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Game Notebook 13, Wizards vs. Hawks: A call for ‘amnesia’

Hawks 106
Wizards 102

November 26, 2014 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC


Key Stats

Wizards 25 turnovers: A season milestone for the Wizards after an uncharacteristically #SoWizards evening in DC. Not sure if the Wizards were just trying to fast forward through the Hawks and prep for Cleveland but it certainly seemed that way. The Wizards forced way too much of everything for too much of the night and inevitably it was too much to sway them from winning this game. John Wall (6) and Bradley Beal (7) combined for 13 of those turnovers and the Hawks converted all of the Wizards’ miscues into 32 points.

0 fast break points: This was due to a combination of a few things. The Wizards just weren’t as keyed in on pressing the ball like we normally see. The Wizards, like mentioned above, also tried to force a little too much when they did press the ball, which can also be a testament to some locked in Atlanta Hawks defense.

Moment of the Night

The Professor, assisting the pupil.

Found like a white Albertine rose peeking in the cracks of a mangled pavement, there were a few sequences of play by the Wizards that induced some jubilance, and this was one of them. Not seen was Otto who, advantageous to DeMarre Carroll’s inexplicably lazy defense, trots baseline for a backdoor cut, in which Andre Miller finds him for beautifully.

We haven’t heard Bradley Beal call for “amnesia” in a while, but when he does, it’s usually for good cause. Against the Hawks on Tuesday night, the Wizards were deluged by terrible defense, a barrage of turnovers, and substandard shooting. In spite of all that, they still somehow managed to keep the game at a respectable pace.

The demise of the Wizards last night, however, begins and ends on defense and their inexplicable decisions to constantly switch on defense. Randy Wittman told the media following the game that there was “no rhyme or reason” to Wizards switching on defense, and that basically shit happens. Defenders make an unaided decision to switch or not to switch based on the situation presented to them at that particular moment. I say was a definitely rhyme to it. But there was definitely no reason. As the game went on, the Hawks practically strategized their offense to draw a Wizards big onto their guards without even fully processing a pick and roll. This resulted in guys like Marcin Gortat guarding guys like Jeff Teague, which resulted in plays like easy buckets at the rim.

But the switching wasn’t the only defensive issue. There was just a general flatness on both ends of the floor. A lot of standing around and losing their man. A lot of forced issues. Not enough pressing the ball. Luckily, the Hawks also suffered from their own struggles, turning over the ball 14 times and missing a bunch of 3-point shots. That’s mostly kept the Wizards hanging around.

The Chronology

  • The Wizards were in some stupefied imbroglio from the start of this game and pretty much unable to ever snap out of it. From the get-go we saw a few Gortat bunnies, slowness in transition defense, and a few ill-advised entry passes.

  • The switches began early and occurred often. In the 1st quarter alone the Wizards had Kris Humphries and Gortat switch on to Teague several times. Teague would then reset with a big covering him, square up, and attack. It sucked.

  • So.many.missed.shots. Humphries missed an open midrange. Pierce missed an open midrange. Garrett Temple missed a 3 of course. Pierce missed a 3 in transition. Pierce missed a layup. Otto missed an open midrange shot. I wrote all these down.

  • The Wizards shot just 25% from the field in the 1st quarter but somehow, like much of the game, were still within close range and trailed by just 3 at the end of the period. A 10-0 run comprised of a few John Wall buckets and Drew Gooden helped tie the game at 22 early in the 2nd.

Had to dig 11 minutes into the 1st quarter to finally find something worthy of Vine’ing. Of course, it’s John Wall.

  • Speaking of Drew Gooden, his hustle was superb and a gratifying contrast to the flatness displayed by other Wizards players. Moments after hitting a 3 to open up the 2nd quarter, DGIII was seen in pure 2014 playoff mode outhustling Hawks players for an offensive board and putback. Here it is:

  • Like I mentioned earlier, the Wizards were able to squeeze enough points and the Hawks were able to miss enough shots despite bad Wiz D to keep the game close. But again, that general complacency on defense by the Wizards was just gut-wrenching. The Hawks guards continued to dictate their way to the rim via slow stepping on-ball defense. Atlanta’s perimeter shooters got open looks because close outs were untimely. Even John Wall’s cross-court passes were fluttering. AND he committed a foul on a chase-down block attempt. It was all just wretched, I tell you.

Bradley Beal couldn’t even get away with a crab dribble. Soon.

  • Paul Pierce got two early 3rd quarter buckets which got the Wizards rolling a bit. A merciful rim bounce blessed us with a Garrett Temple 3. But of course, the Wizards were counter their own production with more bad play and the Hawks pounced on it. What would turn into a 3-point lead for the Wizards would suddenly become a 2-point deficit in less than a minute. This occurred a lot throughout the night.

  • After taking a 73-70 lead early in the 4th, the Wizards succumbed to a 12-0 Hawks run which from that point, the game was seemingly out of reach. The Wizards made one last-ditch effort in the final minute, using a cannonade of 3’s by Butler, Pierce and Gooden to keep us interested.

Misc. Vines

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