As Washington’s dreary season slogs along, faithful followers of this 2-15 team should realize that no loss is a surprise anymore. Blowouts, overtime defeats, missed game-winners, unsuccessful comebacks, and so many—nay, too many—“moral victories.” Even the Wizards’ two wins caused discomfort throughout their conclusions. Personally, I expect the worst and then laugh at the absurdity of the outcomes to mask my disappointed sorrow.
Twitter hashtags #SoWizards and #BecauseWizards exist for a reason. And, somehow, the Wizards found yet another unique way to lose an NBA contest on Saturday night, falling to Golden State, 101-97. This squad continues to be stricken by late-game calamity.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry made two free throws to put Warriors up three points, 99-96, with eight seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The Warriors then wisely fouled Wizards guard Bradley Beal on the floor before he was able to get a potential game-tying 3-point shot off. Randy Wittman acknowledged in post game presser that it was a wise strategy employed by the Warriors since Washington was out of timeouts. Beal was surprised by the foul, believing that he was in the act of shooting.
“I didn’t know they were going to foul. I thought he was going to let me shoot, but the ref called it. He said that he called it before I shot it. But I didn’t take another dribble, so I thought it was three shots. … It was a smart foul because you shoot two free throws.”
Hi there Internet. Why yes, this here site has doled a lot of criticism toward JaVale McGee in the past X amount of time. While some of it has certainly been flagrant, it is not baseless.
However, one might counter that we have not given young McGee enough praise. This may be true and to that we will say this, he is a keeper… despite all the basketball disruption that his alter ego, I’m assuming his name is “Pierre,” has caused to the playpen of team functionality and trust. He’s not a bad kid. He is young, after all, but many times disappointingly young in comparison to some contemporaries. Still, no one said an investment in youth is easy, but it’s usually always worth it, especially given McGee’s athletic parameters.
Critique of the NBA often surrounds the narrative of one player dribbling around then shooting. But when you have a 20-year old athlete whose combination of speed and size is already superior to most at his position, you take advantage of his one-on-one skills. And when that player loves to pass and relishes in the assist while always being a threat to score, it’s called basketball. Flip Saunders is a basketball coach and he often knows exactly what to do with John Wall.
Spread sets usually seem reserved for late-clock situations, and mostly true for the instances in the video below. Still, with Wall they can be implemented at just about any point of the game, depending on his surrounding personnel and the defensive match-ups the Wizards might want to exploit, of course. This clip of four plays all occurred in two games against the Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz on the Wizards’ late March west coast road trip, and all came with around 70 seconds or less left in a period. Let’s watch…
Earl Watson, Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis… Sure, intimidating defenders they are not. But also, this is the NBA. Not many rookies can make these moves look so easy — an attack of the rim through trees, finding Yi Jianlian for a bounce pass in the paint, throwing the perfect lob to JaVale McGee, getting to the rim through a big man, making the basket, drawing a foul, and finishing with a muscle flex.
My column last week in the DCist got delayed due to my account, so it was posted this morning for you to kindly read. It’s all about how the “Our Time” motto worked out for the Virginia Commonwealth Rams, but not so much for the Washington Wizards. And as evident by the posters above from the crowd seen on television at VCU’s big win over Kansas yesterday, it was clearly a theme that resonated from when Rams coach Shaka Smart outlined it for his team at the beginning of their season. So a big congrats goes to VCU … go check out my DCist column … and the below screen shot captures how the ticket that I purchased in Las Vegas last July (while I was out there for the NBA Summer League) for the Kansas Jayhawks to win the NCAA national title feels.
Randy Wittman seems to be a guy who likes to color within the lines. And sure there is an occasional twitch, a little jerk that sends his coaching marker beyond expectations – take for example his colorful exchange with JaVale McGee, which left both men red in the face.
But slip-ups like that, at the very least, let you know that the guy is human.
“Trust me, I don’t want to be standing here talking with you guys,” he said with a smirk before Wednesday night’s game versus the Golden State Warriors, filling in for Flip Saunders, who was with his ailing mother who recently passed away. Even with his disarming smile, you could tell that there was a fire in Wittman’s words, a communication of purpose. Such passion is expected from a man who has lived and breathed basketball since the ’70s, I imagine.
