April 18, 2015

Washington Wizards Game 80 Review: Wizards keep dim chances of home playoff series alive by beating the Hawks’ bench

After getting blown out from the beginning of the game against the Brooklyn Nets, the Washington Wizards returned home looking for some kind of rhythm heading into the post season. With the Atlanta Hawks resting all of their starters and coach Randy Wittman doing the exact opposite for the Wizards, Washington executed a sound game plan. Led by John Wall, who had not played in a week, the Wizards won 108-99 in their final home game of the regular season.

Both teams started sloppy to begin the game as there was not much flow to the game. The Wizards stated under shooting under 30 percent from the field, while the Hawks were not much better at 25 percent. The Wizards began to heat up from beyond the arc as on three consecutive possessions, Paul Pierce, Bradley Beal, and Pierce again knocked down jumpers. Continued strong offense allowed the Wizards to go on an extended 21-5 run. With hot shooting from the field to end the quarter, 10 of 13 including 5 of 7 from deep the Wizards secured a sizable 38-22 lead.

The Hawks bench, which included players who usually do not get extended minutes, were able to provide a bit of a spark for Atlanta as they opened the quarter on a 9-4 run. The Wizards bench fought back though and returned the game to the starters with a comfortable 14-point lead. The back and worth nature of the game continued for the Wizards as the tempo and physicality of the game began to pick up. With the game at this point currently in hand, Whitman was comfortable in giving Bradley Beal and Nene additional rest in favor of Otto Porter, Drew Gooden, and Kris Humphries. The Wizards dominated the first half with a 66-45 lead to show for it.

The third quarter was evenly matched in a fast paced style of play where the ball was being pushed in all scenarios. The Wizards obtained their largest lead of 25 on a Bradley Beal dunk that ignited the crowd. After Beal and Nene exited the game the Hawks were able to put a bit of a dent in the lead with the help of transition points and three point field goals. The Wizards still took a comfortable 90-75 lead going into their final quarter at home during the regular season.

Beal and Nene reentered the game to start the fourth quarter as they had done to start the second and they helped sustain the Wizards double digit lead. The back and forth nature continued but the Hawks kept it close enough such that Whitman did not feel comfortable to rest his starters as Wall reentered the game. The Hawks were able to cut their deficit to nine with plenty of time in the game and many feared to be witnessing another Wizards late game collapse. The clincher came when Wall picked off a lazy backcourt pass of the Hawks and slammed it home. The Wizards would hold on to win 108-99.

Why the Wizards Won:

  • Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer decided to give his starters a rest against a division foe. Although the Hawks had many role plays that received extended minutes today, defensively they could not keep up with Wall and company.
  • Like the Wizards are known for, Washington had balanced scoring contributions from all starters. Entering the fourth quarter all starters were in double digits in a crisp effort.
  • The Wizards thrive in transition where they can take advantage of their superior athleticism and speed. Fast break points are exactly where the Wizards won the game today as they held a 29-9 edge in the department.

The Wizards will finish up their last two games of the regular season on the road against the Pacers and Cavaliers. The Pacers are still trying to secure a playoff spot, which they are currently on the outside looking in, while the Cavaliers are locked into the two seed. Depending on the outcome of the Bulls game tomorrow, where a win will lock the Wizards into the fifth seed, the Wizards starters could see more time off in these final two games according to Whitman post game.

Washington Wizards Game 79 Review: Wizards diminish chances of home playoff series after being blown out by Nets

The Wizards came into the Barclays Center riding a four game win streak and sniffing out a chance to get back into the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference. With John Wall getting his second straight game off after playing in 208 consecutive games, the Wizards were dominated as the Nets won 117-80.

The Wizards early five point lead quickly disappeared as they became stagnantly inefficient without Wall as their floor general. Washington consistently were forced into difficult shots late in the shot clock or turned the ball over, which Brooklyn translated into 11 points. The Nets went on an 18-3 run early in the game and followed that up with an 11-4 run which featured Brook Lopez in the paint. Lopez hit 7 field goals and heavily contributed to the Nets 20 points in the paint leading to a 31-14 deficit after a quarter of play.

The second unit for the Wizards could not do much better as the Nets started out on a 10-2 run. After later being down as many as 27, the Wizards begin to take advantage of easy buckets before the Nets defense was set leading to a 13-2 run. After starting the game 0-5 from the field, Bradley Beal made his next six shots in a personal battle against defensive star Markel Brown. Unfortunately the Wizards were down 54-38 at halftime with the Nets continuing their hot shooting.

