Key Legislature: Wizards 124 at Pistons 81 — Motoring Past the Stan Van Clunkers | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 124 at Pistons 81 — Motoring Past the Stan Van Clunkers

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Updated: March 15, 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 Pistons, Regular Season Game 66, March 14, 2016, by Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis) from the Verizon Center. Photo: Monumental Network.

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“This team is bipolar.”
 That’s what a Verizon Center security guard told me during the second half of Washington’s blowout win versus Detroit.

It was an apt description for this confusing professional basketball team. The Wizards returned home from a disastrous West Coast road trip, entering Monday night’s contest on a five-game losing streak. The Pistons, meanwhile, had won seven out of 10, including impressive victories over Portland, Dallas, and Toronto.

Still, the two teams are jockeying for a postseason berth and a playoff tiebreaker was on the line. Washington waxed Detroit last month, and the Pistons were assumed to be extra motivated for payback. The Wizards had self-destructed in many of their recent losses, appearing mentally checked out.

So, of course, Washington demolished Detroit, 124-81, handing the Pistons their worst loss in 22 years (and the fourth-largest in Washington’s franchise history). The Wizards produced a season high in points, field goal percentage (57%), and assists (34); and on defense, they allowed a season low in points. This beatdown came out nowhere: bi-polar, indeed.

Pistons Coach Stan Van Gundy kept his post-game commentary sharp and brief:

“There’s not going to be a lot of analysis on this one tonight. We got our ass kicked at both ends. They dominated us.”

The game’s defining moment? When the ball was tipped. Washington jumped on Detroit immediately, forcing Van Gundy to call two timeouts in the first four minutes. Mid-first quarter scores in Washington’s favor: 13-4, 23-6, 30-9, 34-11. Seven different Wizards scored in the opening period, with four players hitting a 3-pointer. Detroit finished with more turnovers (7) than made shots (6). The Wizards had 11 assists compared to only one for the Pistons. Washington ended the first quarter up 19 points; Detroit never got closer than that margin. This one was an early wrap.

John Wall was fantastic in getting his teammates involved, especially Marcin Gortat. The All-Star point guard tallied 15 points, 12 assists, and five rebounds, while sitting the final 14 minutes of the game. Randy Wittman stated that it was the best game Markieff Morris played as a Wizard. The former Kansas University standout was an effective playmaker in the post, flashing adept passing and shot-making abilities. Morris can be a valuable asset if he continues to do work down low, refraining from so many step-back jumpers. There was even a Nuggets Nene flashback, too: the big Brazilian chipped in a season-high 20 points and delivered stare-downs after monster dunks. He even made a jump shot and all four of his free throw attempts.

That’s not all. Gortat avoided foul trouble and was a force inside. Bradley Beal, returning to the starting lineup after missing the past three games due to a sprained pelvis, displayed solid offensive moves. Otto Porter made an impact with his activity in the passing lanes. And the offense didn’t miss a beat when backup point Ramon Sessions was at the helm.

Washington’s offense clicked, and their shaky defense found structure on Monday night. Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson was stymied on the perimeter, and the Wiz bigs once again outplayed Detroit’s All-Star center, Andre Drummond. They held the Pistons’ best two players to a combined four points in the first half and just 15 for the entire game.

I asked Wall what they did specifically to shut down Jackson:

“Just play team defense, my big men helping me,” Wall said. “Him getting into early foul trouble helped us out a lot.”  

Wittman admitted the team did a lot of film study beforehand to correct some defensive issues. Wall documented their changes:

“Simplify, and looked at our weak-side defense. We wasn’t helping. Whoever was guarding the big man or the guard was trying to figure it out on their own. We can’t do that.

“We got back to helping the helper. The weak-side being there. And being in the passing lanes.”

In a disappointing season marred by injuries, lackluster effort and missed opportunities, it was mildly cathartic to see Washington dominate a team with playoff aspirations from start to finish. This thrashing was either a swift kick in a playoff run for Washington, or just another false glimmer of hope. With Chicago visiting on Wednesday, and winnable games on the horizon versus the 76ers and Knicks, there is still a chance for salvation. 

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(Via Monumental Network]

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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.