Wizards Blog Truth About It.net http://www.truthaboutit.net Washington Wizards Blog, ESPN TrueHoop Network Sat, 28 Feb 2015 14:23:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Key Legislature: Wizards 81 at 76ers 89 — God Help Us If This Isn’t Rock Bottom http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-81-at-76ers-89-key-legislature-59.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-81-at-76ers-89-key-legislature-59.html#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 14:18:27 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45716 Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 59 versus the 76ers in Philadelphia,
via Chris Thompson (@MadBastardsAll) from the DMV.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Chris Thompson.

So, let’s wander afield for a minute or two. Imagine, if you will, that the exact position you are in, sitting or laying wherever you are, and exactly the whole person you are as you sit there, as a sort of inevitable sum of exactly every single thing that has ever happened in your whole life. Like, if you took a blank person—just a human template—and input into it exactly the details of your life, one long timeline of innumerable inputs, that this template would invariably be exactly you, sitting exactly where you are, reading this thing, wondering where the hell I’m going with this, and feeling a low-grade, persistent misery about the state of the Washington Wizards.

Who the hell can say whether that’s true. But, I don’t know, surely answering the question of why you’re sitting where you are right now, reading this thing, feeling the way you feel about the Wizards, is somewhat more complex than this is my favorite chair or my desk is here and I like to read at my desk. Why is that your favorite chair? Why is your desk positioned so, in this room? Why do you live in this place with this room and this chair? How did you assemble whatever preferences influenced your choice of place to live? Why, for the love of God, do you root for the goddamn Wizards? The how of how you came to be exactly who you are, where you are, right this minute, is infinitely complex.

This will be a fun way to answer your spouse the next time you are asked why you didn’t take out the trash last night. It will take you literally years to explain. That’ll teach her!

What I’m getting at, here, is this: the Wizards lost to the goddamn Sixers Friday night, in Philadelphia, and the task of pinpointing the why and how is, frankly, dizzying in its scope and implications. It’d be easy enough to point to John Wall’s horrific shooting night and abysmal body language, the recent and profound two-way uselessness of players like Rasual Butler and Drew Gooden, the palpable tension and frustration of the entire team (apparent from the very opening tip), the lack of finishing around the basket, the inability to engineer free throw attempts, and the staggering, fatally inept 3-point shooting that has recently plagued the team. Yes, in a very box-scored way of understanding how the Wizards came to lose Friday night to Philadelphia, to hit an all-new and crushing low in their humiliating spiral back into familiar obsolescence, the simple nuts and bolts stuff will suffice. They were outscored by the Sixers, and so they lost. Here is how they failed to score, etc., etc.

Mere shooting numbers, though, and the extent to which the final score of this game or the particulars of this slump or the trajectory of this season are conveniently explained by those numbers, would seem to obscure what I think we all kinda know is the basic truth of the bigger how: where the Wizards were as a team the moment the final buzzer sounded—exactly in the shape they’re in, pointed in exactly the sad, ultimately hopeless direction they’re pointed—was the only possible outcome of all the combined decisions along the way. Because where they are right now is bad—excruciatingly, apocalyptically bad—those actors most responsible for setting and maintaining the direction of their path to this place are, safe to say, not very good. That this is a truth we have mostly known about Ernie Grunfeld and Randy Wittman for virtually their entire respective tenures only reinforces the notion that this misery was the inevitable now-point of their combined influence. Maybe we’d all convinced ourselves otherwise along the way, but here we are, just where, realistically, the clear-eyed among us might have predicted at the outset of this unholy union.

If this all seems fatalistic, consider what most observers have long said about the self-imposed limitations of Washington’s basketball product, from the old and scavenged roster to the hilariously prehistoric philosophy of their offense to the exact particulars of its execution. Ultimately, without profound change, these things acted as a hard cap on what Washington’s core might otherwise be capable of. And, well, here we are, at the moment when the urgent necessity of profound change finally crashes all the way home.

Putting this collection of players together and saddling them with this offense and this coach and these substitution patterns, and all the rest of it, is simply asking too much of either the players or the gods of chance or both. If change was always going to be an inevitable necessity, this sobering crash downward through the Eastern Conference standings and this whole new low-point are, finally, and thankfully, at least an intellectual endpoint, if not an immediate organizational one. Because, seriously, anyone among us who thinks there is some way to solve this mess while incorporating the stewardship of Wittman or the management of Grunfeld is dismissible offhand. That notion is lunacy.

So, finally, here’s what happened Friday night in Philadelphia: Grunfeld assembled a horribly deficient roster out of spare parts, overwhelmingly as a series of band-aid moves to cover critical wounds of his own doing, and sent them out with a coach, in Wittman, who, through stubborn philosophical entrenchment and a persistent and generally hostile refusal to accept any personal accountability, has ground the already limited potential of his roster to sand. Because the owner doesn’t care much past patience and bottom lines, this stew was allowed to overcook to the point of spoilage. A team—in this case, Sam Hinkie’s cynically gathered near-random assembly of tall people who just want to play basketball and earn a paycheck—needed only a minimum dose of cohesion and belief to flush the whole damn thing. That’s what happened.

Of course it’s time for a change. Of course it is. What’s already in place brought us here, and here is nowhere.

 

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Opening Statements: Wizards at 76ers, Game 59 http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-at-76ers-game-59-opening-statements.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-at-76ers-game-59-opening-statements.html#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:17:49 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45698 Washington Wizards vs Philadelphia 76ers

If you’ve never lived by the 3, are you already dead?

“Live by the 3, die by the 3″ is a basketball adage that should now be considered as antiquated as the term from which it is derived: “live by the sword, die by the sword.” That was used in biblical times as a euphemism to the effect of, If you use violence, or other harsh means, against other people, you can expect to have those same means used against you.

The problem with that adage, in basketball terms, is that it insinuates that relying on the 3-point shot is hurting and not helping your team win. We have encountered this argument numerous times, and math wins, every time. Simply put, 3-pointers are 1.5 times more valuable than 2-pointers. Yeah, there is a lower percentage on 3-point shots, but the added point differential of 3-pointers having about double the per-shot variance in point outcomes as 2-pointers is well worth the risk. Smart basketball teams know this and use all of the little statistical bonuses to their advantage, because a low-percentage 3 (or shot in the paint) is worth more than an “open” look from 15 feet.

As crazy as it sounds, there is a very small cause for jealousy of tonight’s opponent, the Philadelphia 76ers, because of where they stand on the Big Data debate. In ESPN’s latest feature piece, “The Great Analytics Rankings,” The Sixers are the number one franchise in sports when it comes to use of analytics. The Sixers went all-in on analytics in the summer of 2013 when they hired GM Sam Hinkie from the Houston Rockets. Hinkie was a disciple of Daryl Morey, who is known throughout the sports world as one of the innovators in the application of analytics. The Sixers may not have much talent to showcase on the floor on a nightly basis, but at least they play with space and, of course, shoot 3s.

The Wizards rank 27th in 3-point attempts (16.3, the fewest attempts per game since 2010-11) despite the fact that they rank fifth in 3-point percentage (.364). The lowly 76ers rank 28th in 3-point percentage (.316) but somehow rank 11th in 3-point attempts (24.4).

Because the product on the court has been so underwhelming for the Sixers, it’s hard for them to reap the rewards of sowing fields of information, or innovation. The Sixers haven’t hit it big in the lotto like the Wizards did with John Wall and Bradley Beal (two players who fell into their laps), but at the rate they keep rolling over their assets, it’s only a matter of time before they will, and that’s as smart a plan as any.

Meanwhile, it’s still stomach-churning to think about what could have been if the Wizards would have hired an analytics knowledgeable coach like Steve Kerr, Mike Budenholzer, or even a Brett Brown. The Wizards are stuck with Randy Wittman’s outdated basketball philosophy that allows for long 2-pointers to be taken freely, as he explained to the Washington Post before the season:

“If a team wants to give us midrange open shots, we’re going to take them. I’m going to tell a guy that has a wide-open 15-foot jumper to take three steps back and shoot a 3? I’m not going to do that.”

Wittman and Ernie Grunfeld may be the primary suspects in the near negligent homicide of the Wizards, but John Wall has turned from innocent bystander to full-blown accomplice during the Wizards losing streak. In the last five games Wall has hit a proverbial “wall” in his production, watching his stat line drop dramatically. Wall’s per game averages are at 17 points, 10.1 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.8 turnovers for the season but just 13.6 points, 9.8 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.4 turnovers in the last five games. Wall has been steadily losing confidence in his improved jump shot, and there isn’t enough space on the floor for him to operate like there was early in the season, when the now-injured Bradley Beal and declining Rasual Butler were hitting their 3s.

It’s not only the fact that the Wizards refuse to incorporate 3s into their own offense, but the way they defend 3-pointers, too. The Washington defense has given up 162 points from 3-pointers on 42 percent shooting during the five game losing streak, while the offense has sputtered from behind the arc shooting a pathetic 21-for-90 on 3s (23%).

[Steph Curry must have a scouting report on how easy it is to shoot from 3 against the Wiz.]

The other two major tenets of playing analytical offense are: getting to the rim and getting to the free throw line. The Wizards aren’t successful at either, ranking 21st in shots attempted within the restricted area (25.6 per game), which most certainly coincides with them only shooting 22.7 free throws per 100 possessions (20th in the NBA). This has been a problem for years (and may be attributed, in part, to all the pull-ups from 15-19 feet).

The Wizards aren’t getting easy shots in the paint or at the line, and they definitely aren’t gaining any competitive advantage from taking 3s. It’s almost a miracle what they have been able to accomplish as the “Best Shooting Mediocre Offense in the Modern NBA Era.”

Circumstances are much different from when the Wizards demolished the Sixers 111-76 on Martin Luther King Day. This Wizards team needs a win by any means necessary Friday night in Philadelphia. Another loss would be a shot of blunt-force trauma to an already withering body. Apparently you can, in fact, survive if you’ve never lived by the 3. In the Wizards current state, which is beginning to feel like a medically induced coma, is that any way to live?

Stopping by Truth About It today is Wesley Share, assistant editor of the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate Hoop76.com.


Teams: Wizards @ 76ers
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA|
Television: CSN+
Radio: WNEW 99.1 FM / WFED 1500 AM
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 10


 

Q1. In ESPN.com’s most recent feature piece, “The Great Analytics Rankings,” there is a drastic difference between the 76ers, who were listed as “all-in” on analytics, and the Wizards who are “skeptics.”

Does it bring Sixers fans any solace in knowing that the franchise has done their proper due diligence to have the most educated re-building process possible, as opposed to a franchise like the Wizards, who are content with living in the basketball Dark Ages?

@wshareNBA: Since analytics are essentially just information, I’d say yes, the fact that the front office applies as much information as possible when making decisions does bring Sixers fans solace. I don’t know much about the dynamics in Washington’s front office when it comes to analytics, but it’s not even a debate to me—why wouldn’t you want as much information as possible available to your team when making decisions? Any team that resists adapting to the new landscape is simply at a disadvantage.

Q2. One of the more interesting and underrated trades on NBA deadline day was the Sixers/Rockets trade that sent rookie K.J. McDaniels to the Rockets for Isaiah Canaan and a second-round draft pick.

Do you feel as though the Sixers may have given up on a valuable young asset such as McDaniels too abruptly, and if his impending restricted free-agency and potential pay-off from gambling on his own prospectus was the deciding factor in the transaction?

@wshareNBA: The K.J. trade was super underwhelming, but I understand the logic. Getting major minutes with the Sixers and finding himself on highlight reels constantly, he was bound to get overpaid by someone this summer. The Sixers chose to get value for him while they still could rather than either overpay him or lose him for nothing. He’s going to be a very fun and useful 3-and-D player one day, but given his production, he’s just not worth the payday he’ll get in July.

Q3. Despite the lack of talent on the floor, the Sixers are playing with exceptional pace and getting good shots. Where does the fan base stand on second-year head coach Brett Brown?

@wshareNBA: The team is actually seeing 3.5 less possessions per game this season (101.6 down to 98.1), in part because they lost a couple so-called ball handlers in Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes at the deadline last year. As for Brown, we have reasons to be encouraged, but the jury’s still mostly out. Don’t get me wrong, he and his developmental staff have worked some wonders over the past year and a half—they taught Jerami Grant how to shoot 3s at the NBA level when he made zero at Syracuse last year, and coached a group of mostly D-League players to defend at a league-average level, to cite a couple examples. But it’s unclear whether he can coach an actual NBA offense because … well, he simply hasn’t had the opportunity to even try yet. I think it’ll be a little while before we can accurately and educatedly evaluate his head-coaching abilities.

Q4. Now that 2014 rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams is out of the picture, do you consider any players on the current roster who might actually be considered cornerstones for the future of the franchise (e.g. Nerlens Noel or Joel Embiid)?

@wshareNBA: Embiid is the only player currently on the roster that I would be legitimately stunned to see moved. He’s a cornerstone to me and, if healthy, potentially a generational talent. I think they’d listen on him if a team came calling—it’d be irresponsible for a team at their stage to take anyone off the table, really—but he’s the only player currently on the roster with the potential to be transcendent.

Q5. As Wizards fans know far too well, JaVale McGee can be an interesting character. So far he has said all of the right things in his short tenure as a 76er.

Do you think he can become the latest NBA reclamation project?

@wshareNBA: Reclamation project? Maybe. Here long-term? Doubt it. Hinkie even admitted that the team really only acquired him for the pick. He’s more likely to be a valuable expiring used for salary-matching purposes in a trade than anything else.

 

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The Journey of John: Wall’s All-Star Shines Bright http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/john-wall-nba-all-star-2015-new-york.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/john-wall-nba-all-star-2015-new-york.html#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:19:11 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45466 John Wall, All Star, Washington Wizards, New York City, Game, Truth About It, NBA, kyle lowry, jimmy butler, carmelo anthony, chris bosh

When the Washington Wizards removed the Gilbert Arenas banners from the side of the Verizon Center in January 2010, it signaled the end of the Agent Zero era. From where that scene occurred in D.C.’s Chinatown, you can take the Metro rail two stops to Union Station and then an Amtrak train up to New York City. I did, heading north for All-Star Weekend 2015.

The eyes of anyone exiting Penn Station on Sunday, February 15, were immediately met by a banner of John Wall, Washington Wizard. Another gigantic Wall motif was draped over the side of Madison Square Garden next door.

This view kept a humble Wizards blogger warm, and awestruck, through the frigid outside temperatures. The emotions of this moment were intoxicating because the signage symbolized not only Wall arriving on the national professional basketball stage but also a return to the same place where Johnathan Hildred Wall Jr.’s Wizards journey began.

On June 24, 2010, this Raleigh native walked across the MSG theater stage as the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. The next day, in Washington, D.C., the Kentucky star was presented with a plaque, and then-Mayor Adrian Fenty proclaimed June 25 “John Wall Day.” A red carpet was literally laid out for him as he entered the Verizon Center to adoring fans screaming his name.

At the event, a video was shown of local sports stars, politicians, dignitaries, and Wizards team staff doing Wall’s famous dance, welcoming him to the nation’s capital. Then-coach Flip Saunders declared him a “point guard from heaven” and compared Wall to Gary Payton. The entire D.C. basketball community was thirsty for a franchise savior. The 19-year-old kid had to be it.

The 2000s brought a few sugar highs for pro basketball fans in Washington, but the decade was mostly full of disappointment.

Michael Jordan’s leadership failures, the Big Three what-ifs, Arenas’ knee injuries, Damon F-n Jones, trading away a shot at drafting Stephen Curry, the lost interim coaching season of Ed Tapscott, the Kwame Brown debacle, Abe Pollin’s death, and “pick one” all brought discomfort to Wizards fans throughout the aughts.

Could Wall make this all go away? An unfair but nevertheless omnipresent question in the summer of 2010.

Wall began his NBA adventure as a fast-talking rookie with an ugly jump shot and poor eating habits. He had expectations longer than the Rock Creek Park trails placed upon him. But Wall instantly showed he deserved the hype. His speed was jaw-dropping. He put up numbers that compared to Oscar Robertson and entertained the fans with dances and big-time plays. But he couldn’t immediately cure the Wizards of their futile ways. He got stiffed out of a deserving NBA Rookie of the Year award because of  a technicality: Blake Griffin had sat out his first season due to injury and was eligible for the award in Wall’s class.

The 2011 NBA lockout meant that Wall’s second season, like the seasons of every other player, began late. The team’s struggles continued and his individual development stalled—he could only go Mach 1, the shaky jumper kept wobbling, and his sulking on defense became troubling. A dismal 2-15 start led to the firing of Flip Saunders.

Critics pounced on Wall’s early sophomore slump. The “coach killer” and “bust” labels were eagerly thrown around by media pundits who revel in throwing darts at young athletes.

Wall’s supporting cast did not help. The foils of Captain ‘Dray, JaVale McGee (a regular on “Shaqtin’ A Fool”), and Nick “Contract Year” Young, dragged him down on the basketball court. The 2011 draft class provided little assistance. The Wizards, even with Wall, were still losers. The perception that he could not make his teammates better was becoming permanent. But under the guide of Coach Randy Wittman, Wall slowly turned it around and bought into a defense-first approach.

Adversity struck again before Wall’s third season. In the fall of 2012, Wall was diagnosed with a stress injury in his left knee and missed the first few months of action. Without Wall, Washington bottomed out at 5-28. The “Game Changer” was so overlooked that Ed Davis was included in ESPN’s top 25 under 25 over him. There were whispers that Wall might be shut down for the entire season.

Instead Wall worked hard to return to the court. After missing the season’s first 33 games, he made his debut on January 12, 2013. His impact was electrifying.

