Wizards Avoid Bad Loss in Comeback Win Over Nets | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wizards Avoid Bad Loss in Comeback Win Over Nets

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Updated: December 6, 2016

The Nets are a bad basketball team. Bad enough that they’ve lost 9 of their last 10 games by an average margin of 18, as illustrated by TAI’s Kyle Weidie. Of course, that same team built a double-digit lead on the Wizards Monday night, and Washington had to work too damn hard too eek out their second road victory of the season.

At least the Wizards are consistent in playing down (or up) to their competition. This is the same team that had Oklahoma City and Russell Westbrook against the ropes and went toe-to-toe with perennial power San Antonio till the final bell.

While Washington was able to edge the Nets, 118-113, they proved once again that they have every intention on making life as difficult as possible for themselves over the course of an 82 game season.

Once again, the Wizards got off to a slow start defensively and allowed the Nets to have free reign on the perimeter, to the tune of 8-for-16 shooting from 3-point range in the first half. It is completely unacceptable to allow 66 first-half points to a bad basketball team. It is even more appalling to somehow let Anthony Bennett and Joe Harris look like competent NBA players. The talent discrepancy between these two teams appeared to be a wide margin from a distance, but a neutral observer wouldn’t have noticed.

Nothing went right for the Wizards in the first half. Bradley Beal started off hot, hitting his first two shots and then missing his next eight. Beal’s cold shooting streak was a big reason as to why the Wizards were not able to keep up the pace with the Nets early on. It is prudent that Beal be able to finish well-executed plays which create open looks for him—especially if he is being challenged by the likes of Sean Kilpatrick and Joe Harris, matchups that Big Panda should be dominating. Beal showed a tendency to drive hard to the basket, but was neither able to finish the majority of those acrobatic lay-ups nor draw many shooting fouls.

Former Wizard Trevor Booker was active on the offensive end to start the game, using his quickness to be able to dribble drive around the Washington big men. Booker finished the game with 14 points and 14 rebounds, and in the process made himself desirable as a much better power forward option than Washington’s two backup bigs (Andrew Nicholson and Jason Smith) who couldn’t really crack the Orlando Magic rotation last season but somehow warranted long-term deals from Ernie Grunfeld.

John Wall started the game in facilitator mode and was able to create a few bunnies in the lane for Marcin Gortat, but by the time he came back into the game from after his initial first half rest, Wall had to ditch dishing the rock and commit to taking over the game with his scoring. Wall was comfortable attacking the top of the key/foul-line extended area and was pretty much able to dribble to all his hot spots and convert jumpers. When the Nets tried to take that away by showing hard on the pick-and-roll action, Wall was able to drive around defenders to reach the rim or penetrate enough to draw the defense and kick it out to 3-point shooters on the wing. Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre were the biggest benefactors of said offense, as they were able to convert 6 of 10 tries from behind the arc.

Porter looked as polished as he has since his explosion last month against the Celtics, and hopefully the Wizards finally figure out different ways to make sure that a player shooting better than 40 percent from 3 on the season stays involved in the game plan.

Oubre continues to show bright spots coming off the bench. He consistently displays confidence in his shooting stroke by being ultra-assertive when the ball comes his way in catch-and-shoot situations. Oubre has also avoided his usual mistakes recently by limiting dribbles and simplifying his offensive game. And when they are both being terrors on defense, and the duo of Oubre and Porter is about as athletic and long a pairing as you can have in the league.

Defensive intensity is what got the Wizards back into the game, and it all started by jumping into the passing lanes and forcing some turnovers in the third quarter. Ten of the Nets’ 21 turnovers came in the period, and Washington used those to jump start their offense. Brooklyn’s hot 3-point shooting ultimately cooled off, and the Wizards were able to dig away at that 16-point halftime deficit.

By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Wizards had established dominance over an inferior team, but were never able to go on a definitive game-closing run. So the Nets hung around all the way till the final possession where they had an opportunity to tie the game but instead committed their final turnover when Beal was able to steal Booker’s pass attempt to Harris.

The Wizards will take a much needed road-victory and hopefully use that as a springboard to build some momentum with a string of winnable games coming up. They’ll face the Magic tonight in Washington as they seek their second two-game winning streak of the year. That is something, after all.

 

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
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Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. He is going into his second season writing for Truth About It, and also writes for sports analytics website numberfire.com. You can find him in a district bike lane in the Northwest neighborhood of Bloomingdale.