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Game Notebook 67, Wizards vs. Bulls: Defending DC

Wizards 117
Bulls 96

March 16, 2016 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC

NBA Stats Box Score

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Jared Dudley said it best:

“Now we’re in it. Before, if we lose these two, we would have been out of it. We win these two, now we’re in the thick of things.”

The Wizards followed a 43 point thrashing of Detroit with a 21 point trashing of the Bulls, and once again find themselves back in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt.

For the second game in a row, the Wizards faced a team directly ahead of them in the standings, needing a win desperately. And for the second night in a row, the Wizards actually played like a team that desperately needed a win.

Markieff Morris and John Wall led the opening charge, as the Wizards built an early 14 point lead. Morris scored 9 first quarter points, hitting 4 of his 5 shots, including one of the Wizards four 1st quarter threes.

But unlike the Pistons, Chicago fought back in the second quarter. Derrick Rose and Doug McDermott each scored 8 second quarter points, as the Bulls erased the Wizards deficit, and opened up a 5 point lead of their own.

That’s when the Wizards turned up their defense, and turned to Garrett Temple. Temple hit all three of his three point attempts in the second quarter, helping the Wizards rebuild an 11 point half time lead, but the defense was the key. John Wall left no doubt about that:

And once the Wizards locked in on the defensive end, they left it to John Wall to leave no doubt about how the game would play out. Wall took over the third quarter, scoring 12 points, hitting two threes, and dealing a crippling to blow the Chicago Bulls playoff hopes.

The fourth quarter was purely academic, as Wall put the final touches on his third triple double of the season, as the Wizards won their seventh home game in their last eight tries. The Bulls would finish shooting just 40% from the field, and just 6/20 from the three point line. Most importantly, the Bulls (like the Pistons) would finish the night just 1.5 games ahead of the Wizards in the Eastern Conference standings, with the Wizards holding the tie breakers.

Let the playoff push (FINALLY) begin!


The Game’s Top Performer

John Wall

29 points. 10 rebounds. 12 assists. 3 steals.

The stat line says it all, and yet still doesn’t stay enough. Wall was engaged on both ends, playing with the speed, energy, and intensity that elevates all of his teammates, and completely changes the perception of the kind of team the Wizards can be.

John Wall is the reason the Wizards keep sucking us in, even when they keep sucking. And he’s the reason you can be sure the Cavs and the Raptors would prefer the Wizards stay outside the top-8. The Wizards can hit a higher gear than the Bulls or the Pistons, and that gear is shifted by John Wall.


A forgettable night for..

John Wall

I feel obligated to mention that John Wall did have 8 turnovers. The rest of us can forget this because of everything else he did, but I can assure you those 8 turnovers will nag at Wall, as they should. Wall told CSN’s Chris Miller after the game, if he hadn’t had those turnovers, “we would’ve won by 35.”

Wall knows that if they Wizards are going to make more noise, the turnovers have got to stop.


Notables:

Garrett Temple

Temple scored all 15 of his points in the first half, hitting all 5 of his three point attempts. Bless up.

Fancy Nene!:

Nene’s been finding his groove recently, and is starting to play with fun and joy out there again, as evidenced by this pass:

Good Nene = Better Wizards.

Assists:

The Wizards had 25 team assists, improving their record to 25-7 in such games.

Building Blocks?

Otto Porter and Bradley Beal both looked like the kind of players you can build with tonight, at the same time. Beal had 20 points, and 7 boards, while Porter added 14 points, 5 boards, and the Wizards were +34 in his time on the court.

Maybe the Wizards aren’t hopeless after all.

For now.

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