Communication Was Key As Wizards Snap Their 5-Game Losing Streak | Wizards Blog Truth About

Communication Was Key As Wizards Snap Their 5-Game Losing Streak

Updated: November 5, 2018

When the Knicks tied the game at 84 with just over nine minutes left in the game, it seemed as if the tide was turning against the Wizards. A contingency of boisterous Knicks fans in the Capital One Arena, were awakened by the solid play of Enes Kanter and a contingent of young players. Kanter scored the tying basket on a put back attempt in which he maneuvered around Jason Smith with ease–which was fitting considering the Wizards are the worst defensive rebounding team in the NBA.

To combat that Knicks’ momentum, the Wizards bench listened to Scott Brooks’ new mantra of “stick together,” as the entire bench was up on their feet cheering and exuding positive energy. Part of the reason why the bench has been standing is because Dwight Howard, who is still recovering from a gluteal injury prefers to stand rather than sit and his circumstance has been the catalyst of the Wizards’ bench new cheering section. The team’s energy level needed to be increased not only on the floor but from the bench, and the Wizards were able to help galvanize the team by simply showing more support.

Washington badly needed to close out the game to stop the hemorrhaging caused by a four-game losing streak. To do,  so they would need strong closing performances from their All-Star back court of JohnWall and Bradley Beal.

At the time of Kanter’s game-tying basket,  Beal had already played the entire second half as Scott Brooks decided to shorten his rotation for a game he knew his team desperately needed. Wall rested briefly in the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, but he came back into the game ready to lead the team to victory. Scott Brooks allowed Wall to run the team’s angle pick-and-roll to more easily create shots for himself and others as Brooks noted in his postgame remarks; “He took over with playmaking. He took care of the basketball. He sprinkled the offense all the way around. He had Dwight (Howard) a couple times, he had Brad (Beal), he had Austin (Rivers), he had Jeff (Green) for the lob. And he took a jump shot himself, but when we do that, we are hard to beat, cause you don’t want the (opposing) team to know that it’s so predictable.”

The Wizards ran the angle pick-and-roll in the fourth quarter, with Wall as ball-handler and Jeff Green as the roll man. The Wizards took . advantage of the youth and inexperience of the Knicks by forcing smaller defenders to have to make tough decisions  against the Wizards’ horn sets. The defenders had to either jump the coverage and attack Wall as the ball-handler and leave themselves susceptible to lob passes, or sag back and force John Wall to shoot. The Wizards were successful in both of those areas as Wall got into a nice rhythm with his jump shot while Green used his 6-foot-9 frame to play with bigger players such as Entes Kanter and Mitchell Robinson. Green finished the game with 14 points and nine rebounds as he stabilized the Wizards bench unit.

The Wizards seemed to click offensively in the fourth quarter, but it was their defensive intensity and communication that allowed them to hold to Knicks to just 11 points in the final nine minutes of game action. When asked after the game about what he thinks the difference is with the team on the defensive end, Dwight Howard did not hesitate to credit the communication level as a catalyst for stronger play: “It’s just communication. We’ve been doing a better job of talking to each other. Our guys are starting to trust that somebody’s going to be behind them. It’s all about trust and communication.”

Wall revealed that he is mindset on defense is somewhat a balancing act of blind trust because he is so focused on what is going on in front of him and can’t see what exactly is going on behind him–but he knows because guys are talking: “I really do not know what is behind me because I am locked on the ball. I want to turn around and look, but just guys communicating, guys being able to help, guys being able to step for the next guy, guys rotating over. It just a lot more communication, a lot more intensity. We are denying the ball a lot, got a couple shot clock violations.”

Washington held their first opponent of the season under 100 points–and accomplishment that was not ignored by Scott Brooks after the game:

“That I didn’t see triple digits. It was nice to see below 100. We haven’t seen that. I think the guys competed. We started off the game with our best defense of the early season and then we finished that.”

This was in fact the Wizards best defensive effort of the season and a large part of that can be attributed to the team putting forth more effort, according to Bradley Beal: “I thought it was just the effort. I think it was put together for whole 48 minutes for the first time. The game’s fast, we played a good first half, we played a good second half, or we just played the whole game without trying to come back from being down such a large deficit. So it was good to be on the other side of it this time and be able to get after it.”

The Wizards put forth more effort andbetter results. It’s not a novelty concept that playing hard works, but sometimes it’s good for the team to see tangible results from simply playing with a sense of purpose instead of just going through the motions.  It also helped that youthful New York Knicks are just 26th in the NBA in points per game. Bradley Beal commented after Friday’s embarrassing lost to the Thunder that he would not allow the Wizards ship to sink, and at least for one night, the team was able to stay afloat.

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
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.