Wizards Blog Truth About It.net http://www.truthaboutit.net Washington Wizards Blog, ESPN TrueHoop Network Tue, 31 Mar 2015 05:45:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 2014-15 Wizards: Save the Eulogy for the Funeral http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/2014-15-wizards-save-the-eulogy-for-the-funeral.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/2014-15-wizards-save-the-eulogy-for-the-funeral.html#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 05:37:09 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46421 Part of the process? Lose mansion, get fat, pack things in box ... (but after a championship run!)

Sad John Wall.

Things look bleak. I’ll grant you that. If Washington continues its current level of play, the Wizards will have a very short stay in the playoffs. Even John Wall admitted as much on SportsCenter the day after Washington’s disappointing last-second loss to the Indiana Pacers:

“[I]t’s either we can fold now and take whatever seed we get and have a first-round exit if we’re gonna keep playing the way we’re playing, or we suck it all up as a group.”

The offense is a mess, the defense is confused, and the roster has so many holes that Ted Leonsis should be ordering this stuff by the gallon.

Should you be worried about the team’s future? Yes. Should you write off the playoffs before they even begin? No.

First, with all due respect, Bullets/Wizards fans are in no position to pooh-pooh a playoff appearance. There have been far too few over the last 35 years. At best, I’ll excuse those fans who are secretly rooting for a quick first-round exit to spur organizational changes. But the rest of you should get on board once the calendar hits April 18. You still have the entire off-season to complain about the state of the franchise.

Lest anyone forget, a similar doom-and-gloom scenario played out in April of last year. Given all the accolades Washington received after dominating Chicago in the first round, it can be difficult to remember that the Wizards entered the final month of the 2014 season as the 6-seed and were in real danger of falling behind the Charlotte Bobcats for the 7-seed and a first-round matchup with the Miami Heat. Washington had two chances to put away the Bobcats on March 31 in Charlotte and on April 9 at home and lost both games. Nothing about those embarrassing losses gave the impression that the Wizards had any shot in the playoffs.

Washington bounced back with four straight wins to end the season against tanking and/or resting teams and was gifted the 5-seed by a Brooklyn team that appeared happy to lose its final two games and swap playoff position with Washington to set up a first-round matchup versus Toronto. The rest is history.

This is not to say that a similar turnaround should be expected this season. But it’s not like Washington has been playing up to its full potential during this anemic 44-game stretch. With apologies to Bill Parcells, Washington is not a 19-25 team—or at least they shouldn’t be a 19-25 team. The Wizards have chronically underachieved for months and their futility seems to worsen as the season progresses. Chronic underachieving speaks to deep-rooted institutional failures that must be addressed swiftly and severely at the player, coach, and front office levels. But, perversely, it also gives reason for hope—at least in the short-term. The opportunity exists for a turnaround in the playoffs precisely because Washington has played so far below its abilities in the regular season.

The NBA Playoffs will be a brand new season. Every team starts 0-0 and each series is decided more on matchups than anything else. Washington is either going to play Toronto or Chicago in the first round, with the former looking a lot more likely than the latter. Washington matches up very well with Chicago. Toronto … not so much. The Raptors won the season series 3-0. However, Toronto has been struggling almost as much as Washington since the All-Star break. Prior to beating the Lakers at home last Friday, the Raptors lost 13 of their past 18 games.

If you need a reason to be optimistic, look no further than John Wall. Seriously, don’t look any further because no other player on the team merits your attention.

Wall is a one-man wrecking crew right now. His last three games have been spectacular (30.3 points, 8.0 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 steals and a bunch of clutch shots). The only problem is he is playing one-on-five. Not one teammate has consistently stepped up, which is pretty depressing given the veteran-laden squad that Ernie Grunfeld assembled.

However, the playoffs are a different animal. When the rotations tighten and Paul Pierce can (hopefully) play starter’s minutes, Washington boasts an experienced lineup—especially if Kris Humphries ever returns.

No matter which team the Wizards play in the first round, Wall will be the best player on the court. With the starters playing close to 40-plus minutes per game and Nene in full playoff mode, it would not take much more than Bradley Beal resurrecting his 2014 Playoff self to turn the Wizards into an entertaining post-season team.

Is it going to happen? I don’t know. But there’s no sense throwing dirt on the 2014-15 season until the casket is in the ground. There’s plenty of time for pitchforks in the off-season.

[John Wall sips on a win, via @recordsANDradio]

[John Wall sips on a win, via @recordsANDradio]

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/2014-15-wizards-save-the-eulogy-for-the-funeral.html/feed 0
Synergy Tells All Regarding the Wizards Offense, Or Lack Thereof http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/synergy-tells-all-regarding-the-wizards-offense-or-lack-thereof.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/synergy-tells-all-regarding-the-wizards-offense-or-lack-thereof.html#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 05:24:20 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46250  

playercoach

There has been a lot of chatter about the offensive struggles of the 2014-15 Wizards; a lot of it is completely warranted given the team’s 20th-ranked offense. But there hasn’t been as much discussion about exactly how or why the Wizards offense falters.

There’s not much use picking the head coach’s brain about it, though; at the mere mention of offense, Randy Wittman turns ornery. His refusal to discuss the Wizards’ offensive woes is both perplexing and sad for the players. This up-and-coming team has significant potential with the proper leadership … but how can this band of upstarts reach their full potential if their leader only gives them lectures about defensive effort and, on the other side of the ball, never digs much deeper than ‘take what the defense gives you’ and ‘put the ball in the hoop’?

The main problem with the Wizards offense is that, besides the agonizing propensity for shooting long 2s, they have no real identity. Though the Wiz might claim their identity is to use their two “traditional bigs” in “traditional ways”—at least on defense—neither Nene nor Gortat are especially adept at being able to score with their backs to the basket.

What’s worse, the Wizards, after more than 70 games this season, and three years under Wittman’s direction, are still running plays the head coach has never seen before. What do the Wizards do on offense? And what could they be doing better, or more of? To answer those questions, I turned to Synergy Sports Technology.

By going beyond the play-by-play section of the box score, Synergy uses 11 different play type statistics to deconstruct all action on the court. On every play, Synergy analyzes transition, isolation, pick & roll: ball handler, pick & roll: roll man, post-up, spot-up, hand-off, cut, off-screen, putbacks, and more, to give an analysis of the final result. By cataloging all of the action that takes place in each play of every game, Synergy provides a comprehensive look at how players and teams execute on offense and defense.

Transition

There are no surprises here. Having one of the most athletic point guards in the NBA will lead to fast break scoring: The Wizards produce 16.7 transition plays per game, ranking them in the top 10 in the league, and those opportunities yield 1.16 points per possession (PPP) on 57.5 percent shooting, both good for fifth-best in the NBA. Credit Wittman, who is constantly seen on the sidelines of games waving his hand forward, pleading for his team to push the basketball up the floor.

However, the Wizards can improve on their transition offense by increasing their steals per game. Currently, they are ranked in the bottom 10 of the league at only 7.3 per game. Forcing more turnovers will allow the Wizards to turn their defense into easy offense. Everyone likes easy.

Isolation

The way this Wizards team was constructed, isolation basketball was never really going to be an effective form of offense. There aren’t enough ball handlers, or players who can get off a good, clean shot without being spoon-fed by John Wall.

Speaking of Wall, he takes on the most isolation situations since he has the ball in his hands the majority of the time, but I don’t think even he would tell you that’s something that helps the team. Still, Wall is the only one who can create off the dribble, for himself or others, so to keep teams honest, and to elevate his game, he’s going to ISO.

The Wizards rank 28th in isolation possessions with just 5.4 per game, which is less than half as many as the league-leading Cleveland Cavaliers (12.5 per game). With Lebron James and Kyrie Irving, it makes a lot of sense for the Cavs to run this type of offense; any Wizard’s emulation makes little sense. The thing to know about the Wizards and ISOs is that they don’t shoot the ball particularly well (39.3%) and that they need to do a much better job of protecting the ball: 11.1 percent of their ISOs result in turnovers (4th-most).

Wittman tries his best to put Beal in ISO situations so that he ultimately improves as a go-to scorer, but he’s far from being particularly effective, and it’s not clear that Beal is improving with increased exposure.

The one positive thing that the Wizards can take away from this old wrinkle of their offense is that they rank fourth in shooting foul frequency at 13.2 percent, which can almost certainly be attributed to Paul Pierce’s crafty “old man at the Y” game. Wall will need to stay with his ISO action, especially at the end of quarters and games when the Wizards usually turn to him with no other option for a better shot. The way John Wall has put this Wizards team on his back in clutch situations over the last few games matches up with some of his clutch-time shooting numbers and a halfway decent 0.89 PPP in ISO situations.

Pick & Roll: Ball Handler

This may be the most troubling aspect of Washington’s offense. When a screen is set on the ball handler’s defender, good things are usually supposed to happen for the person dribbling the ball. In the Wizards’ offense, those possessions only yield 0.70 PPP, and there are only three teams in the NBA that score fewer points in those situations: the Jazz, Knicks and 76ers (not very good company, I know).

This is where #WittmanBall is a major detriment to the Wizards. When Wittman permits his team to take as many long 2s as they want, because they are open enough, it allows for players like Bradley Beal to come off complex screening designs only to settle for contested 2-point shots instead of attacking the rim—or shooting a 3. Washington’s two primary ball handlers, Wall and Beal, both shoot a good amount of midrange jumpers, but the difference is Wall shoots better than 40 percent on jumpers from 15-to-19 feet, while Beal only shoots 33.1 percent. The majority of the time Beal takes one of those midrange jumpers, it is a shot that he should be turning down in favor of attacking the basket and getting a look at the rim, where he shoots 59.5 percent (1% worse than Wall).

Part of the reason Wizards players are afraid to attack the painted area off of screens is because of the lack of spacing on the floor.

Pick & Roll: Roll Man

John Wall has over half the more than 1,000 ball handler possessions for the Wizards this season. But simply put, Wall needs to improve when it comes to his play after his defender is screened. One suggestion would be for the Wizards to allow more wing-on-wing screens instead of relying on traditional big-man screeners. Since the Wizards only have traditional big men on their roster, and no real 3-point-shooting stretch 4s of the modern NBA (Drew Gooden tries his best), it pretty much decreases certain aspects of a pick-and-pop game.

Humphries has worked often in the pick-and-pop game, and he’s really the only appropriate big to do so, making the impact of his injury felt a decent bit, even if Humphries is more conventional since he can’t extend all the way to the 3-point line. The potential threat of a pick-and-pop, instead of the bread-and-butter pick-and-roll, may allow for even the smallest slither of an increase in space for Wall to operate.

Take, for example, this beautiful “stack” play that is run by the Boston Celtics:

 

Celtics coach Brad Stevens ran the simple but deadly “Stack” play, setting up a ball-handling guard up top (Phil Pressey or Evan Turner), off-guard Marcus Smart, and center Kelly Olynyk in an “I” formation (i.e. “stacked”) at the top of the key. Each player presented his own danger. They have a small guy in the pick-and-roll, and they had a big guy who could pop back and shoot threes. Sometimes the small (guy) runs away, and the big would go to the basket — or if he wasn’t going to the basket, he was popping back. They hit a couple of shots that way.

h/t Devin Kharpertian, TheBrooklynGame.com

 

Offensive Post-Ups

Because the Wizards’ top four bigs in the rotation are all conventional, 1990s-style big men, the Wizards run an excessive amount of post-up situations (11.4 per game, 7th in the NBA). Running a lot of post-ups doesn’t necessarily mean efficient offense, even if the attempts come closer to the rim.

The Memphis Grizzlies run the most post-up possessions in the NBA, but because they shoot 46.7 percent from the field on those plays, it works in the flow of their offense—and it should be the offense. The Wizards shoot only 42.7 percent on post-ups; that ends up being a detriment to the team when the ball is forced in the post after the team has wasted the first 10-to-15 seconds of the shot clock with useless action. This forces the Wizards bigs to take poor shots once the defense collapses.

One thing that I think all Wizards fans can agree on is the fact that this team does not really get a ton of love or respect from NBA referees on a nightly basis, especially in the post. Only 9.7 percent of their post-ups end in shooting fouls, ranking them in the bottom five of the NBA. Something isn’t adding up. There have been countless times were Nene will back his man down, use some of that nifty footwork that we have grown to love, get his defender off his feet, and the ref will not call the foul on contact. Nene has to be growing frustrated with the lack of respect from the referees. No doubt that Nene has to do a much better job handling these situations, and bitch a lot less about calls, but it’s likely that this frustration, coupled with his poor free throw shooting percentage, may be a large factor as to why he has shied away from attacking on post-ups and increased his amount of midrange jumpers.

Nene is shooting just 37 percent on shots 10-to-14 feet away from the basket, and his sharp decline in shooting touch makes Kris Humphries’ 17-game absence even more glaring. Nene has struggled over the last 14 games, ranking dead last in Net Points for the Wizards at minus-69. Net points is the best way to calculate both offensive and defensive ratings into one metric and is calculated by points produced-points allowed (where points allowed can be calculated by using the following formula): [(Defensive rating/100)*(.2* minutes played/(team minutes/5))*team possessions].

Somewhere, Charles Barkley’s head is spinning, but just know that Nene’s struggles over the last month have hurt the Wizards. This is the opposite of the boost this team received from him heading into the 2014 playoffs.

Spot-Ups

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I would like to present to you Exhibit A in the case of Wizards fans vs. Randy Wittman: The Wizards shoot 41.3 percent from the field on spot-up shots (3rd in the NBA), yet only get 16.08 attempts per game, ranking them 27th in the NBA. Perhaps better ball movement, or even coaching players to pass up semi-open midrange pull-ups for better shots, would lead to more spot-ups. This stat is so egregious that Wizards fans can’t help but laugh to keep from crying.

Handoffs

Handoffs are defined as when the screen setter starts with the ball and hands it off to a player close by, basically increasing the effectiveness of the screener by enabling him to create more space for the player receiving the ball. The Wizards only run these type of plays at a frequency of 3.1 percent, so I’m not surprised if you don’t know what the hell they are.

The Wizards probably should run more handoffs, especially since the basketball “eye test” tells us that’s one of Beal’s most effective plays. The handoff accentuates both Wall and Beal’s athletic ability, which is superior to their opponents on most nights. Wizards handoffs could be run in a more effective manner if they weren’t happening 18-feet away from the basket, allowing the defenders to cut under screens from big men that strike no fear in shooting stroke from that distance.

What the Wizards bigs can do is pass. Nene, Gortat, and Drew Gooden are all really good at using their bodies to create openings, while also maintaining a soft touch on swinging the ball precisely. It would behoove the Wizards to run that handoff action either near the 3-point line, or near the basket, seeing as how 3s and lay ups are two of the major tenets of analytical basketball and will lead to an increase in the value expectancy on points per possession.

Cuts

After transition buckets, the Wizards second-most used type of offensive play is the cut. The cut is an interior play where the scorer catches the ball while moving toward or parallel to the basket. The Wizards rank fifth in the NBA in points off of cuts because they create 8.25 shot attempts from this action.

This play type accentuates the Wizards’ strengths in their personnel, because of their traditional bigs—also, having the one of the NBA’s leader in assists running the point doesn’t hurt either. “The Polish Machine” ranks second in the entire NBA in possessions that end up in cuts with about 200 total cuts to the basket on the season. Gortat is a great cutter on secondary action, where he uses impeccable timing and proper floor spacing to create easy passing lanes for “Optimus Dime,” or point-forward Nene.

Wall doesn’t have a problem finding Gortat at the rim, but Gortat needs to do his teammates a favor and be better at finishing those attempts. As a team, the Wizards run a similar amount of cuts as teams like the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs, but those teams are much better in points per possession off cuts. With completion on only 63 percent of his cuts, Gortat is in the 58th percentile, basically around league average. Over the last week Beal has shown that he has the athletic ability to finish some of these back-door cuts at the rim; in order to add to Beal’s efficiency, the Wizards need to increase such opportunities for him.

Off Screens

Although the Wizards have the third-highest possessions that end in shots off screens, they rank 18th in the field goal percentage on said shots. This should be of no surprise given their willingness to settle for difficult, highly contested 2-point shots. Wittman has actually drawn up a nice web of complicated screening action for this Wizards team, but since he does not put an emphasis on proper shot selection,  and these screens create space just inside the arc, this play type is almost completely wasted.

Offensive Putbacks

For a team that starts two traditional big men, they don’t really get a lot of points from offensive putbacks. They only have about 170 points from putbacks on the season, not-so-good for 27th in the league. Now this is the one aspect of the game for which I’ll actually accept a Wittman #effort speech. Maybe this can be attributed to a systematic concept of getting back on defense because while the Wizards rank third in the NBA with a Defensive Rebounding Rate of 77.4, they rank just 17th in offensive rebounding rate of 24.6.

This is another area that can definitely be improved by getting the second-best rebounder on the team, Kris Humphries, and his 6.7 rebounds per game back.

After carefully analyzing every aspect of the Wizards offense, there are a few conclusions that can be drawn here. The things that the Wizards personnel allows them to do, they do semi-well. And the things they don’t do well are so glaring that it drives Wizards fans to bump their heads against a brick wall. No wonder Randy Wittman has developed a great case of ostrich-syndrome and decided that he’d rather put his head in the sand instead of actually putting his salary to good use and proactively thinking of ways to make the offense more adequate.

The Wizards boast a 100.2 DefRtg, fifth-best in the NBA, so even an adequate offense would be enough to keep this team afloat. The Wizards currently maintain an OffRtg of 101.8, ranking them just below the middle of the pack at 17th in the league. Historically speaking, only the 2004 Detroit Pistons have been able to actually win an NBA championship with an offensive efficiency rating lower than 12th in the league. I don’t think there is anyone inside the parameters of the beltway who is still thinking “championship” with this group, but it is worth mentioning that teams with below-average offenses can be successful in the postseason, if they are willing to open a dialogue on what their team does well offensively—and stick to an actual game plan. As long as Wittman refuses to at least acknowledge that there is a problem, this team will provide more of the same.