All the hard work John had put into improving his jumper, pushed and coached up by then-assistant Sam Cassell, was on display. Late that March, Wall dropped a 47 piece on Memphis. The victories tallied up and Washington became a legit NBA team at home. They finished out the 2012-13 season with a 24-25 record with Wall.

Although he displayed significant strides, the carping class continued their assault on Wall. Michael Jordan’s agent and one-time Pollin nemesis, David Falk, ripped his ability; Stan Van Gundy declared him not worthy of a franchise label; several unnamed NBA executives echoed Van Gundy’s arguments; and a Washington Post columnist, Jason Reid, questioned the judgement of giving Wall a max contract because of his decisions to get tattoos. Seriously.

Wall’s next-level coming-out party transpired in 2013-14 season. He led the NBA in total assists, knocked down 108 3-pointers, participated in his first All-Star game, and won the Slam Dunk Contest. Most importantly, he finally delivered somewhat on those lofty team expectations, leading Washington to their first playoff appearance, and series victory, since 2005.

That brings us back to Valentine’s Day weekend in the Big Apple. Wall’s Wizards currently sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference at 33-25. Wall is propping up one of the best seasons in franchise history, even considering the team’s recent backslide. He is unselfish, a leader, and has become a nightly highlight Vine machine. The Wizards might not be championship material yet, but this is not because of Wall’s shortcomings. According to WAR (Wins Above Replacement), he is currently the fourth most valuable player in the entire league.

But a touching, very public moment that demonstrated Wall’s relationship with a little girl named Miyah showed a suddenly interested national audience that this was a player to root for. Last spring, he had gotten close to the adorable six year old, who was fighting a rare form of cancer. He helped arrange a meeting with pop star Nicki Minaj.

After he balled out in a double-overtime home victory over Boston on December 8, 2014, Wall broke down in a post game interview when discussing his little buddy. She had lost her battle the day prior. Wall’s heartfelt reaction showed a side of humanity that people want to believe their sports stars genuinely possess. This goodwill helped catapult him as one of top vote-getters in the All-Star balloting, which won him a starting gig.

His elevated status was apparent throughout the New York City weekend. Wall’s All-Star merchandise was featured at the stores of both the Barclays Center and the Garden, the two venues that split the weekend’s festivities. On multiple occasions, I witnessed dads asking NBA store employees for kid-sized Wall stuff. Wizards Wall gear was spotted in crowds of both of the arenas as well.

Wall was a busy man during NYC’s All-Star Weekend circus. His itinerary included playing the NBA2K15 video game, the All-Star Weekend Fashion Show, a Kanye West ‘fashion’ event, the NBA Fit Day of Service, along with an adidas store and a State Farm appearance. He also recorded a funny interview with a popular NY DJ and beat Steph Curry, the eventual 3-point shootout champ, in a game of H-O-R-S-E.

He spent Saturday night holding court with his University of Kentucky bros Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and Brandon Knight. And he gave Victor Oladipo advice on his slams.

Before Sunday’s prime-time game, Wall collaborated with fellow Eastern Conference point guards Kyle Lowry and Jeff Teague on the type of oops they were going to toss. During warm-ups, Wall joked with Russell Westbrook about his “shooter” celebration.

The All-Star game itself started slow and most of the players looked hungover, except for Wall, LeBron James and James Harden. John scored six early points with a nice dunk and a crossover. His most memorable play of the evening was a sick lob pass he threw up that unfortunately never became a highlight because LeBron missed the dunk. It was a surreal encounter to see him alternate trips down the court in the second half, with Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Rihanna on one side, and with President Bill Clinton, Kareem, and Dr. J on the other.

Wall was bestowed the honor of finishing out the game. Quite a reversal from being cut from Team USA six months ago.

The East squad came up short versus the West, 163-158. During the MVP presentation to OKC’s Russell Westbrook, Wall spent the entire time chatting up an engaged Kevin Durant. I could not resist envisioning their possible pairing one day.

There is no longer the need to use “coming out” for Wall anymore, because Sunday night inside the Mecca of basketball proved that D.C.’s superstar has already arrived.

All-Star Weekend from My POV.

John Wall, All Star, Washington Wizards, New York City, Game, Truth About It, NBA, Anthony Davis

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John Wall, All Star, Washington Wizards, New York City, Game, Truth About It, NBA, Jeff Teague, Boogie Cousins

John Wall, All Star, Washington Wizards, New York City, Game, Truth About It, NBA, jersey

John Wall, All Star, Washington Wizards, New York City, Game, Truth About It, NBA, Lebron James, Steph Curry, James Harden

John Wall, All Star, Washington Wizards, New York City, Game, Truth About It, NBA, Dunk Contest, 2015

John Wall, All Star, Washington Wizards, New York City, Game, Truth About It, NBA, kyle lowry, Damian Liillard

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John Wall, All Star, Washington Wizards, New York City, Game, Truth About It, NBA, Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol

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John Wall, All Star, Washington Wizards, New York City, Game, Truth About It, NBA, Melo, KD, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden,

 

VIDEOS.

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D.C. Council 58: Wizards at Timberwolves — Nobody Move, Nobody Passes http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/dc-council-game-58-wizards-97-at-timberwolves-97.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/dc-council-game-58-wizards-97-at-timberwolves-97.html#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 20:03:34 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45683 Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 58: Wizards versus Timberwolves in Minnesota.
Contributor: Sean Fagan (@McCarrick) from the Brooklyn.

DC-Council-Logo-2

Once in your life you’re going to run into that asshole professor who likes to prove a point by giving everyone in the class a failing grade while singling out one student for hurdling mediocrity and managing to pass whatever arbitrary standards the professor had put in place prior to the assignment.

This serves two functions: to cut the wheat from the chafe early in the semester and force those who can’t cut it out of the class, and also put a bullseye on the back of the one “passing student,” making he or she a target to exceed or measure oneself against.

So congrats, Nene, you’re the passing student, and I’m the asshole professor. You hereby earn a coveted letter grade of “B” on the night. You earned your passing grade by acting like you actually cared somewhat about playing a competitive basketball game, though your energy and zeal reminded me more of ‘Antawn Jamison about to flip the fruit platter in Indiana’ rather than a player exhorting his teammates to do something—anything—to come back in the game.

The rest of the Wizards? You are the faceless masses to which I just assign the grade “FAIL.” You can rage against my judgement, you can call my sanity into question, but I’ll use my tiny bit of power as the final arbiter to judge your efforts lacking.

Now, any student body is going to be full of complaints after suffering from what you may call my capricious whimsy… I can already hear the excuses forming in your mouths.

“We were not ready for the emotional return of Kevin Garnett.”

“John had an off night … that was bound to happen.”  

“That Wiggins kid: he was as good as advertised.”

“Whose idea was it to play Garrett Temple for 25 minutes?”

I’m asking you to spare me the excuses. Whatever elixir a decrepit Kevin Garnett may have offered for one evening, it should not have have been enough to inspire a 12-win team to a 20-point victory over a team that was supposed to compete in the Eastern Conference. Garnett is not enough of an excuse for total rebounding advantage of 10 for the ‘Wolves. It doesn’t explain the myriad asinine fouls committed that got the T-Pups to the line 28 times while you managed to sally forth for a grand total of eight attempts. Kevin Garnett CERTAINLY isn’t enough to explain a third-quarter shellacking in which ‘Wolves outscored you 32-18. Mind you that RICKY RUBIO, who can’t hit water from a boat, led the charge.

And now I’m going to do something I’ve never done. I’ll single out one particular person for failing above all others.

Step forward, Mr. Wittman, don’t be shy.

I know, I loved reading your praise of KG before and after the game. I am especially enjoying how there doesn’t seem to be any sort of panic in your behavior, because panic or any sort of concern would mean addressing a broken offensive system that degenerated into a tire fire. Even your vaunted defense was playing carousel. It would mean realizing that Rasual Butler is probably cooked for the season and needs to stop seeing floor time. Moreover, it would involve you showing any sort of adaptability as the Wizards continue to slowly slink back toward .500, wading into the ocean like Virginia Woolf with a bunch of pebbles in her pockets. You have become a bad influence and I think removing you from this class will benefit the learning process of those around you. Please pack up your clipboard and go.

Class dismissed.

 

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Key Legislature: Wizards 77 at Timberwolves 97 — Stood Up On Homecoming http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-77-at-timberwolves-97-key-legislature-58.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-77-at-timberwolves-97-key-legislature-58.html#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:59:03 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45660 Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 58 versus the Timberwolves in Minneapolis,
via John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) from Brooklyn.

DC Council Key Legislature

by John Converse Townsend.

There is only one home for Kevin Garnett, the Big Ticket. And that’s Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

A montage of Garnett’s dunks, swats, and other great moments as a college-age kid, set to Kanye West’s “Homecoming,” whipped a sold-out Target Center into a frenzy on Wednesday night. Moments after tip-off, which the T-Wolves won, Garrett Temple ripped the ball from Kevin Martin and ended up on the free throw line (he made both).

Flip Saunders, and the fast-beating hearts of Timberwolves nation, demanded the ball find Garnett’s hands. It got there, eventually, but KG missed the long jump shot. The T-Wolves secured the offensive rebound and the possession ended with Andrew Wiggins missing one of two free throws. That single free throw would be only point Minnesota would score until the 5:35 mark of the first quarter: Ricky Rubio set up Nikola Pekovic for a layup for the team’s first field goal of the game.

The Wizards didn’t take full advantage of being given a half-quarter head start. Sure, there were some nice plays—a John Wall nothing-but-net 3-pointer(1), and a Kris Humphries tomahawk jam—but they shot 8-for-25 in the opening quarter and led just 20-11.

Kevin Martin, who the Wizards half-heartedly chased before the trade deadline, got loose in the second quarter. He scored 16 points on seven attempts, converted two and-1s, and picked up two steals to pad his stats. Yeah, the Wizards have a problem defending the perimeter. Single-basket contributions from KG, Pekovic, and rookies Adreian Payne and Zach LaVine pushed the Timberwolves point total to 31.

Washington upped it’s field goal percentage from the first quarter by more than 13 points, but threw the ball away seven times (several unforced errors) and were outscored in the paint, in transition, and on second-chance points. They managed just 22 points in the period. At the very end of the first half, however, the Wizards had two great looks that—had they gone in—could have silenced the crowd: 3-pointers from the left corner. Martell Webster had the first shot, wide-open, but long. The Wizards secured the rebound, ran a similar set: drive, kick, dish.

Here’s the result:

If you can’t tell, that’s KG rotating like a young Jan Vesely(2) to defuse the long bomb.

And if you didn’t notice, the score was tied at halftime, 42-42. Yes, even after the Wizards led by as many as 15 points in the first quarter.

Temple and Porter led the Wizards in third-quarter field goal attempts. Step-back jump shots after handoffs, or contested long 2s (neither player is really able to dribble out of pressure), or an air-balled 3-pointer. They combined for 10 points on 12 attempts. The rest of the starters—John Wall, Nene and Marcin Gortat—added four more points on four attempts, total. Kevin Seraphin made a 15-footer with 37 seconds left in the third quarter.

At the end of three, the Timberwolves led by 14 and the game was over. The home team had attempted 25 free throws to that point, making 21. The Wizards were just 5-for-5. “It’s terrible. We’re not putting the ball on the floor from the wing and attacking,” said Head Coach Randy Wittman, when asked about the disparity.

The bigger issue: Wittman’s Wizards were playing with a spirit that was visibly broken.

No pot of #WittmanJava, no amount of mental physicality, or back-to-basics fundamentality, or respect for the game and Phil Jackson’s basketball gods, or even defensive intensity was going to save the Wizards. Not even a 3-point barrage … well, perhaps THAT could have brought them back, but the Wizards, down double-digits, attempted just one 3 in the fourth quarter.(3)

The Wizards scored 17 points in the fourth, their lowest output by quarter on the night. They were outscored 86-57 after the first period and 55-35 in the second half … by the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that came into the game with a dozen wins and 43 losses. There is no good excuse.

Not even injures to Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce. Flip Saunders was dealing with injuries, too: Anthony Bennett (sprained ankle), Robbie Hummel (broken hand) and the only other small forward on the roster, Shabazz Muhammad (ruptured finger ligament).

There is no good excuse. They played a terrible NBA team with an all-too-familiar offensive scheme, run by inferior players, and lost at their own game.

Now, I could wrap up with another case for what Randy Wittman should do differently, or pardon Wittman and blame Ernie Grunfeld’s roster construct for the Wizards struggles, or argue that if you’re not going to shoot 3s, and insist on playing big, THEN PLAY BIG and get to the free throw line more than 20 times a game. But I’m not trying to do that. And I don’t think anyone really wants to hear more about either, because the shortcomings of both men and managers have been clear for years (at least in these parts).

The Wizards are slow dancing in a burning room. And they think everything is fine, just fine. No amount of pixels from blog posts, numbers from stat geeks who couldn’t get girls in high school, or five-game losing streaks are going to convince them otherwise. They’re running a billion-dollar business, after all.

They have to come to that stark realization themselves. Which may not be easy.

Stacks and stacks of psychological studies, produced by Stanford University or Yale Law School, have shown that people respond to scientific or technical evidence in ways that justify preexisting beliefs, as Washington Post staff writer Chris Mooney explained in his article (for Mother Jones), “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe In Science.”

“In other words, people rejected the validity of a scientific source because its conclusion contradicted their deeply held views—and thus the relative risks inherent in each scenario.

[…]

“And that undercuts the standard notion that the way to persuade people is via evidence and argument. In fact, head-on attempts to persuade can sometimes trigger a backfire effect, where people not only fail to change their minds when confronted with the facts—they may hold their wrong views more tenaciously than ever.”

After the game, Randy Wittman told the media that the Wizards can’t feel sorry for themselves. “No one else but who is in that [locker] room is going to get this turned around. That’s the reality of it. We’ve got to get through it,” he said.

Woe is we! Heard it all before.

Adapt or die. The Wizards don’t even try. Which leads me to this, an offering: Prospero’s Precepts. “These eleven rules culled from some of history’s greatest minds can serve as a general-purpose guideline for critical thinking in all matters of doubt,” writes Maria Popova over on Brain Pickings.

Prospero’s Precepts

  1. All beliefs in whatever realm are theories at some level.(4) [Stephen Schneider]
  2. Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.(5) [Dandemis]
  3. Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.(6) [Francis Bacon]
  4. Never fall in love with your hypothesis.(7) [Peter Medawar]
  5. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.(8) [Arthur Conan Doyle]
  6. A theory should not attempt to explain all the facts, because some of the facts are wrong.(9) [Francis Crick]
  7. The thing that doesn’t fit is the thing that is most interesting.(10) [Richard Feynman]
  8. To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.(11) [Charles Darwin]
  9. It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.(12) [Mark Twain]
  10. Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.(13) [Thomas Jefferson]
  11. All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second, it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident. [Arthur Schopenhauer]

Schopenhauer, you are the man.

Have a nice day, folks.


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Do You ‘Take What the Defense Gives You’? Steve Kerr Gets Deep http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/take-what-the-defense-gives-you-randy-wittman-steve-kerr.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/take-what-the-defense-gives-you-randy-wittman-steve-kerr.html#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:30:18 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45612

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTeciecLJik

 

On offense, you “take what the defense gives you,” according to Randy Wittman, even often according to pupil Bradley Beal. Even according to other brilliant basketball minds.

On one level, it makes a lot sense. The NBA is fast—24 seconds on the shot clock fast—and open shots are a luxury, not a right. If you get an open shot, you should probably take it, regardless of where you are. Because the next shot might not be open. And, for a variety of reasons, as the shot clock ticks down, teams have less of a chance of making a basket. (1) You also want players reacting, not thinking about whether a shot in the moment is efficient or not, in theory. Maybe it’s more about how you’re training players to react (and think).

Take what the defense gives you, huh? On another level, it sounds like advice more appropriate for impatient teens in a church league. (2) NBA basketball is intricate. Millions of dollars are paid to players and significant fractions of that are invested in strategy of all types. If the defense gives you a lane or a layup or a wide-open shot, sure, you take it.

But, in an attempt to split hairs, from a coaching/offensive philosophy perspective: is ‘taking what the defense gives you’ really a mindset you want to impose on your players? ‘Hey, whatever the defense happens to leave unattended, go ahead and settle for it. Be a squatter, if you will.’

Defenses have become increasingly complicated and in turn, so have NBA offenses. Or maybe the egg came before the chicken. Either way, such complicated defenses often aim to ‘give’ or ‘allow’ shots that will benefit them. Defensive schemes might double-team good post players off of poor shooters, for example, because the perimeter players are poor shooters (meaning the post player is more of a threat). If an offense always takes what the defense gives them, then the shots are often going to be in the hands of those who can’t shoot, theoretically.

Again, we’re splitting hairs with an interpretation of a cliché. But, in the complicated and expensive game of professional basketball, every nugget provided to players counts. I will ask again: Do you have to belittle strategy by encouraging players to just accept what is available?

So with a mantra of the maligned Randy Wittman in mind, I posed the question to Warriors coach Steve Kerr, currently leading the NBA’s second-best offense. (3)

‘Coach, you often hear a phrase, ‘We take what the defense gives us.’ Is that the right mindset to put your players in? Or would you rather make the defense give you what you want them to give you?’

It was, admittedly, and handful of tangled noodles thrown against the wall by me. It wasn’t in a ‘gotcha’ sense, but rather an earnest attempt to pick the brain of perhaps the Association’s coach of the year … and, of course, a well-versed former member if broadcast media … and, of course, the holder of five NBA championship rings.

“This is getting deep …  [laughter from peanut gallery] … I have no idea,” said Kerr as he gathered how he wanted to respond.

