Washington Wizards Three Takeaways: Wizards Shoot Down Pelicans Late, Push Home Streak to 17

Washington Wizards have been on a roll at home and extended their winning streak to 17 with a win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night.

They say sequels aren’t as great as the original.  They were somewhat right in this game.

On Saturday night, the Washington Wizards hosted the New Orleans Pelicans after besting them on the road six days prior.  

In that game, Washington dominated most of the way, winning 107-94.  

Bradley Beal had 27 points while  John Wall had 18 points and 19 assists.  The Wizards trailed for all of about 30 seconds in that game, before closing the game well in the fourth quarter.

Saturday saw the Pelicans come to DC on the third and final game of its road trip. They lost in overtime to the Raptors on Tuesday, before getting outscored by 18 in the fourth quarter in Detroit on Wednesday.  

The Pels seemingly have two different teams that show up (beating Cavs and Spurs last week), so the Wizards had to come prepared for either. In addition, Cleveland comes to DC on Monday, so this had the classic writings of a “trap game.”

Ugly first half

The team that started the game looked like it had spent the last night at a Mardi Gras ball.  he Pelicans fell behind early 14-2, with four turnovers in the first two minutes.  The ugly spell of New Orleans must have become contagious, however, as the Washington Wizards quickly matched them in turnovers.  

While the first few minutes of the game went the Wizards’ way, much of the rest of the half was very sloppy.

Although the Pelicans had those four turnovers early, the Wizards still had more turnovers by halftime.

Both teams struggled for most of the first half. 

Beal, averaging 22 points a game, had zero points with less than two minutes, before getting a quick five to finish the half.  

It is amazing to see this team score 53 points in the first half in a “poor performance,” but that’s where we are at this point in the season.  

Every game can’t be a comfortable win, and Scott Brooks certainly had some issues to straighten out at halftime.

The lone bright spot for Washington in the first half was the play of the Wiz bench.  

The backups poured in 21 points before halftime on 7-9 shots.  This is the same group that averages only 23.6 points per game.  

The four-point halftime lead would have likely been a deficit with the regular bench play we’ve come to expect.  Interesting fact: All four bench players shot at least 50 percent from the field, while all five starters shot under 50 percent.

Fastbreak points

One area the Washington Wizards didn’t struggle was in transition.  

The team finished with 17 fastbreak points, many of which sparked or came during offensive runs. Wall had at least three dazzling plays where he got the outlet surrounded by Pelicans players, before speeding to the hoop.  

On another occasion, he did the same and adjusted in the air, before missing the basket, but Marcin Gortat ran the floor well and got the putback.  When this team is shooting as poorly as it did on Saturday, turnovers fuel the offense.  

Pushing the break leads to those Wall dunks, but also open shots.  

Beal missed his first four shots, before Wall found Beal wide open for three in transition.

For the game, theWashington  Wizards scored 21 points on 15 Pelicans turnovers – an exceptional output.  

The Wizards had 10 steals, and Wall had 5 of them.  

Many were his patented poke from behinds, but he also had a great play late in the game to steal the ball from Holiday before diving on the floor and calling a timeout.  

Wall routinely shows his high level of effort on the defensive end, and it’s rather intoxicating for the team.

Game closers

A trend that has been great to see during the home win streak is the ability of the team to close out games.  

While there have been comfortable wins, just as many have been close in the last five minutes. This game was another.  

After a Tyreke Evans‘ 3-pointer put the Pelicans up by one point with 5:52 left, Brooks called a much needed timeout.  Only 20 seconds earlier, Wall chased down a Holiday fast break for a remarkable block, only for Dante Cunningham to get an easy putback dunk.

Wall was upset and it was easy to tell why.  Two Wizards were trailing, and it seemed they could have potentially gotten the rebound if a little more effort was given.  After that timeout, though, the team’s body language and play improved dramatically.  

After that Evans three THE WIZ OUTSCORED THE PELICANS 15-0.  THE PELS SCORED 8 POINTS IN THE 4TH QUARTER.  

It felt like we saw the team we’ve come to expect for only 12 minutes this game, the first and last six.  But those final six were the catalyst to break apart what had become a back and forth affair.  

The Wizards ended up outscoring New Orleans 25-8 in the fourth, and the home winning streak stayed intact at 17.

Now onto the game we’ve all been wanting to see.  Cleveland (and TNT) comes to town on Monday with the Wizards’ home winning streak on the line.