Without John Wall, The Next Men Successfully Step Up | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Without John Wall, The Next Men Successfully Step Up

Updated: January 31, 2018

On Tuesday morning when the unfortunate news about John Wall’s upcoming arthroscopic debridement procedure (note: it’s surgery) on his left knee started to make its way around the internet and social media, it felt like a cloud of malaise was descending on the Washington Wizards.

There were tweets about a sinking ship, rants about the team possibly missing the playoffs, and, considering the Wizards had been playing an inconsistent brand of basketball (save for their stellar performance against the lowly Atlanta Hawks) with a semi-healthy Wall, there was every reason to believe that the Wizards were headed for a bit of a rough patch.

Enter Scott Brooks.

He didn’t say anything as dramatic as Aaron Rodgers’s “R-E-L-A-X,” but Brooks was a calming influence on his team. He also provided the blueprint for how the Wizards could survive their Wall-less existence:

“I know if you feel sorry for yourself, you’re missing the boat or missing the opportunity because nobody in the league is feeling sorry for us… This gives everyone an opportunity to step up. We don’t expect Tomas or Tim to be one of the best point guards overnight, but we expect them to play hard and play together, and move the ball and defend and help each other.”

Tomas Satoransky’s numbers in the box score didn’t exactly jump off the page–he finished with four points, six assists, five rebounds and just one turnover in 30 minutes of play and even he joked after the game that “he couldn’t make a damn shot.” But he was the engineer of the Wizards’ offense in Wall’s absence, particularly in crunch time.

Nearly two minutes before Satoransky re-entered the game in the fourth quarter, the Wizards not only went scoreless, but their offense devolved into isolation basketball. Beal would bring the ball up the court, exhaust all of his one-on-one moves, then pass to Morris or Oubre, who were unable to convert. Twenty seconds after Satoransky checked back into the game, the ball moved from side to side, and it resulted in easier baskets for Otto Porter and Morris. He didn’t always get the assist, but by simply passing and cutting, he jump-started the previously stagnant offense.

It would be disingenuous to suggest that Satoransky’s defense was the reason Russell Westbrook went 5-of-18 from the floor with 13 points, 10 assists and seven turnovers, but it wouldn’t exactly be fair to suggest that he did not play a part in Russell’s frustration. Saty got back on defense, he did his best to force Westbrook into double-teams, and even did this to Russell during one of his patented full-speed fast breaks:

Satoransky was the general behind the offense and he mastered the intangibles that were so crucial to the Wizards breaking the Thunder’s eight-game winning string. But scoring is just as important as the intangibles and Porter and Morris provided that in abundance by combining for 43 points, seven assists, three blocked shots and 12 rebounds.

Coach Brooks was particularly happy that Morris’s aggressiveness was finally adding up to more points:

“[Morris is] playing with more juice, more force, playing quicker. He has a lot of abilities to put the ball on the floor and he’s getting more opportunities. He’s definitely, instead of catching in and holding the ball, he’s catching and attacking. And when he does that, with his outside shot, his three-point shooting has improved over the last two years. He’s a heck of a player, and we need that from him.”

The Wizards’ bench, despite not having Satoransky running the show, was also prolific in Wall’s absence thanks to the play of Kelly Oubre and Mike Scott. Neither player shot particularly well from the field (they were 5-17 combined) but they bought Coach Brooks some time, particularly when Ian Mahinmi and Morris were in foul trouble, and they never allowed the Thunder bench to get an extended lead on the Wizards.

The Wizards cannot afford to get complacent after beating the Thunder, because on Thursday night the Toronto Raptors–a team that is currently second in the East, and just one game behind the Boston Celtics for the top spot–will present yet another tough challenge. But considering they defeated an Oklahoma City team that had won eight straight games, just a few short hours after learning John Wall would be gone for six to eight weeks, the Wizards should take a brief moment to not only appreciate their accomplishment, but to figure out how to bottle it and replicate it in Wall’s absence.

Other Bullets

  • Otto Porter caught a Steven Adams elbow to the head and went to the locker room shortly thereafter, where he was put under concussion protocol. He returned to the game 30 seconds into the fourth quarter and he did not outwardly have any effects from the blow. As far as his hip goes, that pain still lingers. When asked after the game how close his hip was to 100 percent, Otto chuckled and said, “Nowhere close!”

  • Tim Frazier subbed into the game for Tomas Satoransky with 2:46 left in the third quarter and he remained in the game until the 7:31 mark of the fourth. But when he checked out of the game, it was Markieff Morris, not Satoransky, who re-entered the game, which meant that Bradley Beal was running the point. The Wizards were outscored 8-4 with Beal at the point guard position. After Satoransky finally entered the game with 4:45 left, Washington outscored the Thunder 16-6.
  • After the game, Coach Brooks admitted that the Wizards struggled to score with Frazier and Beal at the point guard position, but he also communicated that he had concerns about whether  Satoransky’s conditioning would allow him to play more than 30 minutes, so he felt like his hands were tied. Satoransky agreed with Coach Brooks’ assessment:

“I was so tired in the third quarter….it’s tough physically in terms of playing like that every night and every second day, it is also an adjustment for me, how I prepare for those games, how I do my workouts…but like I said, I’m looking forward to that.”

  • The co-host of Bradley Beal’s favorite TV show, Mr. Stephen A. Smith, was in attendance at last night’s game. He hugged every Capital One Arena staff member, he briefly hugged Raymond Felton and Jodie Meeks, but he saved his biggest embrace for Mr. Carmelo Anthony. Those are all the hugs I was able to report. He did not tweet during the game, but we will surely make mention–good or bad–of the Wizards on “First Take” this morning.



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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.