December 6, 2015 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC
For much of the night, Wesley Matthews was mercilessly cocking back flaming arrows from behind the 3-point arc at the Wizards defense. And while the twisted nylon of the basketball net sizzled with each of Matthews’ 10 successful strokes, the collective attention of #WizardsNation would instead sway in the direction of John Wall’s helpless body, sitting upright at a perfect right angle with a facial expression more blank than a page of my previously submitted organic chemistry mid-term. As our throats tightened, we too shared the same look as Wall was carried off the floor and into the tunnel by Dejuan Blair and Kelly Oubre.
Here’s how it happened:
Injuries obtained from knocking knees can either be escaped by way of a few hours of ice treatment, or it can be more threatening like a torn meniscus (see Westbrook and Beverley). Shortly after the game, Wall was seen walking in and about the locker room gingerly, but under his own power. X-rays were taken, but the results have yet to reported. What we do know now is what David Aldridge knows: he was informed Wall was “fine”, and that his status for tomorrow was unknown.
Alas, Wall seems to be okay, so let’s talk about what’s not:
“Cuteball” and the Wizards (not) defending the 3-point line. Yeah, so back to Wesley Matthews. Here’s an appropriate tweet by my guy Conor Dirks:
Wizards cuteball lineups only work if you defend the 3. Should be small and nimble enough to do it, but consistently late.
— Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks) December 7, 2015
At some points, the Wizards went super cute with Otto Porter at the “5” along with a bunch of guards: Neal, Beal, Sessions, and Temp. Ryan Hollins started at center but was quickly deemed utterly useless after the first five minutes (HE NEVER CAME BACK). Wittman was left with Dejuan Blair (who played GREAT in 12 minutes) as his last ‘big’ but for the most part, he stuck with a variety of quad-guard lineups that featured a forward of sorts to play center, of sorts.
The Wizards were unquestionably undersized, a fallback that drove them to fall back constantly to protect the rim, turning 3-point territory into a top shelf open bar with the world’s most succulent hors d’oeuvres for Matthews. To even allow Matthews to attempt 17 shots from that range is a powerful testament to how much the defense struggled to prevent them. It almost seemed like mere negligence on the Wizards behalf to realize the adjustment needed to stop Matthews from getting an look. That could be on the players, or on coaching. Wittman has written off these types of performances by opponents as nothing more than a ‘hot hand’ or the theory that this is simply a ‘make or miss league’, but I am no longer fooled. Look at the distance between Matthews and Beal, who sagged down as the Mavs’ ball movement shifted toward the rim, leaving Matthews stranded alone behind the arc. This literally happened all second half.
The Wizards get one thing right, but mess up another. Normally, the Wizards commit a shit ton of turnovers on a nightly basis. They own the league lead in turnover percentage but against the Mavs, they only committed 7 of them leading to 8 only Mavericks points. Contrarily, the Wizards earned 21 extra points off 16 Mavs turnovers. Recipe for a sure win, right? Not if you add an unnecessary ingredient: a defense that allows 50& shooting from the floor and 51% shooting from downtown. The Mavericks also made 12 more free throws (24-27) than the Wizards (12-21). Protecting the ball is wonderful, until you can’t defend it. Evidently, when it’s Raymond Felton splashing pull up J’s against your defense, it’s most aggravating. Turn up your volume:
#WizMavs in a tweet..
#WizardsTwitter heroically offering their legs to John Wall.
Oh Christ. Take my legs, not his. https://t.co/kzxQCNNjwx
— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir) December 7, 2015
The Game’s Top Performer:
John Wall – 29 points, 10 assists, 5 steals
With the knowledge now that Wall will be okay, let’s really soak in the relief. John Wall has been incredible in this first week of December. Over the previous four games (including tonight), Wall is averaging just under 30 points, 10 assists and nearly 4 steals. It’s also important to note that on the season, Wall is averaging just around 15 field goal attempts per game, shooting them at a 42% clip. The past four games: 19 field goal attempts per game, shooting 53%.
In the 3rd quarter last night, John Wall was practically Rambo for the Wizards as he countered Wesley Matthews’ surge with one of his own. Wall matched Matthews’ 14 points, knocking down 6 of his 8 shots. Here’s a nutshell of his performance in three Vines:
Wall’s post game has made a few appearances recently and I’m thrilled becsuse it is easily one of my favorite sights in basketball. Utilizing his size, strength, and incredible control, Wall has polished his post moves quite well. Ray Felton knows:
Here, John Wall leaves John Jenkins in a cloud of smoke:
Your textbook cross-court action:
And a fadeaway for kicks and giggles: