Key Legislature: Wizards 106 at Suns 99 — Making Good on Meaningless Promises | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 106 at Suns 99 — Making Good on Meaningless Promises

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Updated: April 3, 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 Suns, Regular Season Game 76, April 1, 2015, by Sean Fagan (@McCarrick). Photo: instagram.com/washwizards.

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There have been so many statements of purpose for the Wizards this season that it is almost impossible to make an accurate determination on whether they actually believe in those statements. Since late February, every game that the Wizards have declared as a “must-win” has instead resulted in a loss—often in an embarrassing fashion as such demonstrated in ‘must-lose’ games against Chicago, Utah, and Sacramento.

If you reduce the stakes a tad and make the statements more personal, however, that is when the Wizards rise to the occasion. Such was the case in their win against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night, which kept the Wizards ever-dimming playoff prospects on life support. Before the game began, Markieff Morris had strong words for the team that had traded him (and had previously traded his twin brother), declaring he had “no trust” in the management of the Suns. He was resultingly (and perhaps appropriately) booed for the entirety of the contest by the Phoenix fans. Yet a funny thing happened on the way to the desert. Morris, instead of wilting under the ire of the crowd, perhaps had his best game as a Wizard—scoring a total of 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting, while also registering nine boards and four blocks.

Despite that output, the Wizards still trailed the Suns at the beginning of the fourth quarter by the score of 79-77. And for the first two minutes of the quarter, it looked as if Washington was going to squander Morris’ revenge game as they fell back into their bedrock bad habits, failing to score for two minutes and turning the ball over on consecutive bad passes (first John Wall, then Garrett Temple). Nene ended the drought with 10:57 remaining by draining a seven-foot jump shot. It would be nice to say that the momentum shifted at that point and the Wizards began to look the part of a real basketball team, but viewers had to endure four more minutes of increasingly terrible basketball before the game finally shifted in favor of the ‘Zards. Temple received a kicked ball violation, Nene shot an ill-advised 19-footer and got T’d up for an altercation with former Terrapin Alex Len, and generally both teams looked content to play the game of “whoever screws up the least wins.”

Luckily for the Wizards, the Suns seemed hell bent on throwing away the game, or at the very least throwing it into the waiting arms of Jared Dudley. With 7:56 remaining, Ramon Sessions put the Wizards up for the first time with a converted 15-footer, and following a turnover off a Chase Budinger pass (who completely imploded in the fourth quarter), Bradley Beal found himself guarded on the perimeter by the aforementioned Alex Len. Beal first attempted to break Len’s ankles with a crossover and then blew past the plodding Marylander, hitting a make-a-prayer layup at 7:20. It was as nice a play as one has seen from a Wizard this season and perhaps a microcosm of all that is wrong with the team—moments of individual brilliance always trumping transformative team play.

The Wizards further stretched their lead (thanks to some stellar offensive play from John Wall) and ended up winning the game 106-99, but for the most part the accomplishment felt hollow. Yes, Markieff Morris had his revenge upon his former employers, but wouldn’t a better revenge be getting the Wizards to the playoffs and denying the Suns the first round pick they are owed if the Wizards play golf? Should the Wizards have trailed throughout the game to a team in full rebuilding mode, whose star guard (Eric Bledsoe) has been shut down for the season (1), and had two starters (Alex Len and Ronnie Price) go a combine 2-for-20 from the field?

Following the win on Friday, and after a Pacers win over the 76ers on Saturday night, the Wizards sat three games out of the final playoff spot behind Indiana. The question is whether anyone would actually want to see the Wizards in the playoffs considering how aesthetically unappealing their play been throughout the year. Some will cling to the two percent chance they still have to make up the ground (2), but it would have perhaps been better to lose to the Suns and inch closer to elimination. Because that might have forced some level of change on either management or the coaching staff’s part.

Instead, execution was stayed. Let us see if Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will deliver the death blow this afternoon.


  1. Brandon Knight is hurt, too.
  2. FiveThirtyEight gives the Wiz a 13 percent as of this morning.
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Sean Fagan
Reporter / Writer/Gadfly at TAI
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Sean has contributed to TAI since the the dawn of Jan Vesely and has been on the Wizards beat since 2008. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo and SI.com. He still believes that Mike Miller never got a fair shot.