September 2, 2014

Washington Wizards Game 61 Recap: Ariza, reserves lead Wizards past Jazz

Trevor Ariza posted 26 points and five rebounds, and Bradley Beal added another 22 and five, respectively, to help the Washington Wizards to a 104-91 win over the Utah Jazz at the Verizon Center Wednesday night.

But, to add to their efforts, Wizards head coach Randy Wittman called upon what he referred to as the team’s “AARP group.” As such, by the end of the night, 37-year-old Andre Miller, 34-year-old Al Harrington and 32-year-old Drew Gooden played a combined 53 minutes, during which they posted a total 22 points and 11 assists.

“You can see it each day whether it is in practice or out here on the floor, they are getting their legs under them more and more each day,” Wittman said of Miller and Harrington. “I thought Dre [Andre Miller] came in and battled. Obviously, we know he is capable when he gets into shape to make that 18-foot jump shot that he made tonight. Al [Harrington] obviously stretches the floor for us, at that four spot that opens and creates driving lanes for John [Wall], Brad [Beal] and those guys. Dre just does his steady self. The numbers aren’t going to wow you, but he just controls that group out there.”

Fortunately for the Wizards, the reserve corps didn’t need to “wow.” Washington outscored the Jazz in all but the third quarter, and they maintained a comfortable lead for the greater portion of the night.

In fact, once Ariza hit his second of four three-pointers on the night, the Wizards were already off to a nine-point lead with 4:05 remaining in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the reserves helped pad Washington’s lead.

Beal led off the quarter with a floating jump shot fed by Miller. Not two minutes later, Gooden made back-to-back baskets before Harrington laid one in to help Washington back to a 10-point lead, up 36-26 with 8:30 remaining in the half.

Gooden added two more baskets in the quarter before the momentum shifted back to Beal and Ariza. At halftime, Washington held onto a 54-44 lead.

“The usuals” dominated in the third quarter. Beal kicked things off for the Wizards with back-to-back threes and John Wall added a couple baskets to keep Washington afloat.

In the fourth quarter, however, the reserves showed they still had some fight. Miller drove for an early layup before Harrington hit a fadeaway jumper.

With 6:39 remaining, Harrington dazzled with a slam dunk that restored the Wizards’ double-digit lead and put a smile on Beal’s face.

“I started laughing a little bit,” Beal said. “[Harrington] was energized. I told him he should’ve dunked a couple in the first half and he said, ‘Alright I’ll make up for it.’ He gave us one in the second half and you just thought that it was the end of the game the way he dunked it. That’s a great momentum play for him, to actually see him be able to get up like that.”

The win marks the Wizards’ seventh in their past eight games, dating back to Feb. 19. Washington is now three games above .500 and 16-15 at home, but they will face Milwaukee and Miami on the road before returning home Mach 12.

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