No Diggity, No Doubt — Washington Works Boston | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

No Diggity, No Doubt — Washington Works Boston

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Updated: January 27, 2017
Photo: instagram.com/washwizards

Photo: instagram.com/washwizards

When news broke that the Wizards were going to sport all-black attire before their game against Boston, critics pounced on their silliness. The absurdity escalated when the team’s fashion decision was called “The Funeral.” The Twitterverse mocked with glee, but the brashness produced buzz normally not reserved for a midweek NBA game in January.

The pitfalls for Washington were apparent. Coming up short after calling your shot would have resulted in justifiable mocking. Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon were likely salivating for an opportunity to partake in their decades-long pastime of ripping on this franchise.

From Gilbert Arenas predicting he would drop 50 points on the Blazers, then only ending up with nine points, to Andray Blatche declaring himself team captain, then calling out the coaching staff after losing the 2011 season opener—these type of proclamations have traditionally ended poorly for the Wizards.

But the rationale behind “The Funeral” had merit. Over the past few years, these two teams have had bad blood, both on and off the court. Boston ran it up on the Wizards last season, Jae Crowder called out former coach Randy Wittman, and John Wall proclaimed that the Celtics played dirty. In their first matchup this season, a 25-point victory for Washington, Wall was ejected for a hard foul on Marcus Smart. Two weeks ago in Boston, Beal and Smart got tangled up. After Boston beat Washington, Crowder and Wall exchanged words on the court, with Crowder poking Wall in the nose and Wall slapping back. Both players were fined but not suspended. Boston police officers apparently were on hand to prevent any altercations near the locker rooms.

The Wiz squad decided that going all-black everything would motivate them in unity against the enemy. Crowder called their get-up “cute,” and shot back by wearing an all-black outfit to the game.

A few hours before round three on Tuesday evening in D.C., Wall, sporting headphones, went through his individual shooting routine at the basket near the Celtics bench. Crowder stepped onto the court like a ninja, black hoodie and headphones on, and ran toward the other hoop, passing right behind Wall. It was like a pre-fight boxing match with both players purposely refusing to acknowledge the other’s presence. For several minutes, they were the only players warming up on opposite ends. The tension in the building was palpable—a precursor that this was going to be a legit prize fight.

Washington lived up to their own hype by delivering a grim reaper-like blow to Boston, taking the contest 123-108—their 14th straight win at the Verizon Center. The Wizards never trailed, gutted the Celtics D with their high-octane offense, and improved to 25-20 on the season. They got Marcin Gortat going inside early, and the team shot a blistering 14-for-19 (73.7%) from the field in the first quarter. The Wiz reserves held their own in the second quarter, and Wall’s highlight fade away bank shot before the halftime buzzer gave his team a 66-59 advantage. In the first half, six Washington players connected from downtown, and the Wiz shot 8-for-13 (61.5%) from 3-point land overall.

Midway through the third quarter, the Wizards built a double-digit lead before Boston went on a mini run. Then Wall had two breakouts to build the lead back to 91-80.

To the frenzied delight of the home crowd, the final quarter turned into the Big Panda show. Bradley Beal scored 11 straight points for the Wizards in four minutes of action. He broke down Smart for an and-1, drilled a gorgeous step-back jumper, and finished a beautiful lefty lay up after a steal. Wall put the cherry on top of the win with a facial slam on Boston center Kelly Olynk. Both Beal and Wall celebrated these outstanding plays and raised their hands multiple times to get fans lit. Beal showed emotion that you rarely see from him, and the House of Guards lived up to their nickname. Wall finished with 27 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals. Beal had 31 points and 5 assists—scoring two more points than Smart and Crowder combined. Markieff Morris, who has been outstanding in January, went for 19 points and 11 boards. Gortat tallied 16 points and 8 boards. Kelly Oubre chipped in 11 points off the bench.

Crowder and Smart were booed by the home crowd every time they touched the ball. Celtics games always bring a large contingent of Boston followers, but they were drowned out by lively Washington fans.

This Wizards basketball team is cooking right now. They have won nine of their last 11 games, are 9-4 in January, and 19-8 since December 1. Washington is now fifth in the Eastern Conference standings with a chance to tie the Hawks for fourth on Friday night in Atlanta.

The all-black ploy garnered them rare national media attention, and it was positive in the end, when the outcome turned out in their favor and Smart embarrassingly melted down. He argued with his coaches, stormed into the locker room before the game concluded, and even punched a whole in the wall.

The final matchup between these two teams is on March 20, in Boston. Be sure to set your calendar alert now.

Quotes.

Celtics Coach Brad Stevens:

“I said it before the game, [John] Wall and Bradley [Beal] are both in discussion for All-Stars and they should be—tremendous young players. They impact every game like that, not just this game….Again, we can’t expect to come in here and give up 120+ points and we’ve got some things that we’re just going to have to try to make up for defensively with grit and toughness and being able to get in the ball and we haven’t been consistent in playing that way on that end of the floor.”

Smart: 

“As a competitor, a lot of frustration. We’re losing, regardless. Everyone on this team hates losing. Everybody on this team knows I hate losing and how much I hate losing. So it’s a lot of frustration.”

Isaiah Thomas:  

“It’s very tough. I mean, any guy (Beal) that goes off like that on their home floor, it’s going to be tough to win. We didn’t execute our scout, he was coming off of pick-and-rolls and getting open shots. With a shooter like that he’s going to knock them down, so we’ve got to get back to the drawing board.

Crowder: 

“They played very well. We didn’t play good [and] they won..Obviously those guys started feeling comfortable. They were getting whatever they wanted on their offensive end. And, we didn’t even do half of the game plan that we wanted to do.”

I asked Crowder about the contentious games between these teams and if there was a rivalry, “I don’t think it is a rivalry, they won the game tonight. Next question.

Isaiah Thomas agreed, “That thing is blown out of proportion. This is not no rivalry. The Lakers versus the Celtics. Couple of games, that guys started talking. They wanted to wear black tonight, it is not even that.”

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Adam McGinnis
Reporter / Writer / Media at TAI
Adam is a bro from the Midwest who's been bopping around the District of Columbia for years. He's down with a range of sports, etc. and has covered the Washington Wizards for TAI since 2010.