A pleasant stretch of basketball play sandwiched between an awful start and a worse finish and what the hell does it all mean? Postseason implications. Playoff atmospheres. We love to label and hype these games as such but as evidenced in last night’s performance against the Bobcats, none of those things seem to faze the Wizards. In fact, all it’s done is render doubt and questions about the team’s true frame of mind as they play these final seed-deciding games. Randy Wittman can’t call it. In fact, after 78 games already played, he’s still gotta “figure that out.”
Wittman described last night’s game as “disappointing.” Disappointing in the fact that his guys didn’t show any more “energy, drive or enthusiasm than they did in the first half.” But re-watching the game last night, Wittman may be correct on certain plays, but offensively, the Wizards ran enough good plays to open up their usual high percentage shots. They were just missing them. On defense, we can admit the Wizards were completely out of sorts. The comeback that commenced late in the 2nd quarter into the second half is a manifest to that because that was when the defensive intensity turned up.
Resourcefully utilizing convenient technology, here’s a chronology of how and why the game went the way it did.
First quarter highlights, in 6 seconds.
Cook Book opened up a folding table on the court last night, placed a few warming trays with burners underneath, lit them up and began cheffing. Only his teammates weren’t eating. Booker was practically the sole contributor for the Wizards in the first half last night, with the majority of his points manufactured from the charity stripe. His energy kept the Wizards moving but no one else fed off of it. For the game, Booker went 8-for-8 from the free throw line (all in the first half), and missed just one of his five shots.
McBob the Gawd
Included in the Wizards’ first half struggles was the inability to contain Josh McRoberts (seriously). McBob scored all 12 of his points in the first two quarters hitting shots from long range and Dirksteppin’ on Nene like the play above.
Nene’s return to the Wizards was a limited one as expected but resulted in a pretty decent performance. 45 days and 21 games since Nene last stepped on the court and his impact during critical parts of the game reminded us how much of an asset we’ve missed with him away. Nene finished with 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting and looked pretty spry in the legs. He showed some ample strength in the lane and hit two critical 17-footers in the 4th quarter to keep the Wizards at pace.
More Cook Book recipes
In good times and bad, you must #BealWithIt
It was a meh night for Bradley Beal overall, but this short-range off the dribble helped. A little. You all know I love his floor game and unfortunately, it made only a short cameo last night. Beal missed all five of his 3’s and couldn’t buy a bucket in overtime, with four of the eight missed shots by the Wizards coming off his wrist. Just another off night, and another case of amnesia for the young Panda.
No fouls (or fucks) to be given
The locker room buzz last night was what the hell happened on that last defensive possession where the Wizards gift-wrapped a game-tying layup for Al Jefferson. The Wizards had a foul to give with 9 seconds remaining on the clock but a well-ran pick and roll play by Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson neglected John Wall and Gortat from collapsing on the ball handler and fouling him.
Wall’s decision to go underneath the Jefferson screen created too much distance from Walker and Gortat’s decision to bite high on the roller allowed Jefferson to slip wide open to the lane for the layup with Gortat trailing to late. We’ll hold off on talking about the lack of rotation from any of the other defenders, namely Trevor Ariza, who was the next closest to Jefferson.