“If I use that phrase next time I’m here, then you can ask me after the game. (4) I don’t really think I use that phrase very often. (5)

“I think the whole point of offense is to make the defense react and to make them make multiple decisions and rotations, and hopefully they make a mistake. But the more decisions and rotations a defense has to make, the more likely they are to make a mistake. To me, that’s the idea behind the offensive philosophy for anybody—you pass, you cut, you screen, and you try to confuse the defense. So, however you want to phrase that, that’s what we try to do.”

Here’s the deal: Is the philosophy that Kerr described much different from what any other NBA coach would say? I doubt it. If Wittman were asked, he would certainly agree with Kerr. Move the ball, move the spacing, move the defense, take what’s left from the confusion created.

The Wizards must be good ball movers—as Wittman, without a scoring star, will preach. And generally they have been. But something with the offense now ain’t right, clearly. Lack of 3-point shooting, lack of trips to the free throw line, lack of drives to the basket.

Losers of 10 of 12 (6), the Wizards last won an NBA game 17 days ago. In all of 2015, they have the NBA’s ninth-worst record. The time for soul-searching would be now, it must be now, but it might also be too late. Or, such dark hours could make the team better in the end.

Likely not since the issues seem more systemic than correctable with a hearty pat on the back, an ‘atta-boy’ and glass of whole milk.

The Wizards suddenly got old, really old, in the offseason. Layered on top of old fashioned basketball philosophy, they are slowly getting left behind (even as the franchise advances past traditionally terrible to mediocre). Sayings like ‘You take what the defense gives you’ have hints of truth and validity, but such is also the symbolic flag-bearer for resistors unwilling to change or innovate or even experiment. It is the VHS video tape of basketball functionality, and the Washington Wizards still have a Blockbuster card in their billfold.


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Wizards at Timberwolves in Tweets — Searching for a Lifeline in Zero Dark #WizardsTwitter http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-at-timberwolves-game-58-twitter-storify.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-at-timberwolves-game-58-twitter-storify.html#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 04:55:58 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45654 #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 Timberwolves, Game 58, Feb. 25, 2015.

Lifeline, please.

wittman-and-g-wiz-on-life-support-wizards-pacers-game-6-2014


Washington Wizards 77
at Minnesota Timberwolves 97


 

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Opening Statements: Wizards at Timberwolves, Game 58 http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-at-timberwolves-game-58-opening-statements.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-at-timberwolves-game-58-opening-statements.html#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 21:03:25 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45644 dc-logo-over-timberwolves-logo


Teams: Wizards at Timberwovles
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WTEM-FM 99.1
Spread: T’Wolves favored by 1.5 points.


Four in a row. 

Nine of the last 11.

Sixteen of the last 27.

The Wizards’ schedule since right around New Year’s has as many red splotches as a pubescent teenager before a date, and with no dramatic changes seemingly in the works, there wouldn’t seem to be much reason for optimism.

On the other hand, Washington turned it over 26 times against Golden State, again played without their best shooter, and Garrett Temple played more minutes (32) than any other Wizard except John Wall (34), yet the Wizards were one cup of offensive efficiency away from beating the NBA-leading Warriors. 

Ultimately, the Wiz fell 114-107 on their home court. Despite that—the Warriors probably should have run away with that game—they still get the W and the Wizards grew one more pimple that just adds to the unlikelihood of Washington going all the way (to the NBA Finals). 

Nobody ever told Paul Pierce that there is no such thing as a moral victory. After the loss, The Truth argued that it was a step in the right direction.

“Outside of our turnovers, we played with much more urgency,” Pierce said. “If we can play like that the rest of the season, I think we’ll be fine.”

The problem here, of course, is that Pierce is saying all the team needs is consistency to win, and consistency on this team is in as rare supply as unobtanium.

The Wizards often play well against the top-tier teams, they just end up collapsing down the stretch and eating another piece of greasy pizza to dull the pain. Washington has lost the following games this season: vs. Dallas (by three), vs. Atlanta (by four), vs. Chicago (by eight), at OKC (by seven), at San Antonio (by nine), vs. OKC (by two in OT), at Portland (by seven), vs. Toronto (by four in OT), at Atlanta (by nine), at Toronto (by two). 

That’s 10 games, not including Tuesday night’s stumble, that the Wizards have lost to a very good team (each of those teams has at least 32 wins but both OKC and San Antonio are far better than their records suggest) by single digits. There have also been some beatdowns against the elite teams—Cleveland and Toronto immediately come to mind—but the point is that Washington has had the ability to compete with the upper echelon of NBA powers, they just can’t close games. 

Remember that bit about the lack of consistency? I suppose I should clarify that only the good consistency is lacking. The Wizards are very consistent in letting down their fans in the final moments of big games.

With a game against the 12-43 Minnesota Timberwolves, a dark horse for the top overall pick at just a half game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers, looming, the Wizards face that other pesky problem they’ve had all season: closing out the bad teams. 

If you’re sensing a pattern, it’s because there is one.

Early on, the book on the Wiz Kids was that they won the games they were supposed to but still struggled with the teams widely considered to be better than them. With Randy Wittman throwing that book, as well as any semblance of coaching strategy, out the window, it takes a bold man to bet on the Wizards these days. (Minnesota is actually favored by two points tonight.)

Two losses to the Charlotte Hornets and a 17-point beatdown by the Detroit Pistons in the span of eight games spells bad news for tankers, and no lottery-bound team’s pick is safe from mild alteration by the Wizards.

What’s Changed

The Wiz and Wolves faced off once already this season, when John Wall dropped 21 and 17 en route to a 14-point win for the home team. Circumstances are just a wee bit different these days, though. For starters, the Wolves have that Ricky Rubio fellow back, assuming his ankles have made a full recovery from James Harden’s brutal assault.

With Rubio comes Nikola Pekovic, the 6-foot-11 Yugoslavian who teeters on 300 pounds of Eastern European brute force. Pekovic has missed all but 24 games this season, including the first matchup with the Wizards, with various injuries, but he’s putting up nearly 14 and eight since returning. It should be fun watching some combination of Kris Humphries, Kevin Seraphin, and Drew Gooden try to man him up in the fourth.

On the other side of the equation, the Wizards will be playing their second night of a back-to-back with an 1,100-mile trip sandwiched in between. Paul Pierce took a tumble in the grim waning seconds of the Warriors game, and though you can’t break steel, after a while you can sure as hell dent it.

Bradley Beal may or may not be available (likely not), though the Wizards were previously able to squeeze out a comfortable victory even with Beal shooting 3-for-12 in the first game against Minnesota. Also, everybody’s favorite 38-year-old point guard is now a member of the Sacramento George Karls and in his stead we have Ramon Sessions, for better or worse. 

The other trade that will play a role in this game is of course the Kevin Garnett trade. 

Garnett, the league MVP in 2004 with the Wolves, is back with the team that drafted him fifth overall back in 1995. While it’s unlikely KG, who is averaging just 6.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this year, will put up 2004 numbers against the Wizards, it’s another element to consider. Wizards Killers tend to come in all shapes, ages, and sizes.

Wednesday will also mark Garnett’s re-debut with ex-Wizards coach Flip Saunders in two, so emotions could be high at the Target Center. Will the Wizards come out with something to prove against a revamped (but still just not very good) Timberwolves team? Or will the acne spread and Wittman get stood up by his date? Tune in next time to find out!

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D.C. Council 57: Wizards vs Warriors — Winning Effort Perhaps Comfortably Found in Losing http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/dc-council-game-57-wizards-107-vs-warriors-114.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/dc-council-game-57-wizards-107-vs-warriors-114.html#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 18:47:22 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45639 Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 57: Wizards versus Warriors in Washington.
Contributor: Kyle Weidie from the Verizon Center.

DC-Council-Logo-2

Where do we start?

The Golden State Warriors are a good team. Maybe a great team. Stephen Curry looks every part of an NBA MVP.

The Washington Wizards continue to stagger, losers of nine out of the last 11 games. We could go on. At least on this Tuesday night, against the NBA’s very best team, some players on the Wizards could take solace in the fact that they competed better, as opposed to the previous two games, which were lost by a combined 55 points.

“Our effort was great,” said Randy Wittman, head coach. “We play the way we played tonight, take care of the ball better, you’ll get back to winning games. But we can’t drop off from the effort that these guys game tonight. That was as hard as we’ve played in a couple weeks, probably.”

He derided the turnovers and later gouged his eye out over questions about Marcin Gortat not playing in the fourth quarter.

John Wall mildly took responsibility for his turnovers (8) contributing to a season-high count of 26. When he was asked about his frustration level, he said, “Just effort. We didn’t play with effort in the past. … We got one thing back and that’s having effort and competing, and now we just got to add the other parts together.”

It was part matter-of-fact, part cliché for the media, perhaps part hiding frustration, and seemingly part comfort in simply putting in ‘real’ effort. Teams with higher aspirations should hope for more. Hopefully the Wizards aren’t resigned to who there are. Let’s get into player grades…


 

Golden State Warriors

114

Final

Box Score

Washington Wizards

107

Nene Hilario, PF

28 MIN | 3-4 FG | 3-5 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 9 PTS | +2 +/-

Nene started the game with the paint mentality, borderline reckless, that we’ve seen out of the oft-injured forward this season but not as often during his entire time with the Wizards. And it seemed to work. Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked about Washington’s “traditional bigs” and the conversation went down the path of Golden State’s Draymond Green being up to the task—he was able to check David West in Indiana on Sunday. Things didn’t go quite so well in the game’s first 80 seconds, however, when Nene scored five points and drew two early fouls versus Green, who picked up a technical en route to the bench. But after that, Nene virtually disappeared. The only notes I had on him over quarters two and three were that Green drew a charge against him in the second, a call that could have gone either way, and, in the third, Nene tried his best to defend Steph Curry on the baseline in a switch but there was really nothing he could do. Nene didn’t hit another bucket until the very end of the fourth, when he also went 2-for-4 on free throws. Sounds about right yet so wrong.


Paul Pierce, SF

28 MIN | 7-11 FG | 9-9 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 25 PTS | +11 +/-

Old man Pierce sprouted some gray hairs in the first half, almost got his ankles in the picture shows thanks to Curry (Pierce subsequently went under a screen and Curry hit a shot on him), and even once went tumbling to the floor after a missed 3 (which allowed Garrett Temple to get a chase-down block versus Pierce’s man, a streaking Harrison Barnes). Pierce woke up in the third, scoring 14 points in the period in a manner which could only be described as “pride ball.” He tailed off in the fourth quarter—maybe he hit a shot, can’t remember—and ended the game banging knees on the very last play. He had to be helped off the court by Nene and Seraphin, afterward indicating he’d be OK. When asked if he would be available to play Wednesday in Minnesota, he ended his media session by saying, “Steel don’t break.” OK, then.


Marcin Gortat, C

29 MIN | 8-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | -2 +/-

Gortat didn’t play in the fourth quarter and apparently that’s a big deal. From Golden State’s perspective, neither did Andrew Bogut, who is making about $2.5 million more than Gortat this season … for reference. Warriors fans will also quickly point out that their team is 35-5 when Bogut is merely in uniform versus 9-5 when he isn’t. Otherwise, should Gortat not playing in the fourth quarter (specifically against the Warriors) be as big of an issues as some are making it to be? No, but I’ve covered all that in another post. Should the consistency in which Gortat isn’t playing in fourth quarter be nonetheless a concern? Certainly. Marcin otherwise ran the floor well, did his job, and was part of the reason why Washington was able to compete with the best team in the NBA for most of the game. You’d think that it would behoove Wittman and staff to figure out a way for Gortat to do his job late in games.


John Wall, PG

34 MIN | 8-18 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 11 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 8 TO | 16 PTS | +2 +/-

This is Wall’s team and he needs to take more of the blame for the issues lately—it’s not merely on Wittman’s coaching, Grunfeld’s roster construct, or other players simply not making shots. Sure, Wall continues to put up numbers and make big plays, but the team coaching staff is also increasingly frustrated with his carelessness. He’s trying to make too many fancy passes that just aren’t there. Over the past four games he’s had 19 turnovers to 40 assists, and eight of those TOs came versus the Warriors.


Garrett Temple, SG

32 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | 0 +/-

Garrett Temple played just ‘OK,’ which is better than usual, so good. He, perhaps, had the best sequence of his long but short NBA career when he procured a chase-down block versus Harrison Barnes on one end and hit a 3-point shot on the other (setting a new season-high with 27 made 3s). We’ll probably continue to debate whether Temple and his ‘safe’ utility infielder-like qualities should be on the roster. The problem is that the Wizards count on him too much to do too many things that he’s subpar at—running a team, or 3-point shooting. It might be one thing if Temple was just relied upon for stopgap defense, but that’s not the case, especially with Beal out.


Kris Humphries, PF

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

Humphries didn’t do anything extraordinary or egregious during his time on the court. He hit some shots, grabbed some boards, and was generally his relatively consistent self. Of the five bench players who saw action, his plus/minus of minus-1 was the best. So there’s that.


Martell Webster, SF

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

Webster played and Otto Porter didn’t. No huge deal, really. For one, the mere threat of Webster, along with Rasual Butler, works to help spread the floor (as opposed to Porter, who is often left wide, wide-open by opposing defenses). At least this seems like what Wittman is trying to do—generate more long-distance shots or drives to the basket. Also, back surgery is tough to come back from. Maybe Webster forced/rushed the issue a bit too much, maybe not, but it’s kind of hard to blame a coach for investing a little bit in a player whose shooting might be desperately needed in the playoffs. Otto has been given plenty of chances, anyway, it’s not like he deserves for anything more to be handed to him. That said, Webster continues to look especially bad, so you certainly wouldn’t blame Wittman for benching him for a couple games and letting Otto have a turn, which seems to be the coach’s M.O.


Rasual Butler, SF

22 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -15 +/-

Continues to exist, pressing a bit, at least he made more than half of his shots. Still, something isn’t right, or ripe, or whatever. If anyone might benefit from the return of Bradley Beal, it would be Butler. The Wizards are plus-9.3 points per 48 minutes this season when those two share the court.


Kevin Seraphin, C

18 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 10 PTS | -14 +/-

Seraphin was first off the bench and was pretty much the same guy who some team will throw gobs of money at this summer. Shot-shot-shot-shot-shot-shot-shot-shot-shot—he made five of nine attempts. Turnover-turnover-turnover-turnover—yep, the math is right, he coughed up the ball four times. Rebound-rebound-rebound—only three lonely boards. His hook shots, like much of Washington’s offense, are a beautiful struggle. He and Gortat saw action together for the second time all season (Detroit game was the first) and it was defensive disaster.


Ramon Sessions, PG

16 MIN | 1-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -9 +/-

It took two games and three quarters, but Ramon Sessions finally made a layup as a Wizard. No big surprise, as the stats show that he had keys to drive but can’t parallel park. It’s otherwise hard to really dissect Sessions too much this early. He’s still an upgrade over Andre Miller, can get into the paint, and thus far has not tried to force too much. Against Golden State he had issues in the two charge calls that Marresse Speights picked up against him—both looked pretty B.S.; a third call that was closer ended up going Sessions’ way. Steph Curry’s deceptively smooth dribble also toyed with Ramon a bit and got him swaying, but also name a Wizard who Curry didn’t toy with.


The End.

 

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Key Legislature: Wizards 107 vs Warriors 114 — Statistical Anomalies Plus Moral Victories Still Equals a Loss http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-107-vs-warriors-114-key-legislature-57.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-107-vs-warriors-114-key-legislature-57.html#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 16:47:50 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45615 Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 57 versus the Warriors in Washington, D.C,
via Rashad Mobley (@rashad20) from the Verizon Center.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Rashad Mobley.

‘They’ say that when a shooter is in an extended slump and their pet moves and shots are no longer achieving the desired results, the cure is not more cowbell, but a series of easy looks. Easy can be defined as a free throw, a layup, or a breakaway dunk, but as long as that player can see the ball going through the hoop and glean a bit of confidence from that transaction, the groundwork for the comeback path can be laid.

Most famously, Ray Allen, who apparently will not be joining the Wizards or any NBA team this season, went through a horrendous shooting slump during the early rounds of Boston’s 2008 championship run, but found his mojo during the Finals against the Lakers using this method.

That same logic could apply to Washington’s 114-107 loss to Golden State on Tuesday night. The Wizards were severely slumping and had lost eight of ten games prior to playing the Warriors, and the last two losses were particularly embarrassing (a 38-point home loss to Cleveland, a 17-point road loss to the Pistons after leading by double-digits).  The disturbing, recurring themes in the string of losses were the defensive lapses, odd substitution patterns by Randy Wittman, a lack of production from the small forward position (Pierce, Webster, Butler, and Porter), a dearth of 3-point shots, and just an overall mediocre display of offense. Even NBA.com columnist David Aldridge made it his business to point out the Wizards’ mental toughness against the Pistons on Tony Kornheiser’s radio show on Monday:

“The Wizards proceeded to let them [the Pistons] rain 3s on them, their rotations were bad again, and Detroit hit 13 3s, went on a run at the end of the third quarter and the game was over. Instead of saying we are down eight or nine we can get back in this, they just said ‘eh, the game is over’ and that’s what mentally un-tough teams do. They get hit in the mouth, and they just walk over the court mentally, and they just give in, and that’s what the Wizards have done the last two games. It’s not good, it’s not a good sign.”

Coach Wittman also acknowledged the team’s struggles before the game, and offered his view on what could cure his team’s ills:

“When you get into a situation like we are, confidence is low, and sometimes even coaches think too much, trying to get your team to play the way they are capable of playing. As I told our guys, it really starts number one with the belief in yourself, you gotta believe that you’re going to go out and play as well as you can, and then belief in one another, the trust in one another. We’ve gotta get back our identity, which was a team that played very aggressive whether you made a mistake or you didn’t make a mistake, whether a team went on a run or they didn’t go on a run, and that’s really what it boils down to.”

