Crowder Pushes Wall’s Button As Road Woes Continue | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Crowder Pushes Wall’s Button As Road Woes Continue

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Updated: January 12, 2017

The story of the game has a hell of a lot more to do with the things that took place during the 48 minutes of actual game action than what transpired in the few moments after the final buzzer. Alas, we live in a world where “clickbait” isn’t just a term used by internet trolls, but also a medium in which the mainstream media pays the bills.

The very second Jae Crowder’s finger touched John Wall’s nose, all diplomacy went out of the window, and John Wall turned into a Middleweight Slap Boxing Champion. Whether or not Wall’s transgression will cost himself (and his team) a suspension from the NBA league office remains to be seen. But Crowder’s role as both the instigator and the aggressor should be considered much more heavily than Wall’s recent reputation as a technical foul magnet.

This is not the first time that the Wizards and Jae Crowder have gotten into a dispute during or after a game. Just last season, the Celtics came to Washington and barely got out of he building without a bunch of “woofing,” as then-head coach Randy Wittman described it.  Wittman even got into a shouting match with the player, and Crowder accused the Washington coach of cursing him out. When Wittman was asked about Crowder’s comments, all he could respond with is: “What’s profanity?”

Let’s talk basketball. For much of the game, the Wizards were able to compete with one of the better teams in the NBA. When the Wizards opened up a 10-point lead on the Celtics in the third quarter, it appeared as if Bradley Beal would continue his hot shooting en route to a career night and the Wizards would notch their fifth road win of the season. On a night when it appeared early on that John Wall did not have a lot left in the reserve tank after his masterful-but-draining 40-minute performance against the depleted Chicago Bulls, the Wizards needed their other “max player” to take over the game and bail out another poor bench performance, just as Wall had done in the previous two games.

Beal had 28 of his team-high 35 points before the fourth quarter started, and scored five points in the waning moments of a near double digit-deficit defeat. That means that from the time he entered the game at the 9:30 mark of the fourth quarter and the time he scored garbage-time points with under two minutes to play, he had seven minutes of uninspiring play. Beal has always had the tendency to float in and out of games, but on a night when he was shooting 10-for-18 (55%), it is a bit perplexing as to why he was reluctant to display the killer instinct that his Alpha dog counterpart has become known for. In other words, Beal let down the Wiz when they needed him most.

Also, Beal—for much of the game—was outmatched on the defensive end by a more powerful and bruising Marcus Smart, who started in place of Avery Bradley (Achilles). Smart was able to force Beal to chase throughout the game, and finished around the basket with the deft touch of an ’80s power forward. This was one of Boston’s go-to plays, and once Washington began to send help Beal’s way, Smart skipped the ball to open 3-point shooters. The Celtics shot 17-for-41 from 3-point range, and made seven more 3s than the Wizards.

nba all-star

John Wall wasn’t the only All-Star on the floor in this game: the Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas dazzled the Boston home crowd with an exciting brand of play which arguably has not been seen since Allen Iverson’s corn-rows were flapping in the wind. Today, the NBA released the current fan voting results for the 2017 All-Star game in New Orleans, and Thomas’ name appears fourth among Eastern Conference guards. Wall is not so prominently featured, as the seventh most popular guard, despite being named the conference’s Player of the Month in December. Thomas may not be a better player than Wall, but even the most avid Wizard faithful would have to put down his or her rose-colored lenses and admit that Thomas has been a match-up nightmare for Wall in the past—on Wednesday night, too.

Thomas scored 20 points in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 38 points. He has a knack for creating space, using his low center of gravity and diminutive frame (he’s listed at a generous 5-foot-9) to make it difficult for bigger players to contest his shots at the rim. Combine that with the fact that he’s a knockdown 3-point shooter, he becomes one of the more unstoppable forces in the NBA when he is locked in. He also provided positive ancillary play with five assists and six rebounds, including TWO plays where he tipped in his own 3-point miss. He’s a big-time athlete, but shame on Wizards defenders who sit around waiting for Marcin Gortat to grab all of the rebounds.


Role Player Roll Call

Markieff Morris: Keef struggled to start the game, shooting 1-for-9 in the first half, and not taking advantage of a clear talent gap between he and his Celtics counterpart Jordan Mickey, who started the game in place of Amir Johnson. Even though Keef was able to get into a rhythm at the beginning of the third quarter, he wound up bricking and air-balling his way to a 6-for-21 finish from the field. As CSN’s Ben Standig pointed out, the Wizards are not a very good team when Markieff is a volume shooter.

At some point Markieff has to realize that teams are leaving him open for a reason and work a little bit harder to create for others, instead of jacking up every shot that comes his way. One of Keef’s most underrated skills is his ability to pass out of the post, and that aspect of his game can’t exist if he doesn’t get down there.

Otto Porter: Porter was the silent assasin that Wizards fans have come to expect over the course of this season, and he finished the game an efficient 9-for-12 from the field. (This game could have gone a little bit differently if Otto could have taken 20 shots and Keef 12.) Defensively, Porter left a little bit to be desired on the floor in Boston because he just couldn’t seem to keep up with Jae Crowder in the first half. Crowder finished the game with 20 points and shot 4-for-6 from 3-point range. If Porter wants to be the third “max player” on this team, he has to do a much better job of limiting a non shot-creating player such as Jae Crowder to relax and take practice-level shots without being driven off of that 3-point line.

Kelly Oubre: Oubre was not as attentive as he has been in the last few games, and coach Scott Brooks ended up pulling him from the lineup in the fourth quarter in favor of Sheldon McClellan. It’s one thing for Oubre’s shot to not be falling and another thing entirely for him to lack the intensity (especially on defense) that he has shown over the last few games. Maybe the young fella just experienced a lull because of the back-to-back, but he’ll learn soon enough that this team lacks the talent to have the 6th man post a dud. Unacceptable.

Jason Smith: Jason Smith was active as hell all night and played one of his better games as a Wizard, going 5-for-9 from the field and also adding five rebounds. It’s a shame that his contributions went to waste, and even more of a shame that he can’t feel good on a night where he put one of the NBA’s more electric dunkers and a former slam dunk champion (Gerald Green) on a poster:

 

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.