“The effort has to be better, obviously,” said Wittman during his pregame presser. “It can’t fluctuate. […] To win in this league and be a winner in this league you can’t have fluctuations in your effort, energy, and desire playing. Chicago kind of took that out of us … they kind of took the will to win away from us and that can’t happen.”
Golden State Warriors rookie Ekpe Udoh got off of the team bus on Wednesday night in Washington expecting to play against the agile Wizards frontcourt. The scouting report his coaches gave him stressed the athleticism and versatility of JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis. Udoh knew that type of game would work in his favor. What Udoh did not expect: to hear Golden State coach Keith Smart tell him that he’d get his first NBA start.
“Man, coach just walked by me and whispered something, but I really didn’t hear him at first,” Udoh said after the 106-102 Warriors win with a big smile on his face. “Then he told me that I would be starting and I was just surprised, but I did my best to calm down and just be ready.”
After the game, Smart explained his rationale for starting Udoh over Andris Biedrins:
[Editor's note: Ryan Gracia is majoring in sports communication and journalism at George Mason University and freelances for local sites of Patch.com. Some of his previous work for TAI can be found here and here. Below, Ryan recaps the droughts of let-down for the Wizards against the Warriors on Wednesday night.]
It’s safe to say the Wizards have been inconsistent this year. They lost at home to the Phoenix Suns by 18 points back on January 21, then bounced back the next night to pull out arguably one of the best wins of the season against the Boston Celtics (thanks to some missed shots that Celtic vets don’t miss often — but hey it was a win nonetheless). I’ll also remind you that the Wizards actually boasted a winning record at home (13-10 leading up to February), while nearing an unbelievably embarrassing feat of setting an NBA-record 30 straight losses to begin a season away from the friendly confines of the Verizon Center, going 0-25 before their first win against the Cleveland Cavaliers — who had just ended a 26-game overall losing streak of their own.
I know, that’s a lot to take in, but those inconsistencies throughout the season were on display Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors, and it set up quite an interesting matchup against the seventh-highest scoring team in the NBA this season.
Barely three minutes into the game, the 13-4 Washington advantage showing on the jumbotron must have been shocking even to the five Wizards players walking toward the bench following a timeout. Here’s why: Flip Saunders (or Randy Wittman in the case of Wednesday night’s game) wasn’t the pissed off coach calling the timeout following a big run.
ESPN’s John Hollinger and Chad Ford recently completed the latest edition of their ‘Future Power Rankings.’ (Found here, requires ESPN Insider). Like previous versions, they begin their rankings with the following introduction:
The Future Power Rankings are ESPN Insider’s projection of the on-court success expected for each team during the 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
Each of the NBA’s 30 teams received an overall Future Power Rating of 0 to 1,000, based on how well we expect each team to perform in the three seasons following this season.
In determining the Future Power Rating, Hollinger and Ford rated each team in five categories. The sum of those ratings = a team’s Future Power Rating. From the article, here is an explanation of each category: Read more »
[Cartier Martin, with hand raised to the right (20), sets up behind the 3-point line.]
“Not as terrible as one would expect,” reads one of only two IMDb user reviews for The Cartier Affair, the 1984 made-for-TV movie Wizards G/F Cartier Martin was named after.
The weighted average of this romantic crime comedy starring the Hoff, Joan Collins, and Telly Savalas sits at a 4.9 (out of 10). 19.4% of voters rated it a 10, 20.9% rated it a 5, and the remaining votes were scattered across the scale. The Cartier Affair was best enjoyed, on average, by males aged 18-29 and females aged 45 and older – rating the flick a 7.4 and an 8.5 respectively. Digressing no further (because this demographic inspection is only mildly interesting to me and not applicable to my hoops analysis), the critique “not as terrible as one would expect” applies to Cartier Martin, too.
At first glance, his career stats (in 51 total NBA games with the Bobcats, Warriors, and Wizards) don’t pop off the page. Read more »