December 15, 2017

Washington Wizards Game 26 Review: Wall’s passing, Gortat’s scoring overwhelm Sacramento

WALL DEALS CAREER-HIGH 19 ASSISTS, GORTAT GOES FOR SEASON-HIGH 27 POINTS

The Washington Wizards went into their game against the Sacramento Kings with only seven non-injured, active players, and the outlook looked bleak. However, those seven put on a stellar performance to defeat DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings 113-99 at Verizon Center.

With Bradley Beal and Otto Porter sidelined, along with Drew Gooden and Gary Neal, the burden was placed on veterans Marcin Gortat and John Wall. The two remaining everyday starters delivered, with Gortat scoring a season-high 27 points to go along with 16 rebounds, and Wall scoring 12 points and a new career-high 19 assists.

“He got out and ran all night long,” coach Randy Wittman said of Gortat. “He had four or five layups just by outrunning. That’s what he did consistently all night. He didn’t get a layup out of it every time, but he ran and it made Cousins run up and down the floor and made him work at the other end. He [Cousins] is a lot to deal with, but I thought March did a heck of a job with his movement and activity from his offensive standpoint.”

Garrett Temple, starting in place of Beal, added 23 points. The Wizards benefited from Wall’s distribution all night, hitting 14 of 24 3-point attempts.

“The last two games, again, it just all starts with their belief,” Wittman said. “We lost another player on Saturday in Gary [Neal] and people are taking advantage of their opportunities. They’re playing their hearts out. Their intensity level is just through the roof. That’s a credit to them and hopefully this can lead on to other guys who are out watching.”

Cousins led the Kings with 22 points and eight rebounds, but was frustrated with Gortat’s rebounding and scoring prowess over him. Rajon Rondo was frustrated all night as well, only contributing two points in 34 minutes. The Kings were able to put together scoring runs to stay in close, but never had control of the game, especially on the defensive side.

The game was tight through the first three quarters, with Sacramento  closing the third quarter on an 8-0 run to deadlock the game at 84. But the Wizards outscored the road team 29-15 in the final 12 minutes to pull away fairly easily.

The Washington ball movement was seamless, and the defense forced 15 Sacramento turnovers to the Wizards’ 11. Although he did not have a great shooting night (4 of 15), Wall distributed like only he could all night to open shooters and easy buckets around the rim. The offense looked as advertised with “pace and space” even without two of its biggest pieces in Porter and Beal.

The only downside was that Wall left early after a collision left him uncomfortable. “I got hit on my ribs, so they’re pretty sore… I think [Darren] Collison [caught me] when I kind of got that foul in transition.”

The Wizards (12-14) next face the Memphis Grizzlies at home on Wednesday before heading to New Jersey Saturday to play the Nets. The Kings (11-17) travel to Indiana to face the Pacers Saturday.

About Seamus Kane

Seamus Kane is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins and Wizards. A native of Silver Spring, MD, Seamus grew up in the area all his life rooting for the Redskins, Nationals, Wizards, Caps, and Terps. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 2014 with a degree in American History and now lives in Washington, DC. His favorite DC sports legend is Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green, and his favorite DC sports moment was Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off in the first-ever game at Nationals Park, a game which he attended. You can follow Seamus on Twitter @ShamelessKane

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