December 16, 2014 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC
“Seven guys in double figures, 29 assists, and ten turnovers. That’s who we are.”
That was Randy Wittman’s summation of the game his Wizards had just dominated against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Ke$ha plug was only because I’m shamelessly a huge fan of hers and it applies fittingly to the subject matter.
Anyway, Wittman’s quote was actually an answer to a reporter’s question asking what it was exactly that propelled the Wizards to such dominance.
There was no clear-cut answer, but rather a blend of various factors, factors that have become the norm in Wizards basketball.
Seven guys in double figures: Led by Rasual Butler’s 23 points (18 in the 4th), the Wizards accumulated points from a variety of players last night. Otto Porter, who was given a late nod to start in place Paul Pierce (toe), scored 10 points thru 3 quarters. Bradley Beal struggled, going 3-12 from the field and also finished with 10. Nene seems to have bounced back well, contributing 11 off the bench. Seraphin also had 10.
This speaks mounds about the depth of this Wizards roster. Big enough to depress Flip Saunders into a state of melancholy over what could have been his. Having to operate a roster comprised of dunces and boneheads, Flip never had a chance to relish the convenience of “options” the way his successor Randy Wittman does now. And neither did his young point guard. What really sticks out about the depth of the Wizards is how unfazed they’ve become when an injury pops up. Be it Nene or Paul Pierce, the Wizards have failed to miss a step when plugging the next guy in, a plaguing issue in recent past.
29 assists: TruthAboutIt.net’s Kyle Weidie reported that when asked about the growth of John Wall since coaching him as a rookie and partially as a sophomore, Flip replied, “he was a kid when I had him, a baby.” John Wall, a man now, dished out 17 assists against his first NBA head coach, tying a career high. Combined with his 21 points, more than half of the Wizards’ points were created by Wall. But that’s just who they are, right Witt? No question. The Wizards, who for long had been unable to create an identity for themselves, have found at least one if nothing else: unselfish. Ironically, that sort of trait can only be filtered through the rest of the team by way of the most unselfish of them all, the facilitator and face of the franchise.
10 turnovers: Both teams actually managed to minimize their turnovers last night. The real underlying stat in this is the assist to turnover ratio for John Wall: 17-3. And yes, everything always comes back to John Wall. Wall has been dominating most stats relevant to assists except for the assists-per-turnover category, where he’s at a 2.71 clip, 20th best in the league. The league’s leader (min. 100 assists) is Chris Paul at 4.76. Last night, against a notably bad Minnesota defense, Wall was at a whopping 5.66 assists per turnover.
Moments of the Night
So many moves John Wall put on Zach LaVine and company last night. This one, though, had me geeking the way Wall’s fake step has LaVine foolishing jumping under Nene’s screen too soon.
But wait! There’s one more..
This was funny: John Wall stuffs Mo Williams away behind Nene’s screen, hits the J + the and-1, does a shimmy.
Game Notes and Highlights
Paul Pierce was a late, late scratch for the game due to a lingering toe issue that Randy Wittman said he’s been nagged with for a while now and tweaked a few days ago. Didn’t seem too concerned about it, though. The three nights of rest before Miami should help.
Meanwhile, Otto got the nod and within the first few minutes of the game, Pierce’s absence had gotten used to.
So. John Wall has a jump shot now? Excellent.
Please, take this shot chart and follow along.
Wall shot 9-for-17 on the night and 6-10 on shots beyond 15 feet. And get this, he took ZERO shots at the rim. [Side note: the Wizards still managed 16 fast break points]. Wall’s incredible improvement shooting the ball has only left teams hapless in defending him, especially on pick and rolls. And Wittman has the nerve to tell us we haven’t seen the very best of Wall yet. Ha! Wait a minute…we really haven’t, though, right?
John Wall step-back 3’s is the world we live in today.
The Wizards again got a serviceable night from Kris Humphries. 10 rebounds, two blocks and a few buckets. Humphries is constantly active on the floor, with or without the ball. His floor presence offers good spacing, solid off-ball screening, and excellent positioning and box outs for rebounds.
SYNTAX ERROR. Please try again later, Shabazz Muhammad.
Then came the moment when Andre Miller came to a daunting realization of how old he really was. The springs in his legs, rattled and rusty, gave such an effort to bounce him up for a put back dunk, but it would have fared better if it were only on an 8 foot rim.
“If [Miller] made that, we would’ve not practiced the rest of the year.” – John Wall.
Can we haz more Otto, please?
We almost kind of forgot about Otto Porter in recent games. To be more exact, it’s been 14 games since Otto scored in double figures (13 against Orlando on 11/15) and he’s only averaged just under four points a game since. It’s not entirely his fault, though, considering the sample sizes of minutes he’s been earning (less than 15 minutes in 6 of his last 6 games). After getting the start last night, however, Otto got 22 minutes of burn and played within the team’s flow just fine, shooting 4-8 from the field, 2-2 from 3, 5 rebounds and a blocked shot. Here’s some evidence.
My reaction to Mo Williams getting lost behind Nene’s screen.
— Abdullah Sharif (@Abdu11ah) December 17, 2014
Rasual Butler dominated the 4th quarter with 18 of the Wizards’ 35 points. After Nene opened up the quarter with a bucket, Butler scored the next six points. Later, he unleashed a barrage from downtown, with the last one putting the ‘Zards up by 19 and triggering Wittman to empty his bench.