After failing to complete a comeback against the Memphis Grizzlies at home on Monday night, the Washington Wizards were looking to get back to their winning ways and they didn’t have much trouble doing that tonight against the lowly Utah Jazz. Like a lot of rebuilding teams in the NBA, the Jazz struggle defensively, and their inability to get stops ultimately led the Wizards to a double-digit victory, 104-91.
John Wall wasn’t spectacular tonight, putting up 14 points to go along side 10 assists, but I thought he did a good job at managing the game. Instead of forcing the issue like he would’ve in the past, Wall didn’t let his early struggles from the field get to him, yet he still found ways to contribute. He let the offense come to him and found his teammates for open looks throughout the game. Bradley Beal, who scored 22 points tonight, benefited the most from John Wall’s passing exhibition. Beal picked his spots well tonight and didn’t settle for as many mid-range shots as we’ve become accustomed to seeing. He found open lanes in transition and got himself open for three point shots off the ball, which we should’ve expected considering how bad Utah has been defensively this season.
Washington’s backcourt was certainly solid tonight, but the big men played the most important role in the win. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter have torched the Wizards in the past, but Marcin Gortat and Trevor Booker held them to just 16 combined points. Favors and Kanter got into foul trouble early, mostly because the Wizards opted to run their offense through Gortat right out of the gate. He had trouble backing Favors down in the post, but he knocked down multiple turn around shots and got involved in pick-and-rolls that helped Washington gain a double-digit lead early on. Gortat finished the game with 16 points and 9 rebounds in just 29 minutes of action.
Trevor Ariza has been spectacular as of late and he continued to play well tonight. He scored 26 points on 9-14 shooting, including 4-6 from 3-point land. It’s honestly gotten to the point where any shot that Ariza takes from the court looks like it’s going in. I’m not sure if he’ll continue to shoot the ball this well, but he’s certainly not showing any signs of slowing down. Washington might need to try to keep him around after this season.
Everyone who played tonight contributed in some way, and that doesn’t exclude Drew Gooden, who’s contract expires in just days. Gooden led the bench with 12 points on 6-7 shooting. He hasn’t played very well up until tonight, but his performance might have earned him another 10-day contract. He’s obviously capable of scoring the ball, but I was surprised by how he passed the ball out of the post. He’s no Nene, but I think he might be worth keeping for the rest of the season.
Al Harrington chipped in with 8 points and 4 rebounds, while Andre Miller led the reserves with 6 assists and 0 turnovers in 13 minutes.
Washington was very solid all around tonight and they’ll have a chance to get another win on Saturday against the struggling Milwaukee Bucks.