January 14, 2015 – United Center, Chicago, IL
“Something about the United Center makes the Wizards feel right at home.”
If you’ve ever been educated on the history of the Mongol Empire, you’ve read about Genghis Khan and his tyrannical conquests of the northeast Asian region in the mid-1100s. The takeover campaigns were often barbaric and ruthless, yet effective as by the time Khan’s life ended, his empire had covered practically all of Central Asia and China.
By the standards of many, conquest of one’s territory is often an unpopular and inhumane tactic. But what about when such a conquest occurs in basketball? Don’t answer that, Bulls fans because after Genghis Wall and his triad pillaged your Windy City of Chitown, USA – the home to one of the more universal fan bases in all of sports – for the fifth time since last year’s playoffs, it’s safe to say that their takeover campaign of Chicago is now officially a successful one. And while the wins are great and beautiful, dismayed Bulls fans and their absurd keyboard rage are the sprinkles on the cupcake. Just ask Marcin Gortat.
@MGortat shut the fuck up you flopping, dildo nosed bitch. Slap your barber next time you see him too
— Frank White (@0NED0LLAR) January 15, 2015
Nothing stands out more boldly than the fact that these Wizards, who were flattened in Atlanta less than a week ago, rebelled so quickly and with such dominance against two formidable opponents on back to back nights. No, really, this feat is outright commendable on so many levels, and it puts the Wizards in a whole new stratosphere of respect and reverence. Believe that.
Bradley Beal: For all the bitching and whining we do over Randy Wittman’s offensive philosophy and his “take what the defense gives you” concept and yadda yadda BS analytics stuff, it seems the ranting simmers when Beal is actually making the shots we wish he attempted less of and that’s obvious. Last night created some of those bipolar feelings. Beal shot 8-14 from the field but only two of his attempts were 3-pointers. He was 6-9 on shots between 13 and 22 feet. Beal’s form and release are godly gifts bestowed on him which make it realllllyyyy hard to hate his long 2 attempts when he shoots them so pretty and so efficiently.
Bench play, or lack thereof: The bench really did few favors for the Wizards last night. Martell is still looking to find a purpose but his shot is just awfully impaired as he lasted just 7 total minutes on the floor and was 0-2. Andre Miller hit a few shots early in the 2nd quarter but his production was blanketed by a slew of turnovers, blocked shots and missed jumpers. The Wizards went on a three and a half minute drought, forcing Wittman to reinsert a starter back on the floor upon every minute.
To start the 4th quarter, Wittman unconventionally left Beal on the floor with the second unit in hopes of some sort of offensive firepower in case the bench players struggle. No dice, though. It was actually Beal who would struggle the most, missing a shot early then committing a foul after Bulls defensive rebound. He then later air-balled a long 2 he dribbled into and now I’m practically nullifying my previous takeaway.
But it certainly wasn’t all Beal’s fault. Like a group of virgins hanging out at a strip club for the first time, the Wizards second unit looked so static and motionless when trying to run an offensive set. On one play, Andre Miller literally dribbled the ball at the top of the key for the entire shot clock while his teammates fought for position. Miller then decided to take matters into his own hands at about the 4-second mark, chucking up a contested midrange jumper which missed.
Oh, and Kevin Seraphin. His career seems to be forming into a bunch of breakout games while each one is separated by a myriad of bad ones. Luckily the Wizards had a seven point lead to begin the 4th quarter and got a few drawn fouls by Andre Miller, enough factors that would stave off the Bulls from taking the lead. By the time all five starters were back on, the Wizards were up 3 and in good position to close out. And did they ever.
Huge 3rd quarter: The first half was pretty annoying to watch. Derrick Rose hit that half-court buzzer-beater to end the 1st quarter; then the Bulls took an 11 point lead after the Wizards couldn’t score for almost four minutes; 12 total turnovers; a slow start for Gortat and an 18 point 2nd quarter. Yeah, it was pretty wack.
But that’s exactly why nothing sets the tone for some good basketball than when Gortat actually begins to feel it. After going 0-2 in the first half, ‘Tat broke ice in the 3rd quarter with a baseline jump shot telegraphed from Nene which would be the first of five made shots in the quarter for him. And they were the only five shots he took.
Gortat’s 10 points would be complemented by Pierce’s 11 in that quarter, a quarter in which the Wizards outscored the Bulls 32-19 and turned a 6 point deficit into a 7 point lead. The Wizards also amped up their defense a bit, guarding Rose away from the paint and disturbing him just enough to miss a few key shots. The Wizards committed just one turnover in that quarter and had only three for the entire 2nd half.