Too Easy in the Big Easy, the Pelicans Outduel Washington's Stars | Wizards Blog Truth About

Too Easy in the Big Easy, the Pelicans Outduel Washington’s Stars

Updated: November 29, 2018

Photo: Gerald Herbert / AP Photo

Washington appeared to be turning the corner as a team–right up until the moment they were blindsided by Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and the New Orleans Pelicans. Davis and Holiday played like All-Star caliber players against the Wizards, propelling a mostly mediocre cast of talent to victory. John Wall and Bradley Beal did not play like All-Stars at all and that disparity of play determined the outcome of the game.

New Orleans made the first chess move of the night by inserting Tim Frazier into the starting lineup at point guard, which allowed Holiday to play off the ball and attack the Wizards with weakside cuts and drives. Holiday finished with 29 points on 12-for-19 shooting from the field, including nine field goals made inside the paint. Holiday moved with impunity on the weakside due to the attention Anthony Davis drew in the post and high screen-and-rolls. Davis made Thomas Bryant look like a player who was making only his fifth career NBA start, and even though Bryant has been everything the Wizards could have asked for during his time starting in Dwight Howard’s absence. Asking the young gun to slow down an MVP candidate was ambitious from the start; Bryant played just 14 minutes as a result.

The stats may show that Wall and Beal weren’t too far off of their normal productivity, but the eye test clearly showed they were not close to the “House of Guards” mode with which they out-dueled James Harden. Beal had four turnovers and John Wall had for of his own, to go along with missing his first four 3-pointers. Their miscues amounted to far too many wasted possessions, and the Wizards never really found themselves competing in this game.

The starting backcourt finished with the worst plus/minuses on the entire team, with a minus-19 for Wall and minus-20 for Beal. For Wall, he started out the game struggling with his jump shot and, once he realized it wasn’t falling, pivoted to unsuccessfully attacking the basket. After a few drives with no foul call, Wall began to complain to the referees, which eventually culminated in him receiving a technical foul. Beal also shot the ball poorly from deep, only connecting on one of his five attempts. And although he finished with a season-high 11 assists, a handful of his passes seemed to leave teammates reaching. New Orleans took advantage of the Wizards carelessness and converted 20 turnovers into 24 points on the night, while also outscoring the Wizards 26-8 on fast break points.

The overall construction of the Wizards roster is flawed and this team can ill-afford to have off nights from their two All-Stars. The Wizards did get solid performances from Kelly Oubre Jr., though, who was playing in his hometown on a night where he and his father’s philanthropic endeavors might have been the only positive takeaways. Oubre finished the game with a career-high nine made field goals that led to 22 points and got his 3-point shot to fall after struggling mightily over the last few weeks.

Maybe Wizards fans who were skeptical after Tuesday’s win against the Rockets were right all along. Washington wining three of their last four games was all fool’s gold for a team that literally cannot stop anyone on defense. Washington currently has a 110.4 Defensive Efficiency rating, which ranks 28th in the league and the Wizards’ defensive performance against the Pelicans reflected that ranking. Most nights this season the Wizards have been guilty of giving up too many 3-point shots to their opponents, but in this game the Wizards were exposed around the basket. New Orleans scored 62 points in the paint and out-rebounded the Wizards 64-38.

The Wizards admitted to being embarrassed by the drama that’s unfolded, but despite their talk about improved effort and focus, their performances on the court suggest they’re still falling into the same traps. They have a day off before taking on the 76ers on Friday. They need to get their minds and bodies right, quietly. As the great John Wooden once said: “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

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.