[D.C. Council: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the subs, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is on the table. Game No. 41, Washington Wizards vs Minnesota Timberwolves; contributors: Rashad Mobley and John Converse Townsend from the Verizon Center, with Kyle Weidie from behind the television screen.]
It’s as if everything was set up just so that Steve Buckhantz could “Amen” Jordan Crawford… bless him. And that’s exactly what happened in the post-game after Steezus dropped the gift (and GIFs) of a buzzer-beating road win against Portland.
First, you had Crawford scoring 10 points over the first five and a half minutes of the fourth quarter (he had zero in 10 minutes of run entering the period). Then he missed a layup… and then a 3-pointer. Mike Prada of Bullets Forever tweeted: “There’s no rule that says you have to keep in the guy who scored 10 points earlier in the quarter. I would take Crawford out.”
And surely not many could argue. Especially after Crawford was the one responsible for giving Wes Matthews a good look from deep to tie the game at 95 with eight seconds left. And with a chance to win, the Wizards originally looked to get the ball to Nene in the post, it seemed, but the Blazers clogged up the play, had a foul to give and used it.
With just over three seconds left after the stoppage, there was no time to chuck the ball to Brazil in the post. Instead, this happened from Detroit:
Yes, we are all too familiar with Blake Griffin flops (save for petulant Lakers-cum-Clippers fans and other offending defenders). He’s funny in commercials (I genuinely like his KIA spots), he dunks really well, he usually can’t hit a free throw, and Blake Griffin sometimes plays a style of basketball that you would rather referees dishonor than honor. But, stars get calls. Also all too familiar. In this instance, Nene was called for a foul. But will Blake get fined for a flop? Or will the league deem the faux motion acceptable under the threat of assault?
[D.C. Council: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the subs, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is on the table. Game No. 37, Washington Wizards at Denver Nuggets; contributor: Kyle Weidie, Adam McGinnis and John Converse Townsend from behind the television screen.]
John Wall was waiting to grab a rebound during warmups before Washington’s game versus Orlando, and his face instantly lit up when he recognized Jay-Z’s voice over the loud speakers: ”Aw man, it is Big Pimpin’ Baby.”
Wall continued to sing verses of the Jay-Z hit single as he filed through the layup line, enticing smiles out of his teammates. John Wall was back where he wanted to be, and the mood of the team was noticeably lifted. This was a different scene than that of the Nick Young/JaVale McGee/Andray Blatche era, where jacking around reigned supreme in warm-ups and a level of seriousness never materialized when it mattered. Wall was chatting up Bradley Beal non-stop and the rookie could not contain his laughter. The future franchise core tossed each other alley-oops—Wall struggled converting some dunks on his “jiggly legs.” Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin followed Wall’s lead with impressive slams of their own. Later during warmups, Wall started playing around with Kevin Seraphin on the left wing, shaking the big man with a crossover. Both cracked up. Wall mocked Seraphin’s inability to stay on his feet.
Wall’s engaging personality is often hidden in the button-downed, risk-averse image he presents in media interviews. Spend any time around Wall and you see the happy-go-lucky attitude is real and genuine. He appears to know every elite basketball player and partakes in many pregame pleasantries with opponents. The Orlando game was no different, as he greeted Magic reserve guard Ish Smith at half court—both hail from North Carolina, and likely know each other from the hoop circuit in the Tar Heel state. As the national anthem approached, Wall’s roommate and best friend, Tyrone (Ty) Williams, came over for their pre-game conversation ritual.
Williams grew up with the dynamic point guard in Raleigh and, although not blood related, Wall call’s him his “brother.” Ty attends almost every home game and sits near the floor. Through Wall’s infamous club appearances (which certain bloggers passive aggressively concern troll), trouble and off-the-court drama has never surfaced in any capacity. This might seem trivial and not worthy of praise, but being a young, rich NBA player makes you a target when you are just doing a simple activity like being out socializing with your circle of friends. This can be difficult waters for famous hoopers to navigate in a world full of hanger-ons and distractions. Williams deserves credit for keeping Wall away from any negative publicity or troublesome situations. (If only Arenas and Blatche had similar peeps.)
