As LeBron James would say, it’s about damn time.
Last night’s match up was very similar to the Wizards’ home opener, except this time Washington was able to close out the game. Virtually everyone who played made some sort of impact and led by John Wall and Marcin Gortat, the Wizards were able to pick up their first win of the season. Here are tonight’s Bullet Points:
- Even though the Wizards will have an advantage against the opposing backcourt in basically every game, I still firmly believe that their success will be determined by their big men. Nene was a game-time decision, but managed to make his first start of the season along side the Polish Hammer, Marcin Gortat. Washington gave up 74 points in the paint against the Sixers on November 1st, but tonight they were able to get the upper hand down low. Nene scored 10 points on 10 shots, but more importantly, the Wizards have another offensive option when he’s on the floor, so his statistics won’t really make or break the season. On the other hand, Gortat looked tremendous– contributing 19 points to go with 12 rebounds. Although Gortat become the elite defensive anchor Emeka Okafor was in Washington, he will take a lot of the scoring load off Wall and Bradley Beal. His ability to score with his back to the basket as well as hitting the 10-15 foot jump shot will definitely help the Wizards out offensively.
- Last night was probably the best Washington’s back court has looked all season long. John Wall wasn’t as aggressive as I would’ve hoped, but he still scored an efficient 24 points, shooting 8-16 from the floor. Believe it or not, 5 of his 8 made field goals came from beyond the three point arc. With Nene and Gortat getting double teamed in the post, Wall will inevitably get some open three point tries and it’s great to see his hard work pay off. Although I don’t expect him to repeat this performance every single night, it’s nice to have his improved jump shot showcased in games like tonight. Bradley Beal wasn’t nearly as efficient as Wall from the field, but he did create scoring opportunities for his teammates, which we would like to see more often. Beal chipped in 17 points with a surprising 8 assists. There were multiple occasions where Beal stopped penetration to pull up for a jump shot, and that’s something we don’t want to see as often throughout the season. Beal’s ball handling has really improved, so attacking the basket should gradually come as the season goes on.
- Washington made 18 of their 33 three point shots against the Sixers on the road, which is obviously tremendous and unsustainable. Everyone besides Nene, Gortat and Seraphin made a three point shot tonight, including Martell Webster who knocked down 4-threes off the bench. People have been complaining about having Webster come the bench, myself included, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have such a great offensive weapon available if Ariza is struggling. Averaging nearly 18 points in 4 games, Ariza has been sneaky good thus far and I don’t expect him to lose his starting spot anytime soon.
It’s nice to see the team finally get a victory, but it’s time to move on to the next one. Washington will meet the Brooklyn Nets this Friday night on what will begin a stretch of very difficult games for the Wizards.