The Hunted Prove Hunters in the Midwest — Wizards at Timberwolves, DC Council 60 | Wizards Blog Truth About

The Hunted Prove Hunters in the Midwest — Wizards at Timberwolves, DC Council 60

Updated: March 3, 2016

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards at Timberwolves, Game 60, March 2, 2016 from the Target Center, via John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend).


John Wall, owner of the dagger seen in the Vine above. The hilt, ornate, agrees with the design of his palm, and the mandolin-sharp blade curves to his precise specifications. He wields the steel, life-ending technology not with menace but routine professionalism—done it before. Goodnight, Wall says, as he flicks his wrist.

Fourteen points and 12 assists speak to his impact, but the double-double glosses over the process. John Wall played a vintage John Wall game, in the sense that he commanded attention from Minnesota’s best, and yet the timing of his contributions, minor and momentum-swinging alike, are unique to this 2015-16 season.

Up just four points to the then-19-41 ‘Wolves with four seconds to play in the first half? More than enough time left on the clock. Wall would shimmy past Ricky Rubio near the scorer’s table, tip-toeing inside the field of play, before turning on the burners to jet past a pair of defenders in the paint. Three, two, one… The ball? Persuaded to fall through the hoop as the first-half clock read all zeros. The Wizards, thanks to Wall, finished the half with the best possible shot and result: points from nothing and a six-point lead.


Here, with the Wolves still threatening midway through the third quarter, Wall asserts himself. Notice, he’s the first Wizards player down the floor. Both Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio are forced to fold into the paint. Wall had the option to drop the ball to Marcin Gortat, which would have resulted in an easy dunk (or layup, knowing the Pole’s scoring preferences), but chose instead to fire the ball out to the near corner, where Beal would knock down the uncontested trey. Seven-point lead, Washington. A three-possession game.


Later, Wall is the center of attention with five ticks left on game clock in the third quarter. Adreian Payne and Zach LaVine double on the perimeter but fail to slow the All-Star, who splits their coverage, forcing Karl-Anthony Towns to advance from his post under the rim. Irrelevant, really, as Wall’s target on this play is not the rim but the team of red, white and blue shooters in the ready position along the 3-point line. Jared Dudley, Ramon Sessions and Alan Anderson are all wide-open—not a single defender within 10 feet. Sessions is chosen from the bunch and buries the uncontested 3. Eight-point lead, Washington. A three-possession game.


Influence. “Those two are…” Timberwolves analyst Jim Peterson sighed, before taking a moment to consider how to best describe John Wall and Bradley Beal. He settled on “a thing of beauty.” Washington’s star guards had all but ended the game with a drive-and-kick bomb from beyond the arc. Peterson’s team was now down 10 points with fewer than four minutes to play. Given the way Minnesota shoots 3s (they don’t), there was no coming back. Everybody knew it.

All John Wall.


Garrett “The Unguarded One” Temple. Hot trash on this night, Temple paced the Wizards in personal fouls (4) and missed every one of his five uncontested field goal attempts on his way to locking in a team-worst plus/minus of minus-10. He was 0-for-4 from the 3-point line; his only make was an easy layup on an open basket after an offensive rebound. Temple was asked to defend just seven shot attempts, but conceded baskets on four occasions, making his Defensive Field Goal Percentage a not-at-all-intimidating 57.1 percent. (On the season, it’s a pedestrian 44%.)

I’ve seen better from Wittman’s favorite hustle player, but never expect much more.


The Wizards’ bench. Ain’t that right, Ricky?

“They have a pretty good bench scoring,” Rubio told the media after the game. “We fought, we played a decent game, but our defense wasn’t that good. Of course, we made a lot of mistakes, but especially on defense. Something that we have to learn.”

All those mistakes added up to 64 points for Washington’s reserves, who shot 64.1 percent from the field and 52.9 percent from 3. Beal, coming off the bench once again, was a red-hot 10-for-15 from the field and out-scored Minnesota’s second unit by himself, 26-18. Signs of maturity from Big Panda: once pivoting to create space then drawing contact before finishing the three-point play; and later, in the third quarter, pushing the ball in transition before stepping in front of a chasing Adreian Payne in the paint, absorbing the contact, and-1.

Alan Anderson, D.C.’s Minneapolis native, shot 6-for-9 overall and 4-for-7 from long-range. His 18 points were more than starters Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, and Garrett Temple could muster combined. “It’s been a long, long journey with trying to get this ankle right,” Anderson said post-game. “But it feels much better to contribute and to help us win.”

That Game Was … Harder Than It Had To Be.

But a win is a win is a win. And wins are never easy to come by—not in the NBA, as Randy Wittman will tell you. And certainly not when Randy Wittman is your head coach.

Having the team’s franchise players show up and show out helps. Fourteen of John Wall’s 18 field goal attempts were of the uncontested variety, and he hit six of those shots (42.9%). Ten of Bradley Beal’s 15 shot attempts were uncontested and he hit seven (70%). That’s major, and it’s especially nice to see Beal operate effectively as a secondary creator and primary scorer on the second unit, dominating under calculated control with a usage rate of 28.4 percent.

“I don’t look at it as punishment or anything like that with Witt putting me on the bench,” Beal said. “Me just being aggressive, just taking advantage of matchups that are out there.”

The Washington Wizards are .500 for the first time in what feels like forever. Twenty-two games to go and the Wiz Kids are right there in the mix, kids.


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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.