February 28, 2016 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC
After spending the first half of the season as statistically the most injured team in the NBA, the Wizards are beginning to see flashes of their abilities at full strength. Since the All-Star Break, Washington has won 3 of 5 games, including two lopsided victories over the Jazz and Pelicans. They’ve also worked Markieff Morris and Alan Anderson into their rotation, and signed J.J. Hickson for additional frontcourt insurance. It’s a much-needed talent infusion for a team who entered today’s matinee game against the Cavaliers 2 ½ games behind Chicago for the 8th and final playoff seed.
Washington has one of the easiest schedules in the NBA to close the season, and it got an extra boost when Lebron James was ruled out of the game for rest. Washington took full advantage with a dominating victory.
The Wizards had a strong first quarter, anchored by John Wall’s 7 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds and a bench contribution of 15 points from Brad Beal, Alan Anderson, and Markieff Morris. The teams traded baskets until Washington began to pull away with an 8-0 run. While Cleveland had to funnel its scoring primarily through Kyrie Irving, Washington was able to use a multi-pronged attack to build up a 7 point lead.
While Wall rested part way through the second, the bench continued to put up a solid performance. In this quarter, the Wizards would force 6 turnovers and expand their lead to 13, lead again by balanced play. Wall shot 70% from the floor in the first half and the team as a whole shot 54%. Wall also capped the half with a finger roll through the lane that started with high screen and spin move around Iman Shumpert.
The second half saw more dominance, as the Wizards – who shot 4/14 from the arc in the first half – caught fire from deep. Otto Porter made four 3-points, including three consecutive from long range. Jared Dudley also got into the act, as he came off the bench in the 3rd to knock down a couple. The Wizards would outscore the Cavaliers 33-16 in that quarter and not look back. Their lead at one point in the 4th would grow to 30.
The Wizards hope to carry this great momentum forward in the second of a back-to-back tomorrow night against the now familiar 76ers.
The Game’s Top Performer
John Wall was remarkable again in today’s game, narrowly missing his second triple double since the February 23rd matchup against the Pelicans. Wall had 21 points, 13 assists and 7 rebounds in just 29 minutes of play. In a marquee duel with Kyrie Irving, Wall shot and distributed more efficiently, earning him some critical rest before tomorrow night’s game.
A forgettable night for..
His offense wasn’t needed, but Garrett Temple disappeared today. He made just one of his five field goals and missed all three of his shots from long range. He also only logged 22 minutes.
With Temple’s offense being erratic lately and Beal still on a minutes restriction, it’s good that Washington has been able to work some new wings into the lineups.
– J.J. Hickson saw action in his first game as a Wizard. He made his long field goal attempt – a nice fade away jumper in the lane – and pulled down 2 rebounds. It’s unclear what his role will be, but he may be called on sooner than later considering Nene’s history.
– Today was Markieff Morris’ best shooting performance since arriving in Washington. Morris had been hovering around 30% shooting, but today he made 4 of his 8 field goals and earned a 3rd quarter start. Morris is an offensive-minded forward so it’s only a matter of time before he begins hitting with more consistency.
– Lebron James needed rest. Rest.
All the DMV LeBron fans who bought tickets for today's game. pic.twitter.com/MiYmApCmOx
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) February 28, 2016