It is disappointing to grapple with the realization that due to their stunted growth, the Wizards may never reach their full potential for 2014-15. As I wrote back in February when their mini-swoon seemed like an aberration, not a full blown crisis: This Wizards team is fully submerged in the stage of denial, and the only way to begin the healing process is through admission.

 

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/synergy-tells-all-regarding-the-wizards-offense-or-lack-thereof.html/feed 0
DC Council 74: Wizards vs Rockets — An Undelightful Afternoon http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-91-vs-rockets-99-dc-council-74.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-91-vs-rockets-99-dc-council-74.html#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:56:44 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46394 Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 74:
Washington Wizards versus the Houston Rockets in the Verizon Center.
Contributor: Rashad Mobley from that very same basketball arena.

DC-Council-Logo-2

Before we hand out grades with accompanying narrative about the lackluster performance that the Wizards gave during a nationally televised game, let us first read some pointed criticism from Coach Randy Wittman.

“We just couldn’t get into any rhythm offensively, and focus offensively. We were running things I had never seen before, and we just weren’t focused on what we needed to do from an offensive standpoint. I mean, coming out of timeouts, the guy doesn’t even know he’s supposed to catch the ball…

“I made the statement to them that there’s a term called ‘dummy offense,’ where you’re in practice nobody’s guarding you and you’re just going through the plays. That’s what we did for the most part, we just kind of ran through our plays.”

Wittman deserves his share of criticism for the plays he calls, the substitutions he makes, and the overall malaise his team seems to be mired in of late. But his assessment of his team’s lack of offensive execution is accurate. John Wall was in a rhythm offensively and Otto Porter rose from the dead like an extra from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video to score 13 of his 15 points in the last quarter. Aside from those two, no other Wizards player demonstrated any semblance of an offensive attack. Bradley Beal would hit a shot here and there—as would Marcin Gortat, Nene, Rasual Butler, and Ramon Sessions—but it wasn’t enough to worry the Rockets, or force a switch in their defensive philosophy.

The sad part about the Wizards’ toothless display is that the Rockets were ripe for the taking. They struggled with turnovers (eight in the first quarter); James Harden scored 24 points, but took 20 shots to reach that total (1); and the Rockets only shot 31 percent (9-for-29) from the 3-point line. But instead of harvesting their nuts and accumulating a bit of a lead while the Houston sorted out their offense (and the 12:30 p.m. start), the Wizards shot 38 percent from the field, 26 percent from 3, and were out-rebounded 53-43.

As Coach Kevin McHale said afterward, “it wasn’t the prettiest of games,” but the Rockets figured out a way to win, and the Wizards figured out yet another way to lose. The good news is that the Wizards are securely nestled into that 4/5 playoff matchup with either Toronto (who is struggling mightily as well) or Chicago (who the Wizards seem to match up well against). The bad news is the Wizards have the ninth-worst win/loss record in the NBA since the start of 2015, and there is no reason to believe the playoffs will give them a boost.

And with that depressing lead-in, let’s get into a bit of detail with the grades and the narrative.


 

Houston Rockets

99

Final

Box Score

Washington Wizards

91

Nene Hilario, PF

34 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-5 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -10 +/-

After one quarter it looked as if Nene was going to be active and engaged on both ends of the floor. He had five points, three steals, two rebounds, and just one personal foul. But despite playing against a less-than-full strength Dwight Howard, an undersized Josh Smith, and an inexperienced Joey Dorsey, Nene never truly set up shop and went to work in the post. He seemed content with playing a passive brand of basketball.


Paul Pierce, SF

22 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -10 +/-

Pierce does not own a scintilla of confidence right now, and it is sad to see The Truth in that state. After missing two or three wide-open shots, Pierce began turning down good looks, opting instead to make an extra pass. He got a few hockey assists, but to loosely quote Pierce in last year’s playoffs with Brooklyn, that’s not why they brought him here.

Pierce declared early in the season that he wanted to teach the Wizards the importance of protecting home court, which was a perfect complement to his reputation as a clutch shooter. Pierce wasn’t clutch against the Rockets, and rode the bench for most of the second half due to the offensive explosion of Otto Porter—and his own offensive implosion. To make matters worse, when John Wall was basically asked why Pierce wasn’t closing quarters and games like he is supposed to, he said, “You gotta ask the head coach that one.” Wall went on to say that maybe Pierce didn’t have his legs and has been frustrated at his lack of shot-making.

Wall’s willingness to speak up for Pierce is admirable and shows leadership. Pierce’s inability to let his play speak for him during a home game against one of the league’s best teams is disappointing and unfortunate.


Marcin Gortat, C

29 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -4 +/-

Two times during his postgame presser, Marcin was asked point-blank about why the Wizards are struggling offensively, and both times he was vague and elusive with his response. He looked frustrated with the team’s play and even more frustrated that he couldn’t level with the media and say exactly what was on his mind.

On the court, Gortat continued to grab rebounds at an impressive clip with 10 in just 29 minutes of play, but he missed four shots inside of 10 feet and did not make a single trip to the foul line. Gortat has every right to be irritated with Wittman for omitting him from many a fourth quarter this season, but against the Rockets, Gortat was his own worst enemy.


John Wall, PG

43 MIN | 7-17 FG | 11-12 FT | 8 REB | 12 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 7 TO | 25 PTS | -3 +/-

Wall spent the first half getting his teammates involved (eight assists), while working into a scoring rhythm (9 points on 9 shots). Once the Wizards were down 13 points in the third quarter, and once he recognized that none of his teammates had a hot hand to spare, Wall decided to take over the game. He played every minute of the second half, making midrange jumpers, long 2s, and free throws. He scored 14 of his 25 points in the third quarter, and in the fourth, his steal and assist to Ramon Sessions cut the Rockets’ lead to four points with 10:09 left.

Wall did everything he could to get the Wizards back in the game, but after the first two minutes of the fourth, he had nothing left to give—but, quite frankly, he had given more than he should have. He accounted for 49 of the Wizards’ 91 points and, had Gortat not missed so many bunnies, that number could have easily been higher.

He was gracious, humble and deferential in the post-game presser, but he had to be wondering what the hell else he could do.


Bradley Beal, SG

38 MIN | 4-11 FG | 6-7 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | -3 +/-

“If you’re a shooting guard in this league, why are you taking just five shots in the second half?” an esteemed member of the media asked Beal after the game.

In the first half of Sunday’s game, Beal was aggressive (5-for-5 from the free throw line), and he guarded Harden and went at him with a vengeance on offense. Even when Coach Wittman had Beal (and not the perfectly capable Ramon Sessions) playing point guard with the second unit, he still found a way to work himself into a groove offensively, scoring 12 first-half points.

In the second half, Beal—like every other member of the Wizards not named Wall or Otto Porter—was passive, ineffective, and a borderline liability. He deserves credit for helping to relatively neutralize the great James Harden, but he did not do nearly enough to help his own star player.


Drew Gooden, PF

18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -6 +/-

No stretch 4 magic from Gooden on this day. The shot wasn’t falling from midrange or 3-point land, and the rebounds weren’t as accessible as they had been against Charlotte.


Otto Porter Jr., SF

18 MIN | 4-7 FG | 5-7 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +6 +/-

TAI’s Kyle Weidie argues that Otto Porter has had (and blown) many opportunities to succeed in his two-year tenure with the Wizards. TAI’s Chris Thompson argues that Coach Wittman’s flawed system is hardly a fair litmus test by which to gauge the talent (or lack thereof) of young Porter. Both arguments are fair and legitimate, but neither mattered on Sunday.

As Coach Wittman alluded to in his postgme presser, Otto hustled on defense, hit big shots on offense, and earned Wall’s trust on a night when no other starter or bench player could. Porter hustled on both ends, and when Gortat had little or nothing to say, he shunned his curmudgeon ways to sing Otto’s praises:

“I am just happy for him. I’m really happy for him… He is here every day working out hard, and waiting for his opportunity and that is what he did today. It is great. I am glad he did that on national television.”


Martell Webster, SF

8 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -6 +/-

Webster finally hit an open 3-pointer in the first quarter, but he soon reverted to the lost player he’s been this season.


Rasual Butler, SF

14 MIN | 0-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -3 +/-

Veterans Paul Pierce, Marcin Gortat, and Nene came up empty against the Rockets, and Butler continued that trend by scoring two points in 14 minutes of play.


Kevin Seraphin, C

8 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | +2 +/-

He was yelled at by Coach Wittman, abused in the paint by Dwight Howard, and was non-existent to his teammates in eight minutes of play. Just another day in the #KSlife.


Ramon Sessions, PG

9 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -3 +/-

It is never a good sign when the coach loses confidence in your abilities as a point guard, moves you off the ball as a shooting guard, and you still can’t produce any scoring of note. Sessions replaced Andre Miller as the backup point guard, but when possession after possession resulted in nothing worth writing home (or blogging) about, Coach Wittman inserted Beal in the game to run the point.

Sessions did draw a foul (one of Washington’s weaknesses), and also finished a nice fast break layup, which is more of a rarity than it should be.


Randy Wittman

As John Wall alluded to after the game, it isn’t the coach’s fault that the team doesn’t know how to run called plays—and fails to ask the coach for clarification. However, when more than 70 games have been played and players are still confused about what to do, that’s a coaching issue that must be addressed.

Coach Wittman admitted that his players weren’t following the plays called out of the huddle, and ran plays he had never seen before. But he failed to inspire or ignite any of the veterans on his roster, and in his post-game presser he once again was too comfortable with blaming the players’ execution or lack thereof, instead of owning the fact that this Wizards team is deeply flawed at present time.


 

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-91-vs-rockets-99-dc-council-74.html/feed 0
Key Legislature: Wizards 91 vs Rockets 99 — Sunday Numbday http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-91-vs-rockets-99-key-legislature-74.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-91-vs-rockets-99-key-legislature-74.html#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 01:38:56 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46376 Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 74 versus the Rockets in D.C.
via Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks), covering it live from the Phone Booth.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Conor Dirks.

“All that’s over now, and you gotta move on.”

As Trevor Ariza, with just a hint of melancholy, reflected on the familiar faces, and the two years he spent in D.C. “trying to get better,” the Rockets locker room buzzed with laughter and the kind of conversations impossible to have after a loss. Sitting in Ariza’s locker was a bouquet of flowers, a blown-up black-and-white photo of Ariza in a Wizards uniform driving past LeBron James, and a note that said “Welcome back, WORK.” And while Ariza came out jittery, turning the ball over four times in the first quarter, he looked at home again as the Rockets swung the ball around to him in the second half, giving him enough space to rise up for a back-breaking 3-pointer that dashed a Wizards run against the rocks of reality like a bottle of MD 20/20 you might drink on the latest rough night of many.

Business is business, as Wizards radio maestro Glenn Consor alluded to on Twitter, but no amount of potentially smart, future-based planning makes up for Ariza’s absence this season. Especially with an obviously exhausted and possibly “over it” Paul Pierce recording his sixth straight single-digit performance (2 points), throwing thoughtless passes into the arms of Rockets defenders, missing four uncontested shots (1-for-6 overall) and looking like he has less lift to his jump shot than a jetpack constructed with Play-Doh and Mountain Dew. Pierce only played 22 minutes and was nowhere to be seen in the fourth quarter.

As in innumerable games this season, the matinee against the Rockets was a bad John Wall (25 points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds) performance away from being a blowout. He’s always been the best player on the team, but his excellent play—even with a skyrocketing turnover rate as the offense folds in on itself like a collapsing wormhole—is more of a crutch than ever. Let not the “effort” sermon fall upon Wall, who grabbed four steals, scored a team-high nine points off of Rockets turnovers, and once slid full speed across the painted area like a curling stone for a loose ball, assisting Otto Porter’s layup in the process.

Meanwhile, Bradley Beal (15 points in 38 minutes) played like the poor midrange shooter that he has become under Wittman’s direction, missing all four shots that weren’t 3-pointers or shots at the rim. He went 3-for-3 at the rim, and 1-for-4 from behind the arc, but the shot chart doesn’t tell the whole story. Beal’s game, more than his preferred shot, has strayed farther from his strengths as the season has worn on. Increasingly, he spends possessions handling the ball inside the arc, dribbling, looking, searching for an opening to pull up for a jumper. The curls and screens with Nene and Gortat are cute, but they’re ineffective, and always designed to free Beal up from 15-to-19 feet out, where he shoots just 33.1 percent. Claiming that making Beal more of a 3-point specialist would limit him is silly if this is the alternative.

You start with your strength. I look forward to the day when Beal, having become one of the most prolific (rather than just one of the most accurate) 3-point shooters in the NBA, expands his game. Of course, being a real, everyday threat to bury the deep ball helps open up the midrange area, just as it opens up lanes to the hoop after a convincing fake. As of today, Beal, a 42 percent 3-point shooter (49.6% at home), only takes half the 3-point attempts per 36 minutes as the likes of 3-point elite like Klay Thompson. The Wizards, as a team, don’t take many 3-point shots, and may not have the roster to support a high attempt amount, but even their shooters don’t shoot. It’s just not Wizards basketball.

And what is Wizards basketball? In 2015, it’s not worth emulating. Since the advent of the New Year, Washington is the ninth-worst team in the league. And although the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference is almost guaranteed, it’s not guaranteed to mean much. With how much Wall has improved this season, and a 19-6 start, disappointment, rather than last season’s joy, reigns as the losses stack like pizza boxes with “DNP-CD” written on the side in Otto Porter’s apartment.

The team is bad, sure, but they’re also confused. After months of talking about defensive intensity and effort instead of focusing on fixing a very much broken offensive game plan, it may be too late to set things right. It shows in games like Sunday’s national television game versus Houston, where the defense held firm, and “limited” James Harden to 24 points on 20 shots. After the game, in a rare critical reprieve for the team’s excellent, fourth-ranked defense, Wittman told the media:

“Defensively, we were pretty solid. I think the way they came out, we really had an opportunity to jump on them. We just couldn’t get into any rhythm offensively. Our focus offensively, we were running things that I had never seen before. We weren’t focused in what we needed to do from an offensive standpoint.”

If the Wizards forgot plays that were called, as both Wittman and Wall mentioned after the game, or ran plays that the coach had never seen before, it may be due to the lack of stability in the team’s ever-changing rotations. Players sometimes appreciate a coach’s willingness to mine the bench for contributors and knock those players together to see what sparks, but after over 70 games, a rotation that isn’t pinned down is more of a hindrance than a boon.

Martell Webster (who racked up a team-high, awful 131.3 DefRtg in this game) was left to guard Harden on a critical late-quarter possessions. Rasual Butler (13 minutes) whiled away the time he had on the floor, accumulating a NetRtg of minus-19.5. Of the team’s many underachieving wings, only Otto Porter, who has barely played in weeks, made a positive impact, scoring 15 points in 17 minutes, and hitting twice as many 3-pointers as the rest of the team combined. True to form, Wittman “let him ride it out” once it was apparent that Porter was having an impact. It’s a kindness, but it’s far less useful than developing a sustainable rotation. Three Wizards saw fewer than nine minutes of court time, while no Rocket player who took the court played less than sixteen minutes. For the Wizards, there is no familiarity, there is no routine.

And, really, the offense did not look any worse than usual. The Wizards missed a few more shots, but the process was the same. Working twice as hard for half as much, Washington took the first open shot they could find rather than look for better (and yes, more “efficient”) takes further into the possession. Despite a minutes-limit on Dwight Howard and injuries to Patrick Beverly, Terrence Jones, and Donatas Montiejunas, the Wizards were never really in the game. A 17-7 run led by Wall, Sessions, and Porter spanning the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth brought the Wizards within four points with just over 10 minutes left in the game. An Otto Porter 3-pointer with 8:42 remaining brought them that close again, but Pablo Prigioni (!) answered Otto’s 3-pointer with one of his own as Porter sagged off. A 14-2 Rockets run over the next three minutes put the already somnambulistic Wizards back to bed.

In 2015, the Wizards are 6-16 against teams over .500. Just days before the regular season’s final month, the team looks as inconsistent as they were last year, and worse than they did in the first week of this season(1). Troubling, perhaps, given how many old legs hold up Grunfeld’s investment in veteran leadership.

Move on to the next game, then, but know that these losses, suffered in such cruel succession, mean more today than whatever far-from-reality record the team might still hold.

 

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-91-vs-rockets-99-key-legislature-74.html/feed 0
Opening Statements: Wizards vs Rockets, Game 74 http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-vs-rockets-game-74.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-vs-rockets-game-74.html#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 16:34:35 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46373 Washington Wizards at Houston Rockets - Dec. 12, 2012
It is perhaps just a tad gauche to criticize a team after a victory.
One can hear the voices muttering about the negative nancies of the blogosphere – about how this Wizards team is still headed towards the playoffs – and that even that won’t be enough to quiet the bitching from the media. So after snapping a four game losing streak against the foundering Charlotte Hornets, it might be more appropriate to bask in the afterglow or at the very least try to lean towards the fraction of light that peaked through the clouds and offered some amount of respite to District fans who had seen their team crushed (Los Angeles), embarrassed (Sacramento), disrespected (Golden State) and finally have the wheels come off (Indiana) in such a way that any hope of pulling out of a tailspin was rendered the most remote of possibilities. So to see the Wizards actually win a professional basketball game and watch John Wall be John Wall in said win was almost enough for jaded partisans of the team to remember what this team is capable is achieving simply due to one of the most singular talents in the NBA.

Then the postgame press conference with Randy Wittman took place and one is reminded of why the prospects of a Wizards resurgence remain dim.

To quote: “The group that closed out the game, gave us unbelievable effort and sustained it for a long period of time. It’s not always good plays; we made some mistakes but our effort was chasing down loose balls.”