In the first 90 seconds of the first quarter last night, the Wizards gained some confidence by not just putting the ball in the basket (they scored nine points to the Warriors’ two), but also by controlling the pace and running the floor. Nene drew two quick fouls on the undersized Draymond Green, Marcin Gortat was outrunning the Warriors’ big men, and John Wall went where he wanted to go on the court. Even later in the quarter, when the Warriors recovered from being hit in the mouth and began to shrink the lead, the Wizards’ offense still seemed to be running fluidly. Washington shot 57 percent, Paul Pierce seemed to have awoken from his slumber, and even though the Wizards committed nine turnovers and relinquished their nine-point lead, there were moral victories to be had and reasons to be encouraged. Even Steve Kerr had to give the Wizards some backhanded compliments, “We got off to a horrible start in giving up about five fastbreak points, Gortat ran right past us, and that set us off on the wrong foot.”

The good vibes subsided in the second quarter, and the ghosts of the past two blowout losses reared their scary heads. The shooting percentage stayed high (50%), but the pace slowed, the fastbreak points dwindled from 13 to four, and the Wizards got zero points, four assists, and three turnovers from Ramon Sessions and John Wall. Still, the Wizards went on a 9-4 run at the end of the second quarter and they were only down 54-51 at halftime.

Unfortunately for them, however, this trend continued through the remainder of the game. The Wizards shot better than the Warriors (53.5% to 50%) out-rebounded them (45-29), got production from the small forwards (led by Pierce’s 25 points), and showed mental toughness against the NBA’s best team. Even Pierce commented after the game that he saw “urgency” in his team for the first time in two games.

But ultimately the Wizards lost because of their 26 turnovers—just eight in the second half; Golden State attempted 11 more shots than Washington on the night and scored 23 points off the Wizards’ turnovers. And when they weren’t turning the ball over, their defensive rotations were woefully slow, and the Warriors made them pay with 5-of-8 shooting from the 3-point line in the third quarter, and then 57 percent shooting from the field in the fourth quarter. Steph Curry would drive, maneuver his way around Wizards, and either score or swing the ball around the perimeter two or three times so his teammates could hit a wide-open shot before the Wizards players could even leave the ground to contest. Golden State’s possessions looked fluid and effortless, while the Wizards mainly relied on the rare Warriors misses and contributions from Paul Pierce and John Wall, who combined for half of the Wizards’ 56 second-half points.

It wasn’t as if the Wizards didn’t have chances to win, because they absolutely did. They tied or took the lead eight times in the third quarter thanks to hot hand of Pierce, the point guard play of Wall, and the hustle of Garrett Temple, but Curry had an answer via 2- or 3-pointers every time. The much-maligned Wizards bench tied the game on a Rasual Butler 3-pointer with 8:32 left and, later, Pierce would cut a five-point lead to three with a fadeaway jumper. But again, there was too much Curry, too many wide-open shots, and too many wasted possessions (5 fourth-quarter turnovers for Washington).

The scoreboard showed the game was close, but the stat sheet told an entirely different story (26 turnovers for the Wizards to just nine for the Warriors).

This was not at all lost on Warriors coach Steve Kerr:

“It’s weird because we weren’t turning the ball over and we didn’t have control of the game. We let them free in transition, and we didn’t guard very well in the half court, and Paul Pierce got hot. Normally we hold teams in the low 40s, I think they shot 53 [percent] or something, so they were able to hang in the game, because they were really good in half court, but they turned it over so many times that was the difference in the game … I’ve never seen a turnover disparity like that where the game turned out to be close in the end. It was a little weird, but we got it done.”

As the Wizards prepare to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road tonight, they can unabashedly play the moral victory card and rejoice in the resurgence of Pierce (who had to be helped off the court after banging knees on the game’s final possession), and the return to mental toughness and grittiness. But at the proverbial end of the day, the Wizards’ ills still caused the loss. Coach Wittman’s substitution patters remained erratic, as Martell Webster played 15 minutes and scored just two points while Otto Porter didn’t play at all. Gortat sat the entire fourth quarter despite having 16 points and 11 rebounds through three quarters (Wittman’s explanation was that Golden State went small and Gortat can’t defend off the dribble). The turnovers were there in abundance, and the defense continually allowed everyone from Curry to Marreese Speights find easy, open shots.

But if we use the Ray Allen theory, the loss against Golden State was about regaining confidence. The payoff and the win should come tonight in Minnesota

 

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The Shortest Presser of Marcin Gortat’s Career (after another 4th quarter absence) http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/marcin-gortat-short-presser-answers-no-4th-quarter-wizards-play-randy-wittman.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/marcin-gortat-short-presser-answers-no-4th-quarter-wizards-play-randy-wittman.html#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:57:42 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45618 20150224-marcin-gortat-portrait

Randy Wittman jabbed his eye with a finger as he responded to pestering questions about why Marcin Gortat didn’t see a single minute of action during the fourth quarter in Washington’s 107-114 loss to Golden State on Tuesday. It was a matchup thing, the coach said, concurring with the line of questioning.

“Yep, they had (Draymond) Green and (Harrison) Barnes at the 4 and 5, or take your pick, (Stephen) Curry at the 4. Whoever you want to play it, they had four smalls, then five smalls,” said the the Wizards coach.

Barnes played the entire fourth quarter as the ‘4’ for the Warriors, you could say (or at the ‘3’—who really knows). David Lee played six minutes at the 5 and Green the other half at the 5. Andre Igoudala played the entire quarter at the 3 (or 4). Klay Thompson played 10 minutes at the 2 (Leandro Barbosa got the other two minutes). Curry played six minutes at the 1, and former Wizard Shaun Livingston played six minutes while Curry rested.

Washington’s reserves (the second unit of Ramon Sessions, Martell Webster, Rasual Butler, Kris Humphries, and Kevin Seraphin)—bless each and every one of their hearts—although generally terrible, held down the fort to the tune of plus-1 over their minutes to open the fourth quarter. Nene played 7:40 of the fourth quarter and close to five of those minutes were spent alongside Kris Humphries. Small lineups featuring Nene at the 5 and a drained Paul Pierce at the 4 lasted four fourth quarter minutes. None of these lineups, mind you, were very successful.

There’s clearly something more behind the strategy of benching Gortat. Wittman later got terse when pressed by CSN’s Chris Miller, stating that Nene can guard off the dribble (and, welp, Gortat cannot, in essence). “That was my decision, not yours, so that’s the one I went with,” Wittman added.

But why not make Golden State adjust to a big lineup? It’s a good question. If Wittman knew that Steve Kerr was going to go small, which, perhaps he should have, then maybe he would have put Gortat in at the beginning of the fourth quarter to go against David Lee.

On the season, two of Golden State’s three most-used lineups in the fourth quarter feature two big men (by the Warriors’ standards) alongside Curry, Thompson, and Igoudala—Andrew Bogut and Green (49 minutes); and Speights and Green (39 minutes). The same lineup seen down the stretch Tuesday night—Curry, Thompson, Igoudala, Barnes, and Green—has seen 48 minutes on the year, so damn near the unit Steve Kerr uses the most late in close games. Several other fourth quarter lineups for the Warriors also feature “four smalls.”

You should probably give more credit to Draymond Green, too. Drafted three slots after Washington took Tomas Satoransky in the second round of the 2012 NBA draft, Green can drive the gaps past a big man like Gortat (while Gortat’s teammates are forced to stay home on shooters, or not); Green can shoot the rock (he’s getting better and better from deep—34% this season); and Green can keep a big man like Gortat, who doesn’t usually stick his nose right under the rim, out of their comfort zone. Green gave Nene, more of a brute force than Gortat, fits all night, save for the first 80 seconds of the game when Nene scored five points and drew two fouls (and ultimately, a technical) on Green. Nene scored just four points the rest of the way—on a single shot and two free throws in the fourth (when he also missed two free throws). 

Matching Gortat up against Green also seems like a recipe for disaster and a target for coaching critique.

Per NBA.com, Gortat has played in 35 fourth quarters this season, more than only Drew Gooden, DeJuan Blair, and Martell Webster (three sparingly used substitutes). And when he does play, Gortat averages 4.4 fourth quarter minutes, the fewest on the Wizards after Garrett Temple. When Gortat plays in the fourth quarter, the Wizards are 21-14. When he doesn’t, just 12-10.

For what it’s worth, Gortat is fifth on the Wizards in standard “crunch time” minutes (last five minutes, ahead or behind by five points). He’s played 59 minutes after Wall’s 132, Pierce’s 116, Nene’s 92, and Beal’s 87. Humphries has played 55 crunch time minutes and Rasual Butler 58. None of these players aside from Butler have a positive plus-minus in crunch time. Gortat is by far the worst at minus-21.4 points per 36 minutes.

So, with Gortat’s absence from crunch time seemingly so consistent, it’s hard to gauge whether not playing him again Golden State in this one specific instance was the right move or not. John Wall agreed with Wittman’s strategy (even if the issue on this night should have been more about Wall’s eight, mostly careless, turnovers, as opposed to Gortat’s absence in the fourth).

“Only thing I can say is it’s tough when a team goes with all five shooters,” Wall said. “They spread the court with Draymond Green at the 5, Igoudala at the 4, Barnes at the 3. We tried to match what they had, but it was tough. They’re a team that can play in different ways. Those guys did a great job of switching pick-and-rolls, making you take tough shots, or double-teaming the post. That’s how they took away and got a lead at the end, they went small.”

And Gortat? Not exactly a happy camper. The mounting frustration over losing, over not playing, over whatever, led to what was likely the shortest media session of his career.

The complete video is below (along with a video of Wittman’s comments), but let’s look at Gortat’s quotes in full:


 

(On where they lost the game.)

“I think we had too many turnovers. I mean, period.”

(On if he wanted to play during the 4th quarter.)

“Of course.”

(On if he expected to be out there.)

“Uh, yes”

(On if not being out there was discouraging.)

“Um, I’ll say just next question.”

(On if the backcourt and the frontcourt are better syncing up with defensive coverages.)

“Um, yea. I think we’re doing better and better. But it wasn’t enough today.”

(On how he would quantify his frustration level.)

“Out of the roof, out of the roof. Really high, out of the roof.”

(On if he expected to be in this position this late in the season.)

“Tough to say. Really tough. It’s obviously were going to lose some games, but, yea.…”

(On if he’s more frustrated in how the Wizards are losing these games.)

“Yea, I am. I don’t know what to tell you guys, seriously. I don’t have any lines to tell you that we lost 9 out of 11, whatever we lost. I mean, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not going to stand here and try to produce … I don’t know what to tell you. It’s frustrating, man, it’s frustrating.”

 


Marcin Gortat.

Randy Wittman.

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Writing to Poland About Marcin Gortat http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/writing-to-poland-about-marcin-gortat.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/writing-to-poland-about-marcin-gortat.html#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 19:15:58 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45592 20131106-gortat

Just before the 2015 NBA All-Star break, I answered some questions about Marcin Gortat and the Washington Wizards for Polish outlet, OFENS.co (via TAI’s Polish correspondent, Bart Bielecki).

Bielecki, who posed the questions, kindly translated my answers and the next thing you know, I’m in Poland (at least my pixels are). Keep reading for native English version; click here to see what it looks like in Polish if you are so inclined.

[NOTE: Stats used via Basketball-Reference.com, ESPN.com, and NBA.com/stats for the 53 Washington Wizards games through Feb. 9, 2015.]


Gortat was only 77,000 votes shy of making his first All-Star appearance. Were you surprised by such a good result?

I was pleasantly surprised, especially since the starter he was closest to knocking out was Carmelo Anthony. Much of such is an indicator of the “Gortat Brand,” as Marcin would say. He’s candid, off-the-cuff, and personable, and as it turns out in this new media world, fans like that a lot more than your typical jock-type who simply recites mundane and empty cliches. This, and being on a Wizards team that started hot, probably led to Gortat getting votes from around the U.S. (and world), and not just the eighth-largest media market that is the Washington, D.C. area (some might mention Maryland and Virginia at this point). Now I wish Wizards fans (and bloggers such as myself) would have done more to boost All-Star voting for Gortat on Twitter. It would have been a slice of apple pie to unseat Carmelo with All-Star weekend being in New York and all. Not sure if the NBA powers-that-be would have ‘let’ that happen—no Brooklyn Nets deserve to be All-Stars and, were it not for being voted a starter, Carmelo doesn’t deserve to be one, either.

Marcin didn’t make the All-Star team after all. Do you consider him a snub?

No. And this was before his recent slump. If voting still was more strictly positional—two guards, two forwards, and a center instead of three frontcourt players and two backcourt players—then Gortat would’ve had more of a case. Otherwise, he’s been too inconsistent this season to be considered close to a snub (even though Shaquille O’Neal was a fan).

If the Wizards were to have two All-Stars, who would you choose besides Wall?

Part aesthetics but more because of the intangibles he offers to the team, it would be Nene. The six straight games Nene missed with foot issues from late-November to early-December weren’t that big of a deal if you’re looking to discount anything. And sure, each of Paul Pierce (15.5) and Gortat (16.5) currently have higher Player Efficiency Ratings (PER) than Nene, 15.4. But if you look at ESPN’s relatively new Real Plus-Minus (RPM) stat, Nene is ranked 37st in the NBA (3.15), the second-best Wizard after Wall (ranked 7th, 5.84). After those two: Bradley Beal ranks 103 (0.87), Pierce ranks 110 (0.68), and Gortat ranks 122 (0.38). Furthermore, Nene’s Defensive Real Plus-Minus (DRPM) ranks 12th in the NBA (3.56). The Brazilian clearly Washington’s second All-Star.

Many people in Poland, including basketball journalists, refused to vote for Gortat. He is sometimes criticized here for having a huge ego, for being big-headed, and also the fact that he’s not always there for Polish National Team. Is there anything about him that Americans don’t like?

Gortat certainly has an interesting relationship with Poland, doesn’t he? At least in the written, translated word on the Internet. Let’s start with this: Gortat loves his country, where he came from, his heritage. He has a lot of Polish pride. I also think he loves the United States, a lot. Nothing wrong with that. I’m from the U.S. (live in the U.S.) and also love other countries (but none more than my own). Such is life.

Some interesting comments, to me, come from an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza.pl in July 2014, as tranlated in English for TAI by Bartosz Bielecki. Gortat:

“Poland has a different mentality, too. I can see it now. A large part of our nation are haters, jealous people, anonymously-writing Internet morons. In America there is not so much hatred. If I was so full of hatred in the States, saying that this guy plays bad, that guy missed shots, why am I not playing, then people would tell me: so make it happen that you play like that, that you make shots. I had to get rid of this trait myself.

“We’ve got people in our country that come home from work and they’re resentful that they have to go to work again the very next morning. They feel grief and jealousy that somebody has something, that someone has accomplished something. There are a lot of people in Poland that speak their minds out on topics that they have no idea about. If someone looked through the articles about me, they wouldn’t believe that I still play ball. How many mistakes I made, how unprepared I was, how weak and untalented I was… Today I’m playing in the best league in the world and I’ve just signed a big contract. Sometimes journalists ask me what my goal is. I reply that it’s to be the best and win as many games as possible. Then, when I struggle, they write, ‘Who is he? Is he nuts?’ What should I say then? That I came to lose all the games with the National Team?”

In America? Well, I will say that Gortat got ‘threatened’ by Chicago Bulls fans, but whatever. Gortat had more thoughts on Poland (and America) in an interview in the October-December 2014 issue of Champion magazine, also translated by Bart for TAI:

“I think we are slowly moving forward. I left Poland 12 years ago. I was in Germany for four years, I’m starting my eighth year in the U.S. now. I’m inviting different American friends to Poland because I don’t think we have to be ashamed of anything. We will not soon have highways or restaurants like there are in America, but really we got nothing to be ashamed of, we are developing. But it doesn’t matter who will rule Poland, no matter how many Gortats there are in the NBA, we won’t make a jump to a higher league if people won’t start functioning a little better. Everyone should start the change from within themselves.

“I think it’s high time we stopped looking at the people around us and started concentrating on ourselves. Unfortunately, in Poland still, if someone achieves success, people are pointing fingers at him and talking behind his back. People start nitpicking and speculating how, of course in an illegal way, he achieved the success.”

And in the same interview, should he ever run for president of Poland:

“I once laughed that if I ran for the president my slogan would be: ‘Focus on yourself. Start from yourself. Stop complaining. You have to go to work for 12 hours—change that so you only have to go for four hours, and so that is enough to provide for your family.’ “

And finally, Gortat on where he calls home:

“Yes. In the States there is a house in which I’m living now, but the USA has so many heroes and athletes that I’m not needed there.”

In the end, what about Gortat do Americans not like? Not much, really—Americans love some Gortat. They’d like him to shoot less jump shots and appear to finish better at the rim/miss less bunnies, which means acting like an actual hammer sometimes, probably.

As far as Poland? Sure, the Gortat Brand is sometimes caught up in its own celebrity. It would be hard for most not to do. I can’t attest to how Gortat feels about Polish people, he’s his own man. I’d just advise not to use the word “hater,” don’t worry about those who you think define the word, don’t talk about fashion just wear fashion, and don’t focus on the negative.

Do you think that the ‘14-15 Wizards are better than the last year’s squad? If so, what do you think was the key to improvement?

That’s hard to say now. Washington’s ceiling of improvement from last season could only rise as much as John Wall and Bradley Beal could push it. Wall has stepped up his game this season. He’s ranked second amongst NBA point guards, seventh amongst all positions, in RPM (5.84) and first in DRPM (2.54)—last season those rankings were 18th (2.22) and 25th (-0.44) respectively. Any improvement from Beal isn’t as evident via Real Plus-Minus stats. He’s ranked 19th in 2 guard RPM (0.87) and 45th in DRPM (-0.47)—last season he ranked 28th amongst NBA guards in RPM (-0.53) and 23nd in DRPM (0.08). Beal really needs to step his game up for the Wizards to raise their ceiling from last season.

