No Nene? No problem–at least that was the case for the Washington Wizards tonight against the lowly Orlando Magic.
Despite missing both Nene and Kevin Seraphin tonight, the Wizards didn’t hang their heads and eventually went on to get above .500 at home. The Magic, though not nearly as talented as the Wizards, are a resilient team. Victor Oladipo and Co. stepped up in Arron Afflalo’s absence, but it wasn’t enough to stop John Wall from leading him to their fourth straight win.
Instead of settling for jump shots like we’ve become accustomed to seeing, John Wall played some aggressive basketball tonight. He scored 11 points in about 4 minutes of action in the first quarter, penetrating to the basket every chance he got. He made a few nifty layups and mixed it up with a couple transition dunks. Once he got comfortable, Wall started to knock down perimeter shots and went on to finish the game with 27 points on 11-19 shooting. He also chipped in 5 rebounds and 7 assists with just one turnover. Jameer Nelson couldn’t stay in front of Wall, but Jacques Vaughn didn’t make any adjustments. Needless to say, the Magic payed the price.
Wall’s backcourt mate, Bradley Beal, also had a terrific game tonight. Beal scored 21 points on 7-13 shooting, but besides his scoring, I was also very impressed with the way he handled the ball in pick-and-roll situations. He found Marcin Gortat multiple times rolling to the basket, mostly because he did a great job of keeping his dribble alive. He’s shown some progression with being the ball handler in pick-and-roll situations and I think we’ll continue to see more of that with Gortat, especially with Nene being sidelined.
John Wall and Bradley Beal will get the credit for tonight’s victory, but for the first time since 2010, Washington had four starters that scored 20 or more points. Trevor Ariza scored 22 points on 7-10 shooting, including all of his five made attempted threes. Marcin Gortat also put up some great numbers–scoring 21 points to go along side 10 rebounds. It was really an overall team effort that got the Wizards the ‘W’ tonight.
The Magic are obviously a struggling team, but any win is a good win. Washington is now over .500 and they’ll be back at it on Thursday night against the Toronto Raptors.