December 15, 2014 – Verizon Center, Washington DC
For the second weekend in a row, the Wizards partook in Sunday Funday of the basketball variety and for the second weekend in a row, they came out on to the floor like they had just rolled out of an Uber ride delivering them from an afternoon dominated by bottomless mimosas at Barrack’s Row.
The Wizards opened up the first five minutes of the game with five turnovers and finished with seven in the first quarter. By halftime they had committed 12, benefitting the Jazz for 21 points.
And just when you thought that was the worst part, ha! THAT’S when things got ugly! The 2nd quarter was a complete shit show. The two teams COMBINED for 13 total field goals (Utah- 7/23; Was- 6/22) and 33 points (18-15 Utah). However it was an 8-0 mid-quarter Jazz run that gave them a seven point lead, before they eventually took a 42-37 lead into halftime.
But…there’s no sunshine without rain, right? I think that was me trying to foreshadow an amazing 3rd quarter and tragically failing. Anyway, in his post-game, Randy Wittman refused to say his Wizards were ‘lacking energy’ (quashing my bottomless mimosa theory) in the first half and instead, just called it “poor offensive basketball”. But in the 3rd quarter, the Wizards came out and ran..literally RAN the Utah Jazz of the court. Peak John Wall led to 11 transition points for the Wizards, which assisted the Wizards in outscoring the Jazz 30-16 in the period. Peak Randy Wittman would also tell you that good defense leads to easy transition points, which defines Wizards basketball. For a 3rd quarter, he was right.
Oh, yeah, before I forget. Remember when the Wizards were yard sale shopping for an efficient veteran point guard to spell John Wall and provide ample sustenance while Wall rested? Remember Eric Maynor and AJ Price? That was all before we came to realize that a yard sale isn’t the only route to acquire an efficient backup point guard. We learned that a simple barter transaction with the Denver Nuggets would reveal Jan Vesely’s expendability and land us an antique in Andre Miller. Since he’s been a Wizard, Miller has done nothing but sustain the Wizards’ second unit in the minimal floor time he gets and last night, he was nothing short of excellent. Miller six 4th quarter points helped the Wizards go up by as many as 15 before a mini-late game #SoWizards stretch surrendered a 13-4 run in favor of the Jazz and trimmed the lead down to six.
The Jazz were eventually staved off and the Wizards held tight to carve out a win, their 17th in 23 games, two consecutive wins shy of their franchise record.
Moment of the Night
Can’t help but to chuckle sometimes at the futility of NBA defenses trying to guard John Wall and Bradley Beal. #HouseOfGuards
Game Notes and Highlights
Bottomless mimosas, man. If anyone was drinking them before the tip-off, it was Beal and Gortat. Two of the Wizards’ seven first quarter turnovers came by way of those two attempting to establish some offensive connection. Gortat missed a pass from Beal of a screen and roll on the opening possession and a few plays later, missed a lob from Beal. Other mishaps include Paul Pierce getting blocked by Gordan Hayword and Wall double dribbling in transition after he got a block of his own.
But amid all the sluggishness, Alec Burks wanted to be John Wall, and that was helpful not for the Jazz.
Although the Wizards didn’t really going until after Wittman’s halftime java, the first half displayed enough of the Wizards trying to get it going early. Wall was already warming up to fast break opportunities and a lot of it was beneficiary of good defense.
The concept of excessive midrange jump shooting has become minimized into the focal point of scrutiny whenever the Wizards offense gets exhausted with inefficiency. Percentages prove that the Wizards are a team that attempts the most shots from between 10 and 20 feet and more percentages prove that they are the culprit of being the worst at shooting from that distance. Enter Bradley Beal. Having recently merged into adulthood and still learning the ways of his profession, Beal has been nurtured into believing he must take what the defense gives him. Despite being called up as the team’s go-to scorer and labeled as a pure shooter, Beal still hasn’t fully crafted his shot and so with every miss from medium range, the world bogs down on him more pressingly than before. I simply say: live out your 20s, Brad and keep shooting it. Because once you’ve got your shot down pat from all angles and distances, the scrutiny will in turn cease.
John Wall’s hesitation move has bruised and battered ankles and left defenders hapless in a state of mortification. It’s frozen them into a state of such futility that neither Elsa’s weird spell nor her snowman friend with the Russian name could extricate him (that analogy was dedicated to my little niece. F those of you who judge).
Pray for Rudy.
The 3rd quarter was pure domination by the Wizards and it was all led by the savagery of John Wall. The Wizards ran off 11 fast break points in the quarter, most of them by way turnovers. The Wizards forced seven of them. Playing good defense, grabbing rebounds, pacing down court, great ball movement. This is the Wizards in their prime state and when that occurs, they become capable of overcoming any team in this league. Fact.
It’s especially nice when you see John Wall being fed in transition. Call it role reversal.
Defense = transition opportunities = easy buckets.
As mentioned above, Andre Miller was just fantastic last night for the Wizards. He finished with 10 points on 5-6 shooting in 12 minutes. Add three rebounds, three assists and steal to that stat line as well. His crafty, Houdini-like offense remains a mystery to his defenders, making it damn near impossible to guard. His six points early in the 4th quarter propelled the Wizards to a 15 point lead.
The Jazz went on a 13-4 run to make things interesting late in the game. The Wizards missed a few shots and the Jazz got a few second chance opportunities thanks to the hustle of Enes Kanter. Kanter actually had five offensive rebounds in the game. A few possessions later, Trevor Booker stole a John Wall pass and got fouled after the Jazz operated a full court press. This brought the Jazz to within six.
But, if there’s one thing the Wizards have proved throughout this great start to the season and even much of last season, it’s the ability to fend off comeback attempts and be resilient enough to close out a win. By the Wizards standards, this wasn’t a pretty win at all, but this is the NBA and winning isn’t supposed to be easy nor are they always beautified. But pulling the door shut and hatching the lock provides the same sense of relief as any win does, so keep ’em coming.