This appears to be the most innocuous of quotes until you realize that it is just one more #EffortTalk laid out by Wittman, that games are going to be won or lost because a lesser player appeared to care more than his more accomplished teammates. Nevermind that riding substitutes like Rasual Butler and Drew Gooden are rotational moves best left to November, when the pecking order between the 7-12th men on is still being figured out by the staff, but to leave starters like Paul Pierce and Nene pinned to the bench in a close game with only nine games left in the season and playoff seeding on the line is either the ultimate act of hubris or a honest (if misguided) belief that the team that “hustles more” and “shows good effort” is the one that is going to come out on top.

Long ago, in the Mesozoic era of the Ernie Grunfeld regime there was a debate (now lost to scholars) about whom should start at the pivot position for Wizards – Etan Thomas or Brendan Haywood. Haywood was by all means the more complete basketball player but would often appear (to put it kindly) disinterested in events taking place around him., Thomas, by contrast, appeared to give shit when he was on the basketball court and would throw his body around with abandon, screaming with every block or putback dunk. Did this make Thomas the better basketball player? No. All metrics point to the Wizards being more successful with Haywood on the floor than with Thomas, even if Haywood looked like he was on a permanent Benadryl hangover and Thomas had just chugged two Red Bulls.

This debate, which lead to the famous Eddie Jordan quote of “bench, butt, brain” in regards to not playing Haywood is playing out in front of us today with Wittman’s Wizards, but with players of a greater stature than those Wizards of yore. Wittman could never make the “bench, butt, brain” comment to a player like Nene or Paul Pierce, but he can exercise his authority in playing those whom he views as putting in the requisite “effort.”

You can admire Wittmans chutzpah in actually following through with his promise to “find the guys willing to put effort in for the entire 48 minutes” but you have to question how divisive this is to the team and whether Wittman actually believes the content of what he is preaching. Rasual Butler and Drew Gooden are not going to beat the Houston Rockets today because they are willing to put in more effort. It’s unlikely that the Wizards would defeat the Rockets even if players like Pierce and Nene were meeting the imaginary effort line that gets you out of Wittman’s doghouse and onto the court. Because instead of making tangible changes to the broken aspects of his system, Wittman would rather create a strawman for the media to argue about and attribute the decline of the team to a nebulous concept that is impossible to prove, or even discuss objectively, on its own.

However, I am sure if the Wizards go out there today and give 110% and get after some loose balls they will be completely capable of handling the Rockets. I especially look forward to the contributions of Ramon Sessions, who should play the entirety of the fourth quarter if he expresses his passion for the game more vociferously than John Wall.

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-vs-rockets-game-74.html/feed 0
DC Council 73: Wizards vs Hornets — Remarkable Reversal of Fortunes http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-110-vs-hornets-107-2ot-dc-council-73.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-110-vs-hornets-107-2ot-dc-council-73.html#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 15:10:55 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46343 Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 73: Wizards versus Hornets in Washington.
Contributor: Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnisfrom the Verizon Center.

DC-Council-Logo-2

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it

All Pictures By Adam McGinnis

A whirlwind of emotions whipped throughout the Verizon Center on Friday night. With Washington down four points and only 10 seconds left in regulation, fans exited the arena in droves as another disastrous home loss to a presumably inferior opponent appeared imminent.

A similar pattern transpired in the last-second Pacers loss on Wednesday, as the Wizards offense went into a funk in the fourth quarter and Charlotte took control of the contest. The natives were beyond restless, approaching downright salty. The negative vibe could be felt when several fans screamed at Randy Wittman, yelling bad things about Martell Webster; an “Ot-to Por-ter” chant began due to the second year player being buried deep on the bench, yet again. (Check out what Nerlens Noel did on the same evening. The young athletic big, who the Wiz passed up to draft Porter in 2013.)

A sports cliche about the NBA being a “make or miss” league often can ring true because all overused stereotypes have some truth marinated into them. One late Washington miss or one Charlotte make, and the main narrative  written in Wizards land is one of panic. Instead, Butler and Wall delivered in late crucial moments, the Hornets blew several chances to grab the victory, and Washington ended their four-game losing streak by outlasting Charlotte in double overtime.

Let’s do some counciling……


 

Charlotte Hornets

107

Final (2 OT) 

Box Score

Washington Wizards

110

Nene Hilario, PF

20 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -12 +/-

The moody Big Brazilian barely played and the Wizards still triumphed. Instead, Wittman opted for Gortat, who usually fares well in defending Al Jefferson. Considering Nene’s perpetually shaky health and importance to the team, you have to consider this a win.


Paul Pierce, SF

23 MIN | 2-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -12 +/

Pierce was another valuable veteran who was put on ice for this game, and he was on the bench during crucial situations, including but not limited to the overtime periods. Since Paul was having an off shooting night, it was an understandable move. However, the whole point of signing the future Hall of Famer was so he could be available to take late shots when it mattered most. He has to be that guy if Washington is to do anything in the playoffs.


Marcin Gortat, C

44 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 16 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 4 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -6 +/

Marcin flourished on the boards and his rim protecting skills were phenomenal. His coach finally believed in him during the fourth quarter and both overtimes. Weird, huh?


John Wall, PG

48 MIN | 12-30 FG | 6-8 FT | 9 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 32 PTS | -5 +/-

Some media hacks will probably pontificate about how Wall’s 32 points are not that big of a deal because he hoisted 30 shots. They are normally correct, but anyone who saw the game, understands that John Wall was the best player on the entire court–he needed to take those shots. Wall did his typical Vine highlight things and again came up money in pressure-packed situations. The Game Changer is now Jimmy Clutch.


Bradley Beal, SG

43 MIN | 7-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 16 PTS | -2 +/-

The fact that Bradley even played after badly rolling his ankle 48 hours prior seems miraculous–maybe the injury wasn’t as bad as it looked, maybe Beal IS Wolverine. Beal should still never take 18 shots in a game with only three of them being 3-pointers. That said, he showed flashes of the playmaking ability this team needs moving forward.


Drew Gooden, PF

39 MIN | 5-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 17 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +13 +/-

No nitpicking about poor defense is necessary on Drew because he was spectactular and one of the main reasons Washington pulled out the victory. He ripped down several key boards, tipped out some, and ‘Everyday I’m hustling’ Gooden logged a season-high in minutes. I guarantee most big money FanDuel daily fantasy pool winners had Drizzle in their lineups and on the cheap, similar to the Wizards. What up, Milwaukee?


Martell Webster, SF

12 MIN | 0-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +7 +/-

It is painful to watch Martell fight through screens in an attempt to play defense, and once he attempts any shot, you immediately believe it’s not going in. Maybe the coaching staff is trying to allow Webster to overcome his issues now, because this team desperately needs more effective shooters in the postseason. The cruel reality is that Webster shouldn’t take his warmups off anymore.


Rasual Butler, SF

26 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +8 +/-It’s all about the Rasual Jeans Friday, no khakis. With Washington in desperation mode late, Butler came through with a gigantic 3-pointer, perhaps his most impressive shot as a Wizard.


Kevin Seraphin, C

13 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +11 +/-

Seraphin had a huge block and that was about it. He does provide inspirational quotes on the Twitter machine, however.


 

Will Bynum, PG

3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1 +/-

Bynum made his Wizards debut and bricked the only shot he attempted. I still don’t see how his game is going to mesh with Wittman’s style of play.


Ramon Sessions, PG

19 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +14 +/-

The current consensus is that the Miller/Sessions exchange was a wash and maybe that is so at the margins. But Ramon continues to offer solid outings. How in the world did he corral seven rebounds?


Randy Wittman

John Wall saved Wittman’s butt again. I am out of energy to list the myriad coaching mistakes that he makes on the bench every night.


Pictures.

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it
washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it

 

As a part of Wizards’ shoot-around, the team partnered with Make-A-Wish® Mid-Atlantic to help grant the wish of a 13-year-old Wizards fan.  Nitin Ramachandran, who is battling Medulloblastoma (a form of brain cancer), was signed by the team for the game against the Charlotte Hornets.  Ramachandran is from Herndon, VA.

Nitin Ramachandran, a 13 year old from Herndon, VA, is battling brain cancer and through the Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, he wanted to hang out with the Wizards team, especially John Wall. He ate breakfast with the team, signed a one-day contract, and passed to Marcin Gortat in warm ups. They announced his name in player introductions as he ran out to high five Wizards players. He sat courtside in the owners seats, was interviewed after the game, and was in on Coach Wittman’s post game press conference.

After Wall’s big shot sent the game into overtime, I saw Nitin run back through the Wizards tunnel.  The huge grin on his face  and his celebratory hand movements caused you to melt inside. The genuine happiness he showed all night made me care little about the outcome of this NBA game.

Nitin Ramachandran.

Nitin Ramachandran, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, Make a Wish

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it

Nitin Ramachandran, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, Make a Wish

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, adam mcginnis, truth about it

We produce many cynical pixels about Washington’s professional basketball franchise, but there are not enough positive ones to throw the organization’s way for creating these awesome moments. Nitin’s enthusiastic smiles are something that I will never forget. If he or his family ever reads this, keep fighting. I know your warm experience with the Washington Wizards and D.C. community this March weekend reinforces that the world is full of wonderful people who genuinely care.

To everyone involved, you made this kid’s day. Thank you.

Vines.

Videos.

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-110-vs-hornets-107-2ot-dc-council-73.html/feed 0
Key Legislature: Wizards 110 vs Hornets 107 — Double Efforttime http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/key-legislature-wizards-110-vs-hornets-107-double-efforttime.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/key-legislature-wizards-110-vs-hornets-107-double-efforttime.html#comments Sat, 28 Mar 2015 16:46:33 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46328 Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 73 versus the Hornets in D.C.
via Bryan Frantz (@BFrantz202), covering the action live from Bloggers’ Row.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Bryan Frantz.

With 50 seconds on the clock in regulation, John Wall split a pair of free throws.

With 20 seconds on the clock, Wall threw the ball away, trying to thread a collapsing needle.

With 14 seconds on the clock, Kemba Walker hit a pair of free throws. The Charlotte Hornets had a 95-91 lead on the Washington Wizards, and on a night in which the Wizards had managed just 32 second-half points on 45 shots thus far, things looked bleak.

Fans streamed toward the exits. Hundreds of paying customers poured out of the Verizon Center in disgust—the Wizards had let yet another easily winnable game get away.

With 11 seconds on the clock, Rasual Butler took a 3 that would determine the Wizards’ fate—never a good sign. He drained it.

With 10 seconds on the clock, Jeff Taylor, who, as a career 65.7 percent shooter from the stripe, was likely as surprised as everyone else that Steve Clifford threw him into the game. He split a pair of free throws.

With three seconds on the clock, Wall, who has singlehandedly kept the Wizards afloat this season as every other asset melted down under that too-hot spotlight in a dark two months, put the team on his back.

Like he did just two nights earlier, Wall came through to bring his team level, this time in the form of a midrange jumper from the right elbow, his favorite spot on the floor.

However, for the second game in a row, he also gave the opposition another chance. He left 11 seconds on the clock after his deep 3 against Indiana on Wednesday, but this time he left the Hornets just three seconds to one-up his heroics.

George Hill was nowhere to be found, and the Hornets ran a last-second play that looked like something off Randy Wittman’s own dry-erase board. For the record, the lineup Witt trotted out on defense for the final play of regulation was Wall-Beal-Butler-Webster-Gortat. If Charlotte had scored on that play, the Effort King would have had some fun explaining why he removed Drew Gooden from the lineup for that play in favor of Martell Webster (109.1 DefRtg, the worst of any Wizard to play in more than five games this season) instead of Otto Porter (103.2 DefRtg), who received a DNP-CD.

What’s the opposite of a shootout? Like when you get to the penultimate scene of a James Bond movie, and there’s that battle with explosions and shooting and Bond kills a few dozen henchmen without ever taking a bullet himself, saves the world, and then makes love to a gorgeous woman as the credits roll?

Picture that scene, but before any of it ever happens, Bond’s Walther PPK jams. And so do all weapons of all henchmen. That was basically the first overtime.

The Wizards went 2-for-13 from the field and managed just five points—coming off a series in regulation where they scored five points in eight seconds—while the Hornets got their five on 2-for-6 shooting thanks to three turnovers.

Imagine if three or four months ago, I had told you that Butler and Gooden would play the entire fourth quarter (except the final 3.3 seconds, when Webster replaced Gooden) and both overtime periods instead of a healthy Paul Pierce and Nene. Neither The Truth nor The Big Brazilian was in foul trouble, though Marcin Gortat picked up his fifth foul with more than four minutes left in regulation and never came out (who saw that coming?).

You’d ask, what? Why?

This isn’t to take anything away from Gooden, who played his ass off, had a game-high 17 rebounds and put up more minutes, points and rebounds in the game than he did in the entire month of January. When I talked to him in the locker room after the game, I asked if he could do it again tomorrow night if needed, and with two bags of ice on each leg, he responded “I could do it again tonight.”

But Rasual Butler over Paul Pierce? Methinks we will sooner find extraterrestrial life than explain the mysteries behind that decision. Unless, of course, it’s as simple as being results-oriented on the night: Pierce was 2-for-9, and missed badly on several attempts. Yet Butler’s contributions late amounted to the one big shot and a block, and it’s hard to justify rolling with him over the future Hall of Famer who has made countless big shots in his career.

Washington had a chance to take the lead as the clock wound down in the first overtime, but Wittman once again employed his strategy of “If it worked once, it should work every time!” This is likely the same strategy that justified playing Butler instead of Pierce. The Wizards ran a familiar play: Wall ran the clock down then fired up a midrange jumper from the right side that, probably due to math or physics, did not have the same result as the first time.

The Hornets couldn’t take advantage of the few seconds left on the clock, because—and this part is crucial before Wizards fans get too excited—the Hornets were awful in this game. Truly terrible in just about every aspect of their play. They missed open shots throughout the game and finished below 35 percent from the field, including a combined 11-for-43 by Kemba Walker and Mo Williams, and their defense was hardly better.

Second overtime arrived, and despite being a few hundred fans skimpier than it was an hour earlier, the Verizon Center crowd quickly grew louder than it had all game—with the exception of when chicken sammiches were on the line. The District loves chicken sammiches.

Finally, as if Wall skimmed Twitter between the first and second overtimes, the 24-year-old kid out of Raleigh, NC, took over. He’s not the only player on the team who can score, but damned if he wasn’t the only one getting buckets when it counted (except for Casual Rasual’s 3-ball earlier, of course).

Wall took six of the Wizards’ nine shots in the second overtime and scored seven of their nine points; Charlotte scored just six in that time.

With 10 seconds on the clock, Wall knocked down a midrange pull-up to set the final margin.

With four seconds on the clock, Wall enveloped Al Jefferson in a bear hug to give a foul.

With a half-second on the clock, Jefferson missed a desperation 3.

With zero seconds on the clock, Wall could finally exhale.

 

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/key-legislature-wizards-110-vs-hornets-107-double-efforttime.html/feed 0
Opening Statements: Wizards vs Hornets, Game 73 http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-vs-hornets-game-73.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-vs-hornets-game-73.html#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:06:27 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46310
I’m going to talk about the Washington Wizards
offense, because the head coach won’t. Because the offense is a GREAT BIG PROBLEM, even if it’s not the only problem with the team.

I will, however, spare you the details: the handoffs 17 feet from the basket, the long 2s (so many long 2s), the blind faith in force-feeding the post (when neither star big man sniffs 1.0 point per possession on those plays), and the all-too-necessary John Wall HeroBall possessions.

The Wizards, on the season, average 98.2 points per game. It’s possible that the head coach sees that total and, despite it being ranked 20th, says, ‘Hey, that’s good enough. It’s not easy to win games in the NBA, but we can win games scoring 98 points.’

However, 98.2 points per game is not 100 points per game. The Wizards are 24-7 when scoring 100 or more points per game and, last season, these very similar Wiz Kids averaged 100.7 points per game.

This, of course, is just surface level analysis. And looking at any team’s points per game averages for the season offers nothing more than an incomplete picture.

Currently, the Wizards’ per game total is inflated by their pre-All-Star Break average of 99.7 points per contest, good for 18th in the NBA. Since the All-Star Break, the Wizards offense has died an unspeakable death, in large part due to negligence, and is putting up just 93.8 points per game (28th).

To the advanced stats!

Since the All-Star Break in mid-February, the Wizards have the fourth-worst offense—97.8 Offensive Rating (points per 100 possessions)—and have a NetRtg(1) of minus-3.8 (24th). Meanwhile, their defense remains a top 10 unit—it ranks sixth, to be specific, allowing 100.4 points per 100 possessions.

What does that mean, in simple terms? It means that since the All-Star Break, Washington’s defense has performed better than half of NBA teams, but the offense is better than just three teams:

  1. New York Knicks (14-58)
  2. Philadelphia 76ers (18-54)
  3. Milwaukee Bucks (36-36)

What’s also interesting is that, despite the team’s 8-4 record in games decided by three points or fewer, the Wizards are absolutely horrendous in cluch-time situations(2). On the season, they have a minus-11.9 NetRtg in the clutch, which ranks in the bottom six. Their OffRtg is 97.2 and their DefRtg is 109.0.

Since the All-Star Break, a break the pundits said the Wizards needed bad, their performance in the clutch has dipped even further … at least in terms of NetRtg: minus-20.6. That said, they’ve actually moved up in the clutch-time rankings, now just seventh-worst, with an OffRtg of 97.9 and a DefRtg of 118.5.

The contenders are clearly separating themselves from the pretenders—and the Wizards are certainly not part of the former group. (And I have to agree with Grantland’s Andrew Sharp, who said that clutch numbers speak to Wittman’s on-court impact better than any other: “win or lose, final minutes are always a disaster.”)

