[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. 64, Washington Wizards vs New Orleans Hornets; contributors: Kyle Weidie from the Verizon Center and Sean Fagan and John Converse Townsend via eyes on a television screen.]
[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. 18, Washington Wizards at New Orleans Hornets; contributors: Adam McGinnis and Kyle Weidie from behind the T.V.]
Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 18th game of the season against the Hornets in New Orleans are TAI’s Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) and guest James Grayson (@jsgrayson), who writes about the Hornets for the ESPN TrueHoop blog Hornets 24/7.
Wizards Starters (2-15):
Jordan Crawford?/Shaun Livingston?, Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Chris Singleton, Emeka Okafor
In going down 102-95 to an Orlando Magic team that appears to be suffering from mental fatigue due to uncertain cohesiveness, at least the Washington Wizards looked better at losing than they have in the past. Similar to the second half of the Milwaukee game, Randy Wittman opted to keep Nick Young and JaVale McGee benched in favor of a starting lineup of John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Chris Singleton, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin. And while this unit struggled out of the gate, they did their jobs and stayed mostly within themselves.
Certainly there were mistakes. Furthermore, missed shots. All to be expected from young team making an earnest attempt while lacking size against a specimen like Dwight Howard and shot-makers who can be trusted to not disrupt the offense. Crawford caught fire with 14 points in the third quarter to go with four assists, giving him a hand in most of the Wizards’ 29 points scored in the period to Orlando’s 25. Once trailing by 17 points in the first half, Washington was down just 71-70 heading into the final 12 minutes. Unfortunately Crawford got cold in the fourth and went 0-for-6 from the field.
But John Wall picked up the slack. He scored 10 straight points for Washington after a timeout at the 10:27 mark of the last quarter when the Wizards were down 79-71. Wall capped his efforts with an assist to Mo Evans for a 3-pointer; it was a 13-4 run that tied the game at 83 with 6:56 left. But back-to-back threes by Orlando’s Jameer Nelson and Ryan Anderson after a Magic timeout at the 6:34 mark helped bury Washington. A long Nelson offensive rebound resulting in a Hedo Turkoglu 3-pointer that put the Magic up 100-91 with 1:32 left served as the dagger. But the point is that the Wizards fought, as a team, and with strong contributions from Booker, Singleton and a handful of others in addition to Wall and Crawford.
[We've posted this before, but why not again? ... Patrick Ewing enjoying a pre-game Pop Tart.]
On any given night, you can turn on SportsCenter and hear the names JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. McGee gets mentioned for his dazzling dunks and puzzling basketball decisions, and Howard, with his looming free agency sprinkled in with 20 point/20 rebound performances, is equally good ESPN fodder. Even as the Wizards and Magic prepare to face off for the third time this season, the names McGee and Howard are very much in the NBA news cycle. McGee was benched during the second half of last night’s game against Milwaukee, and trade rumors with Howard’s name seem to be picking up steam. To get you ready for that and much more, Eddy Rivera (@erivera7) from the Orlando Magic ESPN TrueHoop blog MagicBasketball.net, and both Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20) and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) from Truth About It, will give you three answers to three questions…
#1) Who has the tougher coaching job the second half of the season: Stan Van Gundy, who will have to endure “The Dwight Howard Situation” much like George Karl had to do with Carmelo Anthony last year? Or Randy Wittman, who is the coach of 7-27 team that has no shot of even sniffing the playoffs?
