Tensions Boiled Over as the Wizards' New-Look Offense Stalls | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Tensions Boiled Over as the Wizards’ New-Look Offense Stalls

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Updated: October 2, 2018

The Wizards unveiled a new style of offense in their first preseason game of the 2108-19 season that consists of shooting more 3-point shots. The only problem is that they failed to take advantage of this newfound strategy—the team shot 8-for-38 from behind the arc in what amounted to be a game marred by whistles as the two teams combined for 83 total fouls and 90 free throw attempts.

Frustrations boiled over on the court, best exemplified by an altercation between Markieff Morris and Knicks rookie Mitchell Robinson.

Keef and Robinson got tangled up late in the second quarter and each was awarded a double-technical. Two minutes later, Keef was being ejected from the game after he could not seem to let whatever happened with Mitchell go. After the game, Keef was very explicit with why he reacted the way he did to Robinson: “He’s a stupid-ass rookie. Talking too much. Obviously, I didn’t like what he said and the refs overplayed it and threw me out.”

Wizards coach Scott Brooks was not pleased with his veteran player letting his emotions get the best of him. When asked about Keef being ejected Brooks simply responded, “It’s not good. It’s not a good look.”

While Brooks was disappointed, first-time Knicks head coach David Fizdale seemed to be very enthused by his rookie standing up for himself and displaying a semblance of toughness:

“Yeah, that was awesome. You don’t instigate it but you don’t back down…The kid’s tough. Don’t let his slim frame fool you. He’s not going to back away. The kid grew up in some tough surroundings. I’m sure he got in some scuffles down there in the bayou. That’s who we are. That’s the Knicks DNA. We’re going to keep holding on to that. We may not necessarily totally instigate stuff but we’re definitely not shying away from stuff.”

Fizdale talked as if he were proud of his rookie—and why shouldn’t he be? Robinson not only stood up to Keef’s bully ball, but he also had himself a pretty decent outing on the court. In just 16 minutes of game action, Robinson finished with six points and seven rebounds as he displayed the length and athleticism that made him the buzz of NBA Summer League.

Robinson wasn’t the only young Knick to play well in his NBA debut: No. 9 overall pick Kevin Knox started the game and finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds as the Knicks pulled out a riveting 124-121 overtime victory.

The fourth quarter and overtime game action looked more like a summer league contest with the cast of characters on the court, but the intensity precedent had been set by the altercation earlier in the game. The Knicks were playing physical, but Wizards Troy Brown, Jordan McRae (who recently joined the team as a second two-way contract player), and Thomas Bryant would not back down.

Brown did not shoot the ball particular well, but he showed the versatility and skill set that made him the Wizards first-round draft selection. McRae shot 5-for-5 from the field and even had a chance to put the team up one in regulation when he went to the free throw line for an and-1 in the last minute, which he subsequently missed.

Aggressive Otto Has Arrived

One of the narratives to come out of Wizards media day was the team’s request for “max” player Otto Porter to be more aggressive on the court. Otto responded by scoring 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the field, including a 3-for-5 effort from downtown. It wasn’t just Otto’s shot that was falling, but he was also being aggressive in other aspects of the game.

There were multiple times when Porter got a defensive rebound and pushed the ball up court himself, instead of looking for the outlet man to initiate the offense. While Porter’s ball-handling will never be mistaken for a Harlem Globetrotter’s, he has improved his handles enough that he can competently create a shot for himself and get the ball to his open teammates. In #SoWizards fashion, though, Otto Porter ended up leaving the game with an ankle injury that Brooks described as minor and should not keep him out of practice.

If the Wizards want to play this new style where they take more 3s, Otto Porter has to be the catalyst as the most efficient scorer on the Wizards roster. Although Washington lost the game, Scott Brooks insisted that their were positive takeaways to be had, but he also insisted that there is still much improvement needed before the regular season starts:

“We definitely moved the ball offensively. We did a lot of nice things. We got a lot of good looks, a lot of good open 3s. One of the things we’ve talked about, we’ve stressed a lot is taking more 3s. We took 38—and forgot to mention we should make some more as we take them…8-for-38. It starts with the defense, and I thought we played defense in the fourth quarter really like NBA defense where you really have to lock down and guard somebody. Too many fouls, too many free throws. But other than that, that’s what exhibition is here for, to work on things, to clean some things up. We have a film session tomorrow, we got some practice time, try to get better a little bit before the first game.”

The Wizards shot almost 37 percent from 3-point range last season, so there’s every reason to believe these shots will eventually fall—but the important thing is that the team does not get discouraged and stays the course in the new direction.

These two teams will meet again in New York next Monday, giving Washington another good opportunity to test their “pace and space” basketball. If last night was any indication, that game will be entertaining as hell at the very least.

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
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Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. Bylines on bylines on bylines.

Will write for food.