Well, that one was a lot closer than it should’ve been.
After getting a 20+ advantage in New Orleans, the Wizards managed to squander it in the fourth quarter as the Pelicans went on to cut the lead to single digits. Luckily for Washington, Nene and Trevor Ariza hit some clutch shots in the final moments which made their lead insurmountable. Here are the Bullet Points:
- New Orleans has surprisingly done a decent job on the glass without having much size, but Marcin Gortat and the rest of Washington’s bigs did a good job of controlling the rebounds tonight. The Wizards outrebounded the Pelicans by 9, and held Anthony Davis to just 7 boards on the night. Davis averages over 10 rebounds per game, but he struggled against the bigger Gortat tonight. Gortat grabbed 14 rebounds, while Trevor Ariza chipped in with 10 of his own.
- Speaking of Trevor Ariza; he had another quiet 21 point game tonight. He’s struggled over the past few outings, but he really stepped up when the Wizards needed him most. New Orleans cut Washington’s 20 point lead to just 6 in the fourth quarter, but Trevor Ariza knocked down a corner 3-point shot which sealed the win for the Wizards. It’s good to see Ariza get back to doing what he does best: hitting open 3′s, rebounding, and playing good defense.
- John Wall and Bradley Beal don’t have an official nickname yet, but judging from their performance tonight, I think I’ll continue to call them “Dash and Splash”. John Wall made 3 of his 4 three point tries, while Bradley Beal added 3 of his own made shots from beyond the three point arc. Wall found Beal at the 3 for three straight possessions, which really helped put the Wizards over the Pelicans in the third quarter. Wall committed four turnovers tonight though, so you’d like to see him be more decisive with his passing. He’s criticized himself for turning the ball over in the past, but it didn’t seem to hurt the Wizards much tonight. Another good game for the backcourt.
- It’s ordinary for insignificant players to step up during big leads, but Jan Vesely might’ve had one of the best games of his career tonight. Vesely scored 10 points to go along side 6 rebounds at halftime, and finished the game with 12 points and 7 boards in just 23 minutes of action. New Orleans has been an awful defensive team this season and it was evident in Vesely’s offensive performance. Washington isolated Vesely in the post multiple times, and there was actually a possession where he pinned his defender in the post and got the easy basket. Vesely has become a key energy player for the Wizards off the bench, which might be more than you could ask for at this point. I honestly lost hope for Vesely earlier this season, but it seems like he’s finally understanding his role and his confidence is sky high. Even though he’ll never live up to his draft slot, he’s still contributing for the Wizards as a reserve. Great game for the Airwolf.
Washington has found ways to win games on the road this season, which is definitely surprisingly considering their past struggles away from home. They’ve gotten back-to-back wins over the Charlotte Bobcats and New Orleans Pelicans, but they’ll have to carry that momentum over against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.
Confidence is evidently the key for Washington and they seem to have found their swagger on the road. They’re just one game below .500 and they’re sitting pretty comfortably at the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference.