Just Good Enough to Score More Points — Wizards at Suns, DC Council 76 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Just Good Enough to Score More Points — Wizards at Suns, DC Council 76

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Updated: April 2, 2016

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards at Suns, Game 76, April 1, 2016, from Phoenix, Arizona, via Kyle Weidie (@truth_about_it).

M.V.P.

Though the best scorers in the starting lineup combined for 64 points (22 from John Wall, 21 from Bradley Beal, and 21 from Markieff Morris), you can’t quite say that they played up to their potential. But they did enough, and their shots were hoisted with a certain confidence, given counterparts Ronnie Price, Devin Booker, and PJ Tucker, combined with the particular je ne sais quoi of a lackadaisical team way outside of the playoffs, looking in with nothing to lose.

In the first half Wall went 6-for-10 (16 points) with 12 of those points (5-8 FGs) quietly coming in the first quarter. In the second half Wall shot 3-for-10 (3-for-7 in the fourth quarter). But that’s where Beal picked up, shooting 2-for-4 in each the third and fourth quarters (16 second half points) after just going 2-for-6 in the first half. Morris, for his part, was balanced in making shots fueled by the boos Suns fans provided their former favored son with each time he touched the ball. The boos probably made him care just a little bit more, which is unfortunate but good enough. And that’s pretty much what the showing was from D.C.’s House of Guards (and buddies): unfortunate but good enough.

L.V.P.

No Wizard was particularly bad; they all just sort of pitched in to the drudgery. Only one player finished negative in plus-minus (Jared Dudley, -1), and Washington’s “average” lead was 1.38 points; Phoenix led in score for about 37 game minutes. Randy Wittman kept to a nine-man rotation with Garrett Temple, Nene, Ramon Sessions and Dudley unsurprisingly being the main players off the bench. It’s what could be expected with the nearly fully healthy squad the coach has at his disposal.

But if we wanted to pinpoint the least valuable player relative to court time we would point to Phoenix Sun and former Maryland Terrapin Alex Len. Not only did Len finish 1-for-10 from the floor, but only four attempts were within 10 feet (he was generally matched up against Morris), but his defense was … well, the Wizards appreciated the charity. A bevy of Washington’s play calls seemed aimed at isolation Beal versus Len in a switch. And there were several instances where Beal, even with his merely budding-towards-adequate handles, just left Len standing, frozen like a Ukrainian fish stick.

X-Factor.

Ramon Sessions went 3-for-7 and put up all zeros in the traditional box score aside from points (9 in 14:34)—he’s been slumping lately. But he went 3-for-3 for seven points in the fourth quarter and was part of the speck of light shining through a gap in the Wizards’ prison cell. On one particular play with just under five minutes left, Otto Porter set up in the far right corner, Morris in the far left, and Sessions set up on the left wing while Wall and Gortat distracted the defense with pick-and-roll action on the far right wing. As Sessions’ defender, Devin Booker, inched toward Wall and Gortat one inch too far, Wall whipped the ball cross court to Sessions who caught the pass on the move and in the air like a slot receiver off the line and darted into the paint. Tyson Chandler backpedaled as Gortat dove and Sessions had little resistance for a point-blank floater. This action was about 25 seconds after Sessions canned a 3-pointer and the five-point spurt gave the Wizards a 96-87 lead.

But let’s not get through this X-factor section without footnoting Jared Dudley. He only took two shots during his 14 minutes; one of them was a 3 and he made it. So he’s shooting 100 percent from deep for April so far, which is good since he went 5-for-30 (16.7%) over 16 games in the month of March. Dudley had achieved a least 50 3-point attempts and at least 42 percent shooting in each of the previous three months, but oh well. In Phoenix there was little evidence in the stat book that Dudley did anything over his 6:28 of action, but it was the simple things that helped: a crazed, cross-court double on Alex Len that resulted in a turnover, and a flailing of the body to reach and get a deflection that landed the ball in a teammate’s hands.

That Game Was … Whatever.

The Wizards looked terrible for about 40 minutes. They really did. Or was it that possessions in the doldrums, which can be randomly common during an 82-game stretch, were magnified by this glass-almost empty disappointing season? Or was it that the Suns are really inexperienced and the Wizards were going to manage to hang around no matter what? Washington went on a 17-7 run midway through the third quarter and it merely gave them a two-point lead, 75-73. And before the Wizards woke up during the game’s last eight minutes, seizing the lead for good with a 8-1 run, they led in score for a grand total of 128 seconds.

Whatever. They gone. Good for them and too little too late (but we’ll see). Washington pulled within 2.5 games of 8 seed Indiana … but the Pacers play in Philadelphia tonight. And in between are the Bulls, one back of Indy and 1.5 ahead of the Wizards. Chicago hosts the Pistons tonight and if anyone involved with the Wizards still cares, I guess they’d want Detroit to win. All three teams technically in play for 8th will play Sunday—Wizards at Clippers, Bulls at Bucks, and Pacers at Knicks. But let’s just take it day-by-day, game-by-game, and cliche-by-cliche, because soon for the Wizards, there will be no tomorrow. No John Wall, no Bradley Beal, no Wizards cohorts to take pleasure in but suffer through watching. Sports.

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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 currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.