Even though the Wizards still, somehow, have a positive NetRtg on the season (1.7), the team is in bad, bad shape. And Wittman’s refusal to admit that any part of his offense is to blame isn’t doing his players, who are all frustrated, any favors.

He’s not a stupid guy! I truly believe that.

When he was the starting shooting guard for the Hawks in the 1980s, Atlanta was scoring well over 100 points per game. And even though they were giving up more than 100 points per game, they were winning, like, a lot. Wittman enjoyed four 50-win seasons during his stint in the ATL. The Wizards have zero 50-win seasons during his tenure as head coach in D.C. and will not reach that mark this year, unless they win out (not happening).

“You should go in there and get a locker, alright. You should go in there and get a locker. Because that’s our problem. We’re [censored] talking about who’s getting shots instead of worrying about getting stops,” he told the media after a loss to the Sacramento Kings. “It has nothing do with offense. I don’t even know why you would bring that up, alright. It’s all about our focus from a defensive standpoint.”

OK. He’s half right. The Wizards did give up 109 points to the Kings, but they only scored 86 themselves!

“We’re undisciplined,” he said after a loss to the Pacers in the Phone Booth. “It was, what, 90-80 with six minutes and change left? We blew that lead because of our gambling and giving no effort defensively. We just quit playing defensively.”

Again, half right. The Pacers did outscore the Wizards 19-10 in the final five minutes. But Wittman’s team scored just one (ONE!) field goal in the last five minutes of the game … and it was John Wall’s game-tying 3-pointer with 11 ticks left on the clock, despite the head coach calling three timeouts in the final three minutes.

Another Wizards field goal wins that game.

Other NBA coaches, like Steve Kerr, remind their players to trust the offense and trust their teammates. It’s easy to execute that vision when the offensive game plan is valid and well-defined. For his part, Wittman insists that effort and mental physicality and discipline are the ONLY things that are keeping the Wizards from winning the Eastern Conference title. And he routinely calls his players out for not executing the game plan (of which very little is known, if it exists at all), for failing the franchise and its expectations.

The worst part? His players believe every word of the CoachSpeak, or are at least professional enough to act like they do. The team says the SAME EXACT THINGS during post-game interviews. Bradley Beal has said the Wizards don’t always play hard, or don’t give 110 percent, or play selfish defensively. John Wall has talked at length about their lack of focus and their inability to commit to defense, even after timeouts. Guess what? They don’t score after timeouts either.

It’s not easy to win games in the NBA, as Randy Wittman always reminds us (something he should probably save for the playoffs). It’s even more difficult to win games when you have one of the worst offenses in the NBA—and refuse to acknowledge that fact.

Enough about that. Below, Ben Swanson (@CardboardGerald), former managing editor of the Hornets blog At The Hive, joins us to offer perspective from the other side.


Teams: Wizards vs Hornets
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 4 points.


#1) Steve Clifford and Randy Wittman don’t seem THAT different. Both took teams with piss-poor defenses and turned them into top 10 units. Both guys made the playoffs last season, too.

How does Clifford’s team analysis, and CoachSpeak, differ?

@CardboardGerald: Well, I haven’t been keeping up with what he says a whole lot, but he’s always been a more forward-thinking coach than what I’ve heard from Wittman. In terms of speaking to media, he’s always been pretty open and never combative with press about what the team’s problems have been. He has been blaming some of the team’s struggles on being “discombobulated” for stretches and not being together, but that’s been a fair point as the team’s been battling injuries with two of their best players (Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist).

This year’s team and last year’s have very similar schematic problems in lack of outside shooting, but last year’s had a) better wing role players who could shoot and b) they played together pretty much from January on after early injuries to Al Jefferson before falling apart in the playoffs after an injury to Jefferson. So roster composition might be as big a part of Clifford’s issues if not more. Lately their offense looks like it gets stuck in unproductive ruts of ineffective ball movement and wasting the shot clock. Maybe some of that is that this team as it is now hasn’t played a whole lot together or that it just doesn’t have the shooters necessary to space the floor, but it certainly hasn’t been effective.

#2) The Wizards take a lot of midrange jumpers: 17.2 Js from 15-19 feet per game (3rd-most). But not as many as the Charlotte Hornets (a league-leading 18.6). Is that a coaching strategy, or a result of 90s-style personnel?

And what’s the reaction from team brass and coaches on analytics?

@CardboardGerald: Hah, yeah, just like last year with both of these teams. It hurts on this team because while last year they had a great help from Josh McRoberts in moving the ball and spacing the floor with shooting, and this year they really miss him. I mentioned this in the last question, but yes, some is due to the roster. Between Gerald Henderson and Kidd-Gilchrist on the wings, you’re missing a lot there.

I think Clifford sees the value of the 3-pointer and the front office has placed a considerable amount of value in analytics, but I’m just not sure that they have the pieces to do that. Either way, their offense is based pretty heavily in either dumping the ball down to Al Jefferson or driving with a guard and kicking out to a player who’s open inside the line. There’s a lot of work there to be done to make that offense fluid and it doesn’t happen consistently in the stretches when they get clicking.

#3) Gimme the scoop on MKG. He recently said he wants to be the best defender the NBA has ever seen. “It’s baby steps. But when it’s all said and done, I want people to say, ‘That guy right there was the dog!’ That’s all I want.”

Also, it seems like he’s taken a big step forward with his offense, including that midrange jumper—he’s hitting around 40 percent (right around where Wall is).

@CardboardGerald: MKG is a very special player. His defense is his calling card: quick feet, strong, good hands, good ball instincts. But above all, he’s extremely aware. He can cheat off his player from the nail if he needs to but can always return back if the ball moves, and be extremely under control doing so, cutting off a drive or preventing an opponent from shooting.

Offensively, the proof is in the pudding with MKG. His confidence is way up and a lot of times he doesn’t hesitate on open jump shots. The form is still a work in progress, but the groundwork has been laid and he’s in a great spot moving forward, and at such a young age. It really stinks as a Hornets fan to see Mark Price moving on to coach at UNC-Charlotte after unlocking a large chunk of Kidd-Gilchrist’s offensive potential. There’s more to his offense. His awareness lends well on offense, too, as he’ll notice spots to pick cuts when defenders losing their eye on him; he can handle the ball fairly well for a forward (though don’t expect him to take anyone one on one off the dribble); and he’s easily their best rebounder in the starting five (especially on offense).


]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-vs-hornets-game-73.html/feed 0
DC Council 72: Wizards vs Pacers — Another Tragic Meltdown http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-101-vs-pacers-103-dc-council-72.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-101-vs-pacers-103-dc-council-72.html#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 18:21:53 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46272 Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 72: Wizards versus Pacers in Washington.
Contributor: Adam McGinnis from the Verizon Center.

DC-Council-Logo-2

Wittman, Washington Wizards, NBA

(All pictures by TAI’s Adam McGinnis.)

Oh my goodness … NOT AGAIN! Something seemed off on Wednesday evening when, hours before tip off, I saw not one but two seflie sticks inside the Verizon Center, each followed by the phantom purple blur of a shameghost. I proceeded to partake in my usual routine of taking pictures of warmups along the baseline. The denizens of #WizardsTwitter need their Rasual-Butler-dribbling-pixel fix, right?

Unfortunately, the unease I felt when entering the arena proved ominous.

Bradley Beal would roll his ankle in a terrifying fall—a failed Eurostep—and Washington would blow a double-digit fourth-quarter lead to a struggling Indiana team on a six-game losing streak. Randy Wittman’s coaching blunders, and behavior, would make him an easy target for the national sports media. Another elite All-Star performance from John Wall went to waste.

But enough about my intuitiveness and discerning aura reads. Let’s slide the corpse of this game out on my internet slab and conduct an autopsy.


 

Indiana Pacers

103

Final

Box Score

Washington Wizards

101

Nene Hilario, PF

28 MIN | 3-8 FG | 4-6 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -8 +/-

Nene did a great job helping to negate Roy Hibbert and David West on the defensive end. But he continued to take many questionable long jumpers and passed up several opportunities to drive to the hoop.

I have always defended Nene against any detractors because, while his numbers might not be flashy, he is the most valuable player on this team not named John Wall. However, I can not justify his decision to duck out on answering questions to the media again. Instead of explaining what happened on the last key play where he, along with Martell Webster, allowed Hill to drive to the rim for a game winner, Nene took off to meet Argentina’s national soccer team, who were in attendance.

Last season the Brazilian famously called out young players for not being professional enough, and having their heads up their butts, but here was the veteran, who makes $13 million a season, not owning up publicly to his mistakes so he could take pictures with soccer players from Brazil-rival Argentina.

Wall had to explain the last play to the media for him. Lord Nene disappointed his flock of supporters.


Paul Pierce, SF

23 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -10 +/-

Pierce seemed like a decoy on offense when the team could have used his playmaking ability with Beal out after the first quarter. If the Wizards, who seem destined for the 5-seed, continue to falter, it could be soon time to shut down The Truth until the postseason.


Marcin Gortat, C

30 MIN | 7-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | +2 +/-

Gortat had an excellent outing and was instrumental in Washington’s second-half rally. He put in 10 third-quarter points and had the Pacers D befuddled by some of his post moves. The only one who appeared able to slow Gortat down was his own coach, who (once again) limited his crunch-time minutes.


John Wall, PG

41 MIN | 11-21 FG | 10-11 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 34 PTS | -1 +/-

You can sometimes run out of superlatives to describe the play of John Wall. He was simply sensational.

He became more of a scorer than a distributor over the third and fourth quarters, which is exactly what the Wizards needed Wall to be, and his jumper was wet.

At one point early in the final period, Wall had scored 14 of Washington’s previous 16 points. John attacked the Pacers in transition, got to the free throw line, and came up clutch with a game-tying 3-pointer with 11 seconds left on the clock.

If the Wizards really are sinking under the weight of their expectations like the Titanic, as Tony Kornheiser said on PTI last night, then John Wall is strapping on a jetpack and an industry-grade chain trying to pull the team out of those deadly, ice-cold waters.


Bradley Beal, SG

11 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +4 +/-

Beal rolled his ankle on a nasty spill while planting and trying to go around the defense in transition in the first quarter. He never returned. Beal later walked out of the locker room without crutches or an air cast but will still probably be “day-to-day” for an eternity.


Drew Gooden, PF

17 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -2 +/-

The cheesy dance song lyrics in “Party Rock Anthem” come to mind when watching Drew play. He is trying hard to do stuff (everyday he’s shuffling) but he can’t always execute successfully. Coach Wittman can never question his effort, just maybe his poor defensive awareness that was exposed repeatedly by the Pacers bigs.


Otto Porter Jr., SF

0 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -4 +/-

I am not a part of the loud “why doesn’t Otto play more?” fan club, but I am closer to becoming a member. With Beal out, Webster ineffective, and Butler struggling, Porter should have at least gotten some burn. His only action was in the last minute to play defense. The small moral victory: “Frozen Otto” did not do anything embarrassing to earn another appearance on Shaq’s blooper reel.


Martell Webster, SF

28 MIN | 1-6 FG | 4-6 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -2 +/-

Good Martell: quick hands that produced a few steals … and he still has the ability to draw fouls on his jump shot attempts.

Bad Martell: pretty much everything else.

The confidence in his shot is lost, his passes are predictable, and the guy’s lateral quickness is toast. He is not a very useful NBA player right now, but somehow he was guarding the Pacers’ best player on the most pivotal sequence of the game. Go figure.


Rasual Butler, SF

23 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +2 +/-

Rasual got into double-digits in scoring, which is a positive. Yet his long-range marksmanship is glaringly off and he should probably no longer be in the rotation. But, as Jordan Crawford so aptly put it, “who else gon’ shoot?”


Kevin Seraphin, C

21 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +5 +/-

Seraphin got some boards and for once, and didn’t seem to piss off his coach.

Did you hear #KSLife is back on Instagram?


Ramon Sessions, PG

19 MIN | 1-5 FG | 5-6 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +4 +/-

Ramon didn’t light up the stat sheet but I was impressed at how good he looks on the court with Wall. Even if he can’t always finish, Sessions often attacks the rim and draws contact (he did make a nice transition layup down the stretch). Sessions also rarely takes a bad shot. He, perhaps, deserved more playing time in the closing moments, as he may have been a better option on defense versus George Hill than Webster (faster feet).


Randy Wittman

There have been several negative TAI pixels produced about Wittman’s coaching lately. His broken offensive system is painfully apparent, and the borderline delusional “effort” explanations he provides about his team’s woes insult your basketball intelligence.

First, some proper context on Coach Wittman’s tenure with the Wizards.

When he led an undermanned Washington team to a franchise-worst 4-28 record, I argued strongly to evaluate him with a full squad. During Washington’s sluggish start in fall of 2013, the national media vultures wanted his scalp. I lashed out at their rush to judgement and urged patience. After he led Washington to an improbable playoff series victory over Chicago in five games, I lauded him for out-coaching the Bulls. I supported his contract extension, considering the success he achieved at helping turn a doormat franchise around.

Throughout the ups and downs of the current season, fans often peppered me with angry questions about replacing the coaching staff, and I’ve always said to wait until their playoff run concludes to fairly assess their overall performance. However, this does not mean Wittman is above criticism for his in-game decision-making; he deserves much scorn for what I witnessed on Wednesday night at the Phone Booth.

With the Wiz up six points, the Sessions-Butler-Webster-Seraphin-Gooden lineup started the fourth quarter. Indiana immediately made a 3 and Wall soon checked back in for Webster. Somehow the Wizards offense was able to keep the lead because Wall was still on fire, and Gooden and Sessions had put in some buckets. The big man duo of Seraphin and Gooden was a defensive liability, however, and it was only a matter of time before the levees broke. Wall then hit another jumper, and the Pacers called timeout with the Wizards leading, 90-80, with 6:46 left in the game.

That lineup was living on house money and that juncture would have been the perfect time to put in Nene or Gortat, or even Pierce, to close this game out. Nope, not Randy, the same five returned to the court, and the Pacers continued their comeback by dominating inside with easy buckets. Gooden looked completely lost on defense. Nene didn’t return until the 4:31 mark and Gortat at 4:00. At that point, Washington’s lead was down to four and Indiana now had offensive momentum.

Pierce finally checked in at 2:53 mark for Webster, whose terrible pass had just allowed the Pacers to trim the Wizards’ lead some more. Butler, who had been off all night and should have been subbed out for Sessions, turned the ball over and Indiana was then in front.

Perhaps the general plan is rest team veterans as much as possible, but when you are desperate for a win and have a chance to put away a struggling Indiana team at home in the final quarter, you stomp them out. Not putting Wall on Hill on the game’s deciding play, subbing out Gortat, and his players’ inability to execute a trap versus George Hill was all justifiably scrutinized, but Wittman’s major screw up was not finishing out Indiana with his best lineup when he had the chance.


Pictures.

IMG_2952

IMG_2938

IMG_2965

IMG_3040

IMG_3057

IMG_3000

IMG_2928

IMG_2927

IMG_2924

IMG_2979

IMG_2943

IMG_3039

IMG_2993

Jimmy Clutch.

Defensive Breakdown.

Short and Sweet and Sour.

Vines.

Big Panda Pain.

Wittman needs to hit up Church more to increase his faith in half court shots. 

 

Post-game Interviews.

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-101-vs-pacers-103-dc-council-72.html/feed 0
Key Legislature: Wizards 101 vs Pacers 103 — Washington’s Normalized Narrative http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/key-legislature-wizards-101-vs-pacers-103-washingtons-normalized-narrative.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/key-legislature-wizards-101-vs-pacers-103-washingtons-normalized-narrative.html#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 02:44:47 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46263 Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 72 versus the Pacers in D.C.
via Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It), covering it live from the Phone Booth.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Kyle Weidie.

John Wall tried to make the game narrative his own. It’s happened before, it will happen again. It served as a reminder, especially after Bradley Beal rolled his ankle toward the end of the first quarter and departed for the night, that Wall is about all the magic the Wizards have.

Two puttering offenses (Washington’s ranks 16th, Indiana’s 25th), two very good defenses that rarely screw up the rotation, a half-dead arena-library, and a single player capable of taking over a game. For just showing up to work, the Wizards built a 13-point lead on the back of damn near 45 percent shooting with five minutes left in the first half; Indiana shot 28 percent up to that point. Through 19 game minutes, the score was 37-24, a count that would make a half in college basketball super proud of itself.

The Wizards spent the last five minutes of the first half losing their lead, stalling the offense by trying to force-feed Nene, who has proven incapable of (or disinterested in) finishing near the rim as of late. Indiana’s George Hill helped spark a quick 5-0 run by easily gaining separation off the ball from Martell Webster (who, as usual, was bad on defense through the end) and driving into the heart of Washington’s defense, Nene included. C.J. Watson then stole Nene’s inbounds pass (Indiana pressing wasn’t new at that point of the game) and hit a 3-pointer, pulling the Pacers within 33-39. Randy Wittman’s offense managed to get off six shot attempts, making one (with two turnovers) over the last five minutes of the second quarter. The Pacers got off 13 shots, making seven (with zero turnovers), also grabbing three offensive boards when Washington didn’t grab any.

The Wizards limped into halftime with a two-point lead, 44-42, and after what must have been negligible impassioned pleas from their coach during intermission, they limped right back onto the court. The Pacers grabbed a four-point lead within two minutes of the third quarter. Over the first half of the period John Wall missed three attempts at the rim and made one. The game trudged along. Wittman called a timeout with the score tied at 58, after which the Wizards immediately gave up a 3-pointer. Webster, starting the second half for the injured Beal, chased C.J. Miles around screens with all the agility of a young Forrest Gump in his leg braces; Miles found himself with more than enough room to hit the shot.