Otherwise, I think the jury is still out on whether Paul Pierce’s leadership and half court scoring, along with Kris Humphries’ midrange shooting and rebounding, is a greater plus than Trevor Ariza’s 3-point shooting and defense (he was guarding Damian Lillard the other night) and Trevor Booker’s toughness and athletic defense (he’s been used more as a 3 in Utah instead of the 4 he was with Washington).

Marcin hasn’t been consistent this year. He can score four points one night, and then 20 another night. Does it affect the results of the Wizards?

You bet it does. The Wizards can only seemingly compete with the best teams in the league when fully healthy and with each of their top seven players, at least, on their A-game on a given night. After John Wall, I would say that it’s important for Gortat and Nene to be equally engaged—more than any other Wizards.

Via Basketball-Reference.com, there is a statistic called Game Score. It was developed by John Hollinger, formerly of ESPN and now with the front office of the Memphis Grizzlies, and aims to be a “rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game.”

When Gortat’s Game Score is greater than 13.0, the Wizards are 13-0. Washington’s record when others have a Game Score over 13.0: Nene: 6-1, Wall: 23-10, Beal: 7-5, Pierce: 7-4.

How Gortat and the Wizards (i.e., John Wall’s Wizards) learn how to develop consistency together is one of the top three keys to post-All-Star break success (the others being 3-point shooting and more dribble-drive attacking off the bench).

From 1 to 10 how would you grade Gortat in the first half of the season? And how does your grade relate to what you have been expecting from him before the season?

If the 1-to-10 scale is based on the worst and best that Gortat can be (and not in the context of other players), I’d say that it’s fair, if not slightly generous, to give him a 7 out of 10.

I say “generous” in part because of the scrutiny of how one performs after signing a big contract. Otherwise, his advanced metrics are down—PER is 16.5, down from 17.6 last season and from his career average of 17.4. Gortat’s Real Plus Minus of 0.38 is ranked 20th amongst NBA centers, right between Meyers Leonard and Timofey Mozgov. Last season Gortat’s RRM of 4.12 was third amongst all NBA center.

Maybe a 6.5 out of 10 is more fair.

Marcin is getting the lowest minutes as a starter in his career. For the fans in Poland that is quite worrisome. What would you point to as the reason for the  shortened playing time?

Gortat is playing barely two minutes less per game under his four-year average of 31.4, so I would not be too concerned. The Wizards, for one, don’t wanted to exhaust the Polish Machine too much in the first year of a five-year contract with him turning 31 over the All-Star break. Gortat is also a running big man. He is expected to earn the points he loves so much by using his athleticism to beat most other centers down the floor with a calculated head start and helped by the jets of John Wall. All of this simply contributes to the need to manage Gortat’s minutes, so it’s a good thing for his career.

What you will see people note is that Gortat only averages 4.4 fourth quarter minutes per game this season, 1.5 minutes less than last season. Part of this is because Gortat and other starters simply haven’t been needed in many fourth quarters. Twenty-six percent (26%) of Washington’s fourth quarter minutes have been spent with a lead larger than 10 points. The two most-used fourth quarter lineups feature Andre Miller, Rasual Butler, Kris Humphries, and Kevin Seraphin. Sometimes, however, if Washington is struggling with offense, Randy Wittman will turn to smaller lineups. A lineup using John Wall, Bradley Beal, Rasual Butler, Paul Pierce, and Gortat is the fourth-most used in the fourth quarter this season (24 total minutes). The same lineup featuring Nene at center instead of Gortat has played 23 minutes, and a small unit featuring Humphries at center has seen 15 fourth quarter minutes.

Infer what you want with this knowledge: Gortat’s small-ball fourth quarter lineup is minus-5 in total plus-minus while Nene’s lineup is plus-26 and Humphries’ is plus-4.

Gortat’s stats went down compared to last season. Has his game dropped a bit too or is it simply a result of limited playing time?

I’ll break it down to two telling stats:

#1) Missing from (somewhat) close range — Gortat’s field goal percentage from 5-to-9-feet is down to 27.7 percent from 41.4 percent last season. More than one-fifth of Gortat’s shots come within that 5-to-9 feet range, so a 13.7 percent drop from such a close range will destroy the numbers and the eye test. Hard to point to any particular reason other than to say most of it’s probably in Gortat’s head.

One interesting thing to note: John Wall collected assists on 33 percent of Gortat’s made field goals in 2013-14. This season that number is up to 40 percent. I would have expected it to be less.

#2) Gortat is passing the ball less — he’s averaged 0.8 less assists per 100 possessions (down to 1.9 from 2.7). Seems minimal, especially since 1.9 is better than his career average of 1.8. However, Gortat’s Assist Percentage (an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals assisted while on the floor) is down to 5.8 after being a career-high 8.4 last season. Again, doesn’t sound like much, but last season’s figure was still one of the best passing seasons in franchise history from a big man who could also score. Washington’s offense counts on ball movement, and the willingness of both Gortat and Nene to share the ball matters just as much as Wall’s development as a point guard. In other words: keep the ball moving, less shooting.

Wittman often decides to play small-ball in the endings of games. The lineup with Wall, Beal, Butler, Pierce, and Nene or Humphries provides good shooting, but don’t you think Gortat’s defensive presence is missed then?

Yes, that can certainly be true. But, as relayed above, the small-ball fourth quarter lineup featuring Gortat at the 5 is not as successful versus opponents, in a relatively limited sample size, as lineups featuring Nene or Humphries. Wittman generally won’t turn to a smaller lineup unless it’s reactionary to a matchup from an opponent or if he’s desperate to make up a lot of points in a hurry. When this happens, Nene’s perimeter defense, still significantly better than Gortat’s, is helpful when opposing small-ball lineups try to force switching off ball-screen action. I also think Nene’s offering on offense is more diverse than Gortat’s. Nene is much more capable, and willing, to use his size to back down defenders on the block and employ his quick reflexes to get to the rim (instead of a long, fading, close-range jumper or a running, Patrick Ewing-style hook shot, which seem to be Gortat’s favorite moves when operating closer to the hoop).

Do you think that what we have seen so far may suggest that Gortat’s minutes will also be limited in the Playoffs, since Gortat has not always been on the court when the Wizards were trying to close out tough games in the regular season so far?

It all depends on the opponent and the game’s matchups. You’ll see more Gortat against teams like Chicago (especially), Cleveland, Charlotte, and perhaps Toronto (depending on how much Dwane Casey is willing to play Jonas Valanciunas in the fourth quarter). Against teams like Atlanta and Miami you might be less likely to see Gortat play heavy minutes. Of course, playoff basketball is said to be more plodding, methodical, and frontcourt focused—the Atlanta Hawks seem primed to wreck that. Still, you could see Randy Wittman wanting to flex Washington’s size with multiple big man combinations in the postseason, regardless of opponent.

What about the chemistry between Kris Humphries and Gortat? From time to time, especially on defense, I feel like they get in each other’s way. Do you think, they’re fine together on the court?

Almost 97 percent of Gortat’s minutes this season have been spent next to a traditional ‘power forward’—Nene, Kris Humphries, or Drew Gooden. Gortat hasn’t seen a minute next to Kevin Seraphin and has played only five minutes alongside DeJuan Blair, whatever position it is that he plays.

The Wizards are 8.4 points better than opponents per 40 minutes when Gortat and Nene play together (771 total minutes). They are 3.1 points better when Gortat and Humphries play together (603 total minutes), and 0.9 points worse than opponents per 40 minutes when Gortat and Gooden are on the floor (128 total minutes).

All of this is to say that Gortat and Humphries aren’t all that bad on the court together, as long as both know their role on offense and play to their strengths. Humphries is in the game to basically operate in three spaces: 1) the midrange (for 2-pointers beyond 16 feet—37% of his shots come from this range and he makes 42.4% of them); 2) the short corner baseline where he serves as a nice safety valve when opposing defenses take away Wall and Gortat pick-and-roll action; and 3) the glass for rebounds.

Gortat simply needs to do his part by being aware of floor spacing, not settling for jumpers too much, and being active in the pick-and-roll game.

What’s the area of the game that you would like to see Gortat improve in?

Taking up space, taking up more space, setting multiple screens, imposing his value of getting the ball on the move upon John Wall and Washington’s offense, and somehow growing a larger butt so he can sometimes move opposing bigs out of the way (but not too big of an ass, you still want Gortat to be able to run the floor.)

Kevin Seraphin continues to improve. Do you think we may see him replace Gortat in the starting five eventually?

This season? Not a chance, and that’s 100 percent for defensive reasons. Seraphin has improved on defense, slightly, but the overall numbers still don’t lie.

The Wizards allow opponents to score 99.9 points per 100 possessions overall (DefRtg). With Gortat on the court, the team DefRtg drops to 96.7. With Seraphin on that court, the Wizards’ DefRtg skyrockets to 105.0. So, yes, the Wizards give up 8.3 fewer points per 100 possessions to the other team when Gortat’s at center instead of Seraphin.

If “eventually” means past this season, right now it does not seem likely. Seraphin will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and his agent is Rich Paul, who happens to also be the agent for LeBron James, Eric Bledsoe, Tristan Thompson, Ben McLemore, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Norris Cole, and Cory Joseph.

Seraphin will almost certainly get paid—probably overpaid—this summer, and it likely won’t be by the Wizards. Thompson, Cole, and Joseph will be restricted free agents this summer, so Paul will be certainly using his leverage as LeBron’s friend on several fronts.

What can the Wizards really achieve this season? How far in the playoffs do you predict they’ll go?

The water is still cloudy but a current shake of the Magic 8-Ball might say “No dice” in terms of NBA Championship or even NBA Finals for the Wizards. At this point, without a significant roster upgrade and continued health, I could say that Washington is capable of “sneaking” into the Conference Finals in the East. But unless they are playing Chicago, I’m not sure they come out against any other top team in the conference—Atlanta, Cleveland or Toronto—over the course of a seven-game series. The Wizards would, at least, be more capable of beating the Cavs than the Hawks or the Raptors. It will be interesting to see if the franchise stays on a proclaimed course of patience (as the bench gets littered with veterans), or if they make a risky move with the path to the Finals still relatively visible.

 

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Opening Statements: Wizards vs Warriors, Game 57 http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-vs-warriors-game-57-opening-statements.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-vs-warriors-game-57-opening-statements.html#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 15:19:01 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45598 Washington Wizards vs Golden State Warriors - Dec. 8, 2012 - Truth About It.net

So it turns out all those roster holes from the off-season (3-point shooter; bench playmaker; perimeter defender; stretch-4) didn’t disappear during the first half of the campaign. For all the (deserved) credit Ernie Grunfeld received for signing Kris Humphries and Paul Pierce, it’s the moves he didn’t make that threaten to derail any attempt to improve on last season’s second-round playoff performance.

For those who believe Randy Wittman is just as responsible for Washington’s shortcomings as the front office, tonight’s opponent provides a perfect example of how much of an impact a coaching change can make.

Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson and Wittman had similar coaching experiences in Golden State and Washington, respectively. Jackson took over an under-performing team with a talented, young backcourt and—after an initial 23-win season—led the Warriors to a surprising second-round playoff run in 2013 (beat Denver, lost to San Antonio) followed by a tough, seven-game first-round series defeat in 2014 (at the hands of the Clippers). Golden State owner, Joe Lacob, credited Jackson with changing the team’s culture and Jackson had the full and vocal support of his players. Sound familiar?

But all was not well in Oakland. Despite Jackson’s unquestioned on-court success, Warriors ownership decided to make a coaching change after last season, replacing Jackson with the inexperienced Steve Kerr. Kerr inherited what was ostensibly the same roster as Jackson and the results have been … well, staggering. Golden State currently sits atop the Western Conference with a 43-10 record and has morphed into a top five team both offensively and defensively.

Lacob’s explanation, as noted by ESPN, for why he fired Jackson even after the rookie coach led Golden State to its two most successful seasons in the past two decades, could just as easily apply to Wittman’s current situation:

“There’s a different CEO that may be required to achieve success at different stages of an organization’s development. When you’re a startup company it’s one thing, when you’re a small-growth company it’s one thing, and when you’re a mature company that’s trying to reach a billion in sales—or in this case win an NBA championship—perhaps that’s a different person. And we just felt overall we needed a different person.”

Before you start dreaming of a similar trajectory in Washington, it is worth noting one very big difference between Jackson and Wittman’s respective coaching tenures. Jackson famously clashed with Golden State’s front office over his management style. Last December, while explaining to a group of venture capitalists why he fired Jackson, Lacob stated that none of his 200 employees liked Jackson.

There is no such discord in Washington. (Or at least if there is, it’s being kept quiet.) It’s unclear what it would take to motivate Grunfeld and Ted Leonsis to make a coaching change after this season. Two years ago, simply playing .500 basketball for half a season was cause for celebration and an edict to bring back the entire roster intact. Last year, a second-round playoff appearance was enough to earn Wittman a two-year contract extension (with a team option for a third year). This season it is hard to imagine that anything short of an embarrassing first-round sweep would cost Wittman his job.

But enough of this depressing reality check. There is still a lot of season left and plenty of opportunities for Wittman and his crew to right the ship before the playoffs. What better way to get started than a marquee matchup against the best backcourt and the best team in the NBA.

Joining me to answer a few questions about the Warriors is Steve Berman (@BASportsGuy) of bayareasportsguy.com.


Teams: Wizards vs. Warriors
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WTEM-FM 99.1
Spread: Warriors favored by 4.5 6.5 points.


#1) Stephen Curry sat out Sundays’ game versus Indiana with an ankle injury (the Warriors lost by 6). He practiced on Monday but is listed as questionable for tonight’s game versus Washington. Given Curry’s early-career injury history, how concerned are you?

@BASportsGuy: It’s always concerning when the team’s best player misses time due to injury, but there’s no signal yet that the ailment is all that serious. I was at Friday’s home win against the Spurs, and I noticed Curry limp slightly for a few seconds while looking annoyed. I wondered if he tweaked his ankle, but then he started running normally and went back to making crazy highlight plays, so I totally forgot about that brief instance when Curry moved gingerly … until he was a pregame scratch in Indiana.

The Warriors are going to be cautious with Curry, and they may have thought they could steal a win against the Pacers without him. Curry said the pain stems from his heel after stepping on someone’s foot on Friday (the key there: it’s not his surgically-repaired left ankle), and the fact that the team’s medical staff isn’t keeping him off his feet entirely says they don’t believe anything is torn or too badly bruised. 

#2) Golden State has had a magical season so far. Yet, if the season ended today, their reward would be a first-round matchup versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. How jealous are you of the Eastern Conference path to the NBA Finals and how confident are you in the Warriors’ ability to navigate the Western Conference playoff minefield?

@BASportsGuyIf I’m a member of the Warriors, I’m probably a little annoyed. I know for a fact that people who’ve worked for the franchise for several years (including the TV play-by-play announcer) are still peeved that they missed the playoffs in 2008 with 48 wins, which set a record (the Suns tied that unfortunate mark last season, also finishing ninth in the conference).

At this point, the Warriors can do nothing other than stay as healthy as possible while making sure they’re playing at a high enough level to beat anybody, anywhere. Easier said than done—having to get through the Thunder, Spurs and Grizzlies to get to the Finals would be insanely difficult, for example. The Warriors are capable of beating any team, and they’d take their chances with home-court throughout the playoffs since their building gets so loud, but they’d have a better chance of winning their first title in 40 years if the conferences were a bit more balanced.

#3) What is the best strategy for beating Golden State? They do not lose very often, but is there a common denominator in their losses? An Achilles’ heel?

@BASportsGuyIt helps to avoid Curry and Andrew Bogut, as they lost the first game Curry missed this season and they’re only 9-5 when Bogut sits (meaning the Warriors are 34-5 when their center is available).

When the Warriors are at full strength, and hitting their 3s, they’re just about unbeatable. If they’re a little off from the perimeter, a team can prevail if they limit their turnovers and test Golden State’s patience. Getting Bogut into foul trouble and forcing Curry to do everything himself on the offensive end helps as well. Teams often try to pressure and trap Curry, with mixed results. 

#4) Draymond Green was very effective in a reserve role last season, but this year has been his national coming out party as a starter. Why is Green so important to the Warriors’ success and how much would you pay to keep him as a restricted free agent?

@BASportsGuyI’d pay whatever it takes, and that number obviously depends on what the market will bear. Green’s offensive game doesn’t exactly scream “max player,” but he provides a combination of defense, rebounding and toughness that no Warrior can match when Bogut isn’t on the floor.

His hands are incredibly strong, which allows him to rip the ball away from opposing players on a regular basis. He’s an outstanding shot-blocker for a guy his height (6-foot-7). His defensive instincts are phenomenal, especially late in games—he seems to know what a guy will do before that player has even decided his next move. He’s an agitator, a yeller, and he plays with an edge. Curry and Klay Thompson are extremely competitive, but in a quieter way. Green is the embodiment of the new, brash, defense-first Warriors (which is pretty much the opposite of the Warriors we saw in the 30 years or so before he arrived).

#5) What is your prediction for the game tonight?

@BASportsGuyBad news for the Wizards: Golden State will come in with some motivation after Sunday’s loss, plus Curry and Thompson take those “best backcourt in the NBA” debates seriously (that point is moot if Bradley Beal doesn’t play, of course).

Good news for the Wizards: The Warriors have looked a little off in their last five road games against Eastern Conference teams, and they’ve lost two games in a row a couple times this season. That doesn’t seem like a lot—but with a total of just 10 defeats, those two-game losing skids are noticeable.

