Wizards/Sixers Rapid Reaction: Silver Linings Abound In a Loss | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wizards/Sixers Rapid Reaction: Silver Linings Abound In a Loss

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Updated: November 30, 2017

Heading into last night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Washington Wizards had quite a tall task before them.  Just one night prior, they earned a hard-fought road victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves thanks to the yeoman effort of the bench.  Their reward? A plane ride to Philadelphia to face a team that was not only rested having not played since Monday, but they were chomping at the bit, having suffered a bad loss at the hands of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

That tall task got even taller when the Wizards shot 29-percent in the opening quarter, while allowing the Sixers to shoot a sizzling 57-percent.  And the Wizards’ degree of difficulty increased even more when Bradley Beal’s face was on the wrong end of an inadvertent Jerryd Bayless elbow, and was forced to miss the last three minutes of the first quarter and all of the second.

Yes the Wizards lost the game 118-113, but thanks to some outside-the-box tactics by Scott Brooks and some timely shooting by the Wizards bench, they were able to overcome the sluggish start, and make the Sixers work hard for that victory, after blowing a 24-point lead.

Here are the nuts and bolts of how that went down and the individuals responsible for making it happen:

 

MVP: Kelly Oubre

Per the next-man-up rules of sports, with Wall out for two weeks with a knee, and with Bradley Beal out toward the end of the first quarter with facial lacerations, Otto Porter should have been the one who attempted to keep the Wizards in the game in the second quarter.  But Porter, who finished with just 8 points in the game on 3-of-14 shooting, never had any sustainable offensive rhythm to his game.  Enter Kelly Oubre.

Oubre scored 11 points in the second quarter, and none of his Wizards teammates scored more than two.  He drove to the basket when openings presented themselves, which resulted in points and four trips to the free throw line, and he hit a 3-pointer to boot. The Sixers expanded their lead from 10 to 18 points during the quarter, but without Oubre’s efforts, the Wizards could have been saddled with an even heftier deficit.

Oubre also scored nine points in the fourth quarter, but by that time, his teammates–mainly Jodie Meeks (14 points), Tomas Satoransky (10 points, three assists) and Beal (11 points)–caught fire and helped the Wizards score 48 points in the fourth quarter.  But his second quarter contributions, which were consistent with the improvement Oubre has demonstrated the entire season, are what kept the Wizards within relative striking distance.

X-Factor: Scott “Mad Scientist” Brooks

The Wizards trailed by 18 points heading into the fourth quarter, which meant the first five minutes of the quarter were of the utmost importance.  If the Wizards were sloppy and allowed the Sixers to run roughshod over them, the game could have easily turned into 12 minutes of garbage time.  But if the Wizards showed some life and applied a bit of pressure to the young Sixers team, there was a chance they could steal the game or at least make it competitive.

The Wizards started sloppily and allowed the Sixers to take a 22-point lead, and then thanks to the sharp shooting of Jodie Meeks (eight points in three minutes) the lead shrunk to 14 points, and Scott Brooks decided to use the Hack-a-Shaq tactic on Ben Simmons who came into the game shooting just 56-percent from the free throw line.

If this were Greg Popovich, Rick Carlisle or Erik Spoelstra, there would be no need to point out the genius of such a strategy, because it would be consistent with the personality of each of those coaches.  But Scott Brooks is a coach who seemed married to such routines as allowing Jason Smith and Mike Scott to accumulate DNP-CDs, or playing Ian Mahinmi despite his lack of productivity and not giving Tomas Satoransky a chance at increased playing time. Yes it could be argued that Brooks’s hand was forced due to injuries to Wall, Beal and Oubre, but coaches are typically creatures of habit, so any deviance from that norm was significant.

Despite the booing Philadelphia crowd and the presence of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Scott Brooks significantly slowed the pace of the game by imploring his players to intentionally foul Ben Simmons.  Simmons shot just 12-of-24 in the quarter, and the Wizards bench and Beal, kept hitting shot after shot, and the Wizards were able to whittle down the Sixers lead to just three points.  They never took the lead and ultimately, they lost the game, but Coach Brooks deserves credit for venturing out of his coaching comfort zone for the benefit of the team.

 

That Game Was…Wacky As Hell

Bradley Beal’s eye looked like he had fought 10 rounds with Mike Tyson and he fouled out to boot. Kelly Oubre scored 22 points  and fought through a bloody chin in the fourth quarter. Chris McCullough, who hadn’t played any non-garbage time all season, played 17 second half minutes both with and against actual starters. Jason Smith (DNP-CD) and Mike Scott played none and Tomas Satoransky played with the confidence of a starter, while Tim Frazier looked like the backup that he is.  On top of that, Ben Simmons shot as many free throws (24) as the Wizards attempted field goals (24).

The Wizards lost the wackiest of games, which quelled the momentum they gained after their victory in Minnesota the previous night.  The silver lining in all of that?  The Wizards bench–thanks to Oubre, Meeks, Satoransky and even the much-malinged Ian Mahinmi– has demonstrated in consecutive games in hostile environments, that they can more than hold their own.  That is significant since that is something that John Wall complained about at the conclusion of last season. It seems a bit wacky to glean that much positivity out of a loss, but if Wall’s injury timetable remains at two weeks, there are numerous reasons to be for the Wizards to be hopeful about playing more consistent basketball upon his return.

 

 

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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.