From Unacceptable to Pretty, Pretty Good in 24 Hours — Wizards 119, Knicks 112 | Wizards Blog Truth About

From Unacceptable to Pretty, Pretty Good in 24 Hours — Wizards 119, Knicks 112

Updated: November 18, 2016

Washington Bullets game first-hand game coverage from TAI — Now: Knicks at Bullets, Game 11, November 17, 2016, via Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace).

[Ed. Note: This was a throwback game with Washington officially referred to as the Bullets. Accordingly, the author will refer to the team as the Bullets throughout this post.] 

Marcin Gortat didn’t say it, but this was a must-win game. And Washington responded with a blowout-turned-too-close-for-comfort 119-112 win against the New York Knickerbockers.

The Bullets played the exact opposite way they did against the Sixers the night before, and achieved the exact opposite result. In Philadelphia, Washington played no defense (allowing the Sixers to shoot 54.5%) and fell behind by 24 points before clawing back to within single digits during a furious, yet unsuccessful, fourth quarter run.

At the Verizon Center, it was the Knicks who played no defense (allowing Washington to shoot 54.3%), falling behind by 27 points before clawing back to within single digits during a furious, yet unsuccessful, fourth quarter run.

The Bullets achieved the turnaround through surprising means: 3-point shooting. Washington entered the game as the least prolific 3-point shooting team in the NBA with six makes per game. Washington blew past their season average versus New York, hitting 15-of-25 (60%) from long range.

After the game, Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek sounded a lot like Scott Brooks after recent Bullets loses:

“They shot about 55 percent. They made 15 3s, they shot 60 percent [on 3-pointers]. Some of that is guys are wide open. There were a few of them that were contested but they looked like they (NYK players) were a little tired from last night and they weren’t getting all the way up on guys. To win on the road you have to play better defense.”

It’s refreshing to hear the opposing team’s coach make that speech after the game for once.

The game was won in the third quarter when the Bullets extended their 10-point halftime lead to an insurmountable 27 after a Tomas Satoransky steal led to a John Wall assisted Markieff Morris alley-oop dunk.

The third quarter run was exactly what fans envisioned when the Bullets returned their starting unit fully intact for the 2016-17 season. Otto Porter was hitting midrange shots, Bradley Beal drained a 3-pointer and facilitated the offense with four assists, Wall got hot from long-range (3-for-3 3FG), and Gortat was well fed (five shot attempts).

The Bullets did let a 23-point lead slip to nine points during a three-minute stretch midway through the fourth quarter, but Brooks said after the game he did not want that brief lapse to taint what was otherwise a quality win. So, I’ll follow the coach’s lead and pretend it didn’t happen.

Besides, that mini-collapse forced Brooks to re-insert Wall into the game, which allowed him to prove once again that he is a special talent:

Wall had been jawing pretty hard with Brandon Jennings before hitting that jumper over Kristaps Porzingis and he was fired up. To his credit, Jennings had hit three straight 3-pointers in 40 seconds before Wall entered the game, and he ended the quarter with 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting. But Wall had the final word.

Improved Bench, But Still a Work in Progress.

The Bullets bench was uncharacteristically efficient on offensive, shooting a combined 13-for-19, including 5-for-7 on 3-pointers. Their only negative was the aforementioned brief stretch in the fourth quarter when New York sliced the 24 point lead down to 16, causing Brooks to summon Wall and Beal from their slumber on the bench to close out the game. But, in fairness to the bench, the starters’ defense was no better in the fourth quarter. New York scored an eye-popping 47 points in the final twelve minutes (27 in eight minutes versus the bench and 20 in four minutes versus the starters). The difference was that Wall matched New York point-for-point once the lead was cut to 10.

Speaking of the bench, Brooks did not provide any more clarity on his rotations. Kelly Oubre, who had recently fallen out of favor, was the first player off the bench and played five more minutes (23) than any other bench player. Marcus Thornton, who played an unconscionable 37 minutes versus Philadelphia, only played 17 against the Knicks, and Satoransky was limited to 17 as well.

To add even more intrigue, Sheldon McClellan received a DNP-CD after starting the last two games and Trey Burke also received a DNP-CD. It’s anyone’s guess how the bench will play out next game.

The Return of Beal.

Early in the game it looked like Beal was not running at full speed and he was looking to pass the ball on all his drives. He was asked after the game whether he was thinking about his hamstring when he had his first opportunity to test it on a fast break layup in the first quarter:

“Yes and no. I was trying not to stride too much, and I was hoping Melo didn’t jump and he didn’t, so I was good.”

Beal added after the game that he feels good but is not out of the woods yet:

“An injury like that is always capable of happening again. So it’s important for me to stay on top of it and continue to strengthen it which I’ve been doing so everything is moving in the right direction.”

Bullets Are Back.

It was only for one night, but fans got a glimpse of what was (and what should be) on a throwback night at the Verizon Center.

Now, they just need to put the solid colored ’90s jerseys in the throwback rotation.

Never Nervous Morris.

Markieff Morris is always soft-spoken and succinct after games. He had a straight-forward response when asked if he was nervous when Washington’s lead shrunk from 24 points to 10 in the fourth quarter:

Also, Morris will be appearing on Shaqtin’-a-Fool in the near future.

Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
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.