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Game Notebook 4, Wizards vs. Spurs: The Ruthlessness Of Bradley Beal

Wizards 102
Spurs 99

November 4, 2015 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC

ESPN Box Score

By the seven-minute mark of the 3rd quarter, when the Wizards were down 60-51 and John Wall slid on his ass trying to save a ball from going out of bounds, it had been long forgotten how joyous the game had started. Long forgotten was how the Wizards had erupted to a 19-2 lead before the “Hype Squad” could run back into the tunnel with their flags. In fact, it had already been forgotten by the end of the 1st quarter when the Spurs responded with a 21-3 run of their own. Since the end of the 1st quarter, in the most Spursian of fashions, Gregg Popovich had the Wizards nursing a very nagging deficit no smaller than four points and no larger than eight for very much of the second half and well into the 4th quarter. At some points, the Spurs would torturously tease the Wizards with a quick nine or 10 point lead but the Wizards would make enough plays to simmer them back down. But then crunch time happened. And this season, that hasn’t been good news for a number of teams. Not even the San Antonio Spurs.

#WizSpurs in a tweet..

The Game’s Top Performer:

Bradley Beal – for the walking sanctuary that he’s become


No surprise here. And certainly no surprise that Beal was the unquestionable go-to guy for the final shot. First of all, the play Wittman drew up was brilliant. In order to get the best shot for your best player, you have to neutralize his defender, who in this case was Kawhi Leonard of all people. Gortat’s cross-screen froze Leonard, and an easy step back 3 by Beal set the off the official flames around the Spurs.

What an incredible start for Beal. In four 4th quarters this season, he’s averaged 10.3 points. And the last 3 he’s hit this season – the one that rippled Steve Buckhantz’ tonsils by the shout of “Daggerrr” – merely solidifies Beal’s mutation into a fierce dominance on the floor.

“I’m not going to let anyone keep me from being me. This is just me being confident in myself.”

That was Beal’s response to a question about Kawhi’s defense on him. Brad did applaud Leonard on being the ‘one of the best to ever guard him’, but quickly asserted that he’s still getting his regardless who’s guarding him. They say men lie, but this man don’t. Beal eluded the defensive wrath that is normally Kawhi Leonard, nimbly moving around screens to find open space and taking advantage of it once he got there. For the game, Beal shot 11-of-22. In the 4th he went 4-of-8.

READ: Bradley Beal: The Dragon Warrior

What won’t be seen on paper are the intangibles from Beal. The pass disruption on defense; the perfect kick out passes to open shooters that don’t fall. The pep talk to Gortat and the team before the final shot of the game. Beal admitted he’s finally coming to his own, and what his own is is pretty exhilarating to watch. It’s kinda like #Blue Magic, right…

Honorable mention: John Wall: 17 points, 13 assists, 4 steals, 1 block, 1 turnover.

A forgettable night for..

Ramon Sessions & Drew Gooden

I can’t call it with these guys. I mean, I guess we’re milking them for what they are. You certainly can’t expect 15 point games from Ramon, or Drew Gooden converting on 50 percent of five 3-point shots. Instead, you get what you paid for: a combined 1-for-9 shooting night. And this:

The Breakdown:

The Wizards opened up the game taking a 19-2 lead in the first six minutes no thanks really to the defense but more so to the rims in which San Antonio shots kept bouncing off of. The Spurian style of ball movement remaines unblemished regardless of what’s in Popovich’s inventory of talent. But luckily, the high percentage shots this ball movement was creating just weren’t falling. The only two points for the Spurs? A pair of Tony Parker free throws he didn’t earn. The ‘foul’ by Gortat was his second in two minutes, relieving him of services for the rest of the quarter.

In the meanwhile, the Wizards tallied points on the scoreboard in a variety of ways. As they do more often than not, the Wizards went with Gortat to open up the game, and last night it worked with a baseline J. A few possessions later, John Wall reved up his Yamaha R1 (I don’t even know shit about bikes why did I use that analogy) and his guys started to dip in transition. Peep it:

Things were going marvelous until the Spurs decided it was time to actually make a field goal. Just over five minutes of game time had churned before this moment.

Then, suddenly, again. It was the same symmetrical ball movement as before, only this time, the ball was sinking.

Oh God, not Drew Gooden. No, not tonight. CLANK!!!

“Wait. I just left and came back. How is it 19-13!?” — everyone who had to take a shit after the second slice Pizza Bolis didn’t sit right (this is a common occurrance).

A relieving timeout called by Witt. Except that, coming out of the timeout, Otto missed a shot and LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t. One Beal 3 equals two second unit fuck ups: 1) Drew Gooden passing up an open 3 and dribbling it into a clothesline of defending arms, and Ramon Sessions losing the ball in transition.

Oh wait. One more f up. Ramon Sessions’ airballed floater, which I’m making you watch again:

The Wizards started on a 19-2 run. The Spurs ended with a 21-3 finish.

Fast forward >> 4th quarter:

As I mentioned a few mouse scrolls above, the Spurs kept the Wizards at a throw cushion’s length, chipping their way to the final buzzer with moderate leads. This carried over into the midway point of the 4th, where the Spurs led 85-79. At this point, we knew there was one final push left in Wall and Beal. We had seen it in just about every crunch time moment this season.

But last night’s final push started with Gortat, who in my eyes had a strong finish to the game. Gortat was kicking himself in the ass during his post-game interview, expressing disappointment in his overall game but he I think he might be overthinking things a bit. His three turnovers in the game didn’t help, but these next two plays late in the game did:

I mean, he got Kris Humphries out of his seat to do some weird pony dance.

As we beat our chests over Wall and Beal’s consistent dominance, it’s easy to overlook the 3rd pillar of this mausoleum for defenses that is the Washington Wizards offense. Otto Porter scored 19 points on 10 shots, tallied a handful of assists and rebounds, and was present for everything else in between. His defensive presence was what opened up this beautiful fast break play between him and Beal:

That dunk for Beal, combined with his evasion of Kawhi’s cramping defense to make shots, is what earned him the top nominee for the game’s Dagger. You’ve heard it from his mouth. You’ve witnessed it on the floor. Bradley Beal is a ruthless instiller of fear and with each dunk, each 3-point shot, and each 4th quarter domination, he’s only get fiercer.

Take us away one more time Bradley Beal and Steve Buckhantz:

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