Not long after that, John Wall decided: Why not? He got a rebound and pushed the ball up the court as four Pacers quickly retreated. Teammates weren’t really to be found. Paul Pierce operated at a crawl on the other side of the floor. So Wall dribbled the ball to the left corner and fired. The Pacers gave it to him and the Wizards needed it, a 3-pointer. About 30 seconds later Wall stole the ball and flew to the other end for an uncontested dunk. The Verizon Center reacted with the enthusiasm, or relief, like they’d just been told someone would pay their phone bill. Wall prompted his team to end the last four minutes of the third quarter on a 16-8 run. He scored eight points and added three assists, two rebounds, a steal, and a block during that time.

The fourth quarter started and Wall’s engine was still running on that premium unleaded (with the exception of between-quarter rest; he was subbed out with 45 seconds left in the third, subbed back in 60 seconds into the fourth). Over the next five minutes until the Pacers called a timeout midway through the period, what Wall has become—someone with more cultivated confidence in his jumper than mechanized muscle memory—was on full display. He hit four straight jump shot attempts, from 17, 18, 19, and 20 feet. He also made a layup, missed a layup (on which he probably got fouled, no call), and got to the free throw line for two makes. Only one other Wizard scored during this 14-7 Washington run: Ramon Sessions, who darted aggressively up the court off a Kevin Seraphin rebound and scored a layup. (Wall and Sessions, for what it’s worth, played 12 minutes together to a fair amount of success: plus-5 and 9-for-18 team shooting.)

The Wizards were up 90-80, all seemed normal—a team with the same pre-existing roster issues, the same pre-existing coaching system, being saved by the star. Happens in the NBA all the time.

The Pacers went on to outscore the Wizards 23-11 over the latter half of the fourth. While Indiana coach Frank Vogel inserted reinforcements, namely Hill and David West, Wittman left a lineup featuring Wall, Sessions, Rasual Butler, Drew Gooden, and Seraphin to marinate. Indiana climbed within six points, Webster was inserted for Sessions. Soon after, at the 4:30 mark, Nene was inserted for Gooden; Marcin Gortat came in for Seraphin 30 seconds later. Was Wittman trying to stop the bleeding? Trying to avoid putting old and tired horses back on the track? Grasping for straws as it appeared, even to a dead arena, that a Pacers comeback was inevitable? All of the above, probably, at 91-94. On the next possession an Indiana double-team of Nene in the post almost didn’t let Webster clear the floor, and as Nene moved the ball to Martell after space opened, Webster committed a bad turnover himself and Hill scored a layup on the other end, Pacers within one point.

Wittman called timeout, dusted off Paul Pierce for Webster, and drew up a play … in which Butler immediately committed another turnover. The Pacers grabbed the lead, 95-94. Washington seemed to put faith in meandering offensive action for anyone not named John Wall. And so Gortat missed a 20-footer (he had to take it as a very last option in a piddling offense), Nene then missed a 19-footer (a shot he didn’t have to take), and then Nene and his cohorts left West available to consider the spacing and drive the lane unimpeded for a floater that put Indiana up three points, 99-96. A Butler 3-point miss led to a Gortat block of Hill at the rim that led to a fast break opportunity for Butler in which he missed an easy opportunity but converted the resulting two free throws, which were matched on the other end by Indiana.

With 19 seconds left and down three, the Wizards took a timeout and drew up a play that never materialized—bad execution, bad planning perhaps, and as precious seconds ticked, Wall, prior hero, pulled a 3-pointer from Gilbert Arenas range, awakening the Verizon Center (aside from previous free chicken alarms). He tied the game at 101 with 11 seconds left. That was Washington’s first and only field goal in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter.

A dreaded overtime situation loomed, but saved from that grace, Wizards followers, into the night and the next day, were left to dissect one single play in which the game presumably “boiled down to” leaving, conveniently, ignorance of all the other issues that led to the moment.

What we think we know: Wall, with five fouls, volunteered to guard C.J. Watson off the ball instead of Hill; Gortat, against Indiana’s smaller lineup, was relegated to the pine so Otto Porter could guard the inbounds pass; and Webster, perhaps Washington’s worst perimeter wing defender (perhaps absolutely) was left to check Hill, who’d generally had his way with the Wizards over the game-deciding stretch.

West went to set a high ball screen for Hill but didn’t really set it, as part of Indiana’s plan. Nene and Webster were supposed to trap the ball, and it was hard viewing the play over-and-over to tell who was more out of position. The safe conclusion is that they both were, and at that, Nene just about ran into Webster in the process. Hill scored the game-winner at the rim and the Wizards, sans timeouts with two-plus seconds left (Wittman burned his last three timeouts in the three minutes prior), were resigned to a desperate Butler half-court heave. Wittman, already in the process of leaving the court, barely took time to glance as the shot caromed off the top of the backboard.

Mere details about a team entrenched with an inattention to detail, or effort, or whatever they want to point to which ails them. The narrative, semi-tragically, was ripped from John Wall. Maybe the star needs to be a bit more of a star. What other choice do the Wizards have? Wittman charged after the match that others need to step up, and he would also be correct. Pierce took four shots, made one, and combined with Sessions (1-5), Webster (1-6), and Butler (3-6) to bring Washington’s wing contribution (not named Wall or Beal) to a 6-for-15 effort from the field. Nene finished 3-for-8 from the field but 100-for-100 in bitching about all the wrongs constantly done against him to anyone except the media, which he ducked after the game so he could get pictures taken with the visiting Argentinian soccer club—the conveniences afforded to him in being the highest paid yet most unaccountable player on the team.

Just one loss—No. 32 out of 72 games so far. At least it felt relatively normal, even if normal for the Wizards remains relatively undefined. Their best normal can compete with anyone, but Washington’s current comfort lies somewhere below that, and deep down Wittman, and Nene, and Beal, and even Wall, and any other Wizard that matters (they all do) must be concerned about that becoming a habit when it matters.

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/key-legislature-wizards-101-vs-pacers-103-washingtons-normalized-narrative.html/feed 0
Opening Statements: Wizards vs Pacers, Game 72 http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-vs-pacers-game-72.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-vs-pacers-game-72.html#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 18:15:22 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46231 Washington Wizards vs Indiana Pacers

By now you’ve probably heard or read what Randy Wittman had to say after Washington’s massively disheartening loss in Sacramento on Sunday, when he finally took off the mask and revealed himself to be, at base, an insane person. The gist of what he said—because the experience of reading it a second time will be actually physically traumatic—was that the concern … the mere suggestion that Washington’s established, observable, and undisputed offensive ineptitude plays any role in their ongoing dismal swoon is so wrong-headed as to be actually contemptible. That virtually any time spent worrying about the part of the game of basketball (where points are accumulated by throwing a ball through a basket) in which his team tries to throw the ball through the basket is, in fact, time wasted.

It’s tough to read this any other way. Washington’s defense is, by most measures, among the best in all of basketball (1). This level of success speaks well of Coach Wittman’s defensive schemes, of course. Coach Wittman’s complaint seems to center around the idea that his players are devoting too much attention to what happens on offense, but that is manifestly not the case: they are devoting enough attention on the defensive end to consistently put themselves in position to win. That is as much attention as should be paid at that or any other task, by definition. Forget diminishing marginal returns—the person who doubles down on effort at a task at which adequate progress towards an ultimate goal is already consistently achieved is a fool.

Let this sink in: The Wizards are never—never never never—going to achieve a defense that can consistently make up for the fact that their offense is trash, and, to the extent that effort towards such a goal detracts (as Wittman’s statements imply) from effort at making progress on offense, such effort can only be in service of sabotage.

Monday’s game at Golden State served as sort of a handy reminder of the absolute futility of trying to crack the game of basketball without devoting adequate attention to developing a credible offense. That’s an important word: “adequate.” It implies nothing more than that the attention be sufficient to achieve a desired outcome, and no more. Because the Wizards offense—if not also their roster and brain trust—is clearly broken (2), it cannot be said with even a modicum of sincere belief that adequate attention is being paid to that end.

Against the Warriors—who display a kind of freedom and aggression and belief that flows from both their abilities and the basic and practical coherence of how they are coached to play—the Wizards paid dearly for having no better ideas on the offensive end than taking whatever scraps the NBA’s best defense happened to leave available. When the Warriors were sloppy and unfocused, hearty chunks shook loose for the taking. As soon as they buckled down—the very moment the Warriors decided to stop giving things away—the Wizards lost the ability to even compete, to even pretend to compete.

This isn’t the first time it’s happened this season. For that matter, it isn’t the first or even second time it’s happened in the last 10 days. We’re all pretty used to it. What makes it especially galling, what amounts to the most striking and troubling takeaway from Monday night’s bloodbath, was a statement made by Warriors reserve Marreese Speights in the aftermath:

“We just turned [it] up a little. We knew if we hit them, if we got a couple stops, they would start arguing with each other and quit. We went out there with a good mind-set in the second half and we did it.”

It seems the rest of the NBA has caught on to a hard truth of this version of the Washington Wizards: it is possible to take away what they want to do on the offensive end to such a degree that the Wizards cannot and will not continue to compete.

Interestingly, this both aligns neatly with and rebukes Coach Wittman’s gripe: when the Warriors got serious about winning, they expressed that seriousness on the defensive end. They worried less about their offense than they did about stringing together stops, and it worked. On the other hand, his statements lay plain the level of dysfunction of Washington’s offense: a capable opponent can simply decide to take away their offense—not a facet of their offense, nor a single player, but their entire offense—and once that happens, the game is decided. The Warriors went into the locker room at halftime and decided to not let the Wizards score anymore, then came out in the third quarter and virtually erased Washington’s offense. They knew the Wizards would not and could not adjust, that all they are capable of doing is feeding on the defense’s scraps. The Wizards did not adjust, because they could not, because they cannot. That this is a thing that can and did happen in a contest between two professional basketball teams, and not, like, one professional team and one high school team, is profoundly disturbing.

After the game, Wittman spoke about his role in this tailspin:

“Like I said, we played a half of the way we wanted to play. I have to find the guys that are committed to do it for 48 now. That’s my job.”

Not surprisingly, nothing he said even nodded in the vague direction of the fundamental and fatal weakness in Washington’s whole basketball system, brutally and embarrassingly exposed by Speights’ comments. In talking about his job, in acknowledging his responsibility to put his team in position to win basketball games, he took a swipe at the effort and professionalism of his players. The team is incapable of playing 48 minutes of solid two-way basketball—on that we can all agree—and the extent of the coach’s responsibility is to exclude those players who can be blamed for this phenomenon. Nevermind that Wittman has had more than 70 games to find out which of his players are willing to grant him this nebulous effort-based boon.

Preaching accountability while being totally unwilling to accept any meaningful accountability for your own actions undermines credibility, like, a lot. If it seems like the Wizards are losing their edge, their confidence, their faith in one another, their common purpose; if it’s true that they’re bitching in timeouts and in the locker room about offensive touches; if their commitment is truly out of whack, maybe it’s time to consider whether these new dynamics flow from the experience of following a head coach who implicitly and constitutionally dismisses accountability. If players look to Wittman for direction, and all they see is a finger pointed back at them bereft of real solutions, there’s nowhere left to go but the wrong way.


Teams: Wizards vs Pacers
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 3.5 points.


So, on to tonight’s home game against the Indiana Pacers. There’s maybe a single schedule win left among Washington’s remaining 11 games, if for no other reason than the Wizards are not now appreciably better than any team in basketball other than the poor, hapless Knicks, who they play one final time, on April 3. Having said that, Indiana is in a swoon of their own, having lost six straight to fall a game back of the Eastern Conference 8-seed. The Pacers are desperate: they’re in the middle of a closing stretch of the regular season in which all but two of their final 18 games are against teams still actively in the hunt for a playoff spot or a higher seed. They will absolutely not lay down tonight.

It’s too much and too late to hope that the Wizards will take seriously the obvious need to address their offense. The actual sets will make it terribly difficult for them to take and make the kinds of shots that lead to efficient offense, and so it will fall entirely upon the players to extract such chances from those ridiculous and tedious actions, through creativity, improvisation, and sheer competitive brilliance. Indiana’s top-10 defense will certainly not help anything—they’re not going to give away or otherwise freely yield the kinds of high-efficiency looks Washington’s offense is incapable of producing on its own.

The Warriors knew—they knew!—that the Wizards would fold as soon as the opposing defense stopped giving things away. According to their head coach’s philosophy, and as an actual ethic, the Wizards will not devote attention to making offensive adjustments. Whatever hope they have of winning tonight, or any other night, will come only from the degree to which the Wizards are able to squeeze drops of offense from their defense and benefit from charity. It will not make for beautiful basketball—tonight’s game will not be pretty. The Pacers are a bad offensive basketball team, suffering from a talent deficit that makes the Wizards, by comparison, look like an All-Star team. If you like bricks, this could be the game of your dreams.

The home stretch for the Wizards that starts tonight includes just one game (Sunday, versus Houston) against a team with a better record than Washington, and presents an opportunity to, if nothing else, recharge what has to be an enormous deficit in team-wide confidence and cohesion, the inevitable result of all the miserable basketball they’ve played since even before the All-Star break. It starts tonight, and Indiana will be a good test. Look for signs of quitting—beyond a certain point inflexibility becomes brittleness, and that’s what the Warriors identified Monday night. Indiana will be aiming at the same vulnerability, looking to knock the fight out of a team not just battling a committed opponent, but exhausted from battling their own baked-in futility. Is it even possible, any longer, to play 48 minutes of good basketball under such a burden? The team, its fans, and its coach are still searching for signs.

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-vs-pacers-game-72.html/feed 1
Key Legislature: Wizards 76 at Warriors 107 — All These Metrics Point to Dysfunction http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-76-at-warriors-107-key-legislature-71.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-76-at-warriors-107-key-legislature-71.html#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:46:19 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46238 Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 71 versus the Warriors in Golden State.
via Sean Fagan (@McCarrick) from Brooklyn.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Sean Fagan.

All the metrics pointed to a Monday night loss to Golden State, Washington’s last test in a four-game West Coast swing. The Warriors own the best overall record in the Association, they’re the best defensive team (as determined by metrics), and own the current glittering jewel of an offensive system which is rhapsodized about throughout the league. Set against that was a Wizards team stumbling after two straight losses, one to a Clippers team peaking under the domineering gaze of Chris Paul and another that consisted of a pratfall to a Sacramento team which has yet to learn that it’s totally fine to defend offensive possessions. All told, things appeared bleak for the team from Washington and, at best, many were hoping for a psychological victory, one in which the Wizards lost, but demonstrated a return to “who they are,” as Randy Wittman or Bradley Beal might suggest, even if ‘who the Wizards are’ is a team that’s now just 18-22 since Jan. 1, 2015, the ninth-worst record in the NBA over that stretch.

However, those are just numbers.

It is at this point that one can take comfort from the the famous utterance of famed Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (made famous by Mark Twain) that there are three types of lies: “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” This proclamation has grown more comforting over the years for those who hope for the improbable. Perhaps the Wizards would buck the evil trend of statistics and overcome a Warriors team which has recently laid waste to all those who oppose it.

Wizards 3rd Quarter Shot Chart

[Wizards 1-18 3rd quarter shot clock versus Warriors on Mar. 23, 2015.]

[Wizards 1-18 3rd quarter shot clock versus Warriors on Mar. 23, 2015.]

Oh. Well then.

We can now turn  to another famous philosopher, Golden State Center Marreese Speights, who issued his own summation of the game: “We knew if we hit them, if we got a couple stops they would start arguing with each other and quit. We went out there with a good mindset in the second half and we did it.”

Not quite Disraeli, but damning in its own right.

We should in no way consider Speights a philosopher king, but to have shade thrown upon you by an opponent’s reserve stretch big man is demonstrative of how far the Wizards have fallen in terms of respect around the league. For Speights to offhandedly mention how the Wizards could so easily be shut down (and circuitously pointing towards how broken the Wizards offensive system is), is akin to being called out by a slightly more self-aware and talented JaVale McGee. More worrying still is that Wizards own dysfunction (“they would start arguing with each other and quit”) is a known fact throughout the league. While other, more important members of the Warriors were quick to brush off Speights comments, one cannot easily dismiss them. After all, in most parables it is the fool or a small child who points out the failings that others refuse to admit, despite all contrary evidence.

Which brings us to our second damning quote which came from the Wizards’ own Nostradamus, Randy Wittman:  “It’s a troubling trend that we’ve had for the last 20, 25 games. We play one good half and just the exact opposite, awful, one half to the other. ”

Twenty or twenty-five games. A quarter of a season. A “trend” could be seen in as few as four-to-five  games. Twenty to Twenty-five games is institutional rot. Yet, nothing has been done. The Wizards continue to roll out the same offense that is sure to see them quickly ushered out of the playoffs. Wizards players appear to be so bored with executing the same ineffective sets that result in failure, that opponents now know they can be brazen enough to call them quitters and point to the dysfunction that lies just beneath the surface. At some point, Wittman lost the captaincy of this ship and now it drifts listless in an ocean of its own ineffective long-range 2-pointers, mired in ineptitude and complacency.

The time is long past for drastic changes. For better or for worse the Wizards are married to the sea and the course they have charted. Wittman appears to be committed to his Ahab-like obsession in hunting for the perfect 17-footer, and placing the Wizards failings on “defensive lapses” rather than the fact that the Wizards have not run a cohesive offensive set since the calendar turned.

It’s deep water and the Wizards are days from sighting land or returning order to what appears to be a growingly mutinous crew. Even if the Wizards make it to shore, no one should be surprised when that ship runs aground on the shoals of the first  round of the playoffs. Statistics and the idiot savant of the Golden State Warriors point toward a disastrous end.

Or perhaps Randy Wittman can take wisdom from the words of Edward Teach (Blackbeard):

“Such a day; rum all out. Our company somewhat sober; a damned confusion amongst us! Rogues a plotting. Talk of separation. So I looked sharp for a prize [and] took one with a great deal of liquor aboard. So kept the company hot, damned hot, then all things went well again.”

