Keys to the Palace: Winning!

'No I don't have a dog house, I have a Palace of Good Play.' I'm looking for someone who's playing well so I can put them in that palace."
-Ed Tapscott

We just found out how much fun it can be to watch this team.

That was the best week of the season, 3-1 and it could have easily been 4-0 with some reasonable officiating and/or Wall not getting himself ejected. Either way, we had a winning record! Is there any way we can bottle this week's energy for future use? I have a lot of good things to say about a lot of players in this weeks' Keys.

Jimmy put the team on his back against Utah, but it was a solid win and only our 2nd on the road this season. The other win over the Cavs was a great team effort, and done without the services of our best player, well actually our best 2+ players. Beating the Bobcats was ugly, but a win is a win. The Heat game was the most fun I've had at a Wizards game in awhile. The intensity in the building was fantastic, and there was a definite edge to the game from the opening whistle.

I hate to gripe about officiating, and I didn't watch on TV, but there were several suspect calls that went the Heat's way in what was basically a 6 point game until the last 2 minutes. Not to mention the fact that if the officials had called Big Z's first elbow, which was a foul, then Wall never would have gotten angry and retaliated. Rant over.

What was left of the Wizards after Wall's ejection played their hearts out and did us all proud. Sure, it was the one loss this week, but that effort was the best of the 4. The domination of the paint in against Cleveland seemed like an extension that performance. This team may not win a lot of games, but I can't complain as long as these young guys play with that kind of passion.

Keys to the Palace

Player Week 23 PER Week 22 PER Difference Comment
Jordan Crawford 12.9 12.5 0.4 With Jimmy out, he completely stepped up. 39 points on 50% shooting against one of the league's best defenses is 1 thing, but it's another to do it as the only offensive option/creator on the court; Miami only had to focus on stopping him and did not succeed. Then, he follows that with a role change to more pure PG against the Cavs and commands the offense while putting up a triple-double. And what about 'the play' against Cleveland where he blocks Baron Davis' shot, pulls a beautiful spin move in the open court, and then passes backwards between the legs to Dray for a dunk. And this is me gushing......Jordan did need 25 shots for his 25 points against the Jazz (mainly due to only going 1-for-10 from deep, and 20 shots for 23 points against Charlotte, and didn't suddenly stop taking ill-advised shots, but that's about all the negatives. Awesome week, nuff said.
Othyus Jeffers 9.5 3.3 6.2 I thought he was excellent in 3 games this week, and was justifiably rewarded with a start against the Cavs. His defensive energy pressuring all over the court should be a model for others. If you caught his postgame interview after the Cavs game, he said, "I'm not doing nothing that I'm not supposed to be doing. I'm supposed to be working this hard. I'm trying to make it here. I'm supposed to be doing this. The little things that other people don't want to do, I should doing this. So I don't look as if I'm different from anyone else on the team, I should be doing it." Which is basically him saying, 'Crown me king of the fan favorites.' The Bobcats was not good though, he had serious problems staying with Matt Carroll on the defensive end. Even so, methinks he is thisclose to locking down a roster spot for next season.
Andray Blatche 15.4 15.4 0 Nitpick all you want, but he was superb against the Cavs. JC had a great game, but we won because of the dominance in the paint, and Blatche spearheaded that effort. Sure, it took 32 shots to get 36 points, but those 36 were almost 1/3 of our output. Most importantly, the record amount of offensive rebounds belied an energy that we seem to never get from him.The Miami game was okay, but I can give him a pass as his first game back from almost a month out of action and he had another great effort against the Bobcats with 25 and 17. More of this please.

 

Guest Passes

Player     Difference Comment
JaVale McGee 17.5 17.2 0.3 Another great game against a Cavs team with no size, a very good one against the Bobcats, and then 2 meh ones. Whereas the Cavs played to his strengths, I thought the Heat were a bad matchup. It was probably their strategy, but Miami went small by putting Bosh at center, which pulled JaVale away from the basket and effectively negated him as an inside presence and shot blocker - those back-to-back blocks on Wade and Bosh aside. Offensively, his best asset is quickness against big guys, but that is not an advantage against a PF. Going forward, he and/or the team need to find ways to impact the game when teams go small. The other big thing I want to note is his defending Jimmy against Big Z. it looked like he was close to doing something stupid, but the commitment to the team and nasty streak have been 2 items that have been sorely lacking this season from the team as a whole.
Maurice Evans 11.5 9.5 2 The numbers were that of someone who should be locked out, but he showed terrific value beyond the boxscore. Phil Chenier noted before the Cavs game that Mo will grab Jimmy and JC after huddles to give pointers and ensure they understand the play. I also loved that he jumped in to calm Jimmy once the fracas with the Heat escalated. He could easily have decided he didn't want to be here, a la Mike Bibby, or gotten lazy on a bad team a la Baron Davis, but he has become a leader and great example. He really seems to make the most of what he has.
John Wall 15.2 15.2 0 Jimmy basically only played 2 games this week, but he was the primary reason we won that game against the Jazz. Broken down though, he really had an outstanding 1st half, and an okay to not good 2nd half. There have been stretches after his teammates can't buy a bucket where he seems to decide that the team's best offensive option is him going to the basket to score. That 1st half seemed very much like those stretches, except he made that decision about 2 possessions into the game and made the layups look easy before putting in something like a 1-for-9 2nd half. That performance coupled with a so-so one against the Bobcats (5 assists and 6 turnovers) may have been worthy of a Key, but the punch definitely relegated him to Guest Pass. I like the fire, but he has to control his emotions better and realize his importance to the team. It is hard not to think that having Wall in that game pushes the Wizards to a win (that, and some reasonable officiating).

 

Locked Out

Player     Difference Comment
Yi Jianlian 9.6 10.1 -0.5 The minutes were consistent, but his production slipped this week. Overall, I have liked seeing him play like a more traditional big man, but I just don't see the upside with him. Even if it is an odd fit in certain lineups, I would like to see Seraphin take some of his playing time.
Cartier Martin 11.8 12.4 -0.6 Another meh week for him. He is shooting 39% from deep this year, but not providing enough anywhere else to make me think he will make this team next year. This team definitely needs offense, but clearly Mo Evans provides more while shooting only 6% worse from long range.
Kevin Seraphin 9 8.6 0.4 The minutes have been hard to come by recently, and I am disappointed that he couldn't get in on the paint party against the Cavs (mostly because his teammates were playing so well). He averaged a foul every 5 minutes this week, which is also still a problem. I would really like to see him get more consistent minutes these next 6 games.

 

NOTE: Josh Howard, Rashard Lewis, Nick Young, Trevor Booker, Hamady Ndiaye, and Mustafa Shakur were left off this week's Keys to the Palace because they did not receive enough playing time for a fair evaluation.

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