Heartbreaker in Detroit — Valiant Wizards Effort Crushed at the Buzzer | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Heartbreaker in Detroit — Valiant Wizards Effort Crushed at the Buzzer

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Updated: January 22, 2017

Detroit: The City of Brotherly Love, it is not. Marcus Morris, who, along with his twin brother Markieff, is from Philadelphia. For reasons I do not care to look up but will always seemingly remain unjustified, Philadelphia is referred to as the City of Brother Love. While Markieff spends his days toiling in Wizards Land, Marcus represents the Pistons in Detroit. As far as cities go, neither Detroit nor D.C. is particularly Philly-esque.

Conveniently, there’s no love lost between these two brothers. Markieff, the elder of the twins by seven minutes, got the better of Marcus in the final minutes with an uber-athletic block that needed official replay to verify. However, Marcus ultimately got the best of his brother by tipping in an offensive rebound over him at the buzzer to steal a 113-112 Pistons win at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Scott Brooks opted to keep Marcin Gortat on the bench for the final 16:09 of the game, the third game this month the big man hasn’t played in the fourth quarter. (In fairness, one of those games was the Portland game, which was a blowout.) Randy Wittman used to keep Gortat on the bench in the fourth quarter as well — sometimes using Nene, sometimes using Kris Humphries, sometimes using Jared Dudley, sometimes going small with Garrett Temple or Gary Neal, but not Gortat. Now with a new coach in town, the starting center is once again seeing his late-game minutes tumble.

Gortat is averaging just 6.8 minutes per fourth quarter in January, his lowest for the period all season; he averaged 9.1 minutes per fourth quarter in December and 7.7 in November (including sitting the entire period on two occasions).

With the game on the line and the Wizards, up by one, needing a stop to secure a win, Gortat was once again reduced to the role of spectator as Kelly Oubre took his spot amongst the starters. This is not a criticism of Oubre, who played fine defense on the final possession, but rather a yearning for the Wizards’ best rebounder and interior presence to be on the court while Marcus Morris and Andre Drummond crashed the offensive glass against Markieff Morris, Otto Porter, and Oubre.

The younger Morris ultimately found his way to the loose ball for the game-winning tip, and while hindsight is 20/20 and all, Gortat and his penchant for tapping away caroming basketballs certainly could have been of use.

That criticism out of the way, that the Wizards managed to slither themselves into contention late in the game should be cause for praise. After a hopeful start to the contest in which Washington scored the first nine points and quickly led 16-10, Detroit mostly controlled things the rest of the way. The Pistons ended the first quarter on a 20-10 run, outscored the Wizards by two in the second quarter and 10 in the third quarter, and opened the final stanza with a 16-point advantage.

The Wizards had won four in a row and seven of their previous eight, and they hadn’t played a game away from the East Coast in nearly two weeks. Unfortunately, a setback was probably to be expected, even against a sub-.500 Pistons team missing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and his 14.5 points per game.

Everything looked slow for the road team on Saturday night. An abysmal night from the floor for two of the Wizards’ primary scorers — Bradley Beal and Otto Porter combined to go 8-for-28 from the field and 2-for-13 from 3-point range — was the most glaring problem, but it was hardly the only one.

John Wall had his standard helping of remarkable plays, but he appeared curiously sluggish at times and, whether out of strategy or fatigue, often deferred to Beal for ball-handling duties late in the game. Washington was playing its fifth game in eight days and third in four days, and Wall has averaged nearly 38 minutes per game in those three, so some exhaustion is conceivable. Nonetheless, he compiled a respectable line of 19 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and 4 turnovers while going 6-for-15 from the field.

Not only were the Wizards missing shots, they were missing wide-open shots. Beal was by far the worst offender, struggling to hit a shot even before he suffered two heart-stopping injury scares. It was his third consecutive game of wretched shooting, a span in which he’s gone 12-for-42 from the field, including a hard-to-believe 1-for-21 from beyond the arc.

Beal has been a mess the past three games, but there’s another worrisome pattern taking form of late. In the second half of games (11) in the month of January, Beal is shooting just .409 from the field and .300 from 3-point range while putting up a plus/minus of plus-1. Compare that to .490 from the field and .439 from 3-point range with a plus-48 in the first half.

Porter had been exceptional in the previous two games, drilling six 3-pointers in each while Beal couldn’t buy a triple, but both players struggled to get anything going in Detroit. Beal did a good job of getting to the basket and drawing contact. He finished 9-for-11 from the free-throw line, limping to a 17-point night. Porter had no such success. He went 4-from-13 from the field, 2-for-6 from deep, and 1-for-2 from the charity stripe, finishing with 11 points, the fourth time in January he’s scored 12 or fewer points.

Elsewhere down the Washington half of the box score, there was a lot of chipping in and not a lot of dominance. Not inherently a bad thing, but the Wizards looked desperate for whatever they could get throughout the game. There was a lot of settling as opposed to the typical John Wall-ball Washington has been thriving on. Ten players got burn for the Wizards. Tomas Satoransky and Sheldon McClellan combined to play more than 10 minutes, go 0-for-1, and not score a single point, and Trey Burke scored seven points on 3-for-5 shooting. Each of the other seven players scored at least 11 points and fewer than 20 points.

Morris led the Wiz with 17 shots that he turned into 19 points, Wall and Beal had 15 shots apiece, Oubre and Jason Smith each put up nine shots, and Gortat tossed up seven. Each of the eight Wizards to score made at least three shots and no more than seven. The average output seemed contagious.

How’s this for a fun little quirk? Both Morris twins went 7-for-17 from the field and led their respective teams in points. That’s about where the similarities ended, however, as the Detroit brother outpaced the Washington brother in points (25 to 19), rebounds (11 to 9), assists (3 to 2), and plus/minus (plus-9 to plus-8). Just as Marcus edged Markieff by a point, the Pistons edged the Wizards by a point, thanks to Marcus scoring over Markieff, and something something something … Cain killed Abel and all we are is dust in the wind.

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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.