Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 10th game of the season against the Hawks in Atlanta are TAI’s Sean Fagan (@McCarrick) and guest Daniel Christian (@DChris_Hawks), who writes about the Hawks for the ESPN TrueHoop blog HawksHoop.com.
Wizards Starters (0-9):
Who knows? Randy Wittman indicated that he will change his starters, but will he have the balls to bench Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor? Can’t hurt at this point.
With coverage of the Washington Wizards’ 95-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks from the Verizon Center on Saturday night, Kyle Weidie and John Converse Townsend provide their reaction…
First, a good moment…
By halftime, Atlanta’s Joe Johnson had attempted just five shots, making two of them; he had four total points and his Hawks were down 52-41. Johnson didn’t do much in the third, either. He scored a transition 3-pointer 24 seconds into the second half thanks to Jeff Teague quickness and creation. Otherwise, Johnson missed his other two third quarter attempts. Chris Singleton was making up for a lack of lateral quickness with physicality, making it especially tough when Johnson tried to post him. Atlanta’s leading scorer entered the final period with seven points on 3-for-8 shooting, and he hadn’t attempted one free throw either. Johnson checked back into the game for Willie Green with 5:41 left in the night, his Hawks down 87-83. At the 4:16 mark, he easily got into the paint against Singleton for a running jumper. Was he heating up? Was it a sign that the Wizards needed to double? Not a minute later, Johnson gave Singleton a slow, deliberate jab step from 19 feet away on the left wing. Singleton gave him just enough space and didn’t close the gap. “It’s over,” I turned and said to TAI cohort John Converse Townsend; Johnson then nailed the jumper. It was merely elementary when Johnson hit a 3-pointer against scrambling Wizards defense to put the Hawks up 93-92 with 46 seconds left, he already found the glimmer of rhythm he needed to get going.
The Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks face off for the second time in eight days tonight in Washington. For tonight’s 3-on-3, John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) and I, Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) are covering the game at the Verizon Center, and we sourced some pre-game quotes to answer the questions about tonight’s game. The 28-20 Hawks are favored by three points over the 11-35 Wizards. The Q&A starts now…
#1) The last time these two teams played, in Atlanta on March 16, the Wizards were short-handed, as well as playing their fourth road game in five nights. Washington lost, 102-88, and were outscored by the Hawks, 30-5, on fast break points. What needs to happen this time for Washington to be successful?
RANDY WITTMAN: “We’ll see how the game goes, but obviously we got to make shot when that happens, from the perimeter. We didn’t knock down open jump shots [in Atlanta] and that shrinks the floor even more when that happens. But this is a new day and we’re going to come out here really focused on what we have to go try and do.”
TREVOR BOOKER: “We just got to play like we did in the first half when we played in Atlanta. We had great defensive pressure, we were out on the wings denying passes, we were digging out of the post, we just played great team defense in the first half. That’s how we have to play the whole game tonight.”
So you might have noticed that the Wizards-Hornets DC Council Game 42 has yet to be posted. With four games in five nights, amongst hours of unintended website downtime yesterday and into today (with “figuring out” time to boot), and with real life work stuff on the side, things happen. Not to worry, we won’t be skipping it… your next drink will be a double. Thanks for bearing with us as the Wizards move on… to play the 24-19 Hawks in Atlanta. For tonight’s 3-on-3 we have Bret LaGree of the TrueHoop Hawk’s blog Hoopinion, along with TAI’s Markus Allen and Kyle Weidie. Let’s get into it… the second game past the Nick Young/JaVale McGee era… three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) So Josh Smith wasn’t traded. He’s set to make $13.2 million next season, and that’s it for his current contract. What do the Hawks do with the surly Smith?
ALLEN: I don’t see any reason to trade Josh Smith this off-season, he’s arguably the best player on the Hawks team, and has been snubbed from the All-Star game multiple times. The Atlanta Journal Constitutionreported that Smith wants a fresh start with a new franchise, and is frustrated with Atlanta not doing enough to promote his All-Star appearances, as well as his desire to play with a championship contender. We really can’t look too much into what is “reported”, because the only person who knows whether or not he wants out of Atlanta is Josh Smith, and he has denied accusations of a rift between him and the organization (But so did Melo). The best thing for the Hawks would be to keep him around for another season, and if there is still issues, trade him by next year’s trade deadline. With Dwight Howard also under contract for next season, the Magic could definitely try to make a move to bring Smith to Orlando which would appease all the parties involved. Also, the 2012 Draft will be one of the strongest in years, and if a lottery team offers a draft pick, the Hawks might need to put Smith on a flight.
