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Game Notebook 8, Wizards vs. Pistons: The Night Rasual Butler Took F Street

Wizards 107
Pistons 103

November 12, 2014 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 1.43.21 PM

Key Stats

John Wall & Marcin Gortat: The squad’s double-double machines this season. Wall finished with 27 and 11, including 16 trips to the line which accumulated 13 points. Gortat took care of the business down low which takes care of him. 14 points and 13 boards for The Machine, who is now averaging 14 points and 9.4 rebounds on the season.

Wizards bench: 39 points including huge contributions from Kris Humphries (12 & 9) and Rasual Butler (18). Plenty on them later in this post

Moment of the Night

The Wall -> Nene -> Gortat Express and what would be the game’s eventual #dagger.

The real dagger of the night could also be Paul Pierce’s tap-out of a missed John Wall free throw which secured a new possession and a new set of free throws. But this would be the Wizards’ last actual field goal before the game turned into a 15-foot shooting contest at the stripe. And it was a classic. Few can draw a defense like John Wall. Few also can draw a defense like Nene. Those attributes typically allow an consequential open man. The beneficiary in this play: Marcin Gortat.

The Wizards had a few nights to spare before their game at The Booth last night against the Pistons. A stretch of days like such typically consist of morning practices, perhaps a prolonged ice tub sesh or an even deeper tissue massage for the 30+. Making up for leg day is an option, too. If you’re Drew Gooden, you’re finally getting around to that unopened, yet near-expiring container of assorted cheeses, previously ordered from iGourmet.

Sometimes, these laid-back mannerisms can transpose into the first half of your next basketball game. Take last night for example. The Wizards came out the gates to a slew of long balls fired up and converted by the Pistons; a cannonade led by Brandon Jennings and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope if you will. The Pistons would score a season high of 34 points in the 1st quarter and Jennings had 16 of them.

But the key element to how the Wizards didn’t let up is the same one for any game in which they wish to have success: sustenance provided by the second unit. Rasual Butler. Kris Humphries. Even Kevin Seraphin again. These guys set the tone in the 2nd quarter, before John Wall did the rest. When Wall returned from the bench to close out the first half, he was engaged and he let himself loose to solidify the Wizards’ comeback from 10 down.

After a back and forth 3rd quarter, the Wizards dictated the 4th and the fuhrer was Rasual Butler. Butler knocked down 4 of his 5 shots for 11 points and made key defensive plays down the stretch. Randy Wittman called him “outstanding” for his abilities to stretch the floor, hit from long range, and just provide an all around display of activity on both ends of the court.

The game would end on an atypical note, however. As the Pistons kept sending the Wizards to the line in the final seconds, the Wizards proceeded by keeping the game close by missing one of their two attempts each time they drew a foul. That was until Paul Pierce had seen enough, tapping the ball out to Rasual Butler after Wall missed the second of two free throws. Butler would get fouled immediately upon receipt of Pierce’s tapped out ball and, fittingly, he would knock down both of HIS free throws to give the Wizards a game-deciding 4 point lead.

The Chronology

  • It was definitely nice – and refreshing – to see Paul Pierce hit his first two shots of the game after having made just 20% of his previous 40 shot attempts. In the early minutes of the 1st quarter, Pierce knocked down a short J before a pull up 3 in transition. He also lobbed a nice mini-oop to Gortat.

  • Besides Pierce’s quick start, the Wizards were quite a hot mess on both ends of the floor in the 1st quarter. While some of Detroit’s buckets were unsustainable for any defense, the Wizards did very little to be counteractive. A ton of missed layups, a few turnovers by Gortat, and missed free throws of course. Defensively, Garrett Temple is a hot mess. His soft defense on the ball and against pick and rolls gave guys like Jennings and KCP more than enough room they needed to get good looks, and they damn sure took advantage.

Marcin Gortat with that precision glass work.

John Wall had an interesting 1st quarter. He missed all his shots from the field but still accumulated 8 points, all by drawing a shit ton of contact in the lane and getting to the line. Wall smoked down court and in between defenders on a number of plays that usually concluded with a wild shot attempt after drawn contact.

This is what makes John Wall so gotdamn dangerous. Not only is he a magnet for defenders, he makes the perfect play in response. Just an outstanding pass by Wall and a strong finish by Nene.

  • The second unit crew to start the 2nd quarter was routine: Miller, Butler, Otto, Kris and Seraphin. For the second straight game, Drew Gooden III didn’t play any minutes and interestingly, no one’s really talking about it. That’s because it’s Kris Humphries who has been taking DGIII’s minutes and rightfully so. Over the last three games, Humph has averaged 20 minutes, 10 points, and 8 rebounds if you’re into rounding up (7.6 to be exact).

He is Kris Humphries. Nimble in transition. Fierce at the rim.

  • It was around the midway point of the 2nd quarter when the Wizards were down by 9 and John Wall had recently checked back into the game. Greg Monroe had been chewing into the Wizards, getting buckets in the paint, drawing fouls, crashing glass. Thusly, John Wall had just about enough of the softness and went ape shit. In a span of 4 exact minutes, Wall became the catalyst for a vengeful Wizards comeback from 10 down to tie the game at 54 with about a minute and some change left in the half. In those minutes, Wall hit two jump shots, including one of which he drew a foul on the play (see below). He was the creator of three scoring possessions, two being assists to Nene and one making an outlet pass to Gortat who swung it to Butler for a 3 (see below below). He also got to the line twice.

John Wall’s jump shot is becoming more and more sharp as the season goes on.

John Wall’s shot chart.

  • While Wall missed a good number of layups (all of them, really) and floaters (I think he made one or two), and other varieties of shots from close proximity, he did once again show his evolvement as a jump shooter. Wall was especially efficient from the right wing and areas near the top of the key, per NBAStats.com shot chart.


Reminder: The Washington Wizards are pretty good at basketball.

  • The 3rd quarter was a well matched affair for both teams. The Pistons continued to work Greg Monroe down low and the KCP/Jennings combo continued to drop buckets like caskets. On the other side of the ball, John Wall played his usual full 12 minutes and scored 9 points in the process.

  • So, going back to the Wizards bench and the vast improvements seen in that department. For the second game in a row, the Wizards bench scored at least 35 points and a lot of that involves the emergence of Kris Humphries. Humph, who was previously still recovering from the finger lacerations, totaled only a handful of minutes over the first 5 games. However since then, Humphries has earned his minutes and the heart of Randy Wittman. His spacing has been great, he sets good off-ball screens which in turn have freed him up for high percentage midrange shots. He got a few blocks on defense last night. He’s assertive in his attack on the rim and gets to the line. He also runs the floor very well in transition.

The Professor finds Kris Humphries, and that appeases Paul Pierce.


  • Welp. Of all the unexpected things in this world. Bradley Beal hit the deck a few weeks ago messing up his non-shooting wrist and suddenly DC went up in flames. The Wizards, already in shambles because of a thin lineup at the guard position, decided to look no further than the assets they already attain. Out of the four training camp invitees, they wisely decided to hold on to Butler to take the final roster spot and BRUH, talk about a winning lottery ticket. Butler has not only shown and proved his prowess as a shooter from pretty much anywhere on the floor, but golly that man leaves his heart out on the floor on every play. The Wizards were scrapping with the Pistons play for play down the final stretch of 4th quarter, and it was Rasual Butler who brought them home. Now, I’ll let him bring this column home. Take it away, Buckets.

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