Key Legislature: Wizards 113 vs Hornets 98 — Dancing On Their Own Grave Like Nobody's Watching | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 113 vs Hornets 98 — Dancing On Their Own Grave Like Nobody’s Watching

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Updated: April 10, 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 vs Hornets, Regular Season Game 80, April 10, 2016, by Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace).

The Washington Wizards played their first meaningless game of the 2015-16 season on Sunday afternoon. Sure, they have been dead men walking for the last few weeks, but this was the first official game with nothing on the line. No playoffs. No jockeying for draft position. No conceivable reason for even waking up in the morning.

Head coach Randy Wittman slowly took his place in front of the pre-game media scrum like a guy arriving at a funeral. This was his first home game since the Washington Wizards were mercifully eliminated from playoff contention and he was in no mood to conduct a postmortem on the season:

“Let’s don’t get into that. There’s a time for that at the end of the season, the ‘whys’ or whatever.”

But there was one issue I wanted to discuss: the whereabouts of 2015 first-round draft pick Kelly Oubre. An innocuous question—”Do you expect to play Oubre a little more these last few games?”—received a very Wittman-esque response.

“We’ll see. We’ll see how things go, who’s available moving forward,” Wittman said.

The response left some baffled.

If they were baffled before the game, fans were surely frustrated during it as Wittman called for a parade of players off the bench—Marcus Thornton, Alan Anderson, Jared Dudley, Garrett Temple—before finally giving Oubre the nod with 5:20 left in the second quarter. In what hopefully is a sign of things to come, Wittman played Oubre the entire fourth quarter of the Wizards’ surprising win. Oh yeah, the Wizards won, forgot to mention that earlier—so more minutes may finally come Oubre’s way in the final two games of the season.

Kelly played relatively well, but that’s not really the point. Save for a 10-game stretch in mid-December, Oubre has not been a part of the Wizard’s rotation. With Washington eliminated from the playoffs, Oubre should claim his rightful place ahead of Thornton on the depth chart.

It’s fitting that Washington’s first meaningless game was against the Charlotte Hornets. Before the season started, I was asked to be a guest on Hive Talk Live, a Hornets podcast. They were previewing teams in the Eastern Conference that were transitioning to a small ball offense—just like the Hornets.

Washington was fresh off acquiring Alan Anderson, Jared Dudley and Gary Neal, all great 3-point shooters who would stretch the floor. Meanwhile, the Hornets were embarking on their own journey into 21st century team-building, acquiring Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lin and Frank Kaminsky, among others. Even though Charlotte endured significant injuries to two starters (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Al Jefferson), the results could not be more different.

David Aldridge recently wrote of the Hornets in his “Monday Morning Tip“:

“They have gotten with the league-wide program and put a team together that embraces 3-pointers and looks for those shots whenever possible. They have a charismatic star in Walker, the requisite flavoring (Nicolas Batum and Jeremy Lin) and they’re extremely well-coached and play defense under coach Steve Clifford.”

The last part of that quote should raise eyebrows in Washington. Apparently it’s not enough to simply tape boxes beyond the 3-point line on the Verizon Center practice floor. You also need to play defense with effort and energy—two buzz words that have become commonplace in Randy Wittman’s post-game press conferences.

For one game at least, the Wizards and Hornets switched places, with Washington playing the aggressor and Charlotte looking lost on defense.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford remarked after the game that his team was a step slow all day: “In the first timeout, they ran like three actions and we guarded none of them correctly. And that’s not our team.”

Washington’s win was even more unexpected given that Wall did not play and Bradley Beal was limited to seven (first-half) minutes due to a sore pelvis. Hornets forward Nicolas Batum took notice and declared the Wizards an honorary member of the postseason.

The sentiment is appreciated but the gesture is empty. I checked. Batum does not have administrator privileges to change playoff match-ups on nba.com.

https://twitter.com/BILLBELLAMY/status/719210465885196288

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Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.