Bradley Beal started the third quarter with a couple clutch three pointers, which helped the Wizards cut the deficit to 10. The Nets were able to stretch the lead back up to 18, but behind the strong post presence from Marcin Gortat the Wizards chipped back away to a 10 point deficit again. Gortat was 9 of 10 from the field for 20 points through the first three quarters. The Wizards could not get the deficit to single digits as multiple calls went against them and they entered the final quarter needing to close a 75-62 gap.

The Nets started the quarter on a 13-0 run to put the Wizards out of the game for good. This run was extended to 20-1 as Washington saw themselves down points 32. Both Nene and Marcin Gortat were checked on by the medical trainers and would not return in the game although neither seems to be major. With a back and forth ending for the fourth quarter in a mini-game of bench players, the Wizards were glad when the game was over, losing 117-80.

Why the Wizards Lost:

  • The Wizards committed 21 turnovers that the Nets cashed into a whopping 38 points, a negative 27 point differential for Washington.
  • The Wizards got no scoring from individuals not named Beal or Gortat. The rest of the team combined for 13-52 shooting from the field and a measly 35 points.
  • The Nets shot the ball with incredible efficiency at a 50.6% mark from the field including 60% from beyond the arc.

The Wizards will welcome in the Atlanta Hawks in their regular season home finale with still a lot to play for. The Hawks have little to play for as they are locked into the #1 seed in the east and may decide to rest some marquee players. Even if the chances for the Wizards to have home court advantage in the first round are slim, it will be important for the Wizards to get something positive going before entering the post season.

Washington Wizards Game 76 Review: Wizards continue to take care of business against weak teams by beating Knicks

Two days removed from a thumping on the Philadelphia 76ers, the Wizards welcomed in an even worse team by record in the New York Knicks in their penultimate home regular season game. The Wizards took care of business trying to build momentum before going into the playoffs with a 101-87 win.

After taking 3 minutes to get their first bucket on 0-5 shooting, the Wizards started to exert their dominance over the weaker Knicks. Otto Porter and Drew Gooden both usually coming off the bench got the start tonight as Randy Whitman gave Paul Pierce and Nene the night off. Whether it was a coach’s intuition or just a coincidence, they were a big lift to the Wizards as they combined for 16 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, and four three pointers in the first quarter. Such execution led to a 19-0 run for the Wizards that gave them a 30-10 lead after the first quarter.

Although Quincy Acy began to make some shots for the Knicks, Ramon Sessions protected the big lead. Sessions opened the quarter with a steal and bucket, old fashioned three point play after a strong drive, and a pretty assist to Kevin Seraphin for an open hook shot. The Knicks were able to get within 11 as they were given many opportunities to get to the free throw line. After the Wizards starters pushed the lead back to 16 the Knicks were able to close the gap to 54-46 at halftime.

Bradley Beal started the half on a 5-0 run to stretch the Wizards lead back to double digits. Although the Knicks started to hit some shots from beyond the arc, the Wizards had consistent offense facilitated from the floor general John Wall. Marcin Gortat continued to have a strong game against the smaller Knicks lineup. Kris Humphries started to get involved in the offense after in his second game back from a prolonged injury. Going into the fourth quarter the Wizards held an 83-67 lead.

In the fourth quarter, Whitman decided to leave Bradley Beal in the game with the bench players to redevelop his shooting stroke after starting the game slow. Beal finished the half 6/10 from the field before earning a spot on the bench with the game in hand. In the end Whitman trusted his bench to hold on to the double digit lead and the Wizards finished their home stand with a 101-87 victory.

Why the Wizards Won:

  • John Wall had a career high 18 assists in a mere three quarters of play. Such a facilitating role got his teammates involved and allowed them to convert opportunities against a lesser defensive presence.
  • The Wizards won the battle in the paint in a dominant fashion. They outscored the Knicks 60-32 in the paint led by 9-13 shooting from Gortat.
  • The Wizards got out to an early 30-8 lead that diminished all hope that the Knicks young players thought they might have on the road.

The Wizards will be glad that they got to rest many of their players tonight as they have a quick 24 hour turnaround before traveling to Memphis to play a talented Grizzlies squad. In the last meeting between the two, the Grizzlies “disrespectfully”, according to John Wall, sat four of their five starters. The Wizards are unlikely to have such a luxury this time around as they will have to play a smart basketball to have any kind of a chance on the back end of a back to back game stretch in a hostile environment.

