home Blogs Game Notebook 62, Wizards vs. Heat: Just ‘Take the Win’?

Game Notebook 62, Wizards vs. Heat: Just ‘Take the Win’?

Wizards 99
Heat 97

March 6, 2015 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC

“I ain’t it giving back. I’ll take it” — Randy Wittman on escaping last night’s near-disaster.

Game Leaders:

[ezcol_1third]WIZARDS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third][/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]HEAT[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Nene (20)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]POINTS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Dragic (18)[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Wall (12)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]ASSISTS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Dragic (7)[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Gortat (17)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]REBOUNDS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Andersen (6)[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Gortat/Wall (2)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]BLOCKS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Whiteside/Haslem (1)[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Wall (+19)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PLUS/MINUS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Andersen (+19)[/ezcol_1third_end]

Ugh. The distaste. The aversion. Like a bad night at movie theater. I know it was the Verizon Center I left last night but the sour taste in my mouth reminded me of when I walked out of Human Centipede.

Oh, but the Wizards won, you say? Just take the win and be happy, right?

No wait. “Remember where we came from.” That’s the security blanket for us Wizards fans. “Remember the hardships of the past, for they will diminish all hardships of the present.” I admire the piety most of you portray for your basketball team, but the Wizards don’t deserve that kind of worship.

Not if winning these days takes a 35-point lead to be reduced to a one-possession game, and certainly not when it’s only the fourth time in 16 tries they’ve achieved a win in the first place. Thanks, but I’ll gladly wait for the next satisfaction train. This one stinks anyway.

It was around around the 4:00 mark of the 4th quarter when the game clock continued running, but hearts had already checked out. Mine did, at least. The Wizards were funneling away down the hole of a clogged toilet, doused in the second half feces of a 49-15 Heat run and a point total of just 33.

Wittman explains:

“Movement, both player and ball. We stopped defending. The first half was as good as when we played Detroit and then we come out and hold the ball, hold the ball as the clock is winding down. We didn’t have as many of those. The first half, the ball just moved. If I [the players] didn’t have something after one or two dribbles, it was moved on. The ball was thrown into the post. We had one, two, three cutters. The players moved in the post area. Our post play in the first half was unbelievable.”

Yes, the Wizards did make some good plays early. But the Heat were also pretty bad. Haslem, especially, didn’t start off in a tasteful manner, missing a midrange shot pretty bad, then getting called for a foul on Nene. Dragic then missed a shot. Meanwhile, Pierce was locked in early, which has merely been reduced to a perk nowadays for Wizards fans. He was responsible for six straight Wizards points, the first three courtesy of a typical line drive top of the key sinker, and the second via a harmonious extra pass to a corner-posted Beal. Wall had a steal and a behind-the-back move, which is always telling of peak Wizards basketball. And this start was just the way the Wizards paraded on the Heat for the rest of the first half. And then some in the 3rd.

Shot percentage by half:

[ezcol_1third]WIZARDS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third][/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]HEAT[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]52.8%[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]First Half[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]37.1%[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]34.5%[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]Second Half[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]54.5%[/ezcol_1third_end]

What became of the game entirely was a mind-defeating plot twist that could make the Se7en script seem as basic as a Shel Silverstein story.

And while Wizards fans continue to gather their torn emotions, the Wizards, primarily Wittman and Wall, attempted to drive home the moral of last night’s horror: take the win and focus on the first half positives.

Probably should have also mentioned to continue to remain mindless of the fact that this team has failed to put together a well-rounded, well-strategized gameplan with appropriate adjustments. Alas, it’s always a long season and there’s still a plenty of games left to play. But while 20 games remaining seems like a handful, it’s not much at all when you map out all the inveterately plaguing issues that face these Wizards.

The collapse:

The Wizards had a 35-point lead at exactly the 7:10 mark of the 3rd quarter following this wonderful between-the-legs parallel pass from John Wall to a trucking Marcin Gortat down the middle of the lane.

And that’s immediately when the Miami ransack began. Tyler Johnson and Goran Dragic, like a two-man army named the Pirates of Biscayne Bay, initiated things with 8 straight points, six of them captured in this Vine below:

Dragic and Johnson’s outburst was followed by a Gortat offensive foul and suddenly, it no longer seemed like a wise idea starting your Friday night early. That halftime tequila buzz began to wear off a bit following an 8-0 Heat run and Wittman’s surrendering timeout. But as the Wizards remained complacent, we tried the same. Wittman’s timeout served minimal purpose as the offense began to crumble back into its dreadfully familiar simplicity, with possessions ending in aimless dribble handoffs and screens for long twos, yet only to end up with Wall shooting a badly formed 3-pointer at the top of the key? *Shrugs* Meanwhile, Shabazz Napier showed up to the party like Dr. Dre in Snoop’s Gin and Juice video, knocking down two 3-pointers in a row and minimizing Washington’s lead to 19. Wait, NINETEEN? And the 3rd quarter wasn’t even over yet?

The timing for Miami was also impeccable. Just as the lead was trickling down to 15, the Wizards lineup at the time included Ramon Sessions, Drew Gooden, and Garrett Temple. Spoelstra literally would have sent Wittman a Thank You card if the Heat had pulled this one off. The Wizards did indeed lead by only 15 going into the 4th, and the worst was still yet to come.

The Wizards scored just 11 points and attempted only 11 shots in the 4th quarter. They made only three baskets and they committed seven turnovers, matching their total in the 3rd.

Wittman opted to counter Miami’s small-ball with Kevin Seraphin and Drew Gooden, who were about as good as burnt toast in performing that task. If Michael Beasley had any fear about his continued employment past today’s expiration date of his 10-day contract, Gooden reassured him that everything would be alright. This forced Witt to mercifully insert Gortat back in the game, relieving Gooden of the torment, kind of like the first Ninja Turtles movie, where the Shredder was just picking off off turtle after turtle. Master Wittman would soon replace Gortat as well, before realizing Nene’s kitana served just as harmless. Beasley continued to get to the rim and get buckets, finishing with 6-10 for 13 points in the 4th, after not scoring a single point through the first three quarters.

You’ll notice that once the Heat trimmed the lead to single digits, their energy was spiked. They triple-teamed Nene, they clogged the paint away from Bradley Beal, they forced illegal screens. A jarring Nene dunk put the Wizards back up by 10 and for a split moment, it softened our stoned hearts. But the clay hardened back up right away. Beasley took another toke of the 3 and a Nene turnover led to a hard foul on James Ennis by John Wall and the lead was cut to 5. Beasley’s extra dribble as time ran out on the final possession saved the Wizards in this one, but the trust circle had already been breached.

“It’s an embarrassment to ourselves to lose a 35-point lead..” – John Wall

There’s plenty to harp about after this one. Coaching adjustments, lack of offensive strategy, perhaps even effort and will. Defensively, the Wizards have proven their inability to guard big men who attain mobility. Wittman appointed three different bigs to defend Michael Beasley in that 4th quarter last night and all three failed respectively. The offense simply has a lack of playmakers and its leader just isn’t assertive enough. Paul Pierce is a fraction of what he used to be. Nene sometimes seems just one good defensive adjustment away from being neutralized. All of these things were revealed last night as the Wizards’ mammoth-sized lead was chopped away minute by minute. We can only hope that while the Wizards prep for their second game of a back-to-back, that they’re following their own advice of taking positives. Last night’s end result was after all a tally in the win column. Let’s follow it up with one more, at least.

The Positives

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