February 11, 2015 – Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) February 12, 2015
Man, it would have been pretty nice beating Toronto at least one time this season, right? Or, maybe one would think, ‘man, it would have been pretty nice to see Marcin Gortat play some crunch time 4th quarter minutes to at least try beating Toronto at least one time this season.’ Perhaps one would even footnote Otto Porter’s name in that sentence as well.
How about Drew Gooden getting those 12 minutes of 4th quarter burn, eh? Albeit, some of those minutes were unprecedentedly productive ones, but there’s your key word: unprecedented, or, not known, not seen before; a.k.a. there shouldn’t have been an expectation of that production to begin with. In more blunt terms, there was no reason for him to be on the floor for that long, during that phase of the game, against that opponent, in place of that top 5 center. *all heads collectively turn to peer at a helpless Marcin Gortat, perched on the bench with weights tied to his ankles; his soul crushed*
Listen, I’m all for Drew Gooden graciously gifting us with his six early 4th quarter points. But the dude went 0-2 in the final five and a half minutes along with a turnover and not to mention that dreadful possession-destroying shot attempt that he missed from point blank range, one that would have given the Wizards a 95-93 lead with 35 seconds left in regulation. It was quite possibly his worst shot attempt of the season.
Garrett Temple? What purpose did his 11 minutes and 47 seconds in the 4th quarter serve besides NOT stopping Lou Williams on three consecutive possessions and having absolutely zero impact on offense? That measly 3-pointer he made in the opening moments of the quarter was rendered useless in no time as soon as Williams started to dominate him offensively. Yet, there sat Gortat like a vilified dunce, despite being a scorer of nine points and grabber of eight rebounds through the first three quarters. Nearby him sat Otto, a man of substantial length who has the propensity to disturb deadly shooters like Lou Williams, something Temple wasn’t even close to accomplishing. At this stage, Otto is even considered a bigger scoring threat than his counterpart as well.
None of this is Gooden nor Temple’s fault, really. They are merely two players who can’t help who they are: one, a 33-year old swing man who’s played in only 64 games over the past three seasons including only half of this year’s contests; the other, well, do I really need to explain why Garrett Temple shouldn’t be playing pivotal minutes in a close game against a conference rival? But this is why players are to be managed, amirite? Not coached. Managed. Their rotation in the lineup is to be managed. Their purpose on the floor is to be managed. Clearly, though, none of it was. Not by Randy Wittman, who opted to ride with Gooden down to the buzzer, and then subsequently justifying it in his typical condescending way, questioning if a reporter had “watched the game” after he was asked why Gooden remained in the game over Gortat. Blah to the max.
The final play.
With just 8.5 seconds left to make one final play before the end of regulation, Gooden remained on the floor, thus forcing the Wizards to immediately be ridden of at least one optimal scoring option because, well, regardless of how many points he scored in the first few minutes of the quarter, NO coach in their right mind is drawing a game-tying/winning play for Drew Gooden unless they’re trolling the franchise. For some ungodly reason, I actually gave Wittman this benefit of the doubt. The other Wizards players on the floor: John Wall, Rasual Butler, Nene, and inbound man Paul Pierce. Wall, the clear facilitator; Butler the OBVIOUS long range shooter; and Nene, who really never had a chance to unfold himself into any position to score. With Pierce on the strong side corner after making the inbounds pass, it didn’t seem like there was any viable passing lane for Wall to swing the ball to him.
Wittman’s play out of the timeout was comprised of a prolonging ‘Elevator Doors’ set as propped up by Gooden and Nene, with Butler skating in between toward the top of the key for what seemed to be a predictable 3-point shot attempt. Mind you, this play was completely drawn up away from the rim and the Raptors sniffed it out like Dexter on a crime scene. Butler’s defender never lost track of him, forcing Wall to eventually put up a 3 himself. Meanwhile, Gooden damn near tripped over his self setting the pick John went around and Nene, standing as the left elevator door for far too many seconds longer than he should have, was never an option. You can imagine the terror that erupted on #WizardsTwitter. Only thing missing was an actual bounty on Wittman’s head.
Drake continues to be the ultimate fanboy clown.
A few months ago, I destroyed Drake about his annoying groupie antics around star athletes. After this shit last night, I feel like writing 1,000 more words about it. Who does this? A veteran future Hall of Famer, trying to get his mind right and focus on the impending inbound pass he has to make for the final play of the game, gets his arm tugged on by Drake followed by the corny outburst of laughter from what ever corniness he was spewing behind Pierce’s ear. Pierce responded by curving him with a shove before tossing the ball in.
Lou Williams: Certified Wizards Killer.
Lou Williams has played three games against the Wizards this season. Here’s a game log:
11/7 – 16 min, 13 points, 5-11 FG, 1-3 3PT
1/31 – 29 min, 19 points, 8-15 FG, 2-7 3PT
2/11 – 34 min, 27 points, 8-16 FG, 4-8 3PT
With the Wall-Curry showdown looming, we’ve been talking about game changers all month. Last night, he was Lou Williams. Watching this man morph into a mid-90s version of Scottie Pippen against the Wizards is hard to fathom, but you can say that about any of the countless Wizards Killers that we’ve dreadfully been exposed to. It’s really not hard to pinpoint why or how Lou Williams was able to torch the Wizards last night. Defending him would be a start. Williams took advantage of losing his defenders around screens, drawing contact on crazy shots and getting to the line, pulling up for WIDE open 3’s and knocking every one of them down. Just like we saw with Charlotte’s Brian Roberts a few nights ago- lazy and effortless defense will enable any offensive player to produce, and somehow the Wizards find themselves enabling one of those players for every team they play.
A much needed break.
The Wizards are 4-8 dating back to January 21. A few close losses against good teams. A few close wins against bad teams. The sheer inability to beat conference rivals. The two sanity-restoring blowout wins over Brooklyn and Orlando provided some necessary relief. It could seem all for naught after getting swept by the Raptors, yet the silver lining of last night’s loss is that it came on the cusp of a 9-day break in which players and staff can finally escape the emotions of an up and (lately) down first half of the season.
I’m personally ready to escape our conventional coverage of Wizards basketball and enjoy some All-Star coverage this weekend in New York City. A reminder to all that I will be there from the very get-go on Saturday morning for the Curry-Wall “Game Changer” showdown, all the way until the post-All-Star game interviews on Sunday night. So stay with Hoop District just like you have been all season long.
As for the Wiz Kids, get some rest, get replenished, get better.