Editor’s Note: Sorry, last week really got away from me. So enjoy a double feature this week, covering all of the last two weeks games.
The Big Picture
I think over these two weeks have gotten a good read on who the post John Wall Wizards are. They beat the teams they are “supposed” to beat and lost to strong, playoff bound opponents. They are a middle of the road, a little under .500 club who probably won’t be able to overcome there weak start. Does this mean they won’t make the playoff in a weak eastern conference? I don’t know, currently they are in 10th place 2.5 games behind the Hornets. So yes, they could slip in the backside still, but I’m not getting my hopes up.
By all means most teams in the Wizards current situation would have at least tried to deal Otto Porter, however according to a report from Zach Lowe of ESPN, Washington won’t entertain a deal of flipping Otto for future assets. The way the Wizards are playing right now it is very possible that they will be in a low seed in the playoffs come April, as it stands right now they are 10th in the east and only two games behind the Charlotte Hornets. Even if they do make it in though, I think we can all agree that is hard to see us taking down the any of the top four teams in the east (Raptors, Bucks, 76ers, Celtics, the Pacers are excluded due to the injury to Victor Oladipo). If the team is trying to win games though, I guess we should root for them, at least they aren’t giving up?
The Last Week
W vs NYK 101-100 (1/17)
This game was a surprisingly fun one. The Knicks are the 2nd worst team in the league missing their best player in Enes Kanter, yet they got out to a large early lead thanks in large part to former G-League all-star Luke Kornet who scored 12 points in the first quarter. New York would jump out to a 19 point lead by the 2nd quarter as the bench got steamrolled by the Big Apple’s young fliers in Damyean Dotson and Allonzo Trier. Luckily Bradley Beal hit some threes towards the end of the half and the Wizards would trim the lead to ten by the end of the first half.
The Knicks would get going again in the third quarter until Troy Brown of all people was inserted into the game. He would give the Wizards a spark off the bench with 2 points, 3 rebounds, an assist and a steal, he would finish third on the team in plus/minus. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter remembered they are max contract players midway through the 4th quarter and gave Washington the lead. On the last possession of the game Thomas Bryant attempted a layup with 0.4 seconds remaining, but Allonzo Trier, who did so much for the Knicks over the course of the match, would be called with the game losing goaltending.
Overall, yes we all wish the Wiz could’ve blown out the Knicks given the standing of both teams, but the London basketball fans got a show and at the end of the day a win is a win.
W vs. DET 101-87 (1/21)
On the annual MLK day game in DC Washington showed a real team effort with seven (!) different players in double figures as the Wizards took down another member of the cesspool of mediocrity that is the back-middle of the eastern conference.
The Pistons were missing their best player in all-star center Andre Drummond, so the Wizards did the simple and logic thing, attack the rim without mercy. Unsurprisingly this resulted in a strong field goal percentage (45%) and a low amount of attempted threes (23). This game wasn’t nearly as close as the score would indicate as Detroit would not cut the lead to single digits in the second half and the Wizards would empty the bench with over a minute left.
Not much to else to say about this one, the Wizards took advantage of another team without the focal point of their system. This is a bigger deal than it sounds, Washington isn’t great at beating teams they should beat (see above: Knicks game) so to take care of business like this is an encouraging sign.
L vs. GSW 126-118 (1/24)
You know how when you play an elite team, sometimes there is one play that you miss and say “arggghhh that was our chance” well, we certainly had one of those tonight. Tonight the Wizards left it all on the court and forced Golden State to play like champs. Washington was able to take an early lead before the Warriors turned on the jets and ended the quarter with a 37-28 lead. Demarcus Cousins dented the Wizards weak frontcourt in the 2nd, but the Warriors got sloppy and Wizards were able to tread water and win the 2nd quarter by one point.
The Warriors are the best 3rd quarter team in NBA history and opened the 2nd half with a 17-10 run and again forced the Wizards to fight back, ending the 3rd up 104-92. The Wizards caught fire in the 4th and had the lead down to just two points 108-106, Golden State turned the ball over (again) and Washington got into a break with Sam Dekker open for a layup…which clanked off the rim and the Warriors would break into a game ending run.
I feel as though the Wizards played a pretty good game with Trevor Ariza scoring 27 points, Bradley Beal putting up a double double, and Otto Porter one board short of his own. However, when Steph Curry drops 38 point there is only so much a team could do.
W @ ORL 95-91 (1/26)
The Wizards almost, despite having the lead the nearly the entire game, blew it in Orlando. The first quarter was pretty even as both clubs attacked the paint. While Washington wasn’t bad, the Magic’s best players are big men and were able to keep in very close. Thing opened for the Wiz in the back half of the 2nd quarter as they began to let it rip from three. Spearheaded by Otto Porter, the Wizards ended the half on a 15-5 run, giving them a 50-38 lead at halftime. The two clubs traded baskets for most of the 3rd until the 2nd night of a back-to-back in two different locales started to get to Washington, and the Magic got really hot. By the end of the 3rd, the lead that was 18 turned into just six. Despite Bradley Beal turning on the jets in the 4th, the Magic took a 91-89 lead with just 1:37 left in the ballgame. Beal was able to tie it and the Magic would turn the ball over twice in a row allowing the Wizards to escape with the W.
Jeff Green scored the game winning layup, in addition to that Jeff had a fantastic game going 9-16 from the field for 24 points and tying a game high with a +10 plus/minus. Otto Porter struggled from the field for the second straight game going 3-12 for 10 points. However Washington won and I guess that is enough for us this week.
L @ SAS 132-119 (1/27)
The Wizards scored a season high 43 points in the 2nd quarter, but there defense was so porous in this game that they still went into the half down by one. The offense stayed in the locker room after the half though as the Wiz would only score four points in the first six minutes of the 3rd quarter. Tomas Satoransky would attempt to lead a comeback, but it really wouldn’t matter as the defense couldn’t stop the Spurs offensive onslaught.
This was an odd game, with Sam Dekker and Ian Mahinmi out with injuries the Wizards were forced to give a few benchwarmers some significant minutes. Troy Brown, Chasson Randle, and Jordan McRae all saw the floor more than usual with Randle scoring 11 points. Tomas Satoransky grew up a Spurs fan and showed out for his “home” team, nearly posting a triple-double with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists. In a script reversal, the starters were steamrolled with Bradley Beal posting a -29 while the bench played in the positive.
At the end of the day the Wizards dropped there 19th straight in San Antonio.