If Curry plays (and I think he will), I don’t see the Warriors losing to a Washington squad that hasn’t beaten a winning team in five weeks. But it could be fairly close, based on the Warriors’ recent performances on the other side of the nation.

 

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Washington Wizards: Best-Shooting Mediocre Offense in the Modern NBA Era http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/washington-wizards-best-shooting-mediocre-offense-in-the-modern-nba-era.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/washington-wizards-best-shooting-mediocre-offense-in-the-modern-nba-era.html#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 23:52:38 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45523 20131108-wittman-huddle-wizards

Thanks to cameras mounted in professional basketball arenas across the land, a shot is no longer merely hit or miss.

Teams have charted defensive, non-box score actions such as contested shot attempts for years (often a subjective exercise). But now, with cameras tracking every movement of every NBA player, and of the ball, we have a developing, consistent dataset. We have a better idea, for instance, how far away a defender was when a shot was attempted (although that can be independent of whether the defender had his hand in the air or not).

Pop Quiz: see you if you can match up the league-wide shooting percentages with defender distance below. (1)


DEFENDER RANGE


FG%


1. “Very Tight”
(Defender within 0-2 feet).
a. 47.2%
2. “Tight”
(Defender within 2-4 feet).
b. 45.6%
3. “Open”
(Defender within 4-6 feet).
c. 44.4%
4. “Wide Open”
(Defender 6+ feet away).
d. 43.2%

 

[via NBA.com/stats]


 

The answers might surprise you, and they can be seen by hovering your mouse over this footnote: 2 [Or by scrolling to the bottom of this post.]

The sample size (3) is significant but still limited.

This specific data regarding distance of the defender is not layered with other telling analytics, for example: how many dribbles happened before the shot; how long did the shooter have the ball before the attempt; when in the shot clock did the attempt occur; was it a catch-and-shoot or a pull-up; did the defender actually contest or was he just close. Such combined data toward the big picture is probably something NBA teams have access to at the drop of a hat, whether it be directly via the SportVU system or via their own systems.

Whatever the case, what’s revealed about defender proximity is surprising, at face value. NBA teams generally hit closely defended shots more often than they do wide open shots.

Combining some of the data above, when a defender is within four feet of a shooter (“tight” or “very tight”) the average shooter’s field goal percentage is 46.7 percent.

When there’s not a defender within four feet, the shot is made 43.7 percent of the time. A 3 percent difference seems fairly significant. Or maybe just a margin of statistical tracking error.

To get a better idea of which NBA playoff contenders, East and West, have hit open shots (y-axis) versus defended shots (x-axis), a pretty chart with logos:

NBA-shooting-open-vs-defended

[click to enlarge]

Golden State is Golden State, of course. The Wizards, bunched up top with the Hawks, Clippers, and Bucks, have the third-best “open” plus “wide-open” field goal percentage amongst the 22 teams in the set at 46.1 percent. For “tightly” or “very tightly” defended shots, Washington shoots sixth-best at 47.9 percent. So, yes, the Wizards shoot 1.8 percent better when defended. Some of this, however, is related to post play, in which there often will be a defender within four feet. Washington ranks eighth in the NBA in frequency of post-up plays (11.1%).

The surprising part is that for the Wizards, it’s perhaps less about the ‘players got to make shots’ cliché. Wizards shooters are making shots no matter how close the nearest defender is. The part that is not surprising is that such data further points to the issue that Washington is not attempting the right type of shots: 3-pointers.

No further explanation is really needed. Even if it is amazingly baffling that the Wizards make open and contested shots better than teams like Houston, Portland and Toronto. In fact, Washington currently has the third-best field-goal percentage in the entire NBA (47%). Yet, when it comes to offensive efficiency, the Wizards rank 14th (105.0 OffRtg)—mostly because they take less 3-pointers. Over one-third of NBA teams attempt 50 percent more 3-pointers than the Wizards do on a game-by-game basis. (They also attempt just 21.6 free throws per game, ranked 21st in the league.)

Over the prior 20 NBA seasons and including 2014-15, only one other NBA team, aside from these Wizards, has made 47 percent or more of its field goal attempts while scoring 105 or fewer points per 100 possessions (OffRtg). The answer would be the 2006-07 Orlando Magic, which shot 47.2 percent from the field but had an OffRtg of 104.9 and finished the season 40-42. Orlando attempted the third-fewest 3s in the league that season and fielded the 11th-worst 3-point percentage. (4)

At least the 2014-15 Washington Wizards are a better 3-point shooting team, which still would give them the nod for the best shooting mediocre offense of the modern NBA era.

Considering Washington’s 2015 struggles, here’s proof, nonetheless, that in addition to team scheme issues at the 3-point line, something is currently in the Wizards’ head like a Cranberries song from 1994.

From November to December of 2014 to January to February (so far) of 2015, the Wizards’ ability to hit shots when there was defender within four feet has been pretty consistent. Rather, it’s Washington’s inability to make open (and wide-open) shots as the calendar has changed which is glaring.

Via the table below, a dip to 36.4 percent in February when a defender is within 4-to-6 feet is a drastic drop-off—27.5 percent of Washington’s field goal attempts come with a defender in this range. The Wizards hit better than 50 percent of their wide-open shots (no defender within 6 feet) in November and December—that has dipped in 2015 as one would expect, given the results in the win/loss column.


Wizards Team Field Goal Percentage


Defender Range  Nov.   Dec.   Jan.   Feb. 
0-2 Feet  52.6%  49.0%  53.3%  49.6%
2-4 Feet  43.5%  45.5%  49.1%  46.0%
4-6 Feet  42.4%  49.6%  45.5%  36.4%
6+ Feet  50.6%  50.0%  45.2%  47.5%

 

But who is missing all the open shots? This table shows the shooting percentage of Washington’s wing players when there’s a defender within four feet versus outside of four feet, and over November and December of 2014 versus January and February of 2015 (5).


0-4 Feet (Nov-Dec) 0-4 Feet (Jan-Feb) 4+ Feet (Nov-Dec) 4+ Feet (Jan-Feb) Defended Shots
FG% Diff.
Open
Shots
FG% Diff.
John Wall 47.1% 47.8% 44.3% 43.9% 0.7% -0.4%
Bradley Beal 37.9% 43.1% 47.3% 40.9% 5.1% -6.3%
Paul Pierce 43.2% 41.7% 45.6% 49.4% -1.5% 3.8%
Rasual Butler 45.2% 40.0% 59.5% 33.3% -5.2% -26.2%
Otto Porter 47.5% 51.2% 47.1% 37.3% 3.7% -9.7%
Garrett Temple 30.8% 45.5% 34.1% 53.3% 14.7% 19.2%

 

John Wall has been the most consistent and is only shooting slightly worse when open in 2015. Paul Pierce, you could say, has been the next-most consistent. He’s even making open shots at better rate than contested shots in 2015 (3.8% increase), and after Garrett Temple, Pierce is Washington’s best “open” shot maker.

Rasual Butler … oh, Rasual Butler. The eyes do not deceive: he is shooting 26.2 percent worse on open shots over January and February compared to November and December. Talk about regression. Talk about legs. Talk about the temporary reward, but the ever-present risk of signing 35-year-old players for an 82-game season.

Bradley Beal (-6.3%) and Otto Porter (-9.7%) are also struggling to hit open shots more in 2015. Temple has actually improved over limited action and attempts, but he’s still an overall minus whenever he plays (6) Martell Webster’s sample size was rather small and almost too bad to mention, but we will, anyway. In 2015 Webster has made 18.8 percent of his attempts with a defender within four feet and just 34.6 percent of his shot attempts when there’s not a defender within four feet.

The ‘players got to make shots’ cliché makes its return. What’s more true is having players capable of making shots. The Wizards don’t, really. In essence they “lost” two long-range bombers from last season—Trevor Ariza and Webster—and have gained only half of a Rasual Butler. This is on top of Bradley Beal, currently injured, not progressing as most would have hoped (i.e., as a 3-point shooter with the ability to slash as well). Surrounding John Wall with at least one “3-point specialist” (like a Kyle Korver or Anthony Morrow or J.J. Redick or Channing Frye or Mike Dunleavy) has been curiously absent from the team-building philosophy, which is also amazingly baffling.

No franchise can afford to eat dust in this modern NBA. Washington was behind the times for most of its league life. A change in ownership has helped move the team into modern times (7), especially off the court with zero-gravity treadmills and investments in player amenities and personal development. But the product on the court remains a relic, even with the fastest point guard in the NBA. Forward-thinking philosophies from the coaching staff especially, but also the front office, must be accelerated.

Instead, the Wizards are left with stubbornness, a lack of shooting, and an insistence on pounding the rock into big men who don’t always want to play big. The more things change, the more they stay the same, except when you don’t adapt to the game around you. That’s when you just get left behind.


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DC Council 56: Wizards at Pistons — The Oscar For Pretending To Be A Good NBA Team Goes To… http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/dc-council-game-56-wizards-89-at-pistons-106.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/dc-council-game-56-wizards-89-at-pistons-106.html#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 18:22:49 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45554 Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 56: Wizards versus Pistons in Detroit.
Contributor: Chris “Thompson” from Old Virginny.

DC-Council-Logo-2

Sunday afternoon’s loss to the Pistons in Detroit was a handy microcosm of the entire Wizards season to date: hot shooting and opportunistic play in the first half made up for hardwired deficiencies in Washington’s version of basketball. In the second half, the team with its head screwed on straight played aggressive, efficient basketball, and, because it almost never is, that team was not the Wizards, and that team pulled away. Looking at the standings, and … yep, that about sums it up.

Let’s get to it.


 

Washington Wizards

89

Final

Box Score

Detroit Pistons

106

Nene Hilario, PF

21 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 4 PTS | -9

Because it is the philosophy of the Wizards to revert to outdated, inefficient methods when confronted with hardships, Nene spent much of Sunday afternoon taking the air out of the ball in the post before ramming himself hopelessly into the teeth of Detroit’s interior defense. Whether because he’s tired or dealing with the lingering after-effects of whatever injury (or cramp) he suffered Friday against the Cavs, nothing good came of this mode of attack. Nene finished 2-for-7 on attempts at the rim, and several of his heroic, doomed drives into the paint resulted in the kinds of desperate, disastrous live-ball turnovers Wizards fans have come to associate with early-career John Wall over-penetrating.

It’s hard to fault the big Brazilian for the failure of this approach, though, because its very implementation signals the ongoing dunderheadedness of Washington’s offensive design. Washington is currently without Bradley Beal, who, blessed with a brilliant perimeter jumper and smooth athleticism, has been stuck playing miscast facilitator and midrange specialist his entire career. To cover for this sudden dearth of “playmaking” (a term that is used with a degree of generosity here that frankly makes Mother Teresa look like Ebenezer Scrooge), the Wizards have decided to run a higher percentage of their half-court offense through Nene in the post. If there’s one thing all non-math-denialists have learned definitively over the last few years, as the newfangled field of mathematics (gasp!) has swept over the land, it’s that the offensive area to rival the midrange for sheer inefficiency is the low post, especially when attacked via a player who cannot consistently force help. And Randy Wittman, bless his grumpy, stubborn heart, loves nothing so much as thumbing his nose at such controversial fields of pseudoscience as adding one number to another number and understanding the result.

Nene gamely hurled himself headlong into the service of this hopeless design, as he has before and always reliably will. It didn’t work, because of course it didn’t.

Beyond that, Nene’s early foul trouble was a minor problem. Steve Buckhantz credited it with changing the “whole complexity” of the game. Maybe everyone overslept. Who the hell knows.


Paul Pierce, SF

24 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -19

The part of Paul Pierce’s career when he could play regular minutes as a starter at a wing spot for an entire NBA season has ended. In fact, it ended before last season. That should not be understood to mean Pierce can’t play on the perimeter, or that he can’t have flashes of productivity, but, look: he’s no longer a plus shooter, he’s lost his ability to drive against a defender or even attack a close-out, and while he’s not generally a disastrous perimeter defender, he’s no longer capable of making the kinds of defensive plays that help the Wizards play in transition. That matters, because Washington’s half-court offense is hot, steaming garbage.

Having said all that, a matchup against the equally worn down Caron Butler should present Pierce with an opportunity to do some things, which makes Pierce’s Sunday disappearing act all the more disappointing. All five of his shots came from beyond the arc on catch-and-shoot looks, his defense was appallingly flat and sloppy, and he finished a disappointing minus-19 in 24 minutes.

Pierce has slowed down over the course of the season, visibly and alarmingly. Randy Wittman has generally shied away, for reasons passing understanding, from playing Pierce as a small-ball 4, electing instead to stay big on the interior and weather Pierce’s dramatically spotty play on the wing. Sunday, to his credit, Wittman did roll out a small-ball lineup, with Pierce at power forward. It was a disaster. It’s hard to know how much of that to pin on Pierce, but it was distressing. The degree to which he has declined from stable veteran playmaker to two-way albatross is a problem.


Marcin Gortat, C

31 MIN | 12-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 24 PTS | -8

Gortat had a fairly good game. It’s hideous and unfair that what might otherwise have been described as a needed bounce-back performance came in a game in which the general and persistent helplessness of Washington’s adorably plodding offense was so thoroughly exposed. That’s just how it goes. Washington hasn’t been able to engineer quality performances from more than one or two guys at a time in weeks, so maybe it was just Gortat’s turn in the rotation.

It was encouraging, though, to see Washington’s recently-missing pick-and-roll game rev back to life, and Gortat’s finishing around the basket was as good as it’s been in a long, long time. We will just have to agree to forget about the dunk attempt that Andre Drummond turned into the wrong kind of highlight. And, while Gortat was getting his at the offensive end, he was having a hell of a time keeping Drummond from gaining advantageous position at the other end (even with double-team help), which accounts hugely for Drummond’s spectacular box score. Gortat’s performance wasn’t perfect, but it was close enough to an encouraging return to form to feel genuinely bummed that it was wasted on such a lousy, dispiriting loss.


John Wall, PG

34 MIN | 5-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 12 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -8

Shooting numbers aside, Johnny played a perfectly respectable game at the offensive end, generally staying under control and displaying a welcome assertiveness and sense of purpose with the ball. He struggled to score in the paint, finishing 2-for-7 from point-blank range, but also didn’t get any help from the refs, who declined to reward him for attacking the basket and playing through contact. Wall hit 3-of-6 shots in the decisive third quarter, while his teammates were shooting 5-of-20, but he shares in the blame for the way the defense came completely unglued when it became apparent that Detroit had discovered the 3-point arc. Detroit’s guards went nuts in the quarter, and the rest is history.

There came a point, in the second half, when the best description of Washington’s roster was “John Wall and a bunch of stiffs.” It becomes damn near impossible to heap a lot of blame on Wall—even when he misses more than two-thirds of his shots and lets Reggie Jackson get loose for 12 second-half points—when so goddamn much of the action that leads to points in the Wizards’ attack must by necessity start and end with John Wall pulling a rabbit out of a hat. If it seems like I’m going easy on him, that’s why.


Garrett Temple, SG

30 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -27

On the one hand, Temple’s three 3-pointers were an encouraging and much needed development from Washington’s perimeter rotation. On the other hand, Temple’s eye-popping minus-27 in 30 minutes of action illustrates just how comprehensively better the Pistons were when Temple was on the floor. In the second half, Coach Wittman experimented with three-guard lineups featuring Wall, Temple, and Ramon Sessions, but no matter where Temple went, Detroit success followed. He was as guilty as anyone of turning Kentavious Caldwell-Pope into a superstar in the second half, inexplicably and indefensibly losing track of the sweet-shooting sophomore guard over and over again, helping where help wasn’t needed, and then being just nowhere near dangerous enough at the other end to make up for the defensive lapses.

Temple’s usefulness as an NBA rotation player is predicated upon a couple of simple things: the ability to reliably float to open spots on the floor, the crucial ability to knock down a respectable percentage of the resulting catch-and-shoot opportunities, and the absolutely vital prerequisite that he play steady, sharp, committed defense. The effort is virtually always there, but Sunday afternoon, his lapses on the defensive end were just deadly.


Kris Humphries, PF

18 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +7

Kris Humphries played a crucial role in helping the Wizards build a first-half lead that stretched as high as 11 points. He had the stroke going on his regular diet of catch-and-shoot 20-footers, he hit the glass hard, and he stepped in front of an entry pass for a steal that led immediately to a Rasual Butler and-one transition dunk. During Humphries’ 11 first-half minutes, the Wizards outscored the Pistons by 18 points.

He had the misfortune of being on the floor for about three minutes of Caldwell-Pope’s third-quarter 3-point barrage, and attempted an ill-advised pull-up baseline jumper with the Wizards down eight points and the Pistons off to the races. That was his only attempt in seven minutes of second-half burn. There’s really no good explanation.


Otto Porter Jr., SF

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

The sad, miserable decline of Otto Porter continues unabated. Otto’s confidence is very clearly in the toilet, as would be expected of any young player without a clear offensive role whose chances come sporadically and seem tethered, moment to moment, on whether he has made or missed his previous attempt, or whether a player with whom he’s competing for minutes has made or missed his previous attempt.

An easy thing to say of Otto will be that he doesn’t shoot enough, but this will ignore that he is used almost exclusively as a decoy during his minutes, that the overwhelming majority of his touches come in positions where shooting is not the first, second, third, fourth, or even fifth option, and that the chances he’s given in this offense do not bear even a passing resemblance to the ways in which he earned his draft position. Otto does not help himself, in this regard, by being generally unable to generate offense for himself off the dribble, and his lack of strength makes it difficult for the team to use him as a facilitator inside the 3-point arc. None of that changes the fact that the Wizards presumably did some homework and had some sense of who they were drafting, and therefore ought to have had some plan for how they intended to wring some offensive value out of a player selected with the third overall pick in the 2013 draft. Astonishingly, there is no evidence to support any such notion. (He went to school just down the road at Georgetown, though, and played home games in the Verizon Center.)

