Last night, the Wizards earned their first win against a 76ers team to which they dropped their home opener less than a week ago.
But what was different in this game?
• Better Overall Effort – In last week’s opener against the 76ers, the Wizards were unable to defend the paint well, allowing Thaddeus Young to score 29 points on 14-20 shooting from the field. Spencer Hawes also chipped in 16 points, and Evan Turner was able to get into the lane for easy looks.
Last night, Young was held in check, scoring only 7 points on 3-11 from the field. And while Spencer Hawes did score 23, a lot of his field goals were of the low percentage variety and well outside of the paint.
On the other side of the ball, the Wizards did an excellent job getting out in transition – a facet of their game that should be on display every night. In addition, the team shot very well from three-point range (55%), making them an equally legitimate threat in half court sets.
Also worth noting is Marcin Gortat’s performance, which included a double digit rebound night and plenty of second chance scoring opportunities.
• Complete Game – After a first quarter in which the Wizards outscored the 76ers by 12 points, most fans were probably waiting on the inevitable collapse and relinquishing of the lead. And it almost happened, as the Wizards opened the third quarter flat, scoring only four points through seven minutes of play to open the second half. At one point, the 76ers had trimmed the Wizards’ lead down to three points, due in large part to Hawes’ outside shooting and Turner (and to a lesser extent, Darius Morris) finding to get inside the lane.
But the Wizards stood their ground, closing the third quarter well and sustaining their lead through the end of the game. The bench – particularly Martell Webster – made great contributions and the Wizards were able to force bad shots out of the 76ers. The result was something atypical of Wizards basketball: a complete game.
The Wizards’ schedule remains tough for the next week, but I’m hopeful this win is just the confidence boost the team needed to get competitive.