OT Grows in Brooklyn | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

OT Grows in Brooklyn

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Updated: February 9, 2017
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[photo via @WashWizards]

Fresh off an overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Wizards (1-3 in overtime on the season prior to the game against the Nets) arrived in Brooklyn bent but emboldened by their hard-fought performance in one of the more incredible NBA games of the season. Hardly a science, momentum is often exalted as the carry-over factor between games, quarters, minutes, shots. And whether it was momentum or everyday execution, the Wizards beat forward in the name of normalcy, building a 10-point lead by halftime on 8-for-12 shooting from Bradley Beal and nine assists from John Wall. Ian Mahinmi even played!

But disappointment, atrophied from lack of use during Washington’s recent run, returned in the second half. Wall gobbled up the offense but faltered, shooting 3-for-13 and missing four contested layups as well as two other shots within the paint. As any eyeballed human that watches the Wizards would attest, Washington sank comfortably into a familiar refrain: long, clock-killing possessions that may in one’s mind seek to preserve a lead but in fact denigrate an offense that has shown itself to be effective this season when played to the hilt. Wall’s pace fell from 99.01 in the first half to 93.36 in the second. The team slowed with him.

There was no inspiring counter-story to explain how the Nets tied it up, or how they forced overtime. Brooklyn didn’t shoot particularly well. Former Wizards Trevor Booker played well (and well enough to make this writer miss him), but there were no revelatory performances by the NBA’s worst group.

Instead, the Wizards simply waned, standing in corners and waiting for plays to be over rather than seeking out a successful possession. Beal was too happy to take a backseat, and Wall was too happy to oblige. Porter and Gortat were largely forgotten, confined to diminished, zombified versions of their former roles. Porter’s shots all came from either the right elbow or the right side of the court behind the arc.

Overtime wasn’t assured, but it did not feel avoidable as the game wound down to its final moments. Washington needlessly scrapped when they could have controlled the game, devised intricate isolation attacks when they could have run a layup line to better effect, shoved possessions down the throat of fate and came up empty, as John Wall did on Washington’s last possession of regulation, moments after an insane sequence of tips and bats that almost sent the ball careening out of bounds.

Let’s turn to that extra period, which was always what this blog post deserved to be about. It was quite the five minutes of basketball action, with the Wizards winning out on 3-for-11 shooting against Brooklyn’s 4-for-11. How?

With the House of Guards crumbling (Beal was 1-for-6, Wall was 0-for-2), credit goes to Otto Porter for two of Washington’s three overtime buckets. That’s enough to garner him the accolade of overtime MVP if pressed for one, but cleaning up after his misfiring teammates (first a missed layup by Beal, and then an airballed layup by Wall) with second-chance points is too dirty of work for such a title.

Really, this was an ugly win against an opponent ripe for a beatdown even despite the absence of Wizards starter Markieff Morris (sore calf), while Wall and Beal worked their way to the line for the game-winning points—scored one by one like goals in a shootout rather than in fine basketball fashion.

Here’s the thing, though. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with winning in this way, as long as you win. It’s nice to watch a game wherein the team tries, and eventually establishes, a rhythm. Against Brooklyn, the opposite was true, as the drumbeat could be heard early but faded late into the kind of torturous, arrhythmic water leak from a faulty faucet that keeps good boys and good girls up at night. And yet, despite the torn tempo, Washington’s record improved. On the road to the playoffs, these wins need winning, too.

But undergirding another Washington victory is a troubling fact: the Wizards are running their starting lineup into the ground. With five players in the top 50 for minutes played (the entire starting lineup) and three in the top 20 (Wall, Gortat, and Porter), Washington risks long-term damage to get from A to B on any given night. Without a successful trade to address what the offseason supposedly addressed (bench depth), the Wizards will have to trade fatigue for glory on a nightly basis. Once again, what Washington had was enough.

And so I leave you with this: Trevor Booker attempting to serve a volleyball to the basketball gods for an overtime-avoiding spike. As my colleague Kyle Weidie intimated on Twitter, there are worse ways to go out.

 

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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.