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-76-at-warriors-107-key-legislature-71.html/feed 0
DC Council 71: Wizards at Warriors — What Horror, That Third Quarter http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/dc-council-71-wizards-at-warriors-what-horror-that-third-quarter.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/dc-council-71-wizards-at-warriors-what-horror-that-third-quarter.html#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 16:59:05 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46225 Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 71:
Washington Wizards versus the Golden State Warriors in Oracle Arena.
Contributor: East Coast-livin’ Bryan Frantz.

DC-Council-Logo-2

Do you know how to tell when things are really, really bad? I mean aside from simply watching that dumpster fire of a second half last night, of course.

It’s not when Kevin Seraphin leads your team in made field goals for a quarter. It’s not when he earns that honor with one made field goal. It’s not when Steve Buckhantz has to inform viewers that said made field goal prevented the Wizards from tying the record for the fewest in a quarter. It’s not when Ramon Sessions throws the ball five feet away from any Washington player and into the stands, and it hardly registers as a blip on the shit-covered radar screen mere minutes later. It’s not when the team’s starting power forward has four turnovers in one half, and that was the good half. It’s not even when all this happens on national television in the midst of what was billed as a season-defining road trip.

No, you know it’s really bad when you stare at your computer screen as the game is winding down, getting ready to distribute grades for the trainwreck you just witnessed, and you wonder aloud which grades you can get away with inflating past an F.

And you realize you can’t get away with any. Not without a disclaimer, at least. And I’m not bound to a curve.

Not even one grade deserves to be above an F, because if a Kevin Seraphin vomit-toss is the only multi-point shot that passes through that regulation-sized cylinder in a span of more than 15 minutes, it was a full team effort. Even Toure’ Murry, he of 18 total minutes this season, managed to make an ass of himself (and roll an ankle) in the second half of this shitstorm.

Like I said, full team effort.

And I say effort without even the slightest hint of irony. I mean, you’ve got to try to be that bad, right? This is the NBA. And not the Philadelphia 76ers NBA, in which a 1FGM-quarter would be applauded because the end goal is bigger than any one game or even season. No, I mean the efforting NBA, in which the Washington Wizards, despite playing a second half that was less aesthetically pleasing than a Giant Douche vs. Turd Sandwich election, still hold a 40-31 record.

I know nobody on the Wizards deserves better than an F for that game. You know it. My guess is, deep down, most players, coaches and front office folks that wake up every morning and spew PR spiel about “effort” and “mental physicality” at the Verizon Center know it.

But come on, I can’t just give every player an F, right? There was a time—seemingly long, long ago—when the Washington Wizards were actually trailing the league-leading Golden State Warriors, in their home arena where they have lost just two games all season, by a mere three points at halftime.

There must have been some good. Let’s buckle up and dig deep, sports fans, and keep in mind that these grades are relative.


Washington Wizards

76

Final

Box Score

Golden State Warriors

107

Nene Hilario, PF

29 MIN | 3-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 7 PTS | -20 +/-

Aside from the four first-half turnovers, Nene was … still pretty terrible. He got completely and utterly dominated by Draymond Green, though he’s hardly the first to fall victim to that glorious manbeast, and was one of the few Wizards who was genuinely awful in both halves. Green went 5-for-11 with 13 points and six boards, and he added a trio of 3s on eight attempts in a sort of “Haha look what I can do and you can’t but also your coach won’t allow you to do” move, but he got his numbers in just 22 minutes.


Paul Pierce, SF

23 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -8 +/-

Paul Pierce was one of the better players in a Wizards uniform Monday night, in that he was mostly uninvolved. Midway through the first period, Pierce passed up a semi-contested 3 to find Bradley Beal for an open 3, which Beal knocked down. This was an incredibly basic, fundamental basketball play; Beal is the team’s best perimeter shooter, numbers be damned, and no defender was in position to contest the shot.

Yet it’s worthy of praise because the basic fundamentals of offense routinely escape this team, and even the great Paul Pierce, a surefire Hall of Famer and one of the most reliable offensive weapons of the 21st century, seems to have forgotten some of them now that he’s spent some time with the Wizards.


Marcin Gortat, C

24 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -21 +/-

I actually liked Marcin Gortat’s aggressiveness in the first few minutes of the game. He grabbed a handful of rebounds early, wasn’t totally atrocious on defense and all four of his shot attempts in the first stanza came within 10 feet of the hoop. He also had to deal with Nene getting beaten time and again on defense, on the perimeter, in the paint and everywhere in between.

But then the rest of the game happened. The good things Gortat had done earlier disappeared and Andrew Bogut had his way on the glass. Bogut finished with 12 rebounds—well above his season average of 8.0 per game—and needed just 23 minutes to do it. Gortat had five boards in the first quarter (he played all 12 minutes), then grabbed just two more in 11 minutes and 33 seconds of action.

As per usual, Gortat was also the only starter to not play in the final frame, yet this time the question was why any of the others were playing. Down by 24 against the best team in the NBA, on the road, with “offensive efficiency” rapidly becoming an ironic term? The Wizards had no chance at coming back in that game, and the starters shouldn’t have played a second between them.


John Wall, PG

33 MIN | 4-16 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | -28 +/-

In the first half, a triple-double wasn’t out of the question for John Wall. While Golden State’s electrifying point guard was doing his thing, Wall racked up 11 points (all in the first period), five assists and three rebounds by halftime, and he actually hit a nifty buzzer-beater to end the first quarter.

Believe it or not, the second half was a slightly different story. Wall went 0-for-7, grabbed two rebounds and didn’t record a single assist. In fairness, I’d like to see you get credit for an assist when baskets come about as often as world wars. On the plus side, Wall didn’t turn it over once all game. On the negative side, which is exponentially larger than its counterpart, Steph Curry dropped 24 points on him in just 28 minutes, and it could have been so, so much worse.


Bradley Beal, SG

34 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -16 +/-

Hey, here’s a fun game. It’s called “Guess When It Was.” Here are the rules: I present a scenario and you try to guess the last time it occurred. Ready? Begin!

When was the last time Bradley Beal made 10 or more field goals in a game?

*do do do do do do do do…*

All set? And the answer is… December 3! Nearly four months ago, or 111 days before this game.

And no, he didn’t cross that threshold against the Warriors.

Beal has looked like a shell of his former self (which was a brief flash of a self) for much of this season, and by going 4-for-11 with no more than two of any other traditional stat, impressive outings from Big Panda are sadly becoming as extinct as his nicknamesake.


Drew Gooden, PF

12 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -9 +/-

Drew Gooden put the ball between his legs once (didn’t accomplish anything) and dunked it once (not on the same play). I also vaguely recall him trying to save a loose ball and falling over himself out of bounds, while also not saving said loose ball, but at this point, I could’ve just dreamt that.


Toure’ Murry, SF

4 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +3 +/-

In a game filled with so many moments of sadness, poor Toure’ Murry was unfortunately the focus of the saddest of all. RIP Toure’ Murry’s ankle and pride.


Otto Porter Jr., SF

6 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3 +/-

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve officially crossed the halfway point. Randy Wittman applauds your focus, but your effort has been underwhelming.

This is where things get truly confusing. The neverending merry-go-round of Wizards small forwards took another interesting twist Monday night, as Martell Webster received the bulk of the minutes at backup 3.

For those of you following along at home, a quick recap of how Pierce’s backups have split the minutes on this four-game road trip:

March 18, at Utah: Butler-11, Porter-10, Webster-DNP-CD
March 20, at Los Angeles Clippers: Porter-11, Butler-4, Webster-2
March 22, at Sacramento: Butler- 20, Webster-12, Porter-5
March 23, at Golden State: Webster-22, Porter-6, Butler-3

In the final three games of the trip, each of the three backups at one point received the most minutes of the group and the least minutes of the group. I’ve given up on trying to explain this phenomenon.


Martell Webster, SF

22 MIN | 1-4 FG | 4-5 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -27 +/-

According to NBA.com, Webster set a season-high in playing time with 21:33, free throws made with four, and he tied a season-high with six points. So here’s your silver lining, folks: Martell Webster had his best game of the season. Swell.


Rasual Butler, SF

3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -10 +/-

Not even gonna bother. See above.


Kevin Seraphin, C

24 MIN | 4-10 FG | 4-6 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -10 +/-

With 12 points, eight rebounds, two dimes, and a block, Kevin Seraphin at least padded the stat sheet. He did not play as well as those numbers suggest, and his defense is about as fun to watch as the team’s offense. Draymond Green could’ve put up 40 on Seraphin if the situation called for it, and he wouldn’t have been that hard.


DeJuan Blair, C

7 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2 +/-

He missed as many shots as he grabbed rebounds (three), and his fouls fell just short of that mark (two). But hey, he played and didn’t truck anybody or curse out any teammates, I don’t think, so stop being so picky and take the win where you can get it.


Ramon Sessions, PG

20 MIN | 4-7 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -4 +/-

Ramon Sessions should be so much better than he is. It’s remarkable that he’s as ineffective as he is, truly. He missed yet another layup, which is somehow still surprising every time it happens despite how common it is, but he nailed a spot-up 3. I don’t know. I just don’t.


You Sure You Want Vines? Alright, Here Goes…

Here we see the Wizards forgetting that other teams actually shoot and make 3s reliably:

Here we see the Wizards failing to offense:

Here we see the first and only Wizards make of the third quarter:

Here we see Ramon Sessions things:

And here we see the two best things about this game:

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/dc-council-71-wizards-at-warriors-what-horror-that-third-quarter.html/feed 0
Opening Statements: Wizards at Warriors, Game 71 http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-at-warriors-game-71.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-at-warriors-game-71.html#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 00:02:03 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46209 Washington Wizards vs Golden State Warriors - Dec. 8, 2012 - Truth About It.net

A party line is often presented with an unrealistic single-mindedness, a clarity that belies a more complicated reality that would be inappropriate for public-facing discourse. When a party leader takes the podium, followers take heed, but others prepare their salt shakers. Eventually, if there are no kernels of truth left to season, people move on. The problem with Committee Chairman Randy Wittman’s adamant insistence that defense, not offense, was Washington’s issue after a 109-86 loss is that Wittman also happens to be a salaried head coach of an NBA team that is still playing basketball, a team that will have a chance to compete against a beatable opponent in the playoffs.

This familiar summary from Wittman isn’t just a poorly-seen or poorly-remembered reflection on an embarrassing loss. It’s an unhealthy party line that eats away at Washington’s ability to win games, and affects what remedy, if any, will be applied. The Wizards have only won once this year when scoring 86 points or fewer (an 83-80 win over New Orleans), and yet, here’s what the coach had to say about last night’s game.

“You should go in there and get a locker, alright. You should go in there and get a locker. Because that’s our problem. We’re [censored] talking about who’s getting shots instead of worrying about getting stops…

It has nothing do with offense. I don’t even know why you would bring that up, alright. It’s all about our focus from a defensive standpoint.

We come to a timeout, we’re worried about, ‘We turned the ball over there. Let’s look to throw it in the post—no let’s look to get some defensive stops. Now, you want to ask another offensive question? Because I’m not answering any offensive questions.”

It’s not the first time that Wittman has lashed out at a reasonable question, and it won’t be the last. Anyone who has asked the Wizards’ coach a question has at one point or another listened as the answer came back molten with indignant rage. That’s not the point. Last night’s addition to the scrapbook jumps a pile of cigar-smoking, laser-toting sharks, but it isn’t materially more or less silly than the last time Wittman refused to acknowledge that his offense was broken when questioned by the press.

After the loss to the Kings, Bradley Beal echoed his coach when speaking to the media:

“I think we were selfish defensively. We weren’t helping each other, especially in pick-and-rolls. We were doing concepts we weren’t even planning on doing tonight. It just creates a lot of opportunities for them, open 3s, easy layups, uncontested layups. We were just out of sync. We were out of character. We weren’t playing our style of basketball.”

Coaches say things, sometimes. What Wittman tells the media may not reflect the existential terror in his heart, or even his postgame debriefing to his team. But over the course of the year, Wittman’s players have toed the party line again and again. There’s no indication, in this case, that Wittman’s responses to media are in any way a matter of coy misdirection when he blames the Wizards fifth-ranked defense for loss after loss.

Back on March 4, 2015, Bradley Beal blamed defensive issues, specifically two of Wittman’s favorite ideological whipping boys, selfishness and “shortcuts,” for Washington losing 12 out of 15 games, despite obvious issues with the offense over that stretch. Wall and Pierce insisted that “defense” was the problem.

After a 99-97 win on March 6 against the Miami Heat, in which the Wizards almost blew a 67-39 halftime lead and barely scored 30 points in the second half,  Wittman and John Wall opened their press availability in eerily similar ways when asked essentially the same question:

“Movement, both player and ball. We stopped defending.” —Randy Wittman

“In the third quarter we didn’t move the ball as much, we didn’t defend.” —John Wall

These guys are professional. They listen to their coach. And their coach isn’t concerned about how the team plays offense, at least not about from where and from who the shots will come. It’s a nice idea, though. Wouldn’t everyone like to believe that through merely sharing the ball and shooting when open, a team could become more than the sum of its parts? That the offense will simply take care of itself? Sorry to disappoint any basketball idealists, but the rest of the league is putting real thought into imposing the “who” and the “where” and the “how” while the Wizards just read and rely on what’s available from opposing defenses on any given night.

As the quotes above hint at, “ball movement” is about as far Wittman will go in describing what the Wizards are doing on offense. But “ball movement” is not a cure-all, it’s not a panacea. It doesn’t, on its own, fix anything. And Washington’s brand of ball movement is particularly frustrating. Sure, the ball moves, but it’s not going anywhere. As John Schuhmann wrote in an important early season piece, ‘[t]here is no correlation between ball movement and offensive efficiency.” In other words, you can pass the ball all you want, but if you’re not passing it with purpose, and looking not just for the first open shot, but for the best shot you can get in 24 seconds, then all those aesthetically pleasing passes won’t mean shit. Some of the worst offenses in the NBA, including Philadelphia, lead the league in passes per minute, per Schuhmann’s data from SportVU.

It’s too late for the Wizards to make a change this season, either in the way their offense operates, or in who operates it from the sidelines. But continually blaming the defense when your team can’t break 90 points using an offensive philosophy that your roster can’t support is like treating a virgin for chlamydia. Whatever actually ails the team isn’t getting any better. Eventually, you have to score. And when the Wizards score, they win! Washington has scored 100 points or more 30 times this season. They are 26-4 in those games, and two of those losses were in overtime (to Toronto and Oklahoma City). It’s not all about the offense, but knowing that your defense is plenty good enough to win if you score 100 points should be motivation enough to try to score 100 points.

Joining me today is Jordan Ramirez (@JRAM_91) of the excellent Warriors blog Warriors World. He was kind enough to answer some questions about the Warriors’ coaching transition, their league-leading offense and defense, where Harrison Barnes is heading, and Draymond Green’s value. Let’s get it.


Teams: Wizards at Warriors
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Warriors fav’d by 11.5 points.


#1) Randy Wittman hasn’t aged well as Washington’s head coach.

He built a sturdy house, but the kids are either all grown up or have been replaced with older, taller folks who need higher ceilings. In part, he was kept on after John Wall and Nene vouched for him in exit interviews. Steph Curry was a Mark Jackson fan, as well. How much value does the respect of a star player hold when making a decision on the coach, and how long did it take for Curry to embrace new coach Steve Kerr? 

@JRAM_91: Thankfully, a star player’s opinion isn’t the only opinion that matters. While Stephen Curry’s fandom of Mark Jackson was noted, the problems and hostility that Jackson built with management—and some players—was too much to overcome. Curry loves Jackson, largely for his faith and humanistic coaching style, but it was clear that in regards to on-court performance he wasn’t the coach that would take this team to a championship.

There’s a reason players don’t make personnel decisions, and another reason why I believe coach’s shouldn’t hold dual positions either (See: Doc Rivers and Stan Van Gundy). Management understood Curry’s appreciation for Jackson, but the obvious stale relationship with the organization was the final straw. Jackson improved the franchise from the slums, but the “cooks in the kitchen” knew they could find a better coaching staff.

It didn’t take players long to acclimate themselves to Steve Kerr. He’s just as much a “players’ coach” as Jackson, but more stern as a tactician with the help of Alvin Gentry and Ron Adams. The sacred locker room that was once a concern when Jackson left was far overblown, and the team has benefitted incredibly since the hire. Winning cures all, but Kerr has the perfect personality to not only relate to his players, but make them better as well.

#2) Speaking of Kerr and Jackson, Kerr’s version of the Warriors has managed to maintain (and improve) the defensive efficiency Jackson’s Warriors team established, and has the 2014-15 team first in defensive efficiency compared to third last season.

What has been the biggest change in how the Warriors play offense between last season (12th) and this one (1st)?

@JRAM_91: Kerr made it known from his introductory press conference what his offense was going to look like. In the mold of Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich, the offense was to be based on ball movement, spacing, cuts and exploiting matchups. While that may seem elementary, the Warriors’ teams of previous seasons failed to consistently establish any such traits.

Kerr, with the help of Alvin Gentry, established a system based on all of the aforementioned philosophies, and the moving Andre Iguodala to the bench and starting Draymond Green has given both units the proper jolt and stability those units were lacking. A group of willing distributors—including center Andrew Bogut—has allowed Kerr’s system to flourish in ways Jackson’s couldn’t.

#3) Talk to me about Harrison Barnes.

The Wizards considered him at No. 3 in the 2012 NBA Draft, and after a few years of real disappointment with the Warriors, he’s turned himself into a useful player in a really unexpected, spreadsheety way, excelling at corner 3s and shots at the rim. Do you see Barnes eventually being able to handle the ball on his own on the wing, or will he be closer to a 2013-14 Trevor Ariza?