LaGREE: For the second straight summer, I’ll believe that the most logical thing to try to do is deal Smith in a mini-blockbuster that gains a lottery pick for the Hawks. I can’t see the Hawks going for a full-bore rebuild in 2013 by letting Smith leave as a free agent and amnestying Joe Johnson so they have to gain assets another way. All that being said, the most likely outcome involves the Hawks trying re-sign Smith in 2013, Smith signing somewhere else, and the Hawks acquiring someone older, bigger, and less good as his replacement.
[The DC Council -- After each Wizards game: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the bench, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is over the table. Game 2 contributors: Gregg Cobert, Sam Permutt and Kyle Weidie.]
Jordan Crawford heads back to Atlanta to play against the team that drafted him, while Chris Singleton returns home. He is from Canton, Georgia and played his senior season of high school at Dunwoody, right outside of Atlanta. As the Wizards prepare for game two on the season against the Hawks tonight, their first road game, we have three questions and three answers surrounding the two teams. TAI’s Rashad Mobley, Kyle Weidie, and Bret LaGree from the ESPN TrueHoop Hawks blog, Hoopinion… 3-on-3 is now…
1) Rashad Mobley: The Hawks lack a significant scoring threat off the bench, and Wizards are lacking a veteran presence in the back court to mentor/guide/spell John Wall. Jordan Crawford could be that bench threat for the Hawks, and Kirk Hinrich (when healthy) could play that role again for the Wizards. The draft pick part of the trade that brought Chris Singleton to D.C. notwithstanding, would Crawford and Hinrich be more effective on their old teams?
MOBLEY: Crawford is still trying to figure out how his skill-set fits in the NBA, so I don’t know if that clarity would have come in Atlanta. But I do know that on opening night, Wall struggled to lead the Wizards on offense, and Hinrich could have steadied the team a bit.
LaGREE, Hoopinion: I think Hinrich’s perimeter defense will give the Hawks more value this year than Crawford’s ability to create a huge number of low-efficiency shots. Any of Atlanta’s five starters should be able to lead/carry the second unit for short stretches, though it remains to be seen how creative Larry Drew will get with the rotation to hide the lack of bench scoring.
When a key deadline trade goes down between a playoff team needing help and a non-playoff team needing to rebuild, most feel bad for the veteran going to the losing situation — Sasha Vujacic, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Mike Bibby, Maurice “Mo” Evans come to mind from this season. The secondary consideration, partially because he’s going to that losing team, is the young player who would gladly trade riding the bench during a playoff run for a chance to suit up for a team going nowhere. Jordan Crawford got that and more when he went from Atlanta to Washington. He got off to a hot start with a new team that he wouldn’t give up on, even when hindered by a back injury. He got that treasured green light, which is rare, even for a lottery team. But what happens when that green light ends?
Crawford arrived in Washington at February’s trade deadline along with the 18th pick of the 2011 draft and a good veteran influence in Evans. In exchange, the Wizards gave up Kirk Hinrich (owed $8 million next season) and Hilton Armstrong. They also got the unexpected bonus of a money-saving buyout of Mike Bibby, who also came with Crawford and Evans from Atlanta. Because of a knee injury to Nick Young, he suddenly found himself going from the 12th or 13th man on the bench to full-time starter by his seventh game with the Wizards. He ended up starting his final 17 games in Washington, out of 26 total games with the team. The carefree Wizards bunch went a respectable 7-10 in those last 17 games, during which Crawford averaged 20 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists (to 3.1 turnovers), and 1.3 steals. Pretty impressive for the 27th pick of the 2010 draft.
People will say that the Atlanta Hawks lost to the Washington Wizards on Saturday night because they were without Josh Smith. Because they were unmotivated against a free-flying Wizards team with their playoff seeding already set. A date as the five seed going to Orlando to play the Magic awaits the Hawks in the first round, but did they have to get blown out by the Wiz Kids 115-83?
Regardless of Atlanta’s effortless situation, the Wizards countered with one of their best team defensive displays of the season, turning 23 Hawks turnovers into 27 points, partially thanks to 11 steals. And as the Washington Post’s Michael Lee has written, much credit is due to D-Leaguers Larry Owens and Othyus Jeffers — Owens putting in 10 points off the bench and Jeffers scoring 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. The energy of on-the-cusp players has made some of the more contractually secure Wizards not take their situation for granted.
Jeffers’ contagious explosion of hustle shouldn’t be taken for granted for the next training camp the Wizards hold either. He, along with Andray Blatche, were big reasons why the Wizards got off to a 29-18 jump on Atlanta after one quarter. Blatche worked Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia to the tune of nine points, five rebounds and 3-4 from the free throw line in the period. And Jeffers picked up two boards, one offensive, and 3-4 at the charity stripe in six and a half minutes off the bench. The disinterest of Atlanta was especially evident when they allowed Yi Jianlian to counter Jamal Crawford’s 11 points in the second quarter with 10 of his own. Washington led 61-46 at half.