Roses Really Smell Like Poo-Poo-ooh — Wizards at Trail Blazers, DC Council 63 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Roses Really Smell Like Poo-Poo-ooh — Wizards at Trail Blazers, DC Council 63

By
Updated: March 9, 2016

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards at Trail Blazers, Game 63, March 8, 2016 from the Moda Center at Rose Quarter in Portland, Oregon, via John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend). Photo: instagram.com/nba.

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M.V.P.

Damian Lillard. And CJ McCollum. Both, why not? They’re the third highest scoring duo in the NBA (1), combining for 46.7 points per game.

On this night, they combined to score 59 points … with Lillard putting up 41 (and 11 assists) by himself.

Long shots? Sure. Together they shot 8-for-18 (44.4%) from 3.

Tough shots? You bet. Together they shot 19-for-41 (46.3%) from the field.

Free shots? Also good … good enough to make more free throws (13) than the Wizards—the whole team (11).

Here’s the best way to put it: Lillard was everywhere his team needed him to be, whether that was opening the game with a bang (13 points on six shots) or outscoring the Wizards 9-5 in overtime. And McCollum, well, he picked up wherever Lillard left off: crossing up Garrett Temple, beating defenders to the hoop, and getting buckets every which way.

Note: Not just picking on Temple because he’s the hustling utility infielder or whatever. Points conceded: 25 (including two free throws). The Blazers shot 9-for-16 against Temple overall (5-for-8 on 3s and 4-for-8 on 2-pointers), per NBA.com player tracking data.

L.V.P.

Option A: Free throws.
Yeah, they’re a perennial LVP contender… They have been all season, and last, and the one before. Since the All-Star break, the Wizards are shooting 67.5 percent from the free throw line, the third worst mark in the NBA. Overall, they’re hitting 73.7 percent of their charitable attempts, which ranks 25th.

“It’s a game we thought we should have won,” Wall said. “But missing those free throws was a big key to the game.”

Option B: Shot selection down the stretch.
Toward the end of the fourth and into overtime… The awkward Markieff Morris post-ups didn’t work, not even against the comparatively Lilliputian McCollum or Lillard, who were switching on every 1/4 pick-and-roll.

Option C: That Marcin Gortat game-winner in regulation.
The Polish Machine—not Hammer, definitely not Hammer—was gifted yet another beautiful dime at the basket from a driving Jared Dudley. But Gortat decided to trust in a layup when a dunk attempt would have, at the very least, earned a pair of free throws. He’s hitting 72.3 percent from the free throw line this season. Perfectly adequate! How he got blocked by a 6-foot-5 role player from Duke…

Option D: Shot selection.
The Wizards attempted 99 shots. Washington totaled just 20 attempts from 3, making eight (40%). They were 8-for-17 in the paint (47.1%) and 18-for-32 in the restricted area (56.3%). And from midrange, the Wiz attempted 30 shots, making 11 (36.7%).

Let’s not look past the long 2-point jumpers from John Wall that just weren’t falling. And yet with 53 seconds to play in overtime, down two points, that’s EXACTLY what Randy Wittman drew up: Wall accepted the hand-off from Morris, then promptly missed a 21-foot J. Textbook #RandyBall. A Lillard layup on the other end all but ended it.

Was it a bad shooting night overall? Not really. The Wiz finished 45.5 percent from the field, 0.6 percent behind Portland, who attempted seven fewer midrange jumpers and four more 3s. But poor shot selection stings.

Option E: Kelly Oubre.
Roooooough night for the rookie. He tried to do too much and didn’t dish enough (seven passes total and no assists in 10 minutes).

Decisions… No, the real L.V.P. on this night is Alan Anderson, who couldn’t control his temper, ordered up a chicken wing to beat back a too-close-for-comfort Gerald Henderson, and got tossed in just 71 seconds of action. He was the bad domino. Anderson’s ejection, questionable as it may have been, stole whatever was left of Washington’s newfound depth—and had an underused rookie in Oubre thrown into the fire to get cooked. Perhaps as a result of a gameplan gone awry, Wittman forgot about Gortat, who sat for more than 11 minutes between the third and fourth quarters. Gortat was the only starter with a positive plus/minus to go with 19 points and 10 boards.

X-Factor(s).

