November 21, 2015 – The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
Before we get to the afterparty, let’s take a moment to respect John Wall for putting Ersan Ilyasova’s ankles in a hogtie when he blew past him in the lane. The sudden burst of speed from Wall is one that can hardly be defended even if you saw it coming from 20 feet away, let alone six. And glory be to the Wizards, who on this night overcame the wrath of terrible officiating and clock controlling, and got a surprise visit from 2013 Nene.
The final 3 minutes and 40 seconds of the game were just weird, but the Wizards survived them. It began when the game clock failed to start after the Wizards had inbounded the ball, taking about 12 seconds into the play before it finally started running. Whatever it was that caused this, seemingly NO ONE noticed, except for Buck, of course. This eff up was particularly significant in that Detroit had controlled the ball in the final possession of the game trailing by two points with less than 10 seconds remaining. Had the clock started running when it was supposed to at that 3:40 mark, this game – theoretically – would have been over. Spoiler: it wasn’t, and it was at that moment with 9.5 seconds remaining when the Wizards were once again dished another snub. This time, it was the refs who prematurely whistled Otto for committing a 5 second violation. Spoiler: he didn’t. And so there was your scenario. The fine gap between the Wizards and a 3-game winning streak would be making one final stop on defense. Spoiler: they did. And won.
Here’s the final defensive stand:
Things to remember from this game:
How the bench carried all of us. Yes, even you. Besides the 11-0 run by the starters in the 1st quarter – AND YES WE DO APPRECIATE AN 11-0 RUN – but, yeah, besides that run, this show was all the second unit’s. This wasn’t Eminem’s performance. This was D-12’s. This was your reserve tank helping you sputter into your driveway because you thought you knew your car. Just observe the ridiculous lopsidedness of the plus/minus between the starters and bench:
Led by Nene, whom I’ll be praising further as the Top Performer, the Wizards’ backups refused to give Detroit a chance to pull away, despite how much they felt they could having gotten nothing from the Wiz starters. With the bench unit, it’s all about contouring your imperfections and flossing what you do best. Ramon Sessions isn’t the greatest scorer, but he does have an aggression toward the rim that gets him to the line. He did that a lot against Detroit, earning 10 free throw attempts on the night. Nene was hot, shooting 9-for-10, but as the game wore on, he did a great job of not forcing shots when he didn’t have one. This helped him maintain his superb box score. Jared Dudley is looking more comfortable in his role off the bench. So comfortable in fact that a promotion into the starting line could be on the horizon. Elsewhere, Garrett Temple did about as good as I think you’d expect him to: 3-6 from the field, a 3-pointer, a few rebounds, just one turnover, and this pass deflection plus the consequential dunk:
The duel between John Wall and Reggie Jackson wasn’t really a main event type feature but it definitely was in the mind of anyone who heard Wall’s comments about Jackson and his so-called inflated $80 million contract. Wall turned out to be the aggressor at the start, but Jackson didn’t fold, finishing the game with 20 points and nine assists. Jackson was particularly good at evading Wall’s defense by achieving a step on him driving the ball, using screens and drawing up switches. John finished with a less accomplished stat line, but he did manipulate Jackson and Drummond on this clutch play in the final minute:
Marcin Gortat survived a colossal offensive rebounding machine in Andre Drummond. Coming into the night, Drummond was averaging nearly 20 rebounds a game, with nearly six of them coming off the offensive glass. Against Washington on Saturday, he created zero second chance opportunities for the Pistons. Gortat on the other hand totaled eight rebounds, four of them offensive. Not only was Gortat hammering Drummond on the glass, he squared him up with the ball too, to which made Drummond so sad:
#WizBucks in a tweet..
WHY DIDNT I START NENE IN DRAFTKINGS TONIGHT?!?!
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) November 22, 2015