September 15, 2019

Washington Wizards Game 1 Recap: Wall takes control, leads Wiz to close win over Magic

The Washington Wizards opened up their 2015-16 campaign in Orlando, defeating a young and talented Magic team, 88-87. John Wall was the star, posting 22 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and a game-high 5 blocks. Bradley Beal added 24 points and 6 rebounds, while Orlando was led by Victor Oladipo with 17 and 11. The game was back and forth and remained close the entire time, as Orlando was definitely up to the challenge defensively. However, Wall and Beal took control in the fourth quarter, scoring 19 of the team’s 23 points in the period. The Wizards closed it out on a Wall floater with 12.7 seconds to go.

Game Notes

Wittman’s New Look

The Wizards debuted their new patented “pace and space” offense, attempting more 3-point shots and pushing the ball down court with John Wall and company rather than running a more stagnant, set offense. The offense seemed to be working well at times, but Washington will have to be able to shoot consistently in order to maximize their effectiveness. As a team, the Wizards shot just 25% (7-28) from beyond the arc. Although this is not the ideal shooting percentage for this offense, the fact that they stuck with the 3-point shot and attempted 28 of them is a good sign of the commitment Wittman has to this strategy. Hopefully more consistent shooting will follow and the Wizards will start to light up the scoreboard.

Wall being Wall

John Wall certainly looked comfortable out there for the new look Wizards, and he made his presence felt on both sides of the ball. At a critical moment in the fourth quarter, down 78-76, Wall put a spark in the team by stealing a sloppy skip pass by Oladipo, taking it the length of the court, and finishing with a behind the back move for a layup. The fifth-year man also finished with 5 blocks, many of which came at critical times, and as mentioned, put down the game-winning floater with 12 seconds remaining. Performances like these have become to norm to Washington faithful, and he has certainly committed to improving his all-around game. If the season were one game long, he would certainly be my vote for MVP and first team all-defense.

Wacky Finish

The very last possession of the game contained some interesting dramatics. After Wall hit his shot, Orlando had one more possession to try and win the game down one point. Tobias Harris put up a contested bank shot, and it seemed to hang on the rim forever. Bradley Beal and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon both went up for the rebound, and the ball looked like it was touched by one of them while the ball was still on or just off of the rim. The officials first called it basket interference on Washington, but after review, determined that the ball was falling off the cylinder, and took Orlando’s points off the board. Orlando got possession back with 3.5 seconds left, but Nikola Vucevic could not convert a mid-range jumper for the win, and Washington emerged victorious.

Ottomatic?

Otto Porter has been hyped up and talked about as a breakout star for the Wizards this year on both sides of the ball, but his offense did not show up Wednesday night. Otto finished with a team-high 8 rebounds and was hustling around the court as always, but he scored just 7 points, shot just 3 of 10 from the field, and only made 1 of his 5 3-point attempts. Porter is a key cog in New Randy’s machine, and his lack of production tonight is part of the reason for the lackluster offensive output. Hopefully Otto can find his stroke and get into the rhythm of the offense and the offense can look like it did vs. Toronto in the postseason last year.

Upcoming

The Wizards face their first playoff team from last year, the Milwaukee Bucks, on Friday at the Bradley Center. The Bucks were blown out at home by the New York Knicks Wednesday, 122- 97. They will look to bounce back against the Wizards, who went 2-1 vs. the Bucks in 2014-15.

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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