The Wizards Lose To Miami After A Series of Unfortunate Events | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

The Wizards Lose To Miami After A Series of Unfortunate Events

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Updated: April 9, 2017

With 11 seconds left in last night’s game against the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre took the ball from the referee and began looking for John Wall. The Wizards trailed 104-103 at the time, but with 11 seconds to score and the ball in John Wall’s hands, everyone in the stadium, including Phil Chenier, via the ComcastSportsNet broadcast, was optimistic that the Wizards could pull off a game-winning final play: “We’ve seen Washington execute plays in this same type of situation.”

Oubre took the ball and Wall immediately cut towards the center of the court to throw his defender Josh Richardson off the scent, and then ran towards Oubre expecting the pass.  Oubre thought Wall wanted the ball lobbed over the top and threw the ball away, where Richardson picked it up, and was immediately fouled by Wall. Josh Richardson hit two free throws, the Wizards called timeout, Coach Brooks took Oubre out of the game in favor of Bogdanovic, and Hassan Whiteside blocked Beal’s three point attempt at the buzzer. The Heat won 106-103.

Usually Otto Porter, not Oubre, is tasked with throwing inbound passes late in the game, but he was out with back spasms and is considered day-to-day. To his credit, Brooks made it his business to point out that while Oubre’s turnover was unfortunate, there were several plays which ultimately led to the Wizards’ demise.  Those several plays could be characterized as a series of unfortunate events that don’t usually happen to the Wizards–at least not this season.

The Block Party

John Wall is well aware that speed kills, which is why as much as possible, he likes to catch the opposing team off guard off of a made or missed basket, and dash down the court for an easy layup or dunk.  He actually was able to do that a few times against the Heat last night, but that was the exception, not the rule.  The other times when Wall attempted to drive, either Josh Richardson or Hassan Whiteside were there to thwart his advances. Wall couldn’t even properly vent to the referees the way he usually does out of fear that he would pick up his 16th technical foul which would result in a one-game suspension.

Wall finished with 16 points and eight assists, but he had eight of the Wizards 19 turnovers, and he shot just 5-for-18 from the field. Whiteside and Richardson weren’t able to completely nullify Wall’s production, but clearly they were in his head. Wall should not feel too bad, because Whiteside did the same thing to Bradley Beal in the closing seconds of the game when he prevented Beal from creating space then rejected his game-tying three-point attempt right as it left his hand.

James Johnson vs Markieff Morris

Markieff Morris was the reason the Wizards were even in the game in the fourth quarter. He scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting and he hit two key 3-pointers–the second one tied the game at 100 with 1:21 left. To put his numbers in perspective, Beal was scoreless in the fourth quarter, Wall scored three points, and no other Wizard scored more than five points.

With 20 seconds left in the game, the Wizards led 103-103 after a Wall free throw, and after a Heat timeout, Coach Spolestra called a clear-out for James Johnson, who was guarded by Morris.  Johnson took two hard dribbles to the right, then spun back to the middle of the floor for an easy lay-in. Gortat, who would have helped Johnson under normal circumstances, was pulled out of the lane since Whiteside had drifted out of the paint along with the rest of the Wizards.

After the game, even Scott Brooks had to acknowledge that a great move, not lackluster defense, was the reason Johnson got the basket and administered a dagger to his team:

“I saw it live and I said that was a good move and I just saw it in the locker room and that was a great move. Markieff did a great job forcing him to make a secondary move and he couldn’t quite catch up to that secondary move and he had a great finish with his left hand around the basket. Maybe we could had a little bit of extra help from I think Marcin who was right there but give them credit that was great attack.”

Spoelstra vs Brooks

Scott Brooks has consistently demonstrated the ability to call the right play out of timeout situations during this season. His favorite play involves Wall throwing an inbounds pass to Bradley Beal, who successfully seals his man, and catches a lob pass for an easy lay-in under the basket.  In fact, the play has been so successful that Coach Brooks used a derivative of it during the opening sequence of the game to get Marcin Gortat an easy layup. But on this night, Spolestra, not Brooks, had the magic touch.

After it was clear that Goran Dragic would not be productive with Oubre defending him, Spoelstra immediately brought Tyler Johnson in the game, who scored nine points in just four and a half minutes of play. Dragic scored just three points in the first half.

The first play of the second half, Coach Spoelstra called a play that required Oubre to run through a Whiteside pick. Dragic hit his first shot of the second half, and from there went on to score 10 points in the third quarter, which allowed the Heat to lead by four heading into the last quarter.

Brooks–whether it was calling the right play out of a timeout, figuring out whether Ian Mahinmi or Marcin Gortat should be on the floor guarding Whiteside, or playing an ineffective Brandon Jennings (15 minutes) way more than Tomas Satoransky (who played just 6:13), seemed to be slightly off his on-the-fly decision-making game against the Heat. He took the blame for that and the Wizards lack of execution the entire game, and particularly down the stretch:

“We didn’t do a good enough job setting the screens and executing, we’ve been pretty good with that. I’m pleased with the way we’ve been executing. We’ve won a lot of close games because we have that, but tonight wasn’t one of our better executed end of games. I take ownership of that, I have to do a better job.”

Kelly Oubre looked both crestfallen and forlorn after last night’s game. He got dressed slowly, kept his head down the entire time and reluctantly made himself available to the media. In his third start of the season, Oubre finished with 12 points, six rebounds and just one turnover in 32 minutes of play. But that one turnover was one of the reasons the Wizards were not able to overtake the Heat at the end of the game.

Oubre admitted that he didn’t realize he was starting in place of Porter until the last minute. He also cracked his only post-game smile when he was asked about his pre-game speech to the Verizon Center crowd–which is a more recent staple of the Wizards’ last regular season home game: “I was dreaming about what I was going to say. I was a little nervous but I got my words out pretty well.”

 

 

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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.