As LeBron James would say, it’s about damn time.
For the first time in nearly half a decade, the Washington Wizards are playing .500 basketball with a win over the Orlando Magic tonight. The Wizards are third in the Eastern Conference (!!!!!!!). Here are some Bullet Points:
- Nene opted to play tonight despite his sore achilles and his play was invaluable. He abused Glen Davis defensively and set the tone on that side of the floor. Washington doesn’t need Nene to score 20+ points, but his presence on the court has been great regardless of his statistical production.
- Marcin Gortat held Nikola Vucevic to just 8 rebounds on the night. He struggled to find his shot early on, but John Wall found him on a few beautiful pick and roll plays between the two which helped energize the offense. Wall wasn’t a great pick and roll point guard prior to the Gortat trade, but he’s progressively gotten better throughout the season. Without Bradley Beal in the lineup, the Wizards have relied on Wall and Gortat for offensive production and it’s worked out pretty well.
- John Wall played just 29 minutes tonight, but it was enough time for him to finish with a double-double. He scored 16 points to go along side 13 assists and the Magic had no answer for his passing. Trevor Ariza benefited the most off John Wall’s penetration. He scored 24 points in just 31 minutes of playing time, but more importantly, he knocked down all 4 of his three point tries. Ariza has really stepped up his scoring since Bradley Beal went down with injury, and they haven’t taken much of a hit in terms of perimeter scoring. Ariza will inevitably end up in trade rumors before the deadline, but if he keeps playing like this it will be tough for the Wizards to give him up.
- For the first time all season long, Washington’s bench was able to sustain a lead once the starters got some rest. Chris Singleton chipped in with 11 points off the bench, and we even got to see Glen Rice Jr. make an appearance at the end of the game. The bench problem hasn’t been solved, but it was good to see them play somewhat fluid basketball once Wall and Co. were pulled from the game.
Washington has to beat bottom feeder teams at home, and they did so tonight against the lowly Orlando Magic. With the win tonight, the Wizards are third in the conference and their confidence has undoubtedly skyrocketed over the past several games. The Wizards still have work to do, but I’m glad to see all of their hard work finally pay off.
The Wizards will get some much needed rest this week, and they won’t have another challenge until Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.