So it’s halftime of the Wizards-Magic game, and the Wiz Kids are looking good, sort of. They got up 48-34 on Orlando at one point with — you guessed it — Emeka Okafor (11) and Jan Vesely (8) as your leading scorers. The Wizards even pushed their lead to 55-36, prompting one millionaire blogger on the sideline to slap Trevor Ariza on the ass. But then Jameer Nelson dropped 12 points and two assists in the last three minutes of the second quarter, and the Magic closed out the half on a 13-0 run. A one-time 19-point lead was quickly cut down to six for Washington, 59-53.
And then there was the time Orlando’s Ish Smith jumped over John Wall’s head and still blocked his shot. On to the second half…
Well, now that the return of John Wall is out of the way, the Wizards have the rest of this season (48 games left and currently 12 out of the playoffs) and beyond to look toward. If it seems like a lot, it is. But time is still short. Always is. Wall can sign an extension on his rookie contract this summer. When Derrick Rose signed his extension, he got five years, $95 million; Russell Westbrook got five years, $80 million. So the Wizards have a lot of evaluating to do over 48 games to determine if their proclaimed franchise player is worth franchise player money. (At this point, not sure Wall is worth a 5-year, $70 million contract, but we will see.) Wall has some of his own evaluating to do as well. He, like most supreme talents, clearly wants to play for a winner. The Washington Wizards are currently losers.
Decisions, decisions… But hey, John Wall is BACK! Might as well enjoy him while he’s around. Let’s go to the video…
A new season for the Wizards? It sure seems that way after the debut of John Wall and a win against the Atlanta Hawks. Sure, no one is getting ahead of themselves, but they can totally think about getting ahead. Past losses are not absolved, but the future looks a lot brighter, or at least more fun to watch, with a healthy Wall (and Nene, and others). What gets lost in both the over- and underestimation from the toll of losing is the importance of playing within roles. The difference between the seventh and eighth players in the pecking order trying to bump up to the fourth or fifth spots in the rotation is vastly unconsidered and under-appreciated Now, at least, the ensemble is more complete. On Saturday, A.J. Price said he didn’t feel like the Wizards had a “fair shake” due to all the injuries, but that they are ready to give it their all over the last 48 games. The playoffs? Shoot, these players just want to play.
“I really feel like we have a fighting chance to make a great impression on the league, to really show the league what we’re capable of doing. As long as we keep the mindset in understanding that John is the maestro, and we got to get out and run, I think we’ll be good.” —Martell Webster
New year? Same season? New life? Fresh breath? Whatever it is, it’s something, and it’s because the pack is (mostly) back together. And as Nene puts it: “It’s good to have our dogs, man, our dogs back.”
John Wall won’t start against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night and his minutes will be limited. How much? Randy Wittman wouldn’t say before the game. But that doesn’t mean Hawks Coach Larry Drew isn’t worried about the Wizards superstar. At the top of the opposing coach’s mind when it comes to Wall:
“Whenever you play on the road, the one thing you try to eliminate is momentum plays, and [John Wall] is capable of doing that, even if he’s just in the game for a short stretch of time. It can be a short stretch that can change the tempo and rhythm of the game.”
Thusly, via TAI’s Adam McGinnis, John Wall does the “cookie challenge” in less than 60 seconds…
When season recap of the 2012-13 Oklahoma City Thunder is pixeled, their 101-99 loss to Washington Wizards will stand out like a RG3 jersey in Dallas, or me drinking an O’Doul’s. The “worst beating first” result was improbable, but it was memorable because of its strange quirks.
Washington often gets buried by poor beginnings, but this time they raced out to a strong start with 30 points in the first quarter. And a devastating scoring drought (like the seven-minute stretch that cemented the Jan. 9 loss to Miami, ugh) never materialized.
Jan Vesely actually did positive stuff on the basketball court, finishing with 10 points. Honza had gone weeks without totaling that output, and get this: he only had two fouls. Emeka Okafor showed himself to be a rim protector with a gigantic rejection of a Kevin Durant slam attempt. Garrett Temple scored some huge offensive put-backs in the paint.
Serge Ibaka — OKC’s big man — was their best offensive player, pouring in a career-high 26 points; Ibaka even drilled a 3-pointer at first half buzzer. And Wizards, finally, inexplicably to followers of this squad, did not fold in crunch time, highlighted by Bradley Beal’s smooth, one-handed, game-winning dagger.