Large Carrion Birds and a Loss to the Orlando Magic | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Large Carrion Birds and a Loss to the Orlando Magic

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Updated: November 10, 2018

2-9. Still no sign of buzzards.

At the very least—the very, very least—the Wizards almost completed a comeback from 23 points down against the Orlando Magic in the fourth quarter. They pulled the game to 105-106, which (for the moment) quieted their most vocal critic:

If I were a glass half-full blogger or I was willing to pay more heed to the words of Scott Brooks, I could make the argument that the Wizards are one or two tweaks from getting over the hump and starting to not only be competitive in basketball games but also begin winning them. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear, and Scott Brooks has found an effective small ball lineup in Wall/Beal/Rivers/Oubre/Green—and let’s hand out a participation trophy to everyone because gosh darnit, John Wall manned up and tried HARD. Let’s save our slings and arrows for another day right?

Well then… How the hell did the Wizards end up 23 points down to the Orlando Magic in in the first place?

That general “Wizardness” of it all.

After racing out to an early 14-2 lead, predicated mostly on a nice two-man game between Wall and Dwight Howard, the Wizards slowly and inexorably fell apart and behind (they trailed 63-48 at the half). This was in large part due to their now chronic inability to defend the perimeter (the Magic shot 7-11 from 3-point land in the first half) and the 14 turnovers that ranged from your average “the team isn’t on the same page” to “WTF is going on here?”

It’s this overall lack of attention to detail that has become the hallmark of a Scott Brooks-coached team. One teammate makes a dumb mistake (pick a Wizard at random), Wall or Beal try to overcompensate by playing hero-ball and force shots and without accountability being enforced by either the coach (whose programming has locked him into a pre-formatted pattern for rotations and minutes) or teammates (who you can’t trust to not dog you out sotto voice or sub-tweet you). That’s how you end up with five dudes racing up and down the court and plays that look like this:

Markieff Morris’s body language says it all: “We are gonna be on a lot dudes mixtapes this year.”

Dwight Howard

The work of Kara Lawson and Steve Buckhantz is some of the best broadcasting in the league, especially given the material they have to work with at the moment. However, their coverage and praise of Dwight Howard’s play against the Magic (in a homecoming game) left me at many times scratching my head. While Howard was undoubtedly effective at receiving and converting his touches in the post, his defense was atrocious—and gave you the sense that Howard isn’t even close to 70 percent healthy (let alone 100%). Because if Howard’s posterior is fully active, the following exhibits give one pause that Howard might be washed:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

 

The Rigidity of Scott Brooks

When the second unit entered the game in the second quarter, it was at least semi-heartening to see that Tomas Santoranksy might be receiving more burn as the 7th man off the bench. However, all hope went out the window as Sato spent his brief seven minutes of court time pinned in the corner as a spot-up 3 man and stripped of any meaningful opportunity to create with the ball in his hands. In turn, Sato also looks completely shorn of any confidence that he may have carried over from last season. While still looking to create for his teammates, Sato looks hesitant to call his own number, and what was once the lone bright spot on the Wizards bench looks completely adrift in what few minutes Brooks deigns to parcel out.

As for the man who stole those minutes you ask? Well, it’s Austin Rivers, of course, who played a whopping 23 minutes and took exactly ONE entire shot, which isn’t exactly the microwave off the bench that the Wizards thought they had acquired. I’m not sure whether Rivers ineffectiveness is from an insistence to not force the issue, or struggling to fit in offensively, or whether Brooks has yet to find a way to get him open regularly. But Rivers is stealing minutes from players who could use the development time—all because Scott Brooks feels that Rivers is part of solution in turning this Wizards season around.

Overall

Scott Brooks played John Wall and Bradley Beal 42 and 41 minutes respectively on the first night of a back-to-back in a desperate bid to beat the freaking Orlando Magic. Otto Porter’s game is still in the witness protection program. Ian Mahinmi is being paid $64 million to rack up DNPs and the overall 15th pick in the 2018 draft, Troy Brown, can’t sniff the court because the coach is pulling a Captain Ahab and chasing the magical win that will somehow turn the season around.

But, hey, the Wizards came back from 23 points down to cut the lead to one and only lost by nine. Baby steps, baby.

Wait, what’s that in the distance? Ah. The vultures have started circling.

Sean Fagan on FacebookSean Fagan on Twitter
Sean Fagan
Reporter / Writer/Gadfly at TAI
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Sean has contributed to TAI since the the dawn of Jan Vesely and has been on the Wizards beat since 2008. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo and SI.com. He still believes that Mike Miller never got a fair shot.