Look, Dwight Howard has long known that he does not want to be a member of the Orlando Magic past this season, so does it matter that his current team is in such disarray, losers of four games in a row with Howard calling out his teammates for effort? Probably not. In fact, it likely prompts GM Otis Smith even more to make a move, but it doesn’t make him any less desperate. (Read: this painfully drags on for Orlando up to the March 15 trade deadline… Have a fun next six weeks Magic fans!) So with Baby Dwight wanting a cure-all change of venue, but not able to cure-all as Superman himself, his team takes on the lowly Washington Wizards tonight, with Howard likely preparing to be as proud as a schoolyard bully (Orlando is favored by 10 points). This 3-on-3 drill prior to possibly just one of Howard’s last 23 games in a Magic uniform includes Nate Drexler (@natedrex) of TrueHoop Network blog MagicBasketball.net, along with TAI’s John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) and yours truly, Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It). Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) Which stat is more surprising? That the Washington Wizards have a higher offensive rebound rate (ORB%) than the Orlando Magic (0.261 ORB% compared to 0.259 for Orlando; league average is 0.264)? NOTE: WAS eFG% = 0.442, 29th in NBA; ORL eFG% = 0.495, 9th in NBA)….
OR, that JaVale McGee is shooting worse on free-throws than Dwight Howard? (McGee is at 0.433 this season, 0.600 for his career; Howard is at 0.460 this season, 0.592 for his career.)
DREXLER: This is tough, because neither of these surprise me all that much. I suppose JaVale getting out sniped by Dwight from the charity stripe takes the cake, though. Look, when you have two bigs who shoot 60-percent and below for their careers, no amount of badness should catch you off guard, but McGee is getting close to 30-percent land! The biggest surprise of all is that no matter how hard I try to convince myself that JaVale McGee has star potential it just isn’t so. Guy sure is athletic, though. Why is it that athletic guys can’t shoot free throws?
Andray Blatche is a human centipede of wicked pixels.
Sure, he does things like goaltend free-throws… a plumb stupid mistake. However, his continued laziness is hard to ignore. It’s also hard to ignore the stated goals of toughness that Ted Leonsis keeps touting during the Wizards’ rebuilding process, and how Blatche is the antithesis of those goals. With a presence so counterintuitive to Leonsis’ vision, Blatche has rendered meaningless previous pixels of support from the franchise owner.
When it comes to Blatche, everyone from team management to coaches is all talk, no action, much like Blatche himself. Until otherwise, they are all peas in a pod, reflected in the murky waters of Blatche’s vastly inconsistent play. But wicked pixels that form words from the typing fingers of someone in the web world only goes so far. Video solidifies these points, so let’s watch some video.
Not sure how long the Wizards will allow John Wall to tolerate someone like Blatche running with him on the break… Or maybe it’s just that Orlando’s Ryan Anderson is a very intimidating guy. Either way, no guy Blatche’s size, no NBA power forward, no man who claims to want the ball more in the paint should ever pull up softly on the break like in the video below. Do you need me to say that this is not tough? Well, it isn’t. This happens in the first minute of last night’s contest.
By the time the referee threw the ball up to signify the start of the game against the Orlando Magic, the Washington Wizards knew they would be without Rashard Lewis and Nick Young. Lewis continues to battle knee tendinitis and Young was a late scratch with swelling his knee. Their absences meant the Wizards had to somehow account for the 30 points they usually bring to the starting lineup.
From scoring the first points of the game on a layup 42 seconds in, John Wall demonstrated that he was in an offensive state of mind and capable of picking up the slack by scoring 13 points in the opening period. Seemingly all of his baskets on the evening would follow this sequence: Wall would take the outlet or inbound pass, he would run by the Orlando big men, and then he would outmaneuver the Orlando guards en route to a layup. He peppered in a couple short jumpers, some free throws, and one three-pointer later in the game, but the majority of his damage was done in the paint. He finished with 27 points, five rebounds, two steals and just one assist.
It can be argued that Wall, who averages nearly 10 assists a game, wasn’t doing his job as a point guard if he only dished out one dime. False. Dwight Howard kept pressure on Washington’s big men by often catching the ball deep in the paint (thanks to repeated poor post position from JaVale McGee, lack of strength from Hilton Armstrong or lack of experience from Kevin Seraphin), and forcing them to foul. Howard went 8-11 from the free-throw line and 12-15 from the field to tally 32 points.
Wall kept pressure on the Orlando defense by repeatedly getting into the lane and ending up with a layup or a trip to the foul line. So what happened when the Magic actually stopped him and other teammates were forced to step up?