The Randy Wittman era began exactly how it was supposed to, a victory over an awful team who was also decimated by injuries to key (in comparison to the rest of their team) players. There was no DJ Augustine, no Gerald Henderson, no Corey Maggette and no Reggie Williams , who has missed the entire season so far. Nonetheless it was a 92-75 victory for the Washington Wizards.
The game started with a Nick Young jumper to put the Wizards up 2-0, and they would not give up that lead for the rest of the way, earning them the “Wire to Wire” achievement in NBA 2K12. The Wizards put together an impressive first quarter, which featured good defensive rotation and good passing, two aspects of basketball that typically seem to allude the Wizards. The team assisted on 9 of 14 baskets in the quarter, boosted by four dimes from Seven Day Dray.
Nick Young led the squad with 20 points (7-18 fg 4-4 ft) on the night, including an usual amount of points at the basket, granted the vast majority of his buckets at the rim were in the first quarter where he had 11 points. Even if Young was unable to convert at the rim he put the team in a better position to clean up his mess than after he shoots his 20 foot contested turnaround fadeaway jumpers.
Attacking the basket seemed to be the Wizards theme on the night, they scored 60 points in the paint as opposed to just 34 from the Bobcats. Noticeably Andray Blatche seemed to make it his mission to dunk the ball. Unfortunately for him he was embarrassed time and time again on his attempts to attack the rim. Blatche seemed to get blocked by Tyrus Thomas (who had 9 blocks on the night) or stripped by a Bobcat guard every time he went near the hoop, but hey, it’s better than the alternative (20 foot jumpers).
The Wizards bench was terrific on the night, including stellar performances from Jan “the Dunking Ninja” Vesely, Kevin Seraphin and Jordan “Chuck” Crawford. Crawford continued his improved play as of late notching 9 points (4-9 fg 1-2 ft) 5 assists a block and a steal in 19 minutes of controlled play. Again I would like to reiterate that Jordan Crawford is a very capable, if not good, passer of the ball, he just usually chooses against it.
John Wall had one of his most effective shooting nights of the season, making 6-9 field goal attempts, but he did turn the ball over 7 times. For the second game in a row JaVale McGee only played 21 minutes, but he utilized his minutes much more sufficiently tonight, scoring 6 points (3-5 fg) grabbing 10 boards and blocking 4 shots. In addition to some solid defense and controlled offense from McGee he mad a few impressive passes on the night, including one he fired to Nick Young in the first quarter, after he grabbed an offensive rebound, sadly Nick would be denied on his dunk attempt thus denying JaVale McGee an assist.
The game never really got close after the opening quarter. Charlotte did manage to pull within 13 midway through the third quarter, but after a Randy Wittman timeout the Wizards were able to regroup, remember what team they were playing, and push the lead back up to 22 by the end of the quarter.
The fourth quarter was played almost exclusively by rookie and sophomore Wizards. Trevor Booker played most of his sparing minutes in the fourth and seemed to be frustrated after committing a few careless turnovers. Nick Young was able to pad his stats by scoring the Wizards last 7 points in the game, including a 28 foot bomb with nine seconds left.
MVP: Jan Vesely
Randy Wittman seemed interested in finding out what exactly Vesely could do with extended minutes, and picked Jan to be the first man off the bench six minutes into the first quarter. Vesely continued to be a nonstop motor guy for the Wiz. He grabbed 6 rebounds scored 6 points (3-3 fg) and had a career high 3 blocks. One of Vesely’s more impressive plays on the night came when he received a pass from Shelvin Mack through traffic in the lane, took a quick dribble, realized he was stuck in the key and had to put up, and drill, a quick hook shot to avoid a 3 second violation. The Dunking Ninja continues to impress me with his basketball IQ and instincts. He still sets an illegal screen almost every time he sets one, and racks up fouls at an incredible rate, but once he can cut down on the fouls I expect big, big things from Jan.
LVP: Nick Young
I really wanted to give Blatche the LVP after he was constantly humiliated by Tyrus Thomas, but instead I figured it was more humiliating that Nick allowed Matt Carroll to drop 17 points (7-10 fg) on him. Carroll was scoring with ease on Nick in a myriad of ways. It was truly embarrassing. Also Nick managed to be one of two Wizards to avoid getting an assist, Trevor Booker who only played 9 minutes was the other.
Could Randy Wittman be the next Paul Silas? Silas was named interim coach for the Bobcats last season after the departure of Larry Brown, only to be given the full job after the season. Not saying that it is likely going to, or should, happen to Wittman after the season, but it was pretty interesting that Wittman went up against a former interim head coach in his debut as one.
Wittman seemed intent on getting young guys minutes, aside from Trevor Booker who seems to be in the doghouse for no apparent reason other than struggling against the Celtics defensively. It will be interesting going forward to see if he continues to utilizes guys like Vesely and Seraphin more so than Flip Saunders did. It is possible that Wittman was only playing the guys because it was against the Bobcats and the team was already up a good amount.
Up next for the Wizards is a Friday night game away against the Houston Rockets. Tip off at 8 p.m.