Interceptions and Punts: Blowout in Cleveland — Wizards at Cavaliers, DC Council 61 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Interceptions and Punts: Blowout in Cleveland — Wizards at Cavaliers, DC Council 61

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Updated: March 5, 2016

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards at Cavaliers, Game 61, March 5, 2016 at The Q in Cleveland, via Kyle Weidie (@truth_about_it).

That Game Was … Electing to Surrender the Possession to the Other Team on Fourth Down Late in a Blowout Game—A Punt.

It’s still tough to gather the pixels you want to use in trying to determine where, exactly, the Wizards punted Friday night’s game in Cleveland. The losing margin: 25 points, 83-108. Washington lost each quarter—the first by four points, then 13 points, then three points, then five points in the final stanza.

Giving up 32 points to the Cavaliers in the second quarter while scoring 19 surely sticks out. But the groundwork was laid in the first quarter, and what’s not really a challenge is pin-pointing the moment. Garrett Temple missed two 3-pointers in the game’s first five minutes; Otto Porter also missed a 3 and a 19-footer during this span; and for good measure, John Wall missed a 3 that would have tied the game at 10, but then Wall fouled JR Smith and his free throws put Cleveland up 12-7. (Wall previously helped steer the ship early in the game with 12- and 20-foot made jumpers).

Enter Bradley Beal. Checking in for Temple with the usual five-plus minutes gone in the opening quarter, Beal immediately turned the ball over twice in a row—Washington’s first two turnovers of the game. A lackadaisical pass to Markieff Morris (which Morris could have attempted to gather less casually), immediately led to a LeBron James breakout dunk. The next time down the court, Beal maneuvered around a screen on the left wing, gleaned that the 4-spot-playing LeBron was somewhere in the paint, and attempted to pass the ball instead of penetrate further. LeBron knew, apparently, that this was exactly what was going to happen, so he sprung out of his textbook defensive help position and intercepted Beal’s pass attempt to Morris at the top of the key. Another crowd-frenzying LeBron dunk. Timeout, Wizards.

After the Timeout, Randy Wittman’s ATO secured Beal a 3 (assist from Wall), to keep the Wizards within six points, 10-16, but then the Wizards immediately gave up a 3 to JR Smith. Wittman’s team was lost, bumbling, overwhelmed. The game then got a little ugly; the teams traded turnovers and missed layups several times over the remainder of the first quarter.

Washington began the second quarter with Ramon Sessions, Beal, Temple, Jared Dudley, and Nene; and Wall checked in for Sessions after two and a half minutes. There was no offensive chemistry. Gears ground; Beal and Nene quickly missed close-range shots; and defensively, Matthew Dellavedova was allowed to maneuver unimpeded. The first half ended with a Beal turnover (his fourth at that juncture) and the Wizards down 17 (Washington conceding 10 team turnovers to Cleveland’s two, with the Cavs also holding a 30-18 advantage in paint points).

M.V.P.

LeBron playing 4 and people calling it “small ball” is a joke. That is not small ball (even if Cleveland’s backcourt featured Kyrie Irving, JR Smith, and Iman Shumpert); LeBron at the 5 would be small ball. No matter, LeBron was the MVP and specifically, his ability, along with 5 Timofey Mozgov, to outmaneuver Washington’s 4-5 combo of Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat. Mozgov scored six points (two dunks) in the first quarter; four points (two dunks) in the second quarter; four points (two dunks) in the third quarter (Mozgov actually missed four shots at the rim in the third); and Mozgov didn’t need to play in the fourth quarter. Three of Mozgov’s dunks were assisted by LeBron and three of his total dunks were alley-oops.

Final Analytic: One Randy Wittman refused to answer a question after the game about all of Mozgov’s dunks.

L.V.P.

Markieff Morris’ defense. The guy can move his feet and is more nimble, on average, than others his size. But his defensive awareness in terms of where to be and when is very subpar—something that’s been present since he landed in Washington. Morris was completely out of position versus LeBron several times, and that left Washington’s defense reeling. LeBron should have had a triple-double but 19 points on 18 shots with 13 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1 turnover in 30 minutes will have to do.

X-Factor.

To start, Beal’s carelessness. He simply was not aware of space, time, LeBron, or, well, anything in Cleveland. Beal went 4-for-12 with 5 turnovers, 1 assist, and a game-worst minus-22. X-Factors can contribute to losses, too. But we’re not done. When Garrett Temple is subpar, he is really subpar, and he is a quite terrible 3-point shooter to boot.

Believe it or not, John Wall leads the Wizards in 3-point attempts (262) on the season. Wall has also played 490 more minutes than any other Wizard (Gortat is in second place). Wall is shooting 34 percent on his 3s (not bad), then Dudley is shooting 45.5 percent on 202 attempts, and then Beal is shooting 38.1 percent on 202 attempts. But what really hurts the Wizards is the next two in line: Temple is shooting 31.2 percent on 199 3-point attempts and Otto Porter is shooting 33.3 percent on 195 attempts. The Wizards personnel constructors, even though they have tried in earnest, continue to fail when it comes to surrounding John Wall with the appropriate amount of shooters who can make ‘em.

Finally: So Temple scored zero points on five missed shots (four of them 3s), and Porter scored four points on 1-for-5 shooting, and Dudley scored zero points on one missed shot (only played 15 minutes), and Nene scored six points on six shots. Washington needed at least 1.5 of those four to show up in order to compete in Cleveland, and that didn’t happen. It is also worth noting that Alan Anderson–who scored 18 points in a strong effort off the bench against Minnesota–was in his familiar street-clothes role against Cleveland.

On to the next one: the Pacers (coming off a seven-point loss in Charlotte on Friday night) are in the District of face the sub-.500 Wizards on a Saturday night. The last time time Wizards played the Pacers on January 15th, they were victorious and reached the .500.mark. The Wizards will have a chance to do the same at the Verizon Center tonight.

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.