Fresh off of a five-game West coast road trip, the Washington Wizards returned home without the services of the All-Star point guard as John Wall sat with a sore right knee. Many fans thought Wall’s absence would be the ultimate, and fitting, dagger in the Wizards season but his teammates took care of business without him. Brooklyn was short staffed without Jarrett Jack, Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young and it showed. Once the home team cleaned up some turnovers, possibly a result of Wall not running the show, the Wizards had their way with the nets. Although playoff odds are slim, Washington took care of business with a 121-103 victory.
Washington seemed unphased by the loss of their leader to start the game as they opened things up with a quick 9-0 advantage with Bradley Beal and Otto Porter aggressively looking for their shot. By the midway point of the first quarter, Randy Wittman was forced to call timeout as the Nets went on an extended 17-8 run to tie things up. The home team would end the quarter on a 10-2 run as Ramon Sessions was looking to play himself into a nice contract with 7 points and five dimes in the first twelve minutes of play. DC got their free Egg McMuffin as the Wizards led 30-23 after one.
With Garrett Temple forced into some backup point guard duties and Marcus Thornton seemingly falling out of Wittman’s rotation, rookie Kelly Oubre received non-garbage time minutes and made the most of it. Oubre will only show up for a dunk (as well as the technical for the stare down afterwards) and a couple of rebounds in the box score but brought a positive energy to the floor. Brooklyn hung around for much of the first half with a whopping 18 points off of ten Washington turnovers in the first half along. The home team clung to a 54-52 edge at halftime despite Sessions having a season-high in assists, 10, by intermission.
It took the home team a little longer in the second half to rattle off the same 9-0 run from the first after Brooklyn tied things up at 57. Washington steadily maintained and improved their advantage by simply outscoring the Nets in the third quarter behind 21 points from Porter and Sessions in the period. The key? Zero turnovers after having double digit in the first half. This limited Brooklyn’s ability to get easy buckets resulting in 37.5 percent (9 of 24) shooting for the road team in the quarter. Washington headed into the final quarter with an 88-75 advantage.
Washington increased their cushion in the second half with stingy defense that resulted in fast break opportunities. Despite 28.6 percent (8 of 28) shooting frm beyond the arc, the Wizards dominated in the paint with 68 points. Wittman called off the wolves midway through the quarter by putting out a lineup of Temple, Eddie, Oubre, Gooden, and Hickson. Despite Washington get no help from division rival Orlando who blew a fourth-quarter lead against the eight seed Pistons, the Wizards defended home court on their way to a 121-103 victory.
With a win tonight, the Wizards remain in playoff contention but would need Detroit to lose out. Ironically enough the Wizards will travel to the Palace on Friday with a matchup against the Pistons.