Washington Wizards Game 74 Review: Wizards struggle, fall to Rockets

Two days removed from a double overtime thrilling win over the Hornets, the Wizards welcomed in the Rockets along with MVP candidate James Harden. The woeful shooting from the field continued [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 73 Review: Wizards begin new attempt to get back on track with victory over Hornets

John Wall forced overtime with a pull-up jumper with 9.9 seconds left in regulation, then scored seven of his game-high 32 points in overtime as the Washington Wizards halted a four-game losing streak with a 110-107 double-overtime win over the Charlotte Hornets at the Verizon Center.

Wall’s mid-range jumper with 9.5 seconds left in the second overtime sealed it.

The Wizards entered play struggling again. Having lost three in a row, the performance on and off the court is starting to spiral out of control as multiple reports of friction have occurred. Bradley Beal exited early against the Pacers in their third consecutive loss earlier in the week, but returned to the starting lineup two days later nursing a sprained right ankle. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 70 Review: Wizards fail to get back on track against Kings

The Washington Wizards had their five-game winning streak snapped by the Los Angeles Clippers in a game earlier in the week that got away early in the first quarter. On Sunday afternoon, the Wizards failed to take care of business against a team they had beat during their last streak, this time across the country. Washington struggled throughout the game and lost to the Sacramento Kings, 109-86. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 69 Review: Wiz Clipped

Chris Paul scored 30 points with 15 assists and the Los Angeles Clippers proved too much for the Washington Wizards in a 113-99 win Friday night at the Staples Center.

The loss puts a halt to the Wizards’ five-game winning streak.

John Wall paced the Wizards (40-29) with 19 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. Bradley Beal added 18 points on 5 of 10 shooting, including three 3-pointers.

Paul Pierce was 2 0f 11 for six points, missing eight in a row at one stretch.

J.J. Reddick had 26 points, including four 3-pointers, for the Clippers. Blake Griffin had 22 points while DeAndre Jordan added 10 points and 23 rebounds.

Washington got down early and stayed there. They led 5-3, but Reddick nailed a pair of 3-pointers which started a 15-4 Clippers run to take the starch out of the Wiz’ start.

The Wizards played even with the Clippers the rest of the way (33-31 in the 2nd quarter, 23-24 in the third and 22-23 in the fourth), they were never able to make a run and really get back into this one.

Washington plays at Sacramento on Sunday at 6:00 pm Eastern in the third of a four-game west coast swing.

Washington Wizards Game 68 Review: Wizards overcome turnovers to keep on winning against the hot Jazz

The Washington Wizards are playing some of their best basketball of the 2015 calendar year as they entered play Wednesday on a four-game winning streak, including a quality win over Western Conference power house Portland. The Wizards continued to keep the momentum going as they ended the six-game winning streak of the Utah Jazz, while overcoming 22 turnovers, by a score of 88-84.

But they needed every second of the game to accomplish the feat, and it remained in doubt until Paul Pierce’s steal as time ran out. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 67 Review: Wizards start strong, hang on to beat Portland

A sloppy third quarter, in which the Washington Wizards were outscored by a 34-21 margin, had Wizards fans on the edge of their seats heading into the final 12 minutes. It was trimmed to three in the final frame, until a pair of explosive plays helped the Wizards lay the hammer down.

Bradley Beal’s three-pointer and Marcin Gortat’s alley-oop from John Wall helped Washington stretch the lead and eventually seal the deal with a 105-97 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night at Verizon Center. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 66 Review: Wizards continue winning streak with a comeback win against the Kings

The Washington Wizards took care of business against the Memphis Grizzles earlier in the week when Memphis decided to rest four of their five starters, which John Wall saw as a sign of disrespect. On Saturday, the Wizards had a miraculous comeback against the Sacramento Kings, without Rudy Gay, who were on their second leg of a back-to-back stretch to register a 113-97 in at Verizon Center.

At the start the game, the best center in the league, Demarcus Cousins, put on a show as he accounted for all five of the Kings field goals with an assist, dunk, and three impressive long range jumpers. The Wizards countered with four second chance points which helped make up for a poor shooting percentage to start the game.

Luckily for the Wizards, Cousins picked up his second foul seven minutes into the game on a questionable call that went Washington’s way. A major disparity between the two teams was that at the end of the quarter the Kings had eight assists, four by former Wiz Andre Miller, while the Wizards only had three. Although the Kings were up by 25-16, the Wizards closed the deficit to 25-21 at the end of the quarter. [Read more…]

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