Key Legislature: Wizards 129 vs Timberwolves 132 — Devastation on Fun Street | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 129 vs Timberwolves 132 — Devastation on Fun Street

By
Updated: March 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. T-Wolves at Wizards, Regular Season Game 72, March 25, 2016, by Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis). Photo: Monumental Sports

Beal Look Depressed

Bad defense, lousy finishing, poor free throw shooting, taking possessions off, unfortunate luck, self-inflicted mistakes, and questionable coaching decisions—all marked the Wizards’ inexcusable and demoralizing 129-132 double-overtime defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves last Friday.

Once again, Washington failed to protect their home court against an inferior opponent and, likely, have plunged a dagger into their fading post-season chances. Bradley Beal summed up the desperate situation: “It was a horrible loss. Plain and simple. There’s no explanation about it. We shouldn’t have lost that game.”

Late-game miscues were apparent, but Washington’s lackluster defense allowed Minnesota to gain confidence throughout. Coach Randy Wittman agreed with this assessment. “We lost the game in the first half, the way we came out and played absolutely zero defense and allowed them to feel good about themselves and get into the game,” Wittman said. “Allow them 62 points in the first half again, that’s not a formula for us.”

Washington’s suspect defense seen earlier in the season was resurrected—a bit of a surprise, given they ranked fourth in defensive efficiency since the All-Star Break (100.2 points allowed per 100 possessions). Their defensive efficiency was a dismal 121.3 versus Minnesota.

Not so much in the clutch.

To add sporting insult to playoff-chance injury, Washington blew multiple opportunities to close out this game. They led by seven points with two minutes left in regulation, but relented. They were up four points in the first overtime with 27 seconds remaining and couldn’t finish the job. Then, the Wizards had their five-point advantage in double overtime erased by an 8-0 Minnesota run. Beal missed two open looks at walk-off game winners. I asked him afterward about how the shots felt leaving his hand. “They felt good,” Beal said. “I wish I would have made them, but, you know, it is what it is.”

John Wall, who was fantastic with 22 points and 16 assists, passed up a game winner at the rim to throw it to Jared Dudley, who missed a midrange jumper.

The Timberwolves were a perfect 22-for-22 from the free throw line; the Wizards shot 16-for-23. Washington was down one point with 15 seconds left in double overtime and Marcin Gortat, who shoots better than 70 percent from the line, missed two straight free throws. The shots were not even close.

Mental and physical physicality: missing.

This team’s continual lack of focus on individual possessions finally caught up with them. In the second overtime, the Wizards committed a shot clock violation and were forced to throw up an off-balance (and errant) prayer to barely beat the shot clock on consecutive offensive possessions. In game 72, against a 23-win team, this is just unacceptable offense in crunch time.

While Washington was misfiring on key shots, Minnesota was coming up clutch. Gorgui Dieng, who was 4-for-15 on 3-pointers on the season, drilled a corner 3-ball to force overtime. Zach LaVine hit two wild 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds of the first overtime.

The injury bug bit Washington again: Markieff Morris left the game after just nine first-half minutes with a calf cramp. Randy Wittman responded by using his big lineup of Nene and Gortat together. The bigs did OK together, but Wittman got burned by not subbing one out for defensive purposes.

The defeat left their All-Star point guard in a somber mood.

“Pretty devastating,” Wall said after the game. “We know how important it was—probably the game of the year—and to have a lead with a minute and 30 seconds, up seven or nine, to not stick with our defensive principles or not just get a shot every time and have a good shot, it is frustrating.”

This was a stark missed opportunity for Washington to even their record before embarking on a five-game West Coast road trip. Now, they are two games below .500, three and a half games out of the final playoff spot held by the Detroit Pistons. The Wizards will have to win their remaining 10 games to even have a shot of catching the Pistons. 

This loss is going to sting for awhile. 

VIDEOS.

Adam McGinnis on EmailAdam McGinnis on FacebookAdam McGinnis on FlickrAdam McGinnis on GoogleAdam McGinnis on TwitterAdam McGinnis on Youtube
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.