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Game Notebook 47: Wizards at Suns: Wiz end road trip with baffling blunders

Suns 106
Wizards 98

January 28, 2015 – US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

Welp. It’s finally over. This whole road trip had us all like:

Four games, on the road, two of which were wins (or I could be a dick and point out two of which were losses). Three of the four games left me sleep deprived, with last night’s game sending me to bed refusing to cuddle or even say good night to my wife, thusly leaving me in a state of silent treatment this morning.

The glory of being a Wizards fan!

The Wizards flew into Phoenix via direct flight from Los Angeles under a cloud of ready-made excuses should they lose to the Suns (which they eventually did). The second game of a back-to-back on a West Coast road trip and their fourth in five nights. John Wall’s nagging headaches and swollen legs. Nene being a late scratch due to a sore foot. The mere fact that they are playing the Phoenix Suns, a powerhouse and deemed so simply because they are a Western Conference playoff team.

But the Wizards had an opportunity to overcome all of that. In my opinion, they SHOULD have overcome all of that. Let’s discuss. Well, you read and then react in a tweet, or a Facebook comment, or text me.

The Wizards entered the 4th quarter trailing the Suns 80-66. They had been awful for most of the game sans a 16-6 run midway through the 3rd which was immediately wiped away by an 8-0 run by the Suns. The Wizards were shooting just 39% from the field by the end of the 3rd, had atypically committed more turnovers than assists, and had gotten minimal production from their bench. Additionally, the Suns had been doing whatever they wanted to on offense, however they wanted it.

To start the 4th quarter, Wittman decided to stir the pot a bit and send out Garrett Temple, Drew Gooden, and Martell Webster along with Otto Porter and Kevin Seraphin. Mind you, Temple hadn’t played a meaningful minute of basketball since sometime in December, and Drew Gooden, well, he’s gotten to the point where we wish he never made it past that 10-day contract. This seemed to me like a clear indication that Wittman had no real intent of trying to climb back in the game as my thumb hovered over the power button of my remote control.

But wait! Wittman’s decision proved to be an effective one. It helped preserve Andre Miller’s rusty joints, and saved Wittman from over-exhausting Kris Humphries, who was already working overtime to make up for Nene’s minutes. More importantly, the bench mob brought the Wizards back and cut the deficit to four with a half a quarter to go!

Job well done! Call a timeout, let’s send the starters back in! Let’s do this! Second comeback in as many nights! LEGGO!

Come on guys get off the bench, let’s DO THIS, mannn!

…guys..? Helllllooo?

*stops and faces John and Brad who helplessly look back at me, then direct their eyeballs over towards their coach, then back at me, dejectedly shaking their heads*

UGH. But it’s the SUNS. They can turn this thing back into double digits with the flip of a switch come AWWWN.

Nope. Wasn’t happening. And sure enough, two minutes and five missed shots by the Wizards later, the Suns lead was back to 10 and that’s when Wittman finally called for time.

It took Wall and Beal’s unit nearly four minutes to bring the deficit back to 4, and if you really want to get into over-thinking that equates to a 2-point Wizards lead had the starters been subbed back in the first time.

The Wizards would close out this game with a series of boneheaded plays including a dumbfounding last possession where Wall aimlessly held on to the ball in the high post until it was poked out by Isaiah Thomas and the game was over.

Now, just imagine the praises of Wittman we’d be singing had he timely reinserted his starters after BOLDLY playing – and succeeding – with Temple, Gooden, and Webster to start the 4th. Of course, this all isn’t to say the Wizards would have won without question, but how the hell would we ever know if the stars don’t get their chance?

Mark Jackson spent about two straight minutes emphasizing the importance of making night-by-night adjustments with your rotation schemes, practically yearning for Wittman to unconventionally reinsert John and Brad back in the game around the 6 minute mark. It damn near had me making believe that he was actually coaching the Wizards wearing a mic.

Wittman’s explanation for last night’s inexplicable decision:

I’m just. I can’t.

Fave of the Night

Look ma! No teammates!


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