January 18, 2016 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) January 18, 2016
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
That was the fire quote Garrett Temple dropped on the Verizon Center crowd before his Wizards tipped off their MLK matinee matchup against the Trail Blazers. But despite his wonderful pregame gesture, darkness still overcame DC with no light to drive it out, not by any means, not even a 40-point second quarter. Instead, it would be Portland who promptly celebrated the birthday of Dr. King, the greatest of all trail blazers, with a 108-98 win over the Wizards.
The 10-point loss to the Trail Blazers wasn’t actually that close at all. The Wizards were out-hustled, out-coached and outplayed from the opening tip, lapsing on defense and allowing the Blazers to set the tone of a hot shooting night with six 1st quarter 3’s. The game quickly turned into a lopsided affair as CJ McCollum and Meyers Leonard went stroke for stroke from downtown, while the Wizards struggled to match, shooting just 38% to start the game. They trailed 32-17 after 1, clearly proving that they are merely non-exempt overtime eligible NBA employees, just going through the motions to get that regular + holiday pay.
The 2nd quarter would be the only time the Wizards were productive on this holiday work day. They outscored the Blazers 40-27 to the tune of 11 points from Marcin Gortat and 17 from the bench led by Gary Neal, who had 7. Dudley added a few 3’s and Beal sealed off the first half with a 3 of his own in the final seconds, trimming what was a 17 point Blazer lead early in the 2nd, to just 2 going into the break.
Probably the worst thing to have happened to the Wizards in this game was when they took their first lead at 60-59 at the start of the 3rd quarter after a Garrett Temple 3. Because that was literally the moment when everyone on the squad, specifically the coaching staff, decided to mentally clock out. That’s also the moment wen Portland began to really blaze the trail, racing to a 17-0 run, spearheaded by the relentless efforts of their sharpshooting backcourt in Lilliard and McCollum. The two combined for 4-6 shooting from downtown and scored 17 of the Blazers’ 35 third quarter points. Miss after miss for the Wizards, followed by rebound after rebound and make after make for the Blazers shut down any chance the Wizards sought to relinquish the game. John Wall seemed to have little to absolutely no interest in attacking Lillard or McCollum to the basket. He took six total shots in the 3rd quarter, all of them from midrange and beyond, with his only make being a 3-pointer late in the period. They trailed by 18 going into the 4th and never recovered.
Once again, the Wizards have left us emotionally in shambles after a 4-game winning streak seemed to have paved the way for a promising turnaround. The season has unquestionably been a disappointing one thus far with the plethora of injuries, but the reason for the struggles run much, much deeper. Last night’s 3rd quarter was a clear depiction of that. The Blazers had their way with the Wizards’ transparent defense, and they were fully aware that no adjustments were being made to counter their shooting onslaught. And so they kept on, setting screen after screen, throwing pass after pass until a clear look at the basket from deep inevitably opened up. The Blazers finished shooting 17-31 from 3.
#Effort. Ah yes, Randy Wittman’s favorite metric. And while Witt deserves a large fraction of blame for yesterday’s loss, any time a team gets out-rebounded by more than a dozen, they deserve to be questioned about their level of effort and commitment going in. The Blazers dominated the glass 48-35, including 9 offensive rebounds, which led to 14 second-chance points.
Any quantity of Bradley Beal is a good quantity of Bradley Beal.
Listen, his minutes restrictions are going to suck. His absence in the second of back-to-backs is going to really suck. But this is what Brad has averaged in just under 24 minutes per game in the 3 games he’s been back:
8-14 3PT (57%)
Beal has a medical issue that seems to be unresolvable yet pretty manageable. The intention is to cap him at 35 minutes per game, and the Wizards are taking their time in reaching that cap. In the meanwhile, Brad is making the most of every minute he’s on the floor as his recent numbers show.