Otto scored his only bucket on a nice dive to the basket off the ball. He came up with a steal in the first half. Like virtually everyone else in this offense, he was otherwise deployed in a theatrical routine of earnestly running through a series of wasted motions in service of nothing worth working for in the first place.


Martell Webster, SF

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

Webster saw two minutes of fourth-quarter burn, by which time the game was pretty much decided.


Rasual Butler, SF

22 MIN | 2-6 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +1

Rasual Butler was part of the bench unit that raced out to a lead in the second quarter. He threw down a pair of angry dunks in transition, served up by John Wall, and knocked down a midrange jumper in the flow of the offense. He couldn’t get uncorked from beyond the arc, continuing a recent and discouraging trend of cool shooting from the man who’d come to represent pretty much all of Washington’s 3-point firepower. When the wheels came off in the second half, Butler was incapable of mustering up any of the kinds of timely plays that defined his early season and which might have counteracted the shifting momentum. Ah well.


Kevin Seraphin, C

15 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -11

Seraphin dropped in a pair of rather typical Kevin Seraphin buckets in the first half, and impressed with a pair of sweet assists. It was strange to see him get the call as first man off the bench with Nene in early foul trouble. A Seraphin-Gortat interior pairing would seem to muck up Washington’s spacing to a degree that Humphries-Gortat or Nene-Gortat pairings generally do not, but attempting to make sense of Coach Wittman’s substitution patterns is a fool’s errand. Nene had to go to the bench, something happened, before anyone knew why or how Seraphin was in the game. Perhaps witchcraft was involved. Washington survived his first-half minutes, but, as with the rest of the roster, nothing good came of his second-half minutes.


DeJuan Blair, C

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

DeJuan Blair followed up his nauseatingly floater-laden performance against the Cavs with a single minute of forgettable run Sunday afternoon. That is the appropriate use of a nominal “big” who shoots 15-foot floaters in an NBA game.


Ramon Sessions, PG

19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -9

Sessions’ iffy finishing at the rim, a trait that comes precariously close to offsetting whatever nebulous benefit arises from his ability to get there in the first place, reared its ugly head against the Pistons. He did complete a lovely, acrobatic and-one layup and knocked down an open 3 from the wing, and his five assists certainly didn’t hurt. On the other hand, the three-guard lineup featuring him alongside Wall and Temple was catastrophically bad at both ends, and his deficiencies as a pick-and-roll ball-handler rendered any part of any possession shared with Wall in which Sessions ran the offense an exercise in willful and reckless misallocation of player personnel.

Still, it’s possible to see, already, some of what makes Sessions an appealing alternative to Temple and Andre Miller as a lead ball-handler for the second unit. By virtue of his ability to attack in any way, Washington’s John Wall-less lineups should have some ability to warp defenses, something they’ve sorely lacked for much of this season.


Randy Wittman

During Detroit’s decisive third-quarter run, one could almost see Randy Wittman struggling to make sense of a world of such profound injustice that there is one kind of shot that is worth more points than another kind of shot, and the added atrocity that the more valuable shot is one that both defies his sense of the morally right way to play the game and happened to be one the opponent was exploiting to great and wondrous effect.

Coach Wittman’s stubborn, scurrying retreat to principles of offense that died a public death years ago puts him at the head of the NBA’s version of the Flat Earth Society, but I’m sure no one wants to read any more about Washington’s organizational core of math-denialists. This is the lot we’ve been given, Wizards fans. On the one hand, let’s not savage this poor goddamn horse-corpse any more than is absolutely necessary; on the other, this is the very thing that is pinning the Wizards in this awful malaise.

What screwed the Wizards on Sunday is what has screwed them for weeks and weeks now, despite the earnest bleating of a segment of basketbloggers and reporters who’ve talked themselves into pinpointing the defense, like watching the Titanic sink and blaming it on the dinner menu, and who we should all henceforth refer to sneeringly as the Blockhead Navel Gazers: their offense is catastrophically bad. Either you see it or you don’t. Some of it is personnel, to be sure. The other 99.8 percent is a broken system that sees the team struggling mightily through a series of actions and passes, spending the first 12 seconds of the shot clock mechanically pinging the ball from one spot, 25 feet from the basket, to another spot, also 25 feet from the basket, for no greater purpose than the artificial and arbitrary shoehorning of “ball-movement” into the process, like Normal Dale’s wet dream brought horrifyingly to life, a basketball Necromorph whose first impression, before it gruesomely destroys something you love, is as an obscene affront to something beautiful.

Diagnosing this thing from afar could not be easier [a full double-bird to the It’s The Defense crowd], but fixing it in real time is, of course, the greater challenge. Holding aside the fact that the broken offense is Wittman’s own design, it falls to him now to see that it’s not working, understand why it’s not working, and do something, anything, to make it work. This has not happened. This has not remotely, remotely happened. And so, to the extent that defensive slippage has contributed to Washington’s precipitous decline, from briefly atop the Eastern Conference standings to now in full-blown tailspin, Wittman’s overall performance is that much more subject to urgent criticism.

The first half of Sunday’s game ended with the Wizards up five, having played a strong second quarter behind the hot shooting of Marcin Gortat and Kris Humphries. The game was as close as it was, despite the Wizards shooting 16 percent better from the floor and out-rebounding the Pistons, because Detroit had gotten loose for 14 mostly-clean 3-point looks. Sound reasoning and pristine hindsight tell me the second-half gameplan should have at least emphasized chasing the Pistons off the 3-point line, which makes what happened in the third and fourth quarters downright incomprehensible: Detroit got loose for 18 good, clean 3-point attempts, and buried the Wizards as a result.

This may come as a shock to as devoted a disciple of the Take What The Defense Gives You School of Basketball Self-Sabotage as Randy Wittman, but generating and taking 3-point shots is an actual priority for most other NBA offenses. In simple terms, it’s somewhat debatable (in that it is being debated, though it should be beyond debate) whether a team can survive while ignoring the 3-pointer at the offensive end, but what is absolutely clear is no team can survive while ignoring it at both ends. The Wizards somehow forgot to defend the 3-point line Sunday afternoon, and so they lost.

It falls on everyone involved, but no one more than the coach.


The end.

 

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Key Legislature: Wizards 89 at Pistons 106 — Ignition Failure in the Motor City http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-89-at-pistons-106-key-legislature-56.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-89-at-pistons-106-key-legislature-56.html#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 05:05:12 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45529 Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 56 versus the Pistons in Middle America,
via John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) from the East Coast.

DC Council Key Legislature

by John Converse Townsend.

The Washington Wizards lost to the Detroit Pistons, 106-89. Not a soul from sea to shining sea is surprised.

I have thoughts, but first, a word from the head coach, Randy Wittman:

The way Wittman broke the game down postgame would suggest that it was close: a contest that went down to the wire. But it was not. The Wizards surrendered their five-point halftime lead less than six minutes into the third quarter and would trail the Pistons for the rest of the game.(1)

They were outscored 35-19 in the third quarter and 24-18 in the fourth. That’s 59-37 in the second half.

What happened?

“We played the last couple of minutes of quarters like it was a pickup game,” Wittman said. “It’s a snowball effect. It is the little things that add up to big things, and they continue to get bigger and bigger as we speak.”

There is some truth to that.(2) Even Ted Leonsis has blogged about less than ideal late-game execution.

But what a wonderful quote.

The pickup game reference. Pickup games are typically played without free throw attempts; shots inside the arc count as one point and beyond-the-arc attempts are good for two. The Wizards went 9-for-14 from the free throw line. The Pistons: 19-for-25. The Wizards attempted 17 shots from beyond the arc (one more than their season average, wow!) and made six. The Pistons were 13-for-32 from 3.

The snowball effect. The little things being packed together, adding up to BIG things, which get BIGGER like Gremlins in a 1984 nightmare comedy… Wittman’s Wizards shot a better percentage from the field (43.5%) than the Pistons (41.5%), but all that earned them was an “L.”

So while the Wizards were doing their best to run an #AggressiveMidrange offense, 102 of Detroit’s 106 points came from 3, the paint, or the free throw line, per WTOP play-by-play announcer Dave Johnson. Basketball in the 21st century!

The Wizards scored 75 of their 89 points in the same fashion, 48 of those 75 came in the paint (beating Detroit in that area by four).

After Friday night’s loss to the Cavaliers, the Wizards’ worst in nearly 40 years, Wittman wondered where the team’s “edge” went. He said his players lacked “meanness, toughness.” So in the second quarter, up nine points, Wittman subbed in DeJuan Blair, unskilled laborer, for $60 million man Marcin Gortat. The Pistons scored five unanswered points in the next 67 seconds.

But the problem, in Wittman’s world, wasn’t questionable rotations, including again having both John Wall and Nene on the bench at the same time, but shot selection. (The blame is almost always on the players.)

“We took three of the God-awfulest shots we can take, all 3s, like we’re smoking-hot from 3,” he said.

SHOT ONE

RB3

 

Rasual Butler was pretty open when he caught this pass with the Pistons’ defense on its heels. Caron Butler showed he still has something left in those old legs with a decent close-out. Not the worst look. Front iron.

SHOT TWO

jw3

John Wall, All-Star, fired this wide-open 3 in transition, aiming for the two-for-one to end the first half. Wall has hit 45.5 percent of his 3s from that spot on the floor, above league average. He missed, front iron.

SHOT THREE

rb3

It was Rasual Butler’s very well-contested 3-pointer from the corner. Cartier Martin wasn’t fooled at all by the Wizards go-to play at the end of quarters: a John Wall ISO followed by either a pull-up jump shot or a kick-out. Airball. A truly ‘God-awful’ attempt—but the only one.

Even with that series of possessions, which was not nearly as embarrassing as Wittman suggested, the Wizards had a FIVE-POINT LEAD at halftime. They led by eight in the third quarter. And they lost … by 17.

The fact is Wittman, asking Otto Porter to fire 19-foot jump shots out of timeouts, did little to suggest that he’s brought any imagination into his offensive sets, game plans, or film sessions. John Wall & Co. let a double-digit lead disappear. In the process, they attempted more long 2-pointers than either 3s or shots at the rim.

Wittman’s Washington Wizards, once again, failed their #BasketballMath test.

Washington’s Second Half Shot Chart

Shotchart_1424658082153

The Pistons deserve credit, of course. They’re 18-10 in their last 28 games.

“This group has been fantastic,” said Head Coach Stan Van Gundy about his players after the game. “They were 5-23 at Christmas, and I don’t know how many teams would have kept it together at that point. Since then, we keep making changes, and they keep figuring it out, and now we’re in the playoff race.”

New guy, Reggie Jackson, who started 0-for-8 from the field, finished with 17 points on 18 shots, adding five assists and five rebounds along the way.

“He got himself really hyped up to be out there,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t know if anyone noticed, but the first time we took him out of the game, he threw up on the bench.

“Once he got calmed down in the second half, he looked like the player we traded for.”

The Golden State Warriors, owners of the NBA’s best record (43-10), are next on the schedule. It’ll be a battle between two squads with philosophies so different it’s difficult to tell whether they’re even playing the same sport. And it’ll very likely be a bloodbath, in favor of Steve Kerr’s bunch.

(Sometimes, however, there’s a feeling that this is the type of game even these Wizards will win, especially if the defense really only has to concentrate on Klay Thompson, assuming Steph Curry rests again.)

The Wizards have lost eight of their last 10 and have gone 14-17 since starting 19-6 against a string of chump squads. They’re predictable, not at all improved from the 2013-14 version, and just one step above average at best.

And still I see no changes.

It’s not just disrespectful to the game. It’s insane.

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Opening Statements: Wizards at Pistons, Game 56 http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-at-piston-game-56-opening-statements.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-at-piston-game-56-opening-statements.html#comments Sun, 22 Feb 2015 18:22:46 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45519


Teams: Wizards at Pistons
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Venue: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WTEM-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards favored by 1.5 points.


Less than 48 hours after suffering their worst home loss in nearly 40 years (to the Cleveland Cavaliers), the crisis-mode Washington Wizards are now in Detroit to face the Pistons.

There certainly is no shame in suffering a big loss right after this All-Star break, because the Wizards were in good company in that regard. The Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Hawks suffered a 25-point home loss to Lou Williams and the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. That same night, the defending champion San Antonio Spurs lost by 21 points on the road to the Western Conference-leading Golden State Warriors. But the difference between what happened to the Wizards and what happened to the Hawks and the Spurs can be found in the postgame reactions.

After the Hawks loss, Coach Mike Budenholzer was concerned with his team’s defense, and swingman DeMarre Carroll said, “The shots we took were good shots, we just missed them. We just have to get back in the lab, get to the film.”

The most telling quote came from Al Horford, one of the team’s leaders who said, “Give them credit, they’re a great team, but we’re a confident group.” No panic, no squabbling, just an anomaly the team has to overcome.

Following the Spurs’ loss, Coach Gregg Popovich was his normal cranky self, and he did not take nor answer a single postgame question. Manu Ginobili took the glass half-full approach and said, “We didn’t play that bad, they were just inspired and we couldn’t make shots.” It isn’t surprising that the defending champions would take a blowout loss in February in stride, but the players on the Spurs and the Hawks trust their system, trust each other and trust their coaches (Budenholzer fell from the Popovich coaching tree).

The Wizards haven’t been as successful as the Hawks this season, or the Spurs over the last 18 seasons, and it showed in their lack of post-game composure. Coach Randy Wittman aired the team’s dirty laundry by mentioning he had guys complaining about their lack of playing time. Paul Pierce and Marcin Gortat disagreed via the media on where to play the defensive blame against the Cavaliers. Pierce felt like team defense could have improved, because the Wizards lack “extremely great individual” defenders. Gortat felt like his teammates were too reliant on help defense, and that the Wizards needed to “man up” and win their individual matchups.

There was not a singular, positive voice telling the media that the team would stay the course, be positive, and come back the next game against Detroit. Wittman did mention after Saturday’s practice in Washington that both Pierce and Gortat were right, but what happens Sunday afternoon in the Motor City will determine just how deeply Friday’s post-game comments affected the team.

Speaking of positivity, the Wizards face a Detroit Pistons team that is brimming with confidence. They defeated the Chicago Bulls on Friday, 100-91, despite only dressing 10 players. On Thursday they acquired Reggie Jackson from the Oklahoma City Thunder (which offsets the loss of Brandon Jennings, out at least six weeks with an Achilles injury). The 22-33 Pistons are currently one game behind each the Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets for the eighth-best record in the Eastern Conference, and one and a half games behind the Miami Heat for seventh. While everyone in the NBA family wishes a speedy recovery to Chris Bosh (out for the season with blood clots in his lungs), the reality is that the Heat may struggle to maintain their playoff slot and the Pistons are primed to take it. The Wizards cannot afford to mentally jump to Tuesday’s game against the Golden State Warriors and overlook this Detroit team. The mere concept of Washington overlooking any team at this juncture—including the 5th grade boys team at St. Mary’s School for the Blind—seems unfathomable.

The Wizards’ keys to victory, ironically enough, depend on the two players who were the most vocal after Friday night’s blowout loss: Marcin Gortat and Paul Pierce. Gortat had just eight points and six rebounds, and registered neither in the second half. There were at least four occasions where he failed to grab an attainable rebound and, at one point, Coach Wittman decided he’d seen enough and subbed in Drew Gooden. Pierce’s disappearing act on Friday night was even more problematic, given how much he harped on the importance of protecting home court during preseason. He had nine points, three turnovers and zero 3-pointers in 27 minutes of play, and he was also scoreless in second half. Pierce has not played well in a Wizards’ win since the January victory over the Denver Nuggets when he scored 19 points. He’s 37 years old, and to this point Wittman has not asked Pierce to carry the team offensively, but with Beal still out and the team in an obvious funk, now is as good of a time as any for Pierce to summon some Celtics-era magic. If that’s even possible.

Wall and Nene held up their end of the offensive bargain against the Cavs, as they so often do, by combining for 36 points on 61 percent shooting. But Gortat, Pierce and at least one bench player need to step up, because another loss could lead to more panic, more disagreements via the media and even bloodier pixels.

After all the early-season hype, this House of Guards may be nothing more than a house of cards: easily toppled, and perhaps from the inside out.


Notes:

  • After today, the Wizards and Pistons will face off one more time (next Saturday in Washington) to complete the three-game season series.
  • Washington beat Detroit, 107-103, way back in the eighth game of the season.
  • John Converse Townsend set the scene for the key moments from that first meeting in which John Wall led the Wizards to a squeaker of a win:

Wall finished the game with 27 points, 11 assists, three rebounds, three steals, one block, and just one turnover. Pierce put up 13 points on 11 shots and added eight rebounds. Gortat posted his third double-double of the year with 14 points and 13 rebounds. His last basket probably won the Wizards the game. It came very late in the action, and it was set up by John Wall, of course.

Wall had just hit a 10-foot runner to give the Wizards a 101-100 lead with 70 seconds to play. Greg Monroe was kind enough to turn the ball over on the Pistons’ next possession, which gave gave the Wizards the rock and the lead with less than a minute to play. The ball was spotted by the scorer’s table, with Pierce looking to pop out for 3 from behind some major screen action on the weak side. Pierce wasn’t open, so Wall checked back to the ball, pivoted, and waited for Nene to set a pick at the top of the arc. Wall used it to perfection, controlled his speed, and hit Nene in stride with a textbook pocket pass. The Pistons defense, specifically Josh Smith and Kyle Singler, rushed to recover and seal off the open lane to the rim. They succeeded, but that’s exactly what John Wall and Nene wanted.

