March 18, 2015 – EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
Dap it up, y’all. The ‘Zards are streakin’!
[ezcol_1third]WIZARDS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third][/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]JAZZ[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Wall (24)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]POINTS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Hayward (26)[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Wall (6)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]ASSISTS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Burke (6)[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Wall/Gortat (9)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]REBOUNDS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Gobert (14)[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Nene/Gortat/Seraphin (1)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]BLOCKS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Favors (3)[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Gortat/Gooden (+8)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PLUS/MINUS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Favors (+6)[/ezcol_1third_end]
Clinging onto the coattails of a less than satisfying 4-game win streak, the Wizards embarked on their final road trip of the season with their first matchup in Utah against an equally ‘hot’ Jazz team, also known as winners of six straight.
Were known as winners of six straight.
The Wizards overcame a ton of mishaps and turnovers by way of hot stroking and stifling defense, lifting them to their fifth straight victory and stamping their 40th win of the season.
Turnovers. The Wizards shot 52% from the field in this game, had more made 3’s and more made free throws than Utah yet won by only four. If that sentence was the intro to a question on an IQ exam asking you how that’s possible, your answer better be the 22 points the Jazz scored off the 21 turnovers the Wizards committed. The turnovers in the first half especially were the key reason why the Jazz kept this game close at all. The Wizards shot the ball a whopping 20% better than the Jazz in the first two quarters but Utah’s 3-12 advantage in the turnover column gave them enough chances to keep up. The Wizards led by just 2 at the half.
The TRUTH! My God has Paul Pierce risen. And doing so in such timely fashion when the Wizards needed someone to step up and help pull them out of that thick sludge they were slipping in. I’ve noted this before that Pierce, in spite of his age and the downgrade in defense at his position after losing Trevor Ariza, was still highly sought and warmly welcomed for his remaining prowess as a scorer and his clutch performances during late-season and the playoffs. Over the course of this 5-game win streak, The Truth has docked a 15.4 points per game scoring average on 61% shooting from the field and a whopping 60% from downtown. Last night in Utah, he dazzled in the 3rd quarter with 9 points on 3-3 shooting from 3. He finished with 18 but more importantly, he finished with this walk-off steal as time expired. Pierce has said in his post-game interviews that this team goes as far as their franchise point guard takes them – and he’s absolutely right – but we cannot discount how important Pierce’s contributions will be come playoff time, and his production over the past five games is the proof of that theory.
Speaking of Johnny Franchise.. His numbers during this winning streak have been . Not exactly Russell Westbrook genocidal type numbers but his 22.4/8.8/6.4 over the past five games has been the catapult that’s shot the Wiz back to their winning ways. However, in almost stealthy fashion, it’s been John Wall’s defense that has helped turn things around dramatically. Wall’s positional opposition last night was Dante Exum, whom he stifled into missing all six of his shots. Exum’s shooting numbers have been a trend for struggling point guards who’ve recently squared up against Wall. The last five point guards Wall has faced, including, Exum, have shot just 18-57 from the field (31%). Wall’s ball pressure has been a staple of his game for some time now, and for him to step it up during the final stretch of the season is critical.
Wall and the Wizards now move on to Los Angeles to try and asphyxiate CP3 and the Clippers, just the way John did in the first meeting between the two teams back in DC. However, handling Paul this time around, this late in the season, in the midst of this brutalizing road trip would be wondrous and cause for a world-changing shift in momentum as the Wizards continue working their way up the Eastern Conference ladder.