Game 2 Rapid Reaction: Wiz Go 0-for-2 In The North | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Game 2 Rapid Reaction: Wiz Go 0-for-2 In The North

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Updated: April 18, 2018

TAI’s Rashad Mobley reacts to Washington’s 130-119 loss to Toronto in Game 2 of the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

M.V.P.

Yes, John Wall had 29 points and nine assists, and kept the Wizards within striking distance with aggressive second-half play (22 points and six assists). But when Wall and Beal were saddled with foul trouble, it was Lawson, the newbie, who kept the Wizards afloat.

When Wall picked up his second foul with 7:42 left in the first quarter, it seemed like a logical, foregone conclusion that Tomas Satoransky would be the name Coach Scott Brooks would call—Satoransky averaged 10.4 points and 5.8 assists as a starter, and the Wizards averaged 28 assists per game during that span. But it was Lawson, not Satoransky, who got the nod, and despite only being with the team for five days, he put an imprint on the game as both scorer and facilitator.

He dished out eight assists in the first half, and although he now lacks the tremendous foot speed of Wall (Editor’s Note: In the NBA’s 2012-13 GM Survey, Wall and Lawson received equal votes in the fastest-with-the-ball category. They finished fourth, behind Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, and Rajon Rondo), Lawson did his to best to approximate that by constantly pushing the ball. He found Mike Scott open by the 3-point line, he found Mahinmi and Oubre cutting to the basket, and he was one of the main reasons why the Wizards were able to shrink Toronto’s 22-point lead to 14 before Wall and Beal re-entered the game.

Lawson put on his cape and bailed the Wizards out once again in the third quarter, after Bradley Beal picked up his fourth foul with 8:22 left. He hit consecutive 3-pointers in, then buried a big shot in the fourth quarter to cut the Raptors lead to seven. Lawson even dove on the floor for a lose ball to start a John Wall-led fast break.

He finished with 14 points, eight assists in 31 minutes of play–more than every other Wizards player not named Wall. More importantly, Coach Brooks seemed to have more trust in Lawson in the clutch than he does with Otto Porter, Gortat and even the aforementioned Satoransky.

L.V.P.

Marcin Gortat went scoreless in 12 minutes of play. Three of the four shots he missed were from point blank range. Bradley Beal and his sulking body language returned, partly because of foul trouble but mostly because he shot 3-for-11 for just nine points, looking quite sluggish the entire night. Significant contributions from one, or both of them, would have been nice, but they are far from the LVPs on this evening.

That distinction belongs to the defense, which was tepid for the second consecutive game.

Right before the opening tip, Comcast SportsNet’s Chris Miller reported that Scott Brooks put a serious emphasis on defense. Miller mentioned that since the end of Game 1, Brooks has focused on rotations, communication and knowing what every Raptors player was a capable of–especially from the 3-point line. The Wizards responded to Brooks’s call to action by being even more porous on the defensive end in Game 2.

The Raptors led 44-27 after one quarter, shooting 59 percent from the field and a blazing 53 percent from the 3-point line (7-13). For the first half, the Wizards allowed the Raptors to shot an obscene 56 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3, and 90 percent from the free throw line. The defensive rotations were slow, the communication was nil, and to make matters worse Wall and Beal were in foul trouble. Beal’s fouls were especially maddening, since three of his first four fouls were committed while a Raptors player was shooting a 3-point shot.

Brooks complained about the Wizards defense at the end of the regular season, he was moved to speak on it again after Game 1, and now after the Raptors morphed into the Golden State Warriors after Game 2, he will once again have to find the magic elixir to cure the Wizards defensive woes.

That Game Was…Right There for the Taking

As bad as the Wizards played the first 24 minutes of the game, and as inconsistent as they were in the third quarter, they shook off the doldrums midway through the fourth quarter.

Mike Scott hit a 3-pointer, and so did Lawson after yet another tremendous block by Wall. Then after a Raptors turnover, Wall was fouled and hit both free throws which cut the lead to single digits for the first time since the 8:03 mark of the first quarter. Steve Buckhantz’s voice was at a heightened pitch, Wall was jawing with Drake, and it looked like the Wizards were going to overcome their defensive issues and possibly steal the game.

Then C.J. Miles did was he always seems to do: kill the Wizards

The lead jumped up to eight points, then DeMar DeRozan scored eight consecutive points of his own. The Wizards? Stymied.

X-Factor

The Wizards bench scored 63 of  119 points, which was 21 more than the Raptors bench (who, in all fairness, was once again without the healthy services of Fred VanVleet, who played just 2:49 after being repeatedly torched by Ty Lawson). Mike Scott led the way with 20 points, Lawson and Oubre had 14 each, Ian Mahinmi had 12, and Satoransky–arguably the most accomplished of the group–brought up the rear with just three points.

In the second quarter, the bench–led by Lawson–had successfully worked the Raptors lead down to 14 points thanks to hustle on defense and ball movement on the offensive end.

Brooks and his substitution patterns haven’t exactly been consistent, or effective, so who knows what he’ll roll out Friday, especially since he hinted that Mike Scott might start at center in Game 3. But on a night when Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris, Otto Porter and Beal combined for just 27 points, that unexpected boost from the bench was a welcome surprise.

Game 3 is Friday at the Capital One Arena.

https://twitter.com/NBAInside_Stuff/status/986422475599876097

 

 

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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.