The big Brazilian slipped an underhand pass to Gortat, cutting baseline, who finished uncontested. Wizards 103, Pistons 100.

 

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DC Council 55: Wizards vs Cavaliers — There Will Be Bloody Pixels http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/dc-council-game-55-wizards-89-vs-cavs-127.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/dc-council-game-55-wizards-89-vs-cavs-127.html#comments Sun, 22 Feb 2015 15:01:39 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45505 Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 55: Wizards versus Cavaliers in Washington.
Contributor: Adam McGinnis from the District.

washington wizards, cleveland cavaliers, nba, john wall, nene, otto porter, truth about it

photo courtesy of Monumental Sports

DC-Council-Logo-2

Friday night was set up for a entertaining time on Fun Street. Washington’s nemesis, LeBron James, was in town and the match-up between between All-Star guards John Wall and Kyrie Irving is always a treat. Both teams continue to battle for positioning in the Eastern Conference standings and a future tiebreaker for playoff seeding was potentially on the line. The game was televised in primetime on ESPN and played out live in front of a sold-out crowd.

But instead of entertainment, the evening ended up being a debacle for Washington. The Cavs dominated the hapless Wizards in every facet of the contest. James and Irving got to the hoop at will, Washington missed their first 13 3-pointers, and the Cavaliers knocked in 14 long-range shots.

To make matters worse, infamous Wall-hater, agent David Falk, strutted around the arena like he owned the place. I witnessed him take a “selfie” with CNN’s Wolf Blizter. The actual owner of the Wizards, Ted Leonsis, appeared oblivious to the beatdown and behaved as if he were at a Hollywood cocktail party by chumming it up with Jamie Foxx next to the team’s bench. For a successful business man who prides himself in marketing to his loyal customers, it is a bad look and opens himself up to a justifiable line of criticism. Ted knows better, too.

In Randy Wittman’s postgame press conference, he said that his team lost their “edge” and “nastiness” over the All-Star break. But honestly, this style advantage has been gone for awhile now. After beating the Spurs and the Bulls in a back-to-back in mid-January, the Wizards were blown out in the following game at home by the subpar Brooklyn Nets. Including that defeat, the Wizards have won just six of their last 16 games. The six wins have been against the Nets twice, the 76ers, the Nuggets, the Lakers, and the Magic. Those teams currently have a combined record of 85-187, a .310 winning percentage. The 10 losses have been to teams with a combined record of 251-181, a .590 winning percentage. Put differently: The Wizards can’t beat good teams.

During Washington’s 2015 fall to mediocrity (11-13 record this calendar year), “Is it time to panic?” has been thrown around as a legitimate debate question. This inquiry might be the wrong way to approach the Wizards’ struggles, as this team may simply be regressing to what they’ve been set up to be all along. The Wizards have more bad teams coming up on the schedule (Hi, Philly and Flip!) that will help pad the win column while they will likely continue to fall short against elite squads(Golden State comes to town on Tuesday), especially without Bradley Beal.

To quote an ex-Wizard, Mike Miller: “It is what it is.”

OK, let’s grade Friday night’s atrocity.


 

Cleveland Cavaliers

127

Final

Box Score

Washington Wizards

89

Nene Hilario, PF

25 MIN | 8-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | -5 +/-

There were few positive takeaways and the play of Nene was one of them. He had a strong opening quarter and finished well around the hoop. There was a scare when Nene came up limping in the second half and #Pray4Nenes were flying around #WizardsTwitter. It turned out to be a cramp. WHEW.


Paul Pierce, SF

28 MIN | 3-10 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -6 +/-

Pierce was a defensive liability and could not knock down any open shots. The break didn’t make him look any younger, either.


Otto Porter Jr., SF

30 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 4 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -8 +/-

Young Simba got the starting nod for the injured Bradley Beal and was able to show some useful things. He was active in passing lanes and cut well to the hoop. However, his shooting weakness is still apparent, and I’m still unsure if he is a rotation player down the stretch of the season.


Marcin Gortat, C

27 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -28 +/-

Just when you think Marcin had busted out of his 2015 slump, he throws out another dud. He was indecisive on offense, lost on defense, fumbled away multiple easy loose balls, and was completely outplayed by the Cavs’ big men. Gortat finished with a plus/minus of minus-28. His center counterpart, Timofey Mozgov, was a plus-42. Sure, those on/off numbers always need proper context, but a 70-point difference? Good grief, Gortat.


John Wall, PG

32 MIN | 8-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 18 PTS | -11 +/-

Plenty of blame to go around for this whooping, but don’t point the finger at No. 2. Wall did his All-Star starter stuff by racing to the hoop and filling up the stat sheet. His defense could have been a tad better versus Kyrie Irving, but both of them put up similar offensive numbers. Irving triumphed in this battle of former No. 1 overall picks because he had a better supporting cast, but, somehow, Wall finished with nine assists when his teammates were ice cold from outside.


Kris Humphries, PF

18 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -17 +/-T

Secret Weapon made little impact, and he might still be bothered by his sore back, which he hurt against the Magic on the Monday before the All-Star break.


Drew Gooden, PF

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

Gooden got most of his run when the game was out of hand in the second half. He still was able to earn on a spot on the bloopers with this messed up sequence. I chucked a stats sheet up in the air after he tossed a cross-court pass five rows into the stands. It was one of those nights.


Martell Webster, SF

20 MIN | 1-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -32 +/-

Usually, a professional athlete plays much better than his musical endeavors. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening with Martell. The guy can flow on the microphone and has produced solid creative beats. His lackluster outing against the Cavs, however, was another example of how his NBA career has hit the skids. The Wizards are in desperate need for a wing player to contribute and Webster hasn’t been the answer for a long time.


Rasual Butler, SF

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

Casual Fridays Butler was exposed for his true identity once again. He is a minimum salary veteran that over-performed earlier in the season and is probably being counted on more than he should be at this point of his career. He rushed shots, got destroyed by LeBron off the dribble, and his minus-30 plus/minus was horrific.


DeJuan Blair, C

14 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -18 +/-

Blair’s eight second-half points tied Wall’s for the team lead. I have been critical enough, so no reason to elaborate any further.


Ramon Sessions, PG

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

Sessions made his Wizards debut at the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter with Washington down 32 points. It is impossible to evaluate his performance in this scenario.


Garrett Temple, SG

9 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -22 +/-

Temple subbed in for Wall to begin the second quarter and Cavs immediately went on a 14-2 run to blow the game open. Garrett is helluva teammate and a great person, but he should not be a backup, or even third-string, point guard on a contending NBA squad.


Kevin Seraphin, C

DNP FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-

#KSLife was out with a sore thumb from Snapchatting so much. Just kidding. He didn’t feel well and they could have used his offensive spark on the second unit. Being declared out with “flu-like symptoms,” he still, for some reason, sat on the bench next to teammates.


Randy Wittman

My Twitter mentions are constantly bombarded with “Fire Wittman” comments. Coach might still possess a flip phone, so I know he is not monitoring his name online. Regardless, my response to his critics is always the same: Wait until the season concludes to fairly evaluate this staff. Otherwise, critique on Randy can be address on a game-by-game basis (with a few philosophy frustrations thrown in).

Since the last time the Wizards beat the Cavs, Cleveland has added J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Mozgov, while the Wizards just swapped Andre Miller for Sessions. It is difficult to lay roster inefficiencies on Wittman. Cleveland is a better team right now, but this does not give Wittman pass on getting beat in such an embarrassing fashion. My current beef: Wall and Nene are by far the team’s most superior players—the metrics back this up—and with Beal out, one of them has to be on the court at all times. If not, the Wizards quickly sink.


Pictures.

washington wizards, cleveland cavaliers, nba, espn, truth about it, jamie foxx, ted leonsis

washington wizards, cleveland cavaliers, nba, espn, truth about it, kyrie irving, lebron james

washington wizards, cleveland cavaliers, nba, espn, truth about it, mike miller, brendan haywood

washington wizards, cleveland cavaliers, nba, espn, truth about it, kyrie irving, mike miller

washington wizards, cleveland cavaliers, nba, espn, truth about it, cnn, wolf blitzer

 

Vines.

 

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Key Legislature: Cavs 127 vs Wizards 89 — The Wizards Should Blame It On The… http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/key-legislature-cavs-127-vs-wizards-89-the-wizards-should-blame-it-on-the.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/key-legislature-cavs-127-vs-wizards-89-the-wizards-should-blame-it-on-the.html#comments Sat, 21 Feb 2015 16:55:47 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45491 Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s)
for Washington Wizards contest No. 55 versus the Cavaliers in D.C,
via Rashad Mobley (@rashad20) from the Verizon Center.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Rashad Mobley.

In hindsight, it was rather fitting that the Verizon Center P.A. announcer loudly recognized the presence of Jamie Foxx (who sat next to an exuberant Ted Leonsis) during the Cavaliers’ drubbing of the Wizards on Friday night (it was the largest margin of victory for a road team over a home team this season). Back in 2008, Foxx (along with T-Pain) had a hit song, “Blame It,” and in the chorus he listed reasons why the mutual attraction between he and a certain young lady was seemingly amplified:

Blame it on the [Grey] Goose, gotcha feeling loose
Blame it on the ‘Trón [Patron], catch me in a zone
Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol
Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol
Blame it on the vodka, blame it on the Henny
Blame it on the blue tap, got you feeling dizzy
Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol
Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol

The Wizards’ post-game press scrums were much too depressing to realistically expect the players to produce any sort of melodic listing of hypotheses related to the 38-point loss. However, there were plenty of valid reasons to expect some sort of post All-Star Break letdown.

This NBA is experimenting with a extended All-Star break (a minimum of eight days), and the Wizards had not played since February 11, when they narrowly lost to the Toronto Raptors. Washington also continues to play without Bradley Beal, who is scheduled to resume basketball-related activities today, due to a stress reaction in his right fibula. Andre Miller was traded on Thursday, and despite the declining quality of his play in recent days, when he was on, he would both provide John Wall with rest and be a calming influence for the second unit. With him gone, and the newly-acquired Ramon Sessions limited due to his unfamiliarity with the offense, the Wizards would be shorthanded. Kevin Seraphin was also out with “flu-like symptoms.” And rounding out the list of excuses for last night’s drubbing was the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers had won 13 out of their last 15 games, including a 12-game winning streak, making them one of the hottest teams in the NBA.

(Life is hard for the Washington Wizards, the only NBA team forced to take a break for All-Star weekend. And to have to deal with injuries and absences and questionable game plans.)

Again, that list of excuses is nowhere near as glamorous as the one Mr. Foxx presented, but if the Wizards were to issue a mea culpa, they certainly would have carte blanche in the excuse department.

Prior to the game, when asked how or if the extended break would assist the Wizards against the Cavaliers, coach Randy Wittman was cautiously optimistic and focused on the bigger picture:

“You never know, honestly, until we get out here tonight. I think this was the most games—and I’ve been in the league 31 years—this is the most games I’ve played pre-All Star break. Coming out of the break there are only 28 games left, so I want our guys to focus. Twenty-eight games is going to go by fast, that’s basically eight weeks … and in the blink of an eye it’s going to be over. That focus has got to be there, having that understanding that each night is really critical and important for us to play the way we’re capable of.”

When the game began, it was clear the Wizards were lacking in the focus department. They shot 54 percent (Cleveland shot 50%), and Nene and Wall (eight points apiece) were in a rhythm offensively, but the team committed five turnovers, and only a series of missed wide-open shots by the Cavs prevented them from taking full advantage of the Wizards’ poor rotations and slow closeouts on defense. The Wizards allowed the Cavs to score 35 points in the opening quarter, but they only trailed by nine, and there was no need to panic just yet.

Then the first four minutes of the second quarter happened.

Since Wall needed rest, Andre Miller was traded, and Ramon Sessions was sitting and learning from the Wizards’ assistant coaches, Wittman was forced to send out the point guard-less lineup of Garrett Temple, Rasual Butler, Martell Webster, Kris Humphries, and Marcin Gortat. Cavaliers Coach David Blatt decided to let LeBron James play point guard with his second unit—it was as if James noticed the Wizards’ lack of organization and continuity and decided to pounce.

The Cavaliers went on 17-4 run over the first four minutes of the second quarter. During that span James had five points, two assists, and a steal to help the Cavs extend their lead to 22 points. Temple could not get the second unit into any semblance of an offensive set, the shooters (Butler and Webster) did not have enough space to get the confidence-building, wide-open shots they needed, and Humphries and Gortat were out-hustled on defense and invisible on offense. It is easy and borderline lazy to say that Sessions and the departed Miller would have engineered a different opening four minutes of the quarter, but it was crystal clear that no one not named John Wall could prevent the scoring avalanche from Cleveland.

Coach Wittman was forced to prematurely insert Nene, Paul Pierce, and Wall back into the game at the 8:23 mark of the second, but Coach Blatt countered a minute later by re-inserting the fresh legs of Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith. The Cavs’ lead hovered around 20 points until the last two minutes of the second quarter, when the Wizards went on an 8-2 run to cut their deficit to 14 points.

Washington maintained that hopeful, positive momentum in the third quarter, and two Otto Porter free throws cut the Cavs’ lead to 11 points with 9:16 left. Then, much like he did in the second quarter, LeBron woke up and played like a man who had no intentions of running fourth-quarter minutes. First he found J.R. Smith for yet another wide open 3-pointer, then he hit two in a row of his own, then Smith got in on the act once again. Wall (eight points) and Nene (six points) were once again carrying the Wizards as best they could, but Pierce and Gortat went scoreless and Porter’s two free throws were his only offerings.

There may have been a list of valid excuses for Washington to lose to Cleveland prior to the game, but during the contest they looked disinterested on defense and disjointed on offense. There were no coaching adjustments and no new acquisition was going to help. The fourth quarter was just extended garbage time.

As TAI’s Chris Thompson alluded to in his Opening Statements post, even though a win put Cleveland ahead of the Wizards in the Eastern Conference standings, and it was on national TV, it is still just one damn game. However, there were two post-game comments by Wittman and Gortat which suggested that the blame games may not be an isolated to last night.

First, Wittman indicated that he has some disgruntled players:

“We’re sending nothing but bad vibes right now and we have to get back to working hard, putting more time in. We have 15 guys and I have guys complaining about playing time all the time. Well, here it is. What are you going to do with it? Show me you deserve to play. Right now I’m looking for that. I’m looking for that, obviously with Bradley [Beal] being out. Opportunities are there and guys have got to step up and give me more than they’re giving me.”

Then Gortat accused his teammates of laziness on defense:

“You just gotta man up and play defense, one of us has to step in and play one-on-one defense, simple as that. Stop the guy in front of you. You can’t rely constantly on help, and help and help, you just gotta man up and play defense and whatever it takes to win your matchup.”

This could be knee-jerk post-game emotion after a loss, or these could be endemic issues brought on by the frustration of going just 14-16 in the last 30 games after such a quick start (against a cupcake schedule). The list of factors to blame for Friday’s debacle is seemingly endless.

But it’s just one damn game, right? Perhaps the best coping mechanism is to simply laugh it off:

 

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Wizards Get Slaughtered by Cavs, Jeff Van Gundy Calls Out Ted Leonsis for ‘Happy Mood’ http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-ted-leonsis-happy-jamie-foxx-jeff-van-gundy.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/wizards-ted-leonsis-happy-jamie-foxx-jeff-van-gundy.html#comments Sat, 21 Feb 2015 03:44:45 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=45481
[via @recordsANDradio]

[via @recordsANDradio]

OK, wow. So a beat-down happened on Friday night. Unsure myself of how to feel going into the game, no feeling, certain or not, opposing or apathetic, would have expected an outcome that involved Cleveland winning by 38 points(1) and leading by as much as 40 points (by 22 in the first quarter).

Oh, I forgot. The excuses. Bradley Beal was out, Kevin Seraphin was a late-scratch with an immediate post-All-Star break condition of “flu-like symptoms” (not suspicious at all), and Ramon Sessions was very new and did not get on the court until Brendan Haywood got on the court, basically.

As one Chris “Hawk” ‘Thompson’ mentioned in the opening statements, it’s just one game for the Washington Wizards. They’ll be in the playoffs and this one game won’t decide the first-round series, regardless of the opponent. But also: the team of Ted’s Take, Ernie’s Process, and Randy’s Wittmans now has one single win and 10 losses versus these Eastern Conference Opponents: Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Charlotte Hornets. The one win came against Cleveland when: Twitter happened.

But hey, at least they beat the Bulls sans this season’s Derrick Rose and depth, last season. Another also: the Wizards can’t beat the good teams when healthy. Did you know that only 13 NBA five-man units have spent 300 or more minutes on the court together heading into Friday night? The Wizards have two of them—396 minutes from Wall, Beal, Pierce, Nene, and Gortat; 317 minutes for the same lineup except Humphries instead of Nene. No other team had more than one.(2)

But hey, at least Ted Leonsis is happy. Even if Jeff Van Gundy and, really, no one else approves. Yep, that’s Jaime Foxx next to the Theodore Unit. And this scene happened not long before a commercial, for a local company called Under Armour, featuring Foxx and Stephen Curry arrived on the ESPN television. Kevin Durant, you might have heard, wanted to maybe sign with Under Armour this past summer but Nike matched the offer, or whatever of that nature. Just sayin’.

Oh yeah, Pharrell song with Willie Beamon. Don’t want to digress any further.

But there was sporting-celebutante hobnobbing and basketball-shooting after the loss.

Jeff Van Gundy’s quote (if you turn on the sound for the Vine below): “That’s an owner in a happy mood right there, right next to the bench.”

 

What else? This:

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