scored a three-foot basket via an adept interior pass by Jared Dudley.  Then he blocked a Gordon Hayward jumper in the paint, then he ran the floor and set a pick on Rodney Hood on the other end of the floor during the secondary break, and then this happened:

Gortat finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds (four offensive) against the sizable and challenging frontline of Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors.  More importantly he blocked five shots–four more than Gobert who is second in the NBA in blocked shots with 2.4 per game.

Prior to last night’s game, Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder referred to the John Wall as the “straw that stirs the Wizards drink”, and he also said that once Wall gets going he’s almost impossible to stop.  Wall had just 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting, and he took some ill-advised quick shots at the end of the second and third quarters.  But in terms of running the offense, dictating the pace, and getting his teammates involved, he was able to impose his will against the inexperiencd Raul Neto and the mildly seasoned Trey Burke, who had previously missed three games due to injury. Wall’s play helped the Wizards amass 34 fastbreak points, 15 more than their season average.  The Game Changer had 15 assists, six rebounds, and kept the Jazz off-balance as evidenced by Jazz guard Gordon Hayward’s post game comments, ““It is problematic for us. They are running and dunking, three pointers, and now we have to walk the ball up the court. They are able to deny our wings, kind of take us out of what we like to do, so it is bad for both ends of the court.”



Randy Wittman and his staff deserve credit for devising a defensive plan centered around taking the Jazz out of their offensive comfort zone. Both John Wall and Jared Dudley made comments after the game that the Jazz offense is most effective when run via the top of the key, and the Wizards took that away and forced them into one-on-one basketball, which isn’t the Jazz way of basketball.  The Wizards forced them into 23 turnovers which resulted in the aforementioned 34 fast break points, which played a large part in the Wizards’ win.

But Bradley Beal did not start and Kelly Oubre was on Mateen Cleaves cleanup duty once again.  You may think that line of criticism against Coach Wittman is simply an example of nitpicking and misguided homerism, but it is neither.

Bradley Beal is on a 25 minute-per-game restriction, but last night’s game against the Jazz was played after Beal had been inactive for an entire week.  Beal could have easily started with Wall, and they both could have done their very best to put a bit of distance in between the Wizards and the Jazz early in the game.  Perhaps they would have gotten out to a 20-point lead early in the game, which would have enabled Coach Wittman to rest the starters late in the third quarter or perhaps early in the fourth.  Instead, Beal came off the bench and did not heat up until the fourth quarter, when he scored 11 points in seven minutes.

And on a night when Dudley, Otto Porter and Garrett Temple combined to shoot just 5-for-21 with 17 points, Kelly Oubre surely deserved some impactful minutes.  Instead, he entered the game with 1:50 left, when the outcome was clearly no longer in doubt.  To make matters worse, when TAI’s Adam Rubin asked  why Oubre’s play was sporadic last night and for several games beforehand, Coach Wittman’s answer was predictably unsatisfying:

“I can’t play 15 guys…this isn’t about one individual on the team, he didn’t play tonight…I know who Kelly is and what he can do.”

No one was asking Wittman to play 15 guys. Only 11 players were active, and one of those players was Jarell Eddie (a D-League call-up made permanent de facto end-of-the-bench player).  Oubre has previously won the praises of his head coach for his defensive play–something Coach Wittman continuously mentions as missing. If Drew Gooden could play meaningful minutes in the early quarter, why not Oubre? Wittman failed to provide a clear answer.


Some big men like DeAndre Jordan dominate by grabbing all the rebounds and dunking the ball with authority. Others like Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside use blocked shots as their weapon of choice. Nene can neither block shots nor rebound consistently, but what he can do is use his physicality to dominate in and around the paint.

Nene scored 14 of his 16 points inside the paint, and routinely drove by Gobert and Favors by strategically using his dribble and scary-man elbows to score at will in the lane and draw fouls on the Jazz frontcourt.  He inflicted most of his damage in the third quarter when seemingly none of his other teammates were able to get untracked offensively. He scored on finger rolls, dunks, via the free throw line, and even stepped out and hit a jumper from 20-feet.

