No Heart, No Confidence, No Swag, No Comment — Wizards Downed by Rockets 114-106 | Wizards Blog Truth About

No Heart, No Confidence, No Swag, No Comment — Wizards Downed by Rockets 114-106

Updated: November 8, 2016

We open on the Wizards. On the wrong end of a five-point game and 0:33 showing on the clock, our heroes have possession, momentum, and, for a brief moment, heart/confidence/swag.

John Wall, the story’s presumptive protagonist, had just helped spark an improbable run that resulted in four points and two steals in 12 seconds, giving pause to the thousands of remaining fans in attendance already mid-flee.

But lo and behold, the team leader in heart/confidence/swag, points, and assists was engaged in a flight of his own. Not majestically through the air, as a former champion of dunking might, but off the court, defeated by a man with a whistle.

Let’s rewind for a moment. The Wizards were buried six points deep, 102-108, with two rapidly counting minutes left. Marcin Gortat was fouled by former Wizards friend Trevor Ariza, sending the big man to the line for a pair of gimmes that would bring Washington to within striking distance. No player wearing blue on this eve had missed from the stripe yet, boasting a 16-for-16 record that would make even James Harden (11-for-11 from the line) blush.

Naturally, Gortat whiffed on both.

A wasted possession, and, perhaps even more valuable, wasted ticks. Houston scooped up Gortat’s second miss, then, 13 seconds later, Ryan Anderson—who, as you may recall, is not a member of the Wizards—drained a 30-footer.

Nine points down, 1:27 on the clock, free chicken sandwiches already locked up. You know what’s coming: Fans stream toward the exits by the thousand; an announced crowd of 13,173 quickly thins to a fraction of that likely exaggerated initial number, and all the usual suspects begin rearing their heads.

With just 87 ticks on the clock, the Wizards spend 12 of them actively avoid launching a shot. Bradley Beal eventually tosses up a triple that misses, Otto Porter grabs the rebound, then the offense resets for reasons we can only hope to learn one day with far more advanced science. Eighteen more seconds come off the clock, taking with them another few hundred (or thousand) fans, before Beal misses a layup. He misses, Markieff Morris gets the offensive board, then he misses a layup, then Gortat gets fouled again by Nene, another former Wizards buddy.

Thirty-four seconds between Anderson’s 3-pointer and Gortat’s free throws—he’d drain them both this time—and roughly half a stadium emptied. In a bizarre sequence, the Rockets then committed two turnovers in the span of eight seconds, leading to a Wizards bucket and then a frazzled possession coach Scott Brooks wisely saved by calling a timeout.

Mini-hordes of fans grumbling and mumbling on their way into the chilly November eve, tepidly intrigued by the whoops and cheers behind them, turned to see what the fuss was about, quickly discovering the Wizards had clawed themselves back into the contest. They feigned interest for a brief moment before, noting the game was headed to timeout, giving up and ultimately continuing toward the exits. (In fairness, some fans did stay. Most fans who had already left their seats, however, continued out.)

Lost in the madness, Wall veered just slightly off his path to his right. Official Marc Davis just so happened to be slightly off Wall’s path, to his right.

A collision occurred and, well, let’s see what Davis had to say about the matter:

“[Wall was ejected] for inappropriate language and using vulgarity towards a game official. He already received his first technical foul. After granting the team a timeout, I felt that there was contact and that he bumped me. I wasn’t certain of his intent. I told him to watch himself. He looked over his shoulder and used vulgarity and inappropriate language and was ejected on his second technical foul.”

The play in question:

Everything that Davis claims happened, happens, as we can prove thanks to the wonders of multimedia platforms, with one exception: the vulgarity. Did Wall say something inappropriate? (Probably.)

“No comment,” Wall said, predictably, when asked about the second technical. “I don’t know what happened.”

Asked if he had been given an explanation to that point, he responded in the negative. His coach had a slightly different take on it.

“I haven’t talked to John about that yet, nor have I talked to Marc. He wanted to explain it to me but I wasn’t interested in listening to it.”

But for Beal, well, he had some thoughts.

“[The officials] probably said he said something. It is what it is at the end of the day. I think he’s mad about some fouls. He only went to the line twice, so he’s really frustrated about that, as we all should be. I only went to the line twice, too, so it is what it is. He got the second one, and it hurt us a little bit though.”

Wall and Beal, as the latter mentioned, each attempted just two free throws in the game, but the Wizards attempted 20 free throws to Houston’s 18. Porter and Gortat got to the stripe six times each, Kelly Oubre and Marcus Thornton made two trips apiece, but they all pale in comparison to Harden’s 11 (3-3 in the final 33 seconds; 14 of Harden’s 32 points came in the fourth quarter).

The second technical on Wall not only sent the team’s leader to the showers early, but it put Harden at the line for his ninth attempt of the game. He knocked it down, pulling the Rockets ahead by six, then it was up to the Wizards, sans Wall, to regain their previously sky-high momentum. They couldn’t, with Gortat throwing the ball away just seven seconds later, and the game was sealed.

On a night when Wall set the franchise record for assists and had his best quarter of the season—9 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal, plus-11, and just 1 turnover in a game-changing third quarter—he couldn’t control his emotions and was ejected, a poetic microcosm of the Wizards’ inability to play a complete game this season.

“Just heart, that’s all it is,” Beal said, of “the issue” the Wizards had in the game. “Just heart and playing hard. We had an opportunity to win, but even then our defense lacked. We gotta get our toughness back and our identity back, ’cause we’re playing with no confidence, no swag. We gotta pick each other up, we gotta get something going.”

Other Takeaways.

  • The Wizards won the first and third quarters by a combined 15 points (66-51), but they lost the second by a score of 33-17, and the fourth by a score of 30-23. They outscored the Rockets 20-6 in the paint in the first quarter, but they were outscored by the same margin in the second; Gortat played the entire first quarter, but just 6:33 in the second. Ian Mahinmi will likely help with the Wizards’ interior defense when he returns from injury, but that could be too little too late.
  • Speaking of too little too late: The Wizards, now 1-5, get to host the Boston Celtics (Wednesday) and Cleveland Cavaliers (Friday) in their next two games, then they travel to Chicago (Saturday) for a tough road game on the second night of a back-to-back. Put another way, the Wizards could be traveling to Chicago to play for the second time in two nights, without Wall—who won’t play the second night of double-headers early on—while staring at a possible 1-7 record. A loss in Chicago puts them at 1-8.
  • The Wizards shot 6-for-24 in the second quarter, and 1-for-5 from beyond the arc, managing just two assists. The Rockets, meanwhile, shot 14-for-22 from the field and 3-for-8 from beyond the arc, and they had 10 assists, five from Harden.
  • Scott Brooks continues his lineup tinkering. Kelly Oubre was one of the first subs off the bench in this game, just a few nights after a DNP-CD. Taking his place on the sacrificial altar, however, was backup 4 Andrew Nicholson, who remained on the bench all night.

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Bryan Frantz
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Bryan is a D.C. native with a degree in something or other from UNC. He has important, interesting hobbies, but mostly he just weeps over D.C. sports teams. You can find him on the Metro, inevitably complaining about Red Line delays.