January 3, 2016 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) January 4, 2016
Washington’s matchup tonight against the Heat pitted them against a team they’d beaten just weeks prior. In that first of four series, John Wall and Brad Beal combined for 46 points, but equally noteworthy was the contribution from the reserves, who combined for 38, anchored by Gary Neal’s 21.
Since then, fortunes for the Wizards are few and far between. A couple of the stars from that early December contest watched tonight’s game from the sideline and Randy Wittman was forced to game plan for the league’s 3rd ranked defense (opponent FG%) with a depleted frontcourt.
How would the Wizards fare? Horribly.
The Wizards played a competitive first quarter, despite a combination of poor calls and turnovers (3, leading to 8 Miami points). This was done primarily though excellent ball movement and Washington’s defense playing competitively. When the dust cleared, the Wizards trailed by only 1 point, 25-24, overcoming shooting at just a 40% clip.
In the second, things fell completely apart in several areas. Marcin Gortat rolled his ankle midway though the quarter and almost appeared to be done for the game. And while he’d re-enter only 2 minutes later, the Heat’s onslaught was in full swing. Washington shot a dismal 9% from the field in the second quarter, completely burying themselves in a 19 point deficit going into halftime. Hassan Whiteside had matched his season blocks per game average and Ramon Sessions had shot two air balls, including one from the free throw line.
The second half featured most of the same: stifling Heat defense translating to the scoreboard. Despite some quick energy to start the 3rd, Washington would continue to get pounded in nearly every area, leading to a 22 Heat lead to close the quarter. Things got worse in the 4th. Birdman logged minutes for the Heat and felt empowered enough to shoot a 3-pointer. Beno Udrih (who I didn’t know was on an active roster) also saw floor time. The end result was a 97-75 victory for Miami.
This will undoubtedly go down as Washington’s worst performance on the season. They scored a season low in points and didn’t look like they belonged on the same floor as the Heat. The Wizards will have a couple days off to regroup before a matchup with the East-leading Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Game’s Top Performer:
Amongst the rubble, Gortat had a solid game. He overcame an ankle injury and tough Miami interior defense to come away with a double double, with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
With Nene and DeJuan Blair inactive, Gortat is a piece the Wizards can’t afford to lose.
A forgettable night for..
You hate to see Wall struggling with such an injury-riddled roster (9 players were available tonight) because he exerts himself too much on every possession. Despite shooting well to start the game (including a 3-pointer), Wall dragged with the rest of the team on his way to a 29% field goal percentage and an early exit.
Wall also saw his consecutive 11-assist streak come to an end. Overall, a night John would like to quickly put behind him.
– As mentioned, Hassan Whiteside was excellent. His offensive game is highly limited, but he more than makes up for it in the way he anchors the Heat defensively. His success unfortunately highlights the important of young big man development. While Washington will see Whiteside four times a year for the foreseeable future, Washington must look over their roster and realize there’s no talent in that area to groom.
– Jarrell Eddie hit a 3-pointer!