Ramon Sessions for Washington, sneaking past Jared Dudley like so many Blazers defenders on Tuesday night, and Ed Davis for the home team.

Not sure I remember a better game from Ramon Sessions, who has been a problem for opposing defenses off the bench all year. He’s second on the team in free throw attempts per game (3.8), behind Wall, but wayyy ahead in Free Throw Rate (2) (.541).

Sessions not only paced the team in scoring with 21 points, but also free throw attempts (although he only went 2-for-5), while adding five assists and four rebounds. His floaters were falling and so were his bouncy layup attempts, helping him finish 6-for-6 on contested shot attempts and 9-for-12 from the field overall. A huge boost for the second unit.

As for Davis, he had nine points but was a monster on the glass, of particular importance in this contest. Davis had 29 rebound chances—no player had more—and secured 15 boards. Five of those rebounds were offensive and the Blazers big always seemed to be near the ball, stealing possessions from the Wizards.

That Game Was …

… a brutal reminder of what the Wizards really are. 

Washington came into the game with a misplaced identity as a surging Eastern Conference power, fresh off two wins (and two near defeats) against 76ers twice, one against the Cavaliers (without LeBron, who owned them in the second meeting a week later), and another road win against the Timberwolves. No, these supposedly “hot” or kind of hot Wizards had won fewer than half (12) of their previous 25 games. The Blazers were closer to the real deal, winning 18 of 25.

It’s not quite a difference in talent, as Kyle Weidie pointed out on Twitter. Sometimes, he said, it takes talent to win games. In the first half, it looked like the Wizards had flipped the script. They finished the half on a 17-6 run, storming back to take a 55-54 halftime lead and, somehow, shifting the gravitational force of statistics and expectations.

Hope, some might say. The Blazers, in their last 31 games, were 19-1 when leading at half but 1-10 when trailing.

The second half started with great promise, too. Two minutes into the third quarter, the Blazers were down 10. John Wall was blocking shots, making shots, creating shots, doing everything except turning the ball over. Portland was giving up second-chance points, committing offensive fouls, getting punched. Then, as they SO OFTEN DO, things began to fall apart. Markieff Morris picked up his fourth foul, McCollum hit a 3, Lillard was pressuring Wall, and the Blazer bigs were sagging to force Wall to pull-up from midrange. Turnovers from Morris (2), Gortat (1) and Nene (1) didn’t help the cause, either. Porter missed an open corner 3, Wall missed a layup…

Lillard then hit a 3—four-point game just like that. Wall, lashing out at the refs, got slapped with a tech. Lillard hit the free throw. Next, Wall air-balled a pull-up jumper. Lillard then hit a 3 with Temple, screened and slow in the chase, to tie it at 71. Another missed 3 by Otto and two missed free throws by Wall later, the Blazers found themselves with a three-point lead thanks to a handful of free throws from Allen Crabbe (fouled on a 3-point attempt).

McCollum built a fire and the Blazers led 85-81 after three quarters.

The game remained close: five lead changes in the fourth quarter, with no team leading by more than seven points. With less than 20 seconds to play, John Wall snuck away from the crowd, somehow (because the Blazers D was franticly trying to seal lanes to the rim), camped above the break, received a skip pass from Dudley and buried a 3. The Wiz led 104-102 with 15.8 to play in the fourth quarter. McCollum sent Temple to the floor on the Blazers’ next possession and tied the game with a hanging midrange jumper. That was just moments before Gortat got blocked by Gerald Henderson at the rim, and minutes before the overtime offensive devolved into Markieff Morris jumpers (including a 3 in transition, which NOPE), and other disjointed possessions.

John Wall very often bails the Wizards out. On Tuesday night in Oregon, he did not. And too often too many of his teammates seemed to be standing around waiting for another Wall miracle. The Blazers offense whirred like a Tesla Model S, while Washington grinded like someone whose only tools were a mortar and pestle.

Everybody saw this Wizards loss coming, even when they had a lead with time running out. That is just what the Wizards (30-33) do.

What are Washington’s chances at a postseason berth now? Depends on who you ask. FiveThirtyEight’s forecast gives them a 22 percent chance, while ESPN’s BPI Playoff odds have them at 9.8 percent.


  1. Behind only Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, both tied for first at 52.2 per.
  2. FTr is the number of free throw attempts per field goal attempt.
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John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.