Key Legislature: Wizards 120 at Nets 111 — Elusive .500 Record So Close, So Far Away | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 120 at Nets 111 — Elusive .500 Record So Close, So Far Away

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Updated: April 13, 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 at Nets Regular Season Game 81, April 11, 2016, by John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend).

I was THIS close to buying tickets to Monday night’s game in Brooklyn. How close? Real close. But the matchup was making it hard for me (1).

There’s no use spending good money on a bad product, a truism many of you readers, who probably paid to see the Wizards this season, can understand. And so, I watched this professional basketball exhibition game on my couch like the rest of the world (read: the few fans of either team left).

Proof? Taken moments before tip-off, this photo:

The Washington Wizards had nothing to play for, while the Nets … well, also had nothing to play for.

Brook Lopez: out.
Jarrett Jack: out.
Thaddeus Young: out.
Thomas Robinson: out.
Willie Reed: out.
Sergey Karasev (who?): out.
Markieff Morris: out.
Drew Gooden: out-ish
Nene: out.
Bradley Beal: out.
John Wall: out.

And last, but not least, because this is and was huge news:

Randy F. Wittman: out!

There’s so much to say here, but with intent of writing about Monday night’s basketball game, I’ll say this: Randy Wittman, like his team, was once an afterthought, later an overachiever, and ultimately, in 2016, an indefensible disappointment. As I wrote in February of 2015, the Wizards can do better than Randy Wittman and probably deserve better.

To sports reporting: Ramon Sessions started alongside Marcus Thornton, Otto Porter, Jared Dudley, and Marcin Gortat. Standing in the way of a win in game 81 were Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington, Chris McCullough, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Henry Sims.

The first two minutes of the game went exactly as you might expect. The Wizards’ respectable lost-season starters took one long, hard look at the capitulators in black and white across from them and immediately found themselves winning 10-0. That 10-0 lead doubled some blinks later, prompting Nets interim coach Tony Brown to call timeout.

Brooklyn, then down 20-0 in the first quarter, had the fight of a cardboard box in the rain. And so I would love to know what Coach Brown said in the huddle, or whether he fired up his charges by reading lines from “The Iliad,” because they stepped onto the floor and immediately scored a 3-pointer. The few thousand humans in the building roared with delight. Analytics THAT!

A few possessions later, it was 22-7, prompting one of the YES Network analysts to cheer, “The floodgates have opened.” I found that funny, but the Nets quickly found themselves trailing by just eight points. And just like that, Brooklyn kept pouring in buckets: three straight scores from worldbeater Shane Larkin cut the Wizards’ lead to three points, 51-48.

Timeout, Washington.

An off-balance midrange jumper from Jarrell Eddie followed the timeout (#RandyBall), which was followed by some of the wildest, low-quality basketball ever seen, which involved Bogdanovic launching (and making) from Curryville, Bojan taking Porter to the tin for an and-1 (to take the lead), and Sessions botching a handoff to Thornton which led to a breakaway dunk for Ellington.

That lead didn’t last long, because Jared Dudley swished a 3 from above the break. But holy cannoli, the Wizards since the first few minutes had been outscored 58-29 by Brooklyn’s rat pack of reserves.

Kelly Oubre, who played 29 minutes (his third highest total this season), saved his team some stick going into the locker room at halftime. He answered a Rondae Hollis-Jefferson reverse layup with a running 3-pointer to the tune of the blaring buzzer, then kept running into depths of the Barclays Center.

The Wizards led after 24 minutes, but just barely: 70-69. The two teams would combine for 198 points after three quarters, as the Wizards and Nets scooted and scored and ran into each other without any real designs or sophistication. It looked like pick-up with principles, at best, to borrow a Washingtonian basketball phrase.

Notable: The Nets did enjoy a four-point lead in the third quarter, which was the first lead they had played with in eight and a half games—since a win against the Pacers on March 26.

Given the shambolic circumstances, that’s nothing more than a fun fact. That’s especially true since the Wizards ended up winning the game quite comfortably, helped greatly by a 13-4 run. They outscored the Brooklyn 20-13 in the final quarter to hand them their ninth consecutive loss.

The Wizards won. A result of depth or overall talent or just not being the Nets?

“We knew at the end of the game if we continued to play that pace we’d be fine,” said ersatz All-Star point guard Ramon Sessions, who led all players in points (21). “We just had to get some stops and we did in that second half.”

Really, though, the Wizards stopped giving the Nets easy opportunities. Brooklyn scored a season-high 37 points in transition but were held to just four in the fourth quarter.

The Washington Wizards are 40-41 on the season, hot in pursuit of an ever-elusive .500 record. They play the 48-33 Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.


  1. “Too Close” by Next is a great song.
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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.