December 27, 2014 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Just a few hours ago, the Wizards boarded a jet for a nonstop flight into their biggest test of their season thus far- a road trip covering five destinations in the Midwest, beginning with Houston.
That’s why winning these last two games before said road trip was huge. That’s why winning them wire-to-wire was even bigger.
The new-look, post-Rondo Celtics really had no chance last night. Not one against John Wall, and not one against either of their ex-employees, Kris Humphries or Paul Pierce. Pierce had himself one helluva game just off the 1st quarter alone where scored 11 points, hit all of his shots including two 3’s, had a few assists, two steals and a board. I’d say this is probably the best single stretch of basketball we’ve seen from Paul so far this season, second to perhaps one of his other games he played against his former team; because he’s been that good when facing them.
Kris Humphries was instant coffee, coming off the bench in the opening quarter to score eight. If you recall just a few nights back, Hump was going through a bad case of the bricks but over the past two games, has hit 16 of 23 shots, scoring 14 against the Knicks on Christmas and 17 last night against Boston.
The end result: an early release and a 4th quarter off for all five starters, quite the nice perk before a road trip. Wall, Beal, Pierce, Nene, and Gortat all became cheerleaders for the entire final period and you can thank Otto Porter’s 10 points for that. The Wizards now floss a 21-8 record and a steam of momentum heading into Houston tomorrow, and I’m anxious to see how much it carries over.
Moment of the Night
John Wall with his second 360 layup in as many games; then gives #Celtics a superstar wink
Game Notes and Highlights
The Wizards forced six turnovers in less than six minutes to open up the game and eight total after the 1st quarter, rendering 11 points. A few of them were results of general clumsiness but there’s no discounting the Wizards defense. They hounded the Celtics from the jump, rotated well to protect the paint, grabbed rebounds and made the Celtics pay on the fastbreak.
Paul Pierce gave his former team the work early on, scoring 11 points on 4-4 shooting. On Washington’s first offensive possession he drove against Jeff Green for a contested pull up jumper on the baseline. Splash. He later drew a foul for a few free throws, knocked down a spot up 3 from the top of the arc and another one from about 26 feet.
The Wizards led the Celtics 30-12 after the 1st quarter, thanks to Boston’s 25% shooting from the field and a ton of missed 3’s. This gave the Wizards all the leeway on the glass as they outrebounded the Celtics 16-6. Combine that with Boston’s eight turnovers and you’ve got eight more shot attempts for the Wizards. Oh, by the way, the Wizards shot 54% from the field.
Kris Humphries: the stretch 4 gawd. Hump came off the bench midway through the 1st quarter and headed back with a fuming trigger finger, knocking down shot after shot. Nene’s injury now comes as sort of a blessing, allowing Humphries to polish a bit in his absence because having him come in with the second unit and provide that kind of instant offense is proving to be huge.
Wall-to-Pierce convert the 2-on-1 fastbreak.
Also, Bradley Jordan.
Kelly Olynyk is really not all that bad of a bad basketball player, until John Wall makes him look like one.
One of the more paramount improvements of the Washington Wizards has been their bench play. And with a healthy Nene sending Humphries back with the second unit, they’ve only gotten better. The Wizards bench scored 52 of the team’s 101 points and 17 of 26 in the 2nd quarter. Kevin Seraphin has been the most joyous to watch. His ability to control the ball in his hands and take his time to make the right play has propelled him into more of an offensive force and I can’t believe I’m typing this.
Even Seraphin’s baby hook is growing up.
A few games ago, Andre Miller was given a disheartening reminder that his aging legs just couldn’t give him a desirable lift anymore after embarrassingly getting his dunk attempt denied by the front of the rim. He didn’t forget that moment, as evidenced in his leaping swat of Phil Pressey’s dunk attempt.
John Wall’s game has evolved in so many different facets, but one primary improvement is his defense. A testament to this is his commitment to hustle and sacrifice. Time and again this season Wall has raced back on defense quick enough to beat the ball handler to the no-charge area and plant himself to draw the offensive foul. He did it twice in one Vine against Boston.