@JRAM_91: Ah, The Curious Case of Harrison Barnes. He’s in the midst of his most productive stretch of his career, flourishing in the absence of Klay Thompson with 19.6 PPG on 69 percent shooting in his last three games. He’s benefitted from being moved into the starting lineup and being the beneficiary of doubles to Curry and the attention given to Thompson. As opposed to previous seasons, he’s not asked to be a primary scorer, instead focusing on adjusting his game to whatever benefits the team the most.

He’s definitely forming into the Ariza role, which for this team is what he should be. Jackson unfairly put him in a position to dominate with the second unit last season when he clearly has trouble handling and creating on his own. He’s given shots with the starting unit, and is taking advantage with the numerous 3-point opportunities, rebounds and his ability to run the break.

He’s not a superstar, but he’s contributing at levels that were unforeseeable last season. That’s the beauty of what Kerr is building with the Warriors: letting the game come to each of his players, putting them in the best positions to succeed with their given skills instead of forcing the inverse. Fans still daydream about Andre Drummond, but Barnes seems to have finally found his way.

#4) And what about Draymond Green? I know there’s been some chatter of late about him being a “max” player, but I’m not sure that NBA precedent supports such a contract. Where do you come down on his value?

@JRAM_91Is Draymond Green a “max” player in the ideals of what we used to associate a max player with, no. Is Green a “max” player by today’s economics of the NBA, yes. We used to only associate “max” players with superstars; players who were the unquestioned leaders of their team and, simultaneously, a face of the NBA. Green is neither, but that doesn’t diminish his importance to his team. He’s the “heartbeat,” a dual-threat that has transformed into an invaluable member to the best team in the NBA.

I don’t believe Green will receive a maximum contract offer this summer, but if does, the Warriors can’t afford to let him go. Green has the versatility to contribute greatly on both ends with timely shooting, court vision and defensive prowess to guard any position. He’s the Swiss Army Knife of the team, and while he may not be a “max” player in what we’ve grown to learn of such a term, he’s as influential as one to Golden State.

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-at-warriors-game-71.html/feed 0
Key Legislature: Wizards 86 at Kings 109 — Randy Wittman’s Math Doesn’t Add Up http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-86-at-kings-109-key-legislature-70.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-86-at-kings-109-key-legislature-70.html#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 17:47:15 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46194 Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 70 versus the Kings in Sacramento.
via Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) from the District.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Kyle Weidie.

Sunday’s loss to the Kings can be broken (or boiled) down into simple analytics. Or rather, math. Or just regular old addition. Let’s break down the equation by quarter:

1st Quarter

  • Sacramento starting a small lineup, featuring Rudy Gay and Omri Casspi at the 3/4; PLUS…
  • Washington not really having a good defensive game plan to compensate, along with bad switching leading to two Casspi first-quarter 3-pointers; PLUS…
  • Casspi also driving he ball down Nene’s throat, scoring eight points in the first quarter; PLUS…
  • DeMarcus Cousins hitting a couple jump shots and doing beastly work as per usual (10 first quarter points); PLUS…
  • The Wizards only really taking advantage of the size advantage once or twice; PLUS…
    Sacramento packing the paint on defense and the Wizards going 2-for-7 on 3s (mostly open attempts) because that’s a roster inefficiency; PLUS…
  • Nene’s inability to finish around the rim or be a better threat to pass out of the post (rather he’s only really a threat to pass it to cutters when standing still in the midrange); PLUS…
  • Kevin Seraphin and Drew Gooden being less than ideal on defense, leading Comcast’s Steve Buckhantz to point out how Washington’s starting big men have been getting into foul trouble early and that it “changes everything,” which is also to say that Washington’s bigs off the bench have sucked, somewhat; PLUS…
  • Gooden doing decent work to hit a long 2 and get a rebound put-back but later landing a slap-bound right in Andre Miller’s hands, who scored for Sacramento; EQUALS…
  • A 34-29 advantage for the Kings after one period.

2nd Quarter

  • Bradley Beal creating a corner 3 for Ramon Sessions and later Sessions hitting a runner seemed nice; PLUS…
  • Not only does Rasual Butler continue to be relatively cold, but he takes a lot of bad/forced shots; PLUS…
  • Seraphin was settling for halfcourt midrange jumpers off one pass; PLUS…
  • Derrick Williams continued to dunk all over fools and Boogie Cousins started getting hotter; PLUS…
  • Two (2!) Gooden long 2 misses off one pass and with plenty of time left on a shot clock. ‘Not passing up open shots’ is one of the bigger fallacies on Randy Wittman’s plate; you see the good teams pass up open shots for a better shot all the time, the Wizard often don’t; PLUS…
  • Paul Pierce checking in and hitting a long 2, but it’s not a bad long 2, as he very quickly scoped the floor for other options first. If anyone on the Wizards seems to know the value of a 3-pointer, it’s Pierce; PLUS…
  • John Wall getting caught gambling on Ray McCallum a couple times, so that definitely screwed up Wittman’s precious, offense-creating defense; PLUS…
  • Pierce getting mad because a foul wasn’t called in his favor on one end so he committed a flagrant and pushed Casspi on the break on the other end, causing Casspi to plow into a little girl sitting baseline. The little girl seemed to be OK, but not the best look from Pierce. But also, little kids shouldn’t be sitting so close to the action; PLUS…
  • Wall attempting risky passes, continuing to highlight how he still needs to mature as a game manager. This seemed to lead to over-passing or bad passing from the Wizards overall; PLUS…
  • Rudy Gay starting to get his, drawing a third foul on Pierce and soon after tossing Otto Porter aside like stick figure. Gay scored eight points in the second quarter and led the Kings with 15 at half; EQUALS…
  • Sacramento winning the second quarter 23-21 and leading at halftime, 57-50.

3rd Quarter

  • Nene having trouble with Cousins early in the third and then versus Rudy Gay on the switch; PLUS…
  • The Wizards offense having to move the ball ‘perfectly’ to even have a chance at scoring; PLUS…
  • More turnovers from Nene or him not getting a foul call (probably because he complains to the refs a lot); PLUS…
  • Beal looking for a foul call when Ben McLeMore beat him down the floor for points, putting the Kings up 13;  PLUS…
  • Boogie beating the Wizards down the floor for points, putting the Kings up 17 with 7:40 left in the third; PLUS…
  • Sacramento increasingly getting deflections and loose balls; Nene not hitting free throws; Wall not hitting shots and looking visibly frustrated; PLUS…
  • Boogie crossing up Nene off the dribble; PLUS…
  • Wall driving and passing but Gortat and Sessions were clogged together on the court so the ball just rolls to the 3-point line with no one there; PLUS…
  • Wizards not getting back on D, Kings hitting 3s, bricks falling, Sessions getting back-cut by McCallum, general ugliness; PLUS…
  • Gortat tried working on the boards and Wall tried to find him off screening action a couple times but it didn’t really matter; EQUALS…
  • Sacramento winning the third quarter 33-20, shooting 2-for-6 from 3 (Wizards 0-4) and 9-for-10 from the free throw line (Wizards 2-6).

4th Quarter

  • Martell Webster in the game and missing bad shots as per usual; PLUS…
  • Turnovers collecting like rain water in a bucket; PLUS…
  • The Wizards trying to set up Drew Gooden for 3 as the trailer (he missed); PLUS…
  • Toure’ Murry getting to play (and missing from midrange); PLUS…
  • Webster not being able to finish an alley-oop from Sessions; PLUS…
  • The offense becoming everyone watching Kevin Seraphin, or whomever has the ball, post up; PLUS…
  • Rudy Gay turning Seraphin into Shaqtin-a-Fool candidate; PLUS…
  • Wittman really waving the white flag by taking Wall out with 9:10 left and the Wizards down 21; PLUS…
  • Otto Porter and DeJuan Blair checking in as anti-victory cigars; EQUALS…

A 16-point fourth quarter, AND…

  • Washington’s offense looking no better than it probably looked on the first day of training camp; AND…
  • Wittman insisting that the problems aren’t with the offense, or rather just conveniently ignoring his unquestionably poor system layered atop an insufficient roster; AND…
  • The Wizards suffering an embarrassing 23-point loss in a game that they were never really in; AND…
  • Sacramento’s average lead was 10.6 points, AND…
  • After climbing within one point with 8:12 left in the second quarter, the Wizards never got closer, getting outscored 70-48 over the rest of the contest on 37.5 percent shooting and 0-for-9 from 3-point land to go with 10 assists to 12 turnovers.

BUT where’s the game-defining moment? The legislature that was key?

“Legislature” is defined, by a place called Wikipedia, as “as state’s internal decision-making organization.” Or, as a piece of legislature (or law), the institutional framework that defines a system.

The Wizards are getting to the point where relatively vague measurables like “effort” vary wildly from game to game and the only constant is the set of rules which govern Washington’s offense, currently ranked 15th in the NBA, which is severely limiting for a team with any sort of aspirations. The governor of Washington’s offense, Randy Wittman, insists that the problem is his fifth-ranked defense. And while there is always something to creating easy offensive chances with good defense, such a take is obscenely ignorant to the problems at hand.

What say you, governor? 

Not that it’s a rarity to see a coach so stubborn, so intentionally (or unintentionally) oblivious to what ails his team. Whether it’s lack of 3-point shooting, or lack of driving, or lack of free throws, or lack of movement and spacing, for every one finger pointing at “defense” or “effort” there are three fingers pointing right back at the coach.

Will the coach eventually right the ship for the playoffs? (The plan right now seems to be: don’t change anything this late in the game; survive the regular season ass-backwards; and hope for an uptick in ‘effort metrics’ for the playoffs.)

Not sure what’s worse, the system that betrays the talent level or the organizational denial waiting to release an “I told you so” should Cinderella’s slipper somehow fit to satisfaction in a first round-playoff matchup that shouts “We’re doing just enough, thank you.”

It’s just one game … or more of the same.

 

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-86-at-kings-109-key-legislature-70.html/feed 1
DC Council 70: Wizards at Kings — Embarrassed in Sactown http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/dc-council-70-wizards-at-kings-embarrassed-in-sactown.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/dc-council-70-wizards-at-kings-embarrassed-in-sactown.html#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 17:28:07 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46186 Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 70:
Washington Wizards versus the Sacramento Kings in Sleep Train Arena.
Contributor: Troy Haliburton from the other coast.DC-Council-Logo-2

The Wizards keep finding ways to embarrass themselves. Sunday’s loss to the Kings hurts just as bad, if not more, than that that terrible night in Philly on February 27. At least the game against the 76ers was semi-competitive and the Wizards made a legitimate run toward the end to try to avoid being upset. At Sleep Train Arena against Sacramento the Wizards were run out of the gym by a team that is 20 games under .500. The second-half Washington Wizards looked more like the Washington Generals, as the Kings threw down highlight dunk after dunk. Boogie Cousins mean-mugged, Rudy Gay looked like a guy fulfilling the obligations of a franchise player’s contract, and the Sacramento crowd roared.

This game should have been an easy way to boost road confidence before the playoffs. Instead, we spend the next few hours before a game against the NBA’s best team trying to figure out if last week’s five-game winning street was a sign of growth or just a lucid dream.

demarcus cousins nene


Washington Wizards

86

Final

Box Score

Sacramento Kings

109

Nene Hilario, PF

19 MIN | 3-8 FG | 5-8 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -15 +/-

Nene did not bring the low-post scoring threat and physicality that the Wizards have grown to expect from him. It is especially perplexing that more offensive plays weren’t drawn up for him to take advantage of the fact that the Kings started Rudy Gay at power forward. More recently Nene has been settling for too many of those midrange jumpers and struggling to finish through contact at the rim.

Oh yeah, and this happened:


Paul Pierce, SF

17 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -14 +/-

Aside from an outburst of 3s in Utah, Pierce has looked exceptionally old on this road trip. Maybe he just needs some rest, because his legs were sturdy for long stretches of the five-game winning streak.

The Wizards need Pierce to hit his 3-point shooters, as he’s stepped up as their de facto designated shooter over the last month. Pierce’s 0-for-3 showing from deep on Sunday was a letdown, even if that is more indicative of Washington’s team 3-point dysfunction than any expectation on Pierce individually. Even more of a grievance than the missed 3s was the fact that in two consecutive games, Pierce has given up momentum-swinging flagrant fouls. Being a 17-year veteran, The Truth has to be aware that these mistakes can be costly in closer games.


Marcin Gortat, C

23 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -19 +/-

Two minutes into the game, Gortat was doing his patented head-scratching after a mistake—something Wizards fans did a lot of after the game. Gortat and Nene struggled to defend DeMarcus Cousins all night long, and Gortat’s hands let him down this game, as the ball seemed to be constantly be slipping through them like a greased pig.


John Wall, PG

33 MIN | 3-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 9 PTS | -21 +/-

A clear off night for Wall shooting, but the real sign of a superstar is how they positively impact their team even when their shot is not there. As the leader of the Wizards, John is still learning how to gracefully shift in and out of gears on the court and take over games. He didn’t do either last night, though he has had success doing both in the recent past.

Wall’s swarming defense on opposing point guards was a main reason for the five-game winning streak, but he seemed to be a step behind Kings starter Ray McCallum, who outplayed Wall by going 5-for-9 from the field and scoring 13 points.


Bradley Beal, SG

27 MIN | 8-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 19 PTS | -12 +/-

If there was one positive takeaway from this game, it was the fact that Bradley Beal looked like he had a little spring in his step and actually played with some fluidity in an immobile Wizards offense. Beal used his athleticism to bounce of screens and make decisive cuts to the basket, allowing him to finish at the rim instead of fading away into long 2s. Beal even was able to show some play-making skills of his own, dishing out four assists.

The one negative drawback from Beal was going 1-for-4 from deep. In order for the Wizards to have postseason success, Beal is going to have to join Pierce on the 3-point gunship.


Drew Gooden, PF

23 MIN | 5-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -2 +/-

Gooden continues to fill in as admirably as he can (at this stage of his career) for the injured Kris Humphries, who missed his 12th straight game. In the first half of action, Gooden was active on the boards and the jump shot was falling.


Toure’ Murry, SF

9 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -4 +/-

Murry may have missed his best opportunity to prove his value to this team and latch on for the rest of the season after his second 10-day contract expires. With the way Otto Porter and Rasual Butler have played recently, Murry needed to show that he could do something (anything) positive for the Wizards on the wing. This was Murry’s first significant game action since the four minutes he played against Memphis the day he was signed. With Garrett Temple expecting to come back soon from a hamstring injury, I suspect this may be the last non-transaction word written about Murry this season.


Otto Porter Jr., SF

5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3 +/-

Porter played only garbage-time minutes, and for the first time this season I understand why he was not plugged into the game. The way he failed at staying with Hedo Turkoglu (the captain of the “keep getting those checks” team) in Los Angeles was embarrassing, and he did not earn earn the right to significant playing time yesterday.


Martell Webster, SF

12 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -3 +/-

I must have been dreaming, but did Martell really show flashes of 2013-14 last night? Albeit in garbage time, Webster looked like an NBA small forward. With the Wizards glaring needs at the wing position, Webster has earned a legitimate shot at 10-15 minutes of playing time over the next few games to see if he can crack the playoff rotation. If he can even give the Wiz 75 percent of what he was two seasons ago, that is an upgrade for the bench.


Rasual Butler, SF

20 MIN | 1-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -9 +/-

Rasual may have fooled us all with some nice moments during that five-game winning streak, but he has been unreliable for much of 2015. I still think the best way to utilize whatever Rasual has left is by putting him on total ice until the playoffs, and then breaking out the ice pick in emergency-only cases.


Kevin Seraphin, C

21 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -4 +/-

Yesterday was a jump-hook-not-falling kind of day for Seraphin, and when that happens he tends to have little to no impact whatsoever on the outcome of games.


Ramon Sessions, PG

26 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -7 +/-

Well, what do you know? Ramon Sessions can make a contested layup … and runners (unlike Eric Maynor, who is apparently now playing in Italy).


Randy Wittman

After the game Randy Wittman refused to answer questions about the offense, stating that it was the defense that was the problem. Those types of comments are criminal given the 86-point offensive output.

Wittman’s offense seemed as stagnant as ever, with almost no motion besides a few nice Beal basket cuts. He was out-coached from the tip when George Karl went with Rudy Gay as his stretch 4 and, as usual, it took Wittman longer than necessary to make adjustments.

Washington’s shot chart was filled with patented Wittman-ball long 2s, and the Wizards only scored an abysmal 0.87 points per possession. Maybe Wittman should think about becoming a full-time motivational speaker since #effort and #focus are what he preaches in wins and losses alike. But it’s damn sure more complicated, and more about basketball realities, when his Wizards lose like this.

Wizards shot chart


]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/dc-council-70-wizards-at-kings-embarrassed-in-sactown.html/feed 0
Opening Statements: Wizards at Kings, Game 70 http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-at-kings-game-70.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-at-kings-game-70.html#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2015 19:55:31 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46178 dc-logo-over-kings-logo

After getting caught California dreaming by the Clippers on Friday night, the Wizards will look to get back on track against the pesky Kings. The last time the Wizards and Kings met, a little over a week ago, history was made in the form of an unprecedented comeback and leap aheaf that the NBA had never seen before. It took a fire and brimstone speech (or just some silent #WittmanFace) from Coach Randy Wittman at halftime and for All-Star John Wall to remember who he was as the Wizards outscored the Kings 67-33 in the second half, leading them to a 16 point win after trailing by 18 points. While that turnaround was impressive, it should be even more concerning to get down by that large of a margin to a team that is 20 games under .500. But after the February from hell, Wizards fans will take whatever little bit of prosperity they can have, even if it feels like one of those pointless Guinness World Records for something we’ve never heard of.

