Wizards 94 — Pelicans 93
February 22, 2014
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
The Game of Milliseconds
Oh, we deserved this victory, we really did. Not just the team, but us, the fans.
This game was shaping up to be just like every game against a mediocre team at the Verizon Center all season. Small stretches of dominance that made it seem like the Wizards would run away with the game, only to be offset by bone-headed mistakes and giving up easy baskets in the form of what looked like a lay-up line. It would seem by the small spurts of excellent play by the Wizards that they’d be up by seven or eight points going into halftime. Nope. Tie ball game. 43-43.
After the Pelicans had a strong stretch of scoring all of their points in the paint in the 3rd quarter, it seemed that the they were going to establish some sort of lead going into the 4th when considering how easy their conversions were. Nope. Tie ball game. 66-66.
At that point you could conceivably predict what was going to happen. The Wizards were going to cut it close up until the last couple minutes of the quarter, and then either make a drastic mistake or have a chance to only tie it with the last possession. However, this time was different. I honestly think the Wizards knew how this scenario always plays out and they made sure that they would have a chance to win this game at the final buzzer. They were going to make sure there was little to no time on the clock. Well, at least John Wall wanted to make sure.
Football is a game of inches. I suppose you could say that basketball is a game of milliseconds.
John Wall said after the game that he remembers Derek Fisher hit a shot with 0.4 seconds left on the clock, and that he was cautious about how much time he wanted the Pelicans to have left if the Wizards converted a shot. Could Jonathan Hildred have manipulated the scenario of how much time was left to only leave enough time for the Pelicans to legally get off a tip-in to help them win this game? With 0.3 seconds left that’s the only option for a team according to the NBA rules. Okay, that’s some Walter White stuff. Or maybe Frank Underwood. Perhaps he isn’t that calculated. Apparently basketball players don’t manipulate in such a manner. They just “read the defense.” John Wall is still pretty damn good. Baby steps John, baby steps.
The Boys are Back in Town
Whoever said God doesn’t answer the prayers of Wizards’ fans? First the trade for Andre Miller, and then Al Harrington is reactivated ? Jumpin’ Jehosophat!
Okay, so maybe we have lower standards for what excites us. However, this bench was desperate for some veteran leadership. I love me some Garrett Temple, but the tires of the offense gets stuck in the mud when John Wall leaves the game. They struggle to put up points and have to fight very hard to preserve and maintain leads. It was Miller’s first game and Al Harringtons first game back at the same time, so they were utilized in different ways.
Harrington only saw 33 seconds of action, as Wittman has to slowly reintroduce him back into the flow of the offense. Andre Miller saw more minutes than expected (as he mentioned in his post game interview) and had a decent showing. He entered the game with roughly 01:48 remaining in the opening quarter. His first possession, he nearly executed what was a nifty crossover but lost control of the ball. However, using his crafty savviness of savvy craftiness, he drew a shooting foul, going to the line and knocked down both free throws.
Andre Miller, 6’2 , in his late-30-somethings
Pros: Very crafty. Savvy with the ball. When not savvy, awfully crafty. Favorite type of cheese is Kraft. Struggles not to be crafty. Nifty when maneuvering inside savvily with the ball.
Cons: Struggles to be anything savvy. Can get caught up being too crafty and ends up becoming savvy.
On his next possession, he showed some speed and maneuverability as he drove into the lane via the baseline. He had what looked like an opportunity for a reverse layup, but decided to throw an errant pass behind himself to a trailing Kevin Seraphin. Bad idea. I’ll chalk up not taking that reverse layup as a sign of rust, as he probably doesn’t have the muscle memory going to realize the space he had and where he was near the basket. Baby steps Andre, baby steps.
Other highlights of Millers showing were him going into the post and drawing a 3-second violation which earned the Wizards a technical free throw, and bulleting a beautiful outlet pass to Bradley Beal who was streaking on a fast break, ending in a Beal slam. He played sixteen minutes, and probably far too deep into the 4th as John Wall didn’t reenter the game until there was roughly 5:30 left on the clock. Notably, he did defer to Bradley Beal for a majority of his possessions. The results of that were so-so, as they clearly need more time to mesh together
For kicks and gigs, a Nene meme (that’s “nay-nay meem”)
Perhaps what was Andre Miller’s impact is the spell he put on Nene. I don’t know if Nene finds a sense of comfort in knowing Miller is a part of the Wizards organization, or whether he just woke up today and decided to dominate the next basketball game he played in.
Nene was hot early, as he scored eight of the Wizards first ten points. It wasn’t as if he was just getting easy layups or lucky baskets in transition. He started off with a strong lay-in via an assist from Beal, then came back down and comfortably sank a 15-footer.
Two possessions later, without hesitation, he drilled an 18 footer. He seemed destined for NBA Jam “on-fire” mode when he came down right after that and sank another long jump shot, this time from seventeen feet out. He hit a bit of a rough patch in the middle of the game as he had some turnovers and botched attempts at the rim however. He scored ten in the first quarter, and then picked it back up in the 3rd as he scored 13, going into the 4th with 25.
Jump shots aside, you could characterize Nene’s performance as a dunkfest. He had what seemed like a spat with Greg Stiesma and Anthony Davis, then proceeded to throw down slams with thunderous force. Throw in a couple steals and three monster defensive rejections at the rim on a critical play, and you have what was Nene’s best performance of the year. He turned Greg Stiesma into his girlfriend. Come awn’ man! You gotta treat your girl better than that Nene. Have some respect!