After putting themselves in another double-digit hole, it looked like the Washington Wizards were on their way to another disheartening road loss. Thankfully for Randy Wittman and his crew, Otto Porter (yes, that Otto Porter) and Nene led Washington on their comeback off the bench, while the starters eventually went on to close the game, 96-88.
Trevor Ariza has been dealing with the flu and was coming off a scoreless game against the Charlotte Bobcats. His shooting woes continued tonight as he made just 3 of his 10 shot attempts, but Washington got a much needed lift from Otto Porter, of all people. Porter hasn’t gotten much playing time this season, but when he’s called upon, he does the little things that don’t often get noticed and that really helped Washington ignite their comeback. Porter finished the game with 9 points and 9 rebounds off the bench, but he benefited from playing with Andre Miller and Nene, who constantly look for cutters. Porter is probably the best cutter on Washington’s roster, since he’s constantly moving without the basketball, looking to get himself open underneath the basket. I didn’t think Porter would get a chance to play right before the postseason began, but I’m glad he’s taking advantage of the opportunity.
Trevor Booker scored 16 points against the Bobcats and he continued to produce tonight. Booker scored 14 points on 7-10 shooting, but perhaps his most impressive play of the game came late as he blocked a three point shot late in the fourth quarter. Booker’s energy has definitely been contagious and it’s much needed.
John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for just 7-20 shooting, but they did effect the game in other ways which helped Washington get the win. Wall dished out 12 assists, often times passing up open layups to look for his teammates, while Beal got to the free throw line 10 times. Beal made just 6 of his 10 free throw attempts, but it was definitely good to see him actually make an effort to get to the basket instead of constantly settling for the long two point shots.
Though Booker, Wall, Beal and even Porter made solid contributions tonight, there’s no doubt that Washington wouldn’t have won without Nene. He scored 17 points in just 20 minutes of action, but his rotations and presence defensively really threw Orlando off their rhythm. Washington’s offense looks so much more fluid when Nene is on the floor, especially when they use him as the primary facilitator. He forces the defense to collapse and that opens up opportunities for Nene to reward his cutting players, which is something we saw multiple times tonight, especially with Beal.
Tonight’s game was a must-win for the Wizards, and even though it wasn’t pretty at times, they still got the ‘W’. The Charlotte Bobcats, who were one slot above the Wizards in the standings, lost to the Boston Celtics tonight, which means that Washington is back in 6th. They’ll be back at it tomorrow night against the Milwaukee Bucks.