The calling card for the Wizards over that five game winning streak was getting back to the defensive ways that allowed them to be a more fearful NBA force in 2014 than the mediocre ball club they have proven to be in the early months of 2015. During the five game winning streak, the Wiz were allowing opponents to shoot just 41.5 percent from the field and an even more impressive 22.7 percent from 3-point range, well below their season average of 34 percent from 3. The opposite case was true in the Wizards streak ending game against the Clippers, Washington gave up 113 points on 50.3 percent shooting from the field and a whopping 52.2 precent from downtown. There is no shame in having an off-night against the second best offense in the NBA, but not eventually driving a red hot J.J. Redick off the 3-point line is inexcusable. There is damn sure no specialist similar to Redick on the Kings, who are one of only three teams who actually take less 3s than the Wiz.

Sunday’s game should be a conditioning exercise on how to win on the road. If the Wizards want to build on their success from last year, then winning games away from the Phone Booth needs to become more of a priority. The Wizards have lost 10 of their last 12 games on the road, which has significantly dropped the team’s road record on the season to 15-19. The more clarity that we get with the Eastern Conference playoff hunt, the more likely it appears that the Wizards will not have home-court advantage in an opening round series. Winning road playoff games was a strength last year, as the Wizards were 5-1 in road games last postseason.


 

Teams: Wizards at Kings
Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, California
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards favored by


 

As we all learned last Saturday, the Kings will not just roll over and give the Wizards a confidence-boosting win. Washington will have to take control of their own destiny, and hopefully it won’t take a historic comeback to get it done. The Kings have been pretty good recently at home, boasting a four-game winning streak at Sleep Train Arena. The most telling factor of the outcome of this contest could be the availability of the Kings all-star, DeMarcus Cousins, who has missed the last two games with a strained right calf. The Kings are just 2-13 in games where Cousins has not played this season. Leading the Kings in Cousins’ stead will be Rudy Gay, who missed last Saturday’s meeting with some knee soreness. Gay looked spectacular in the Kings’ last game, scoring 33 points in a victory over the Charlotte Hornets. Gay plays the position that the Wizards have the most trouble defending. While Paul Pierce is serviceable on the defensive end, he lacks the foot-speed to stay in front of athletic small forwards, and don’t get me started on Otto Porter. If he can’t close out on Hedo Turkoglu, then how the hell is he supposed to chase around after Gay?

With the NBA’s best team, the Golden State Warriors on the schedule for Monday night, a win versus the Kings seems a little more important as a confidence booster and insurance against a losing record on this current West Coast trip. It is Sunday, and I hope Randy Wittman made it to church this morning so he won’t feel bad for lighting a fire under his team’s ass. Or maybe for once the Wizards will play the complete team game that the fans have been hoping for.

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/opening-statements-wizards-at-kings-game-70.html/feed 0
Key Legislature: Wizards 99 at Clippers 113 — About That Make/Miss League http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/key-legislature-wizards-99-at-clippers-113-about-that-makemiss-league.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/key-legislature-wizards-99-at-clippers-113-about-that-makemiss-league.html#comments Sat, 21 Mar 2015 21:42:22 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46166 Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 69 versus the Clippers in Los Angeles.
via Chris ‘Thompson’ (@MadBastardsAll) from just south of D.C.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Chris ‘Thompson’.

The Wizards have dropped games this season due to all kinds of internal and external circumstances—a self-limiting offense, poor roster depth, turnovers, cold-shooting, injuries, Otto Porter turning into a statue at the worst possible moment (I kid, I kid)—but, despite all their frustrating ups and downs, it hasn’t often been the case that a relatively healthy Wizards starting lineup just gets thoroughly outclassed by the opposing group. Measured against some of the infuriating #SoWizards ways they’ve killed themselves over the previous 68 games, the experience of watching them just go out and lose a fair game because the other team is just, you know, better at basketball is almost refreshing.

See, hard as it may be for Wizards fans to believe, this is generally how other NBA teams lose games. They don’t devote whole possessions to satisfying some antiquated aesthetic preference for how the game ought to be played; they don’t leave bench units in for several minutes too long at a time; they don’t drop double-digit leads because the whole team, all at once, forgets to do or how to do the very things that got them into the lead just minutes earlier; they don’t refuse to use players in efficient ways and then chalk the whole thing up to nebulous, unverifiable concepts like focus. No, generally speaking, two NBA teams take the floor, both teams play a credible brand of basketball, and one team is just better than the other. If you’ve been aching for the Wizards to join the realm of NBA teams that can be taken seriously on a nightly basis, losing in a way that is not gruesomely self-inflicted can be seen as a positive step, in just the right light.

Washington briefly had the lead: 44 seconds into the first quarter and with the shot clock winding down on an opening Wizards possession in which the ball never crossed below the 3-point line, Bradley Beal swung a pass to Paul Pierce on the wing, and Pierce nailed a contested 3-pointer. Ninety seconds into the first quarter, with the game tied at three, Marcin Gortat received a John Wall pass at the free throw line and confidently knocked down a 16-foot jumper. Decent start! For the first few possessions, the Wizards were right there with the Clippers, on the Clippers’ home court.

Four-and-a-half minutes into the first quarter, the Clippers took a six-point lead, and that was as close as the game would ever get for the rest of the night.

The Clippers wound up winning the game by 14 points, but the final margin, and Washington’s inability to draw any closer than six points over more than 43 minutes of basketball, will obscure the fact that, for long stretches of the game, the Wizards were more or less trading shots with the Clippers. And, on paper, the numbers from that stretch aren’t particularly gruesome: the Wizards shot 33-of-78 from the floor, took 16 3-pointers to Los Angeles’ 17, attempted and made significantly more free-throws, turned the ball over just eight times to the Clippers’ 14, and even managed to outdo the Clippers on the offensive glass, eight to seven. The difference then, I suppose, is the distribution of shots, right? I mean, that’s generally what we’re talking about over here in the bad, mean world of mean mean Wizards bloggers, isn’t it?

Not so! Have a look at this Wizards shot chart from the shall-we-say noncompetitive final 43-plus minutes of action:

Wiz Shot Chart from WizClips

OK, so, it’s less than ideal: only two 3-point attempts from the corner, more midrange jumpers than shots at the rim, and accuracy from both those areas that may ruin your appetite. We’ve seen worse, more lopsided shot-charts than that, but if I showed you that shot-chart without telling you the outcome of the game, you’d guess the Wizards probably lost.

Now, have a look at this:

Clips shot chart from Wiz Clips

That’s the Clippers’ output over that same stretch. Look at how infrequently they got to the rim! Look at the midrange attempts! My God, look at the midrange attempts. Those are numbers that make even Randy Wittman do a spit-take. The Wizards even outscored the Clippers in the paint (40-34).

The major difference, here, is in the colors: where Washington’s chart is all red and yellow (and even brown) in the key areas of the floor, there’s a whole lot of green on L.A.’s. The long and short of it is this: the Clippers were just so much more successful from those areas than the Wizards, and that’s because the Clippers are just—that’s right—better from those areas.

This sort of leads us to why a team like the Wizards can’t afford to simply trade shots with a team like the Clippers: the shot types the two teams were taking (heavy on midrange jumpers and above-the-break 3-pointers) represent areas of strength for the Clippers. They’re in the NBA’s top six in field goal percentage from every midrange area, and they’re shooting three percentage points better than league average on above-the-break 3-pointers for the season. If the Clippers have incorporated those shots into their offense, it’s probably because they’re damn good at making them.

The Wizards gave a fairly game effort. Without regular stops they were unable to get their transition game into gear, finishing with just nine fast break points. They spent the second half clawing their way into little five- and six-point mini-runs that never seemed to bother the Clippers, and their persistent inability to string together stops or really disrupt Chris Paul’s rhythm kept the Wizards at arm’s length or beyond for much of the night. DeAndre Jordan put up some gaudy rebounding numbers—he out-rebounded Washington’s entire starting lineup, for example—but it’s worth noting that the teams tied in offensive boards, and the Wizards were out-rebounded by 10 defensive rebounds in a game in which they missed eight more field-goal attempts than the Clippers. The difference in this one really was that the Clippers are a better team at scoring from the areas in which both teams were doing most of their work.

It would be easy to chalk this up to a defensive breakdown—they did give up 113 points, after all—but it’s hard to fault them too much when they mostly kept the Clippers away from the rim (18 total attempts in the restricted area), out of the corners (six attempts), and off the line (just 17 free throw attempts). In a process coaching sort of way, they did what you’re supposed to do by keeping your opponent away from the highest efficiency areas. It just so happens that this Clippers team is the rare one that can flip even that kind of success on its head and make it a spectacular failure.

This would be a fine time for Coach Wittman to talk about a make/miss league. The Clippers made shots. That’s what they do. The Wizards did not. That’s … well, no comment.

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/key-legislature-wizards-99-at-clippers-113-about-that-makemiss-league.html/feed 0
DC Council 69: Wizards at Clippers — 3 (Point) Sheets to the Wind http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/dc-council-69-wizards-at-clippers-3-point-sheets-to-the-wind.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/dc-council-69-wizards-at-clippers-3-point-sheets-to-the-wind.html#comments Sat, 21 Mar 2015 17:57:29 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46161 DC-Council-Logo-2

In a way, the Wizards’ 113-99 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers wasn’t as bad as the score suggests.

The first of J.J. Redick’s four 3-pointers came at the 9:55 mark of the first quarter and gave the Clips a 6-5 lead that they refused to relinquish no matter how many mildly-threatening runs Washington made. Los Angeles led by as many as 16 in the first three quarters, but the Wizards turned 16 Clippers turnovers into 21 points to stay afloat throughout. Despite trailing for 45 minutes and 55 seconds of a 48-minute game, the Wizards weren’t completely out of the contest until the Clippers went on a run to put it away in the final four minutes.

Yet no matter how close the Wizards got or how many slick plays John Wall made, one never got the feeling that Washington was going to suddenly surge out in front. It was the Clippers’ game to lose, and they never made much of an effort to give it away. Especially in the first half, it often felt like a varsity squad was taking on the JV team, but the JV team was allowed one player from the varsity squad to stay competitive (guess who that player was).

The Wiz got as close as 94-88 with just less than nine minutes left—an early indication that Washington’s 11-game streak of holding opponents under 100 points was soon to fall to the wayside—but the ensuing possessions didn’t exactly have the Clippers shaking in their booties.

Here’s what the next eight Wizards possessions looked like:

  1. Kevin Seraphin misses a nine-footer
  2. Ramon Sessions misses a 3
  3. Bradley Beal misses a 3
  4. John Wall misses a 17-footer
  5. Wall dunks
  6. Beal misses a 16-footer
  7. Nene misses a 15-footer
  8. Sessions misses a layup (oh, no way!)

While the Wizards were busy dicking around on midrange jumpers with a Wall-Sessions-Beal-Gooden-Nene/Seraphin lineup, the Clippers had their starters in and scored nine points to bump their lead from six to 13.

On that note, let’s get to some grades, shall we?


Washington Wizards

99

Final

Box Score

L.A. Clippers

113

Nene Hilario, PF

26 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -16 +/-

It’s cool that Nene can make midrange jumpers with a fair bit of reliability, considering that shot is what this antiquated offense is built around, but he might just be an enabler. If the Wizards didn’t have any players who could shoot long 2s, would they still rely heavily on long 2s? If a tree falls and nobody is around to hear it….

Nene was certainly not the least inept of the Wizards on Friday night, but he wasn’t about to earn All-Star consideration with his performance either. He was tasked with marking Blake Griffin for most of the game—never an easy job—and that didn’t go well.

Griffin notched 22 points on 19 shots, but it wasn’t his high-flying act that did Nene in. No, Nene fell victim to his own game: the midrange game. Griffin was given open look after open look from the elbow, and he knocked down a fair share of them.

Still, credit to the Brazilian big man for refusing to let Griffin put him on a poster, and the flagrant he received for playing solid defense was bullshit.


Paul Pierce, SF

30 MIN | 2-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -20 +/-

This was not Pierce’s best game, and the 2-for-11 sorta speaks for itself. After draining a 3 to start the scoring, he then missed his next eight shots from the field. Some were good looks that just didn’t go in, others were forced shots that shouldn’t have been taken, especially when he was ice cold.

Credit the wily vet though. As Chris Paul tried to take him one-on-one in the first period, the 37-year-old Pierce stayed with the 29-year-old Paul, didn’t bite on his fakes, followed him under the hoop, blocked his reverse and secured the rebound. Kudos, ol’ timer.


Marcin Gortat, C

29 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -18 +/-

On paper, Marcin Gortat wasn’t bad. And he was aggressive early, shot the ball well, made a few nice passes near the basket, and stayed out of foul trouble.

Nobody likes going up against DeAndre Jordan (or the Clippers), but Gortat is listed at 6-foot-11. How can you be 6-foot-11 and be so unintimidating in the paint? Five rebounds for the game(1) is unacceptable when Jordan is out there pulling down 23(2).

Gortat grabbed the sixth-most rebounds in the game on Friday, behind Jordan, Nene, Griffin, Wall and Paul. That’s right, both starting point guards outrebounded the Wizards’ starting center. Even Otto Porter managed to grab three boards in 11 minutes, and Porter hasn’t been able to do anything well recently.

Gortat also made a brief appearance in garbage time, but Randy Wittman is so uncomfortable with him in the fourth that he came out before the game ended.


John Wall, PG

39 MIN | 7-18 FG | 4-5 FT | 6 REB | 10 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 19 PTS | -21 +/-

Ah yes, that one bright light, that shining beacon of hope. Not Wall’s best game by any stretch, but the thought of watching this game without him is shudder-inducing. Though he took too many long jumpers early in the shot clock, Wall did a nice job of distributing throughout the game and put his teammates in position to make shots or plays; they rarely made either.

The Wall-Star did everything he could to bring the Wizards back in the fourth quarter, and he nearly did, but it just wasn’t meant to be. He rarely pushed the ball in transition, perhaps because the team was exhausted, maybe because the Clippers excel in transition or possibly because he just didn’t have it in him. Whatever the reason, the tempered pace hurt the Wiz.

He also broke out his trademark 360° layup, which is always fun, and this one was especially enjoyable as he made Matt Barnes look like an ass in the process.


Bradley Beal, SG

37 MIN | 5-10 FG | 5-5 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | -10 +/-

For a guy that put up 18 points on 10 shots, Beal was really quiet. Most of his numbers piled up at the beginning of the second period, when he led the second unit in a surge to get Washington within single digits. After that, he basically disappeared.

The only two plays that stick out after that are the alley-oop he tossed to Wall in transition and the ridiculous, tentative nonsense he pulled another trip down the court, also in transition. On that play, Beal found himself without any teammates on the break and had a look at an open 3. He opted not to take the 3, instead dribbled in about two steps closer(3) to a defender and fired up a long 2 that barely grazed the front of the rim.

Aside from that, Beal will be most remembered in this game for allowing shooters wide-open 3s. The Clippers would set a screen on Beal, who sometimes went over and took the wrong angle and sometimes went under and gave up an easy 3. It was an awful game for the Panda on defense.


Drew Gooden, PF

21 MIN | 3-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -4 +/-

Drew Gooden had himself another surprisingly effective game, his third such game in a row. It obviously wasn’t even close to enough for the Wizards, and Griffin had his way with the defensively-challenged reserve, but good(en) on him for not embarrassing himself. After all, it’s not his fault he was forced to cover Griffin, and nobody should expect that to end well for Gooden.


Otto Porter Jr., SF

11 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +6 +/-

Sigh. Remember when we all had so much hope for the former Georgetown Hoya? Those were better times.


Martell Webster, SF

2 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +5 +/-

Laugh all you want, this might have been Martell Webster’s best game in a month. Yes, I realize he played two garbage-time minutes and scored just two points, but have you seen what he’s done the last month? It hasn’t been good.


Rasual Butler, SF

4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3 +/-

Casual Rasual Butler played 27 minutes against the Sacramento Kings on March 14, 16 minutes against the Portland Trail Blazers two days later, 11 minutes against the Jazz on Wednesday, and just four pitiful minutes last night against the Clippers. He played the final 47 seconds of the first period, missed a desperation heave at the buzzer, then didn’t re-enter the game until it was time to empty the bench. Randy Wittman’s Wild Rotation Extravaganza continues.


Kevin Seraphin, C

15 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +11 +/-

The good news is Kevin Seraphin hit a few of those hook shots that work for some inexplicable reason, and at least one came right over DeAndre Jordan.

The bad news is everything else Seraphin did on the court. Defense: awful. Rebounding: virtually nonexistent. Bothering the opposing bigs: Jordan and Griffin laugh at the suggestion.


Ramon Sessions, PG

27 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -6 +/-

Ramon Sessions etched his presence into the Wizards 2014-15 season highlight reel by chasing down the loose ball after Wall deflected a pass, then he found Wall streaking for his aforementioned spin cycle layup. That’s one thing I can’t knock him for: Sessions has impressed me with his hustle since coming to the Wizards.

Not much else has been very impressive, however. “Sesh” put up a long 3 early in the shot clock at one point, which is always a bad sign. He missed another layup and is now shooting just 45-for-107 (42%) from within five feet of the basket this year. His defense wasn’t exactly threatening, either.


Happy Vines

Sad Vines

Confusing Vine

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/dc-council-69-wizards-at-clippers-3-point-sheets-to-the-wind.html/feed 0
Wizards at Clippers in Tweets — CP3’s Empire Strikes Back http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-at-clippers-game-69-twitter-storify.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-at-clippers-game-69-twitter-storify.html#comments Sat, 21 Mar 2015 14:19:06 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=46155 #WizardsTwitter said WHAT?! Here’s the rundown, Twitter-style, via Storify, as hunted and gathered by the editors at TAI into this here blog post. Thanks if you happened to take part. The Subject: Wizards at Clippers, Game 69, Mar. 20, 2015.

Cry to your mama.

[via @recordsANDradio]

[via @recordsANDradio]


Washington Wizards 99
at Los Angeles Clippers 113


 

]]>
http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/03/wizards-at-clippers-game-69-twitter-storify.html/feed 0