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Trey Burke, Wizards Bench Nets For Eighth Straight Home Win

Wizards 118
Nets 95

December 30, 2016 – Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

NBA Stats Box Score

Well how ‘bout dem Wizards!?

After beginning the year 7-13, Washington has finished 2016 with a 9-3 record. They are currently the six seed in the East after a 118-95 beat down of the Brooklyn Nets and things are at an all-time season-high for the basketball team in DC.

1st quarter

With Bradley Beal (mild right ankle sprain) not playing against the Brooklyn Nets, rookie Sheldon McClellan got the start at shooting guard as Scott Brooks did not want to change Marcus Thornton’s role with the bench. Brooklyn was certainly trying to expose the 24-year old early on the defensive end. McClellan gave up two early buckets and then required help that resulted in a foul. The shooting guard finished with a rebound and assist in seven minutes of work but missed both of his two shots.

It is becoming a theme when opposing coaches come to the Verizon Center, they say something nice about Otto Porter. Nets coach Kenny Atkinson credited the former Hoya for the Wizards recent basketball success. Porter lived up to the hype in the first quarter with 10 points on 4 of 9 shooting and also chipped in with a couple boards.

Jason Smith is thought of as a backup center, but he has given the Wizards good minutes as a backup power forward since it has become apparent that Andrew Nicholson is not cutting it. Smith did his usual thing of knocking down jump shots and grabbing boards. Smith made all three of his shots as Washington led 31-23 one quarter.

2nd quarter

Nobody tell Trey Burke that this isn’t college anymore. Burke looked like he was back in his Michigan days the way he was on fire from the court. Burke made all seven of his shots, including four three-pointers, for 18 points in the quarter. In the first half alone, Burke had set a new season-high in scoring with 20. Without Beal, Burke was playing alongside Wall at the end of the half.

Stop me if you have heard this before. John Wall is good at basketball (so go tweet his name with the hash tag #NBAVote to send him to the All-Star game). In less than eight minutes, Wall scored 10 points and handed out four assists. He also made one Sean Kilpatrick look very, very silly. Washington led 66-50 after one half of play.

3rd quarter

What did the rim ever do to Marcin Gortat? The Polish Machine had FOUR dunks in the first six minutes of the second half including this ferocious put back slam. No need to worry about missing bunnies when you are throwing it down like that. Gortat finished the quarter with 11 points and six rebounds.

John Wall got in on the fun on both ends of the court. First, he told Bojan Bogdanovic to stick to three-pointers and then he just ended Justin Hamilton’s career. Those were Wall’s only points in the quarter but he made his presence felt with six assists in the frame. Wall told me after the game that he is always going to catch someone sleeping every once in a while.

4th quarter

Gortat dunked again …

More things happened, but it was pretty much a lot more of the same until …

Brooks was able to utilize a four-guard bench lineup for the final five minutes of the game, which allowed no starter to play more than 32 minutes. Washington ended 2016 on a high note with a 118-95 drubbing of the Nets.

#WizNets in a Tweet

The Game’s Top Performer

Trey Burke – 27 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.

Wall and Gortat had great game’s but it was Burke scoring a season-high 27 that made all the difference for Washington. Burke could not miss, literally, in the second quarter and by the end of the first half, the outcome was already determined.

“But we had to step up and we needed somebody,” Brooks said about the bench without Beal. “We were just hoping that somebody would come in and give us 10-12 points, and to my surprise, it was 27. I know Trey can score, but you don’t expect 27. I thought he played an excellent ballgame, both sides of the floor – I thought he was defensively really good.”

A forgettable night for..

No one, nada, nope, not going to bash anyone.

In the season of the holidays, I would like to applaud everyone who stepped on the court for Washington against Brooklyn. Ochefu got in on the yam party, Thornton had more points than FGA, and Nicholson was not terrible.

Key Stat of the Night

Washington got a 50 spot from their bench tonight. For a unit that averages just 23.5 points per game, Trey Burke surpassed that all by himself. The Wizards have a good starting five when healthy, but when they get an above average performance from their second unit, they are a top team in the Eastern Conference.

Here’s what Brooks had to say about the bench’s improvement:

“We were missing a lot of shots. I think a lot of coaches say that when you don’t shoot the ball well, when you’re getting good shots. We have, for instance, Jason [Smith]. Jason, how he’s playing the last month, that’s who he is. Unfortunately, he started the season missing every shot that he normally makes, and when you do that, you lose some of your confidence. You can go down the line, Trey [Burke] was the same way. But as we talk to them and develop every day in practice, you just stick with your routine, you believe in the routine, and you can handle some tough times. I thought the guys have done that, and they stuck with it. We’re going to continue to work and develop our guys. Give them a lot of credit because we’re back to .500 because of their ability to keep chipping away every day.”

Jason Smith’s take was even better and makes a whole lot of sense.

“I think we’re thinking a little too much about the offense in the beginning of the season. I think now that we’ve run it — kind of drilled it over and over and over it — has become second nature. When it’s second nature you don’t really think about it, so now you can kind of focus on your shot, following through, attacking the basket, getting to the free throw line, stuff like that. I think our first unit has been doing a great job all season, but that second unit like you said in the beginning had a little bit of a lag. Now we’ve corrected that, we’ve got to continue to do that moving forward.”

What’s next?

The Wizards will take on the Houston Rockets, currently 25-9, in the Lone Star state the day after New Year’s Day. Washington is 3-7 on the road but the team knows that they are capable of hanging around with the best of the best on the road if they can maintain the consistency of play they have been showing at the Verizon Center.
“It’s a tough two game trip,” Brooks said about the back-to-back with Houston and Dallas. “Houston’s one of the best teams and they can shoot sixty 3’s in any given game.”

Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for Hoop District covering the Wizards. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland, College Park. Neil also covers the Washington Redskins for Breaking Burgundy and Maryland Terrapins for Testudo Times. Neil previously covered the Wizards for District Sports Page and is looking forward to bring his in-person coverage to each of the loyal Hoop District followers.

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