The Wizards are chasing the Raptors for the third spot in the Eastern Conference, and although it’ll take a lot more work to get there, they definitely displayed the heart and resiliency to win last night in Toronto.
Even though they were missing Nene, they still came into Toronto with their heads held high, showing the confidence necessary in order to pull off an upset against one of the hottest teams in the NBA. The Raptors have been on an absolute tear since trading Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings, and their backcourt comprised of Kyle Lowry and All-Star DeMar DeRozan have both been outstanding.
John Wall didn’t get much help from his backcourt mate, Bradley Beal, but he certainly picked up the slack when it mattered most. Wall and Marcin Gortat were clicking early on, as they continued to run the pick-and-roll the two have become so comfortable running since Gortat arrived in the nation’s capital. Gortat struggled early on, missing all of his first five attempts, but he eventually started to get it going, and it all began on the defensive side of the floor. Gortat hasn’t gotten nearly the amount of credit he deserves for his improvement defensively, and he helped carry the Wizards in terms of rim protection last night. He picked up 4 blocks, but more importantly, he helped alter plenty of shots at the basket coming from Toronto’s backcourt. Gortat finished the game with 31 points and 12 rebounds, including multiple and-1 baskets that helped extend the game for the Wizards.
As for John Wall, well, he was terrific.
He’s struggled in clutch situations this season, but that wasn’t the case against the Raptors last night. He started hot right out of the gate, knocking down 3 of his first 4 shots, all of which came from the perimeter. With Nene out, Wall has gotten some more room for penetration and he’s mixed it up well offensively. He’s did a good job of not settling for jump shots like he’s had a tendency to do so this season. Wall finished his stellar game with 31 points on 12-20 shooting to go along with 9 assists. Wall made multiple defensive stops in overtime and finished a few layups that helped lead Washington to victory in one of the most entertaining games this season.
The Wizards have now won five straight games and will have a very realistic chance of getting their sixth straight win on Saturday night against the Philadelphia 76ers. Everyone who has played has contributed, which is terrific to see, especially with Nene sidelined. The collective effort has been great and it was definitely displayed last night at the Air Canada Centre.