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Game Notebook 43, Wizards at Raptors: An Identity Crisis

Raptors 106
Wizards 89

January 26, 2016 – Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON

NBA Stats Box Score

At exactly the 7:00 mark of the 4th quarter is when you could say Alan Anderson might have reached into his M&K blazer he bought during a blowout post-New Year 3-for-1 sale and pulled out his smartphone to pre-check into his flight back to DCA. That instance was basically the cap-off to a set of game-defining moments between the Wizards and Raptors. Two consecutive possessions by the Wizards exhibiting the most lethargic and dissoriented styles of offense, crossed with two back-to-back highlight reel plays by the Raptors, one a hammering alley-oop lobbed by Kyle Lowry to Bismack Biyombo, and a heart-piercing 3 by Lowry which put the Raps up by 14 and out of reach. Zero bags checked in. One man-purse to carry on. The Wizards had already switched their game to ‘airplane mode’ in the 4th quarter, severing any sort of transmitting function with the concepts of basketball. The end result: another late-game meltdown. Another season sweep. Another cry for Randy Wittman’s head.

You would imagine on a night after getting blasted at home and suffering a season sweep to the Boston Celtics that the Wizards – for the sake of dignity, for the sake of mere manhood in the face of their professional peers, in the face of their wives and girlfriends, mistresses and lovers; their children!!! – would lay out on the line whatever it is athletes carry in moments of adversity to avoid getting blasted on the road, and suffering a season sweep to yet another Eastern Conference rival, the Toronto Raptors. Luckily, imagination is a wonderful thing. For Wizards fans, it’s become the only thing.

Despite Wittman’s reversion back to the archaic, decelerating 2-big system; despite a 14-point deficit in the 2nd quarter; despite giving up nine 3-point shots; despite Kyle Lowry’s 22 points, after three quarters of play, the Wizards had actually managed to stay within striking distance of the Raptors, trailing by just seven points going into the 4th. If not for a John Wall onslaught during that 2nd quarter where he practically Rambo’d the Wizards back from a 14 points down and bring them to within 3 by halftime, this game would have been over way before Lowry decided to shackle the Wizards late in the game. Having missed the game live due to the celebration of my sisters birthday (Happy birthday Mora), observing the meltdown via my ESPN app, causing me to send this text to Irfan, who was living tweeting on @HoopDistrictDC:

Seriously. WTF.

The Game’s Top Performer

Otto Porter

For much of this game, it seemed like Otto wanted this win more than most of his teammates. His line was typically great.. 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, again proving the workhorse he’s become for this team. I do have one particular qualm against him, however. Before the game, Otto talked a lot of stuff about disrupting Kyle Lowry driving the lane, even suggesting some increased physicality. I saw none of that, particularly from Otto. Lowry freely pranced around in and out of the paint, find teammates for close buckets and getting some of his own. He also got to the line 8 times.

A forgettable night for..

John Wall’s All-Star Ballot

A night removed from being outplayed by an All-Star hopeful in Isaiah Thomas – and getting swept by his team in the process – John Wall was once again outplayed by an All-Star lock in Kyle Lowry – and got swept by his team in the process. Undoubtedly, Wall is flushed. He has yet to play with a supporting cast that is at full strength this season, and the task of making ends meet with what he’s been given has taken a daunting toll on him. I’m not quite sure how much worse these bad shooting nights and losses will affect Wall’s status as an All-Star, but it’s not looking too great.

Other takeaways in case you don’t have indigestion yet:

The Wizards constantly harp about their lack of identity and togetherness. Like we’re still in September and getting ready for training camp. Jared Dudley is sounding like a broken record in each one of his post-game interviews and I don’t blame him. He used to play for much better established teams like the Suns and the Clippers (before Blake was putting his fist in equipment staff members’ faces). It’s been the same shitty song and dance, and I’m about ready to pull the headphones.

WTF was this by Ramon Sessions? A 14-foot floater with the shot clock not even winding halfway down? There really is an identity crisis on this team.

Nene remained a starter last night and I’m not sure it was a good night for him to be used as much as he was by Wittman. Check the analytics:

Nene’s USG%: 19.9, 2nd highest to Wall for players who played 26+ min.
OffRtg: 79.9 (team low)
NetRtg: -28.3 (abysmal)

#IdentityGate is real.

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