The chances are slim to none that Nene will remain in the starting lineup once Markieff Morris gets acclimated to the Wizards way of doing business, but at least on this night Nene demonstrated that (for now) he is spry, healthy and ready for these last 30 games.

Bradley Beal was held in check for much of the three quarters (1-for-7 from the field) thanks to the pesky defense of the Jazz’s Chris Johnson.  He was even hit in the face by his old teammate and famed cereal lover Trevor Booker at one point, which caused him to remove his mask and gingerly walked back to bench.  However,  towards the end of the third quarter, after an Otto Porter steal, Beal ran the floor, took a pass from Nene and dunked it home.

As Coach Wittman alluded to after the game, that Beal dunk, combined with Chris Johnson moving to he bench in favor of Rodney Hood, seemed to energize Beal and the Wizards in the fourth quarter.  The Wizards move this season has been to blow big leads in the third and fourth quarter, and Beal single-handedly prevented that with his play.  He flashed a euro-step (heretofore known as #PandaStep), he hit stepback and pullup jumpers and he hit a three-point shots-all of which allowed him to get into the lane when necessary.  On one possession he threw an errant pass which was stolen by Hood. Beal sprinted down the court to block Hood’s shot from behind, then grabbed the rebound and found Ramon Sessions wide open for a layup.

He is still under a minutes restriction (he played 23 minutes) and he declared that he was going to play tonight against Pistons, provided the doctors cleared him.  But for one quarter, it looked as if the Wall/Beal tandem was in rhythm and in playoff form–something that has been sorely missed in this season of inconsistency.

That game was …an excuse for unbridled optimism

The criticism of this year’s Washington Wizards team has been their lack of sustained defensive focus over a four-year span, the dearth of sustained health to key players like Bradley Beal, the inconsistent play of the healthy Wizards players and the seemingly clueless coaching staff.

Last night against the Jazz, the Wizards carried out with the defensive scheme of their defensive coaches, they had the healthy services of all their players except Gary Neal (leg) and Alan Anderson (ankle), and they maintained their defensive and offensive focus long enough to come out victorious.

In addition to the magic the Wizards were able to create on the court against the Jazz, Ernie Grunfeld also acquired Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris in exchange for a protecive first round pick.

Before the game, Washington Wizards bloggers and writers openly voiced their concenrs (via the Wizards backroom) about Morris’ abilities as an offensive player, and whether he was a good fit given his tumultuous past. But as it turns out, Jared Dudley has aligned himself as Morris’ best friend, confidante and mentor, and will NOT let him fall.  Dudley gave a fair and balanced assessment of his friendship with Morris, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of his game:

I had Markieff during his rookie year. He’s a good kid. When I was there, he had no problems. He had one problem, obviously this year when he had the situation where he felt disrespected, felt betrayed. I’m not going to defend him. Some of the stuff he did was unprofessional, but that being said, I guarantee you will have no problems with him here. He is a good friend of mine. I usually hang out with him in the summer time. It’s easy for me to mentor him. He’s a good kid. His mom lives 35-45 minutes away from here. He’s excited about coming here. I’ve already talked to him. He’s a starting power forward where he is very effective from 17’, 18’. He’s got a quick bounce where a lot of those drops off from John (Wall) will be dunks. He does have some flaws where he needs to work on his rebounding and defense, but he’s young. He has a good salary for this team moving forward and he’s someone we need. We need another body, another athlete. From the time he gets here, he’s going to be motivated to show people he’s not that player. He’s got a fresh start. Anytime you’ve got John Wall on your team, it’s going to make it a lot easier.

Again, this was one (makeup) game and if this Wizards squad has demonstrated anything, it is inconsistency. The inability to capitalize on seemingly must-win situations was neatly summarized in the win against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden right before the All-Star break followed by the loss to Milwaukee.  But on this night when optimism was unbridled, the defense was in sync, Morris was acquired, and the Wizards beat the Jazz thanks to the tried and true combo of Wall and Gortat, it is absolutely fair to speculate whether the Wizards are on the cusp of a sanitizing playoff run during the last 30 games of the season.



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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,, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.