Washington Resurrects #SoWizards in Another Little Death | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Washington Resurrects #SoWizards in Another Little Death

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Updated: November 17, 2016

If there were ever a time when the hyperbole was accurate, this is it.

If you ever tried to say something was “rock bottom” when you knew the depths were lower, this is it.

If there were ever a time for you to convince yourself: yes, I have an imagination, but this is beyond its limits.

If there were ever a time for you to evoke a quote from the late, great Flip Saunders—“Don’t think it can’t get any worse, because it can.”

This is that time. The previously 2-7 Washington Wizards lost to the previously 1-9 Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, after losing the first quarter 15-29 and inducing a deficit of 24 points in the second quarter. But it’s silly to think all is lost just 10 games into an 82 game season. Totally silly. But also: totally human.

But what about that game?

Within the first 60 seconds of the contest, Markieff Morris, a veteran whom the Wizards desperately rely on, especially with Bradley Beal out, picked up two fouls. His first: having an overly aggressive ‘I’m going to take advantage of Ersan Ilyasova guarding me’ attitude and committing an offensive foul with an obvious high arm and even more obvious hook. The second: veteran Gerald Henderson, sometimes known as a Wizards killer, knew to take advantage of Morris’ sometimes inattentiveness and inserted his body in Morris’ way in transition, and Morris plowed over him. Andrew Nicholson, a team-worst minus-17 on the night, then checked in.

Those two players were far from the reasons for the 109-102 loss. No, it was a team effort—nay, organizational effort. Let’s Washington Bullets, in a sense:

Poor John Wall. He tried. With an apparent minutes limit of 24 (he finished at 23:56), Scott Brooks held Wall to 7:29 of action in the first half and he nor his team could build a rhythm. Wall did have some early poor moments—dribbling the air out the ball into jump shot bricks, and he was 1-for-4 with two turnovers and one assist during that time (-4). But Wall stayed woke in the second half, scoring 23 points on 15 shots (8-10 FTs) with five assists and zero turnovers. He had some drives, some amazing drives—13 points on eight shots in the fourth quarter (one assist). But it wasn’t enough. It may never be enough.

Marcin Gortat, who normally dominates Jahlil Okafor, got outplayed from the tip. Gortat can bitch about not getting shots (he was 5-6 on shots, 10 points), and he can bitch about not having fun (he did grab 14 rebounds), but facts are facts: he doesn’t have the mentality of a true leader (as one might expect from a veteran like him—he played with Dwight Howard!). Also, this type of boxing out is not fun.

Yet, for a brief moment—a mere ripple in time—Wall and Gortat made us remember them.

Otto Porter. Having a great season. But he can only look as cool as the dude who rides in the sidecar next to the real motorcycle. He still packed the boxscore with 15 points on 17 shots with 13 rebounds, four steals, and minus-2 while on the court.

Markieff Morris, after screwing his own pooch early, played well. The guy who had to sit with early, dumb foul trouble finished a team-high plus-13 with 19 points on 15 shots (3-5 3-pointers). But also: the normally paltry four rebounds to go with zero assists and two turnovers.

Andrew Nicholson entered the game for Morris when he picked up those two fouls. Maybe playing Porter at 4 would have been a better idea but whatever, give your No. 3 free agent (after Brooks and Ian Mahinmi) a chance. Nicholson played 12:32 in the first half and that’s all the time he got. The results: 1-1 field goals and absolutely nothing else. Not even a rebound. He picked up two fouls.

I can’t get this one tweet out of my head. I can’t find it to specifically reference, but it was something to the effect of: same thing happening now as in Orlando last year; the Wizards realize Nicholson is a ball-stopper and he can’t guard a chair with Yi Jianlian sitting in it, so Jason Smith is stealing his minutes. [UPDATE: found it, via @TheACExperience; h/t to Adam McGinnis.]

Oh my gosh did the Wizards actually spend a large chunk of their free agent money on two backup big men from last season’s 35-win Orlando Magic?

Jason Smith. Oh, Jason Smith. I keep thinking it’s not his fault—and it really isn’t! But I’m also starting to think that his three-year, $16 million contract is more untradeable than Gilbert Arenas’ once-upon-a-time untradeable contact and Rashard Lewis’ once-upon-a-time untradeable contact. So maybe Ernie Grunfeld can pull out a miracle. Smith played exactly three minutes in Philadelphia—purely out of foul trouble necessity—finished 1-for-2 from the field, and, just like (spoiler alert) Trey Burke and Nicholson, contributed all zeros to the traditional box score except for in the foul column.

Sheldon McClellan started for an injured/hamstrung Bradley Beal (6 points, 2-7 FGs, minus-9). He didn’t hit some makeable shots against Philadelphia, and that’s OK. He’s an undrafted rookie. He’ll be fine, perhaps if he gets away from this franchise. (I truly hate that thought.)

Trey Burke: cut him. Cut him now. Cut him tomorrow. Cut him yesterday. Cut the losses. Raise ticket prices and tell people that you made the money by selling a second round pick à la Jordan Clarkson instead of trading it for Trey Burke. He’s not good. Bad. Simply terrible.

You know who started the dumpster fire? OK, you got me, it’s Grunfeld—it’s been always burning since the world’s been turning (or, since 2003). But Burke blew on the embers so they could breathe and become the flames that brought down the house, and that poor, goddamn dog is just sitting there waiting for it to happen. Brooks gave Burke 5:29 of court time and he finished 1-for-5 and literally, like Nicholson, did nothing else in the box score except foul.

Kelly Oubre. I have hope for him. But until he starts showing observers otherwise, I stand by this:

Tomas Satoransky: still good, still can improve (plus-1, only positive off the bench; 7 points, 4 shots, 1-4  FTs, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls).

He made a crazy layup (below). At some point sending Sato back to Spain to spare him from this mess should be considered. (No, not really.)

Who are we missing? Oh yes, Marcus Thornton. You see, kids, he got hot during one spell of the game. He even—even—picked up two straight assists on two straight 3-pointers (made by Morris and Wall) when the Wizards stayed woke at the beginning of the third quarter for long enough to hit the snooze button. And when it was 50-29, Philadelphia, Thornton even popped off eight straight points for the Wizards to make it 53-37, Philadelphia. He played 37 minutes and shot 4-for-13 from the land. At this point you’d think that Grunfeld would cut Thornton simply for the sake of saying that he did something. Naw.

It’s like a pipe broke, erupted through the pavement and into the street above it, leaking the brownest of the brown sewage … and then Grunfeld throws a mere wash cloth at it, jumps into Ted Leonsis’ arms, and they scamper away. This is what that looks like in chart form:

20161116-wizards-sixers-game-chart

Newsflash: I’ve never heard an NBA coach call out his team by saying: “You’re playing for your family’s name.”

Scott Brooks did on a Wednesday evening in mid-November.

Believe it or not but the Wizards ‘almost’ won the game, closing within three points with 1:29 left to play before—you guessed it—they gave up a 3-pointer to a no-name which sealed the deal.

Naw, this web-log is totally hyperbolic, right? The Wizards get to play Thursday night, at home. They could beat the Knicks, convert their record to 3-8, and totally turn things around. Someday.

In conclusion, Twitter:

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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 lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.