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Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat dust off the funk in Charlotte

January 8, 2014 3:12 pm by: Leave a comment A+ / A-

Truth is, the dawn of the New Year hasn’t boded very swimmingly for our Washington Wizards.

Before last night’s win in Charlotte, the Wizards had been draining in a funnel of impotence and lethargy, searching for some sort of common ground and synchronization, and above all trying to find a comfort zone in their own building of all places.

Their own building, a place where they’ve dropped six of their last seven games by an average of 10 points.

Their own building, a place where they began to tumble at a critically inopportune phase of the season; when the prospect of finally achieving more wins than losses had Wizards Nation oh so desirous and antsy.

After back-to-back wins over Detroit, which included a rare home victory, the Wizards were sitting pretty at .500 for the second time this season and seemingly better yet, they were facing an impending 3-game home stretch.

Seemingly.

Let’s not lie, though…you know you were all pipe dreaming about a potential 17-14 record, as was I. Like, this was our chance to create some kind of detachment from the group of universally scrutinized and laughable Eastern Conference teams not residing in Indiana or Miami.

However, the Wizards would be remiss. They faltered late against Dallas, and then napped through two consecutive 3rd quarters against Toronto and Golden State and suddenly, we were all deferred to dyslexia when that dreamy 17-14 record instead reversed down to 14-17.

The countermeasure to the downtrend? Why a road trip of course!!

Contrary to their funkiness at home, the Wizards have been a whole ‘nuhva team on the road, winning five or their last six including the slide-snapping victory in Charlotte last night.

When dissecting the win against Charlotte, the performances of two players stand prominent: Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat.

Bradley Beal

Beal had been enduring an awful relapse coming in to the New Year, having shot just 32 percent from the floor in the last three losses and showing some poor touch in his game.

For much of his short-lived career thus far, we’ve knocked on Brad for a variety of faultiness: his negligence to attack the rim, his rushed shot attempts, and his subpar passing abilities. Though his confidence has increased tremendously since his rookie season, Beal still naturally faces growing pains from time to time, triggering the necessity for resilience.

Last night, not only did we learn about Beal’s part-time nurturer- the rapper Nelly, but we also learned more about some of that said resilience. As true shooters usually do, Beal continued to put up the shots he wanted, despite missing 30 of his previous 44. Beal finished shooting 10-for-18 for 21 points, including nine points in the 4th quarter.

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What improved:

  • Beal displayed some increased patience last night while handling the ball. The Wizards helpfully ran more efficient plays that opened up better time and space for Beal, which allowed him to make sharper decisions with the rock. Over the past few games, Brad has suffered from a rash of inadequacy whether it was stagnating the offense by refraining from making a smart pass or simply frustrating himself by constantly missing shots. Luckily, scoring 21 points on 18 shots in just over 30 minutes should certainly infuse some momentum in his game. A confident Beal has proven to render solid dividends for Washington’s offense so here’s hoping that his performance against the Bobcats is rejuvenating enough to carry over tonight on Bourboun Street and beyond.
  • In the past, Beal would be presented with minimal options coming off screens and was usually forced into an unfavorable shot. BulletsForever’s Mike Prada did an excellent job breaking down the inefficiency of some of the plays the coaching staff runs for Beal. On several side screen and roll plays, Beal found himself caught in minimal territory with little help around him and even less options. With not much room to maneuver in, and the defense dropping back on the screens, the path to the rim would be barred and Beal would virtually have no choice but to settle for a low percentage shot. Last night, however, the Wizards set higher screens for Beal closer to the middle of the floor where Beal could operate in better space. This enabled him move around the screens and either find rotating teammates to pass the ball off to, pull up for a high percentage shot shot, or…..
  • Take it to the rim. Beal has been knocked many times for his refusal to drive to the basket instead of settling for jumpers. Last night in Charlotte, we saw more swift penetration and driving layups, giving the Bobcats’ defense more to think about when defending Beal. Creating offense is a development that will be Bradley Beal’s bread and butter in this league. Combining a prime jump shot with a knack for penetrating the lane and making plays at the rim will create a paramount offensive threat for the Wizards and be cause for Beal’s defenders to play him a lot more honestly. But if only he knew, and surely he will.
  • Marcin Gortat

    Just two months into his tenure in DC, Gortat earned his membership to the #WittmanFace doghouse on Sunday after a sequence of brainfarts early in the 3rd quarter against Golden State. Gortat played just four minutes in the second half before Wittman asked him to hang up his sneaks for the night.

    BdUJ0gLIUAA4tpX.jpg_largeGortat’s vacant locker after the game proved his frustration and before the Bobcats game, he sounded off about it:

    “How I felt? I knew I screw up two places, one offensively, one defensively and I guess, that was it,” Gortat said. He then suggested the guys needed to “regroup” and that a little “team bonding” was in order.

    “Go on the road, stay together in the bus, plane, hotel, maybe a dinner and just talk to each other.”

    Dinner must’ve been great. Like, 5 course great because Gortat and his re-bonded teammates came out hot against the Bobcats.

    What improved:

  • Defense. Marcin stifled Al Jefferson all night long, holding him to just 8 points on 3-for-9 shooting. He stoutly defended Jefferson in the post, was stalwart protecting the rim, and rotated well for timely blocks.

    Gortat has created a bit of a reputation of shrinking down low and allowing his opposition to control the paint. Watching him dominate a powerhouse like Al Jefferson has got to be a boost for Gortat and I’d love to see this aggression more.

  • Rebounding. Gortat went through a six-game stretch where he failed to grab double-digit rebounds. He had 13 last night. This is a further testament to Gortat’s effectiveness down low.
  • While he still struggles getting the ball in the basket at close range – going 2-for-7 on shots inside 10 feet – Gortat went 4-for-5 elsewhere and finished with 18 points. I’m not sure what’s bugging Gortat with the ball down low but whatever it is, it has to be something in his noggen. Gortat seems to underplay easy shots at the rim because, well, maybe they’re too easy? Not an excuse for a professional, so something’s got to give. Snap out of it, Marcin.
  • For a team still searching for an established identity, the concept of revitalization and reemergence after a poor stretch of basketball can serve as a tremendous uplift. The Wizards have staggered into multiple losing streaks this season but the one silver lining amid any struggle is the ability to dust oneself off and rise up again. Brad and Marcin proved that last night.

    Here’s Bradley Beal and John Wall offering Gortat some celebratory post-game video-bombage.

    Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat dust off the funk in Charlotte Reviewed by on . Truth is, the dawn of the New Year hasn’t boded very swimmingly for our Washington Wizards. Before last night’s win in Charlotte, the Wizards had been draining Truth is, the dawn of the New Year hasn’t boded very swimmingly for our Washington Wizards. Before last night’s win in Charlotte, the Wizards had been draining Rating: 0

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