It didn’t look probable.
The Wizards were 2-13 against teams .500 or above coming into this game, coming off a loss to the lowly Celtics at home, and the Suns came off a blowout win over the best team in basketball. But, somehow they managed to get it done. The Wizards improve to 11-10 on the road in one of their best all around performances of the season over the much improved Phoenix Suns.
John Wall controlled the game with 18 points on 6/12 shooting and 11 assists. He took 29 shots against the Celtics Wednesday, so its clear that he made a concerted effort to be more of a floor general in this game, and it helped him and the team succeed. His defense on Goran Dragic late helped the Wizards keep the Suns from coming back in what was a tightly contested game for most of the way. Trevor Ariza added 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals, and hit three triples. Beal added 17, much of which came down the stretch where he showed himself as the closer.
The game started out in the Suns favor. Dragic was getting into the lane easily, and the Wizards frantic switching made them out of position and allowed easy shots in the paint. Nene had no interest in guarding Channing Frye, which led to a lot of early threes. However, in the 3rd quarter, the Wizards tightened up, switching more effectively, and keeping Dragic from getting to the rim, even as he was navigating through the paint, keeping his dribble alive. The length of Otto Porter and Garrett Temple especially bothered the Suns at times, creating 20 turnovers. The Wizards halfcourt offense was often shaky, especially when the bench came in, but they had a lot of success in transition in a fast paced game.
In Game Notes:
- Nene has seemingly forgotten that Channing Frye can shoot
- A flurry of threes in this game and the pace has drastically sped up in the 1st quarter
- Wall looks confident in his jumper early, not forcing up any unnecessary ones like he did against the Celtics, all coming within the flow of the offense
- Defense is chaotic and undisciplined early
- Early 2nd quarter, Kevin Seraphin is making some really bad mental mistakes, just barreled into a defender on a screen and roll. Gets hooked early by Randy Wittman.
- Offense looks awful without Wall, trying to force feed Beal and he’s shooting a lot of contested long twos and making hasty decisions off pick-and-roll
- Wizards are playing the PnR much better, not letting Dragic get into the lane in the 2nd, Porter and Temple’s wingspans are helping bother the Suns
- Wizards are getting to the rim at will in transition. 11-2 run in the 3rd to regain the lead
- The Wizards are stunting much better on defense in the 2nd half. Not nearly as much chaos
- Transition offense has been great in the 2nd half, beating the Suns at their own game
- Trevor Ariza is playing the passing lanes really well, he’s an overrated defender, but his ability to create turnovers is valuable.
- Garrett Temple has played well but still has major issues dribbling the ball, this is gonna be a big issue in the future
- Porter isn’t scoring, but playing solid defense and rebounding brilliantly. Showing great defensive awareness for a rookie.
- Wall is playing lock down defense on Dragic, Wizards in general have been amazing pressuring the Suns in the halfcourt in the last 2 minutes, switching a lot.
The Wizards play the Utah Jazz tomorrow in their fifth chance this season to go over .500. After that, they have a 5 game stretch against the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, and San Antonio Spurs. This stretch will be crucial to determine whether the Wizards can keep up with the NBA’s elite or stay locked in mediocrity.