Jose Calderon played flawless basketball for the first 47 minutes and 17 seconds of Detroit’s game against Washington. He had just six points on 2-of-6 shooting, but he dished out 18 assists–nine in the third quarter when the Pistons went from down nine points to up 12. Up to that point, Calderon had not turned the ball over, and he hadn’t committed any personal fouls. His only focus was on getting good shots for Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe (the duo accounted for 13 of Calderon’s assists).
With 43 seconds left in the game, Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer to bring the Wizards within six points of the Pistons, 96-90, and on the next possession, Calderon committed his first turnover of the game via an offensive foul. Coach Lawrence Frank immediately called timeout, and when play resumed, Calderon turned the ball over for a second consecutive time when he lost the ball off the dribble. Ariza grabbed the errant pass and was headed down the court for an easy layup, until Will Bynum committed a clear path foul. Ariza converted the two free throws, and the Wizards pulled to within 95-96 with 12.3 seconds left–with the ball. Here’s what happened next:
[D.C. Council: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the subs, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is on the table. Game No. 56, Washington Wizards vs Detroit Pistons; contributors: Rashad Mobley and Adam Rubin from the Verizon Center and Kyle Weidie from home.]
“Excuse me while I kiss the sky?”
“AHHH!!! All the retracted daggers in the world!!”
Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 56th game of the season at home against the Detroit Pistons are TAI’s Rashad Mobley (@rashad20) and guest Dan Feldman (@PistonPowered) who writes about the Pistons for PistonPowered an ESPN TrueHoop Network blog. Dan also does freelance work for the Associated Press.
Wizards Starters (18-37):
John Wall, Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Nene, Trevor Booker, Emeka Okafor [Nene is out with a sore shoulder.]
On Wednesday TAI wondered if it was time to start Nene, minutes limit be damned. Nene didn’t start that night in Orlando, the second of a back-to-back after playing against the Hawks on Tuesday night, and the Wizards got blown out. Nene didn’t play at all on Friday night in Detroit — perhaps partly due to a cold that’s been going around, partly due to the rest that his perpetually sore foot needs — and the Wizards still got blown out.
Tonight, after appearing in 12 of the 15 games since his return, Nene will make his first start of the season for Washington. He will join Jordan Crawford, Bradley Beal (who also returns after missing the last two games due to a sore back), Martell Webster, and Emeka Okafor. Nene’s impact, even in limited minutes, continues to be profound. In 261 minutes over 12 games, he leads the Wizards with a total plus/minus of plus-36. Only one other Wizard has a positive plus/minus on the season, Cartier Martin (plus-32 in 294 total minutes). Also watch the Nene-Okafor pairing — they’ve appeared on the court for 42 total minutes this season to the tune of plus-32.
Before the game, TAI spoke with Pistons Coach Lawrence Frank about the impact of Nene and how he conveys that to his players after they beat the Wizards, without Nene, by 32 points last night.
When the Wizards last faced the Pistons in D.C., via TAI’s Adam McGinnis:
This has been quite a week for Coach John Calipari. On Monday night, his Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Kansas Jayhawks to win the NCAA championship. Yesterday, he emphatically declared that Kentucky was the best job in basketball coaching, and he has no intentions of leaving. Today, it was announced that his former All-American point guard (at Memphis), Derrick Rose, may finally play for the Chicago Bulls after nearly a month hiatus. Best of all, tonight Coach Cal can watch two more of his former point guards, John Wall and Brandon Knight, go head-to-head in the Palace of Auburn Hills. Per NBA.com’s David Aldridge, Coach Calipari could be watching his next team play in the Washington Wizards, but now we’re just getting ahead of ourselves. For tonight’s Wizards-Pistons 3-on-3, we have Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) from the Detroit News, Patrick Hayes (@patrick_hayes) from the ESPN True Hoop blog, Piston Powered and Truth About It’s RashadMobley (@rashad20). Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) Kentucky Coach John Calipari has given no public indication that he’s interested in leaving Kentucky for the NBA, but it would be shocking if he didn’t at least privately consider it. On a related note, it seems as if Anthony Davis will leave and be the consensus No. 1 pick, and barring something historic, the Pistons and the Wizards seem bound for the NBA lottery. Which situation would tempt Coach Calipari more? John Wall, Anthony Davis and the Wizards, or Brandon Knight, Anthony Davis, and the Pistons?
GOODWILL: I would think the Pistons because they seem closer to contention than the Wizards, along with Anthony Davis being the closest thing to a perfect complement to Greg Monroe that the Pistons could ever find. Knight, Monroe, Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko looks to be a solid foundation compared to Wall, Nene and…exactly. Also, Calipariwasn’t a complete disaster at New Jersey, taking them to the playoffs in 1998 but with full organizational control it was too much to handle. That’s not the case in Detroit, where although Joe Dumars has had some blemishes, he knows how to put together a championship core. Can the same be said for Ernie Grunfeld in D.C.? If he wants personnel control, I’d assume the Wizards would be the better choice. But if it comes down to roster and how close each team is to contending if you add Davis, it’s the Pistons and it’s not close.
HAYES: If we’re just limiting to those two players from each team, it’s definitely Wall-Davis. Knight has shown some flashes of good play, but nothing to suggest he has the franchise player ceiling Wall does. However, the fact that the Pistons have a potential All-Star big in Greg Monroe in the mix too and Cal’s guy, Worldwide Wes, has Detroit ties too, could maybe swing things in the Pistons’ favor. Fortunately, the Pistons seem pretty happy with Lawrence Frank, and they’ve become too cheap to pay coaches who would come with Calipari‘s asking price, so I don’t think they’ll have to worry about this scenario.
“Nene is a versatile player who will bring experience and a physical presence to our frontcourt. He is a strong rebounder, tough defender and a fierce competitor. His veteran leadership and postseason experience will be a positive influence in our locker room.”
“Nene is coming to us from a winning program. He has played in a system that we admire. It is up tempo and high scoring and he has good hands; runs the floor well; and is very strong. He is a team first kind of player. He is about winning and is a respected teammate. He is a family man; a player who is secure in who he is; and a player who has battled through adversity and is dependable and strong in spirit.”
That same March 15 NBA trade deadline day, Derek Fisher was unceremoniously traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Houston Rockets, had his contract bought out, and then signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder that next week. Thunder general manager Sam Presti spoke of Fisher providing intangibles and veteran leadership to Kevin Durant, rookie Reggie Jackson and Russell Westbrook. Fisher did not shy away from the role: Read more »