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Last Night Was Mad Real: Wizards Take Down Pacers To John Wall ‘MVP’ Chants

Wizards 111
Pacers 105

December 28, 2016 – Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

NBA Stats Box Score

For the first time since December 16th, 2014, the Washington Wizards have a seven-game home winning streak. For all of the flak about the crowd only showing up for big name opponents or only rooting when they have a chance to get free chicken sandwiches, Verizon Center has been an impressive force this month. When Otto Porter hit his third three-pointer of the game to put Washington up for good with 100 seconds left, the Wizards secured a 111-105 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

1st quarter

Things were sloppy to start, the Wizards were playing a bit out of sorts. In the first quarter, Washington had three turnovers and had four shots blocked as their pace was out of control. All of that factored into a 22-15 deficit midway through the quarter. Were it not for Bradley Beal’s 10 points in the first 12 minutes, this one may have been over early.

Washington D.C. holds their collective breath. With 1:52 remaining in the first quarter, Beal takes an extra minute to collect himself on the Verizon Center floor after hurting his left ankle following a foul from Paul George. Beal walked it off, missed two free throws but stayed in the game. It looked like the crisis was averted.

Seconds later, Beal intercept a Pacers pass and is running down court for a fast break opportunity when Monta Ellis gives the foul to prevent the easy bucket. The shooting guard had a bad luck, story of his career, misstep and badly turns his right ankle, not his left as on the previous play. Beal again stays in the game and finishes the quarter but was walking extremely gingerly on the injured ankle.

2nd quarter

As a continuation of the Beal injury narrative, he was checked out on the bench to begin the second quarter and then taken to the locker room to get his ankle re-taped. Beal returned with 5:52 left in the first quarter but still looked fairly slow. The recently paid shooting guard finished the half but was not the same player and some could easily question why Brooks left him in the game. The head coach explained that the adrenaline allowed the ankle to stay loose during the second quarter before it tightened up during halftime that kept him out the rest of the way.

Despite Beal’s injury, which probably would have derailed Washington’s efforts in winning the game a few weeks ago, the Wizards did an impressive job turning a deficit into a sizeable lead during the second half of the quarter. With 4:03 to play in the half, the home team trailed 40-39, but then they rattled off a 19-6 run to take a 12-point advantage nearing halftime. Not coincidentally, this ran aligned with the last minutes Beal would see in the game.

3rd quarter

Sheldon McClellan started in place of Beal in the second half and despite his lack of statistics in his 7:24 of action, recording just one assist, Scott Brooks was happy with the effort the undrafted rookie provided. I am not a huge fan of plus-minus, but McClellan was in the game when Indiana went on a 20-13 run to start the second half cutting the Wizards lead down to three.

The play of Jason Smith today was great. The backup center played nearly 18 minutes because of foul trouble to Markieff Morris and was Washington’s lone option without rookie Daniel Ochefu (sick). Smith was 3 of 4 from the field, including a corner three, for seven points while also grabbing seven rebounds. When you consider the other options, Mahinmi, Nicholson, Satoransky, etc., Smith has probably proven to be Washington’s best free agent addition, relatively of course.

With Paul George and Nate McMillan recently complaining about NBA officiating as well as John Wall not having the nicest things to say about referees this season, it made sense that tonight’s game was whistle happy. By the end of it all, 56 fouls were called, FIFTY-SIX. Not necessarily related to all the foul calls, but Marcin Gortat was hit with a technical late in the third quarter.

4th quarter

For the third time during the course of the game, a subtle Otto Porter chant broke out in the Verizon Center and for good reason. Porter had 22 points on just 10 field goal attempts, made all seven of his free throws on a night that Washington missed 10, and hit a huge 3-pointer to salt away the game. Wall said after the Bucks game that he trusts Porter as a shooter as much as Beal. At first I rolled my eyes at the snippet, but am beginning to believe it. Otto will receive the max contract this summer and I believe the Wizards should give it to him because it is unlikely they attract anyone better.

Even though the Wizards played well, Indiana sure missed a lot of opportunities to retake the lead. There were multiple occasions that Washington’s defense was out of place but the Pacers were simply unable to knock down the open shot. Beside Paul George’s 6 of 10 from deep, Indiana was a miserable 5 of 18, 27.7 percent, from beyond the arc and many of those looks were practice shots. Luckily, Indiana was never able to pull to closer than two otherwise the narrative would have been much different.

Wall scored Washington’s final eight points, six coming from the charity stripe where he was happy to say he did not miss this time, as the Wizards improved to 15-16 with a 111-105 victory.

#WizPacers in a Tweet

The Game’s Top Performer

John Wall – 36 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals

Like what can you say? If DC’s point gawd does not go to the All-Star game, that is a damn shame. Without Beal, he went full take over mode with 22 points in the second half on just eight field goal attempts.

A reason behind Wall’s improved mid-range game you ask? Optimus Dime himself said during his months of rehab, he was able to work on his form a lot more since he was unable to do activities involving running. If Wall continues to have a consistent jump shot coupled with his unmatched speed and passing ability, then watch out for the Wizards as a hot dark horse in the playoffs.

A forgettable night for..

Bradley Beal

This is simply because no one else had a terrible night and Beal would certainly have hoped tonight never happened. To wrap up the coverage, Beal is considered day-to-day with a sprained right ankle according to Scott Brooks, but was limping badly in the locker room after the game. Given the swelling that had already taken place, Beal may not be able to play Friday vs. Brooklyn.

Key Stat of the Night

The Wizards won the rebounding battle 54-34. By TWENTY rebounds! Washington has found their identity as a physical team this season, which is something they have prided themselves on over the past couple weeks.

“We talked about that. We have to win that battle every night. We just can’t rely on March [Marcin Gortat] getting in there and getting all the rebounds. I think our guards and Otto [Porter Jr.] – Otto is one of the best at rebounding, from his position. If we wanted to make them miss — we made them miss a handful of times tonight – we want to make sure it’s of the one-and-done deal.” – Coach Scott Brooks

“We were physical. We hit them first and we got a lot of long rebounds today. John [Wall] did a great job getting those long rebounds.” – Marcin Gortat

What’s next?

Washington will have a chance to get to .500 basketball for the first time all season with a Friday night matchup with the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are coming off of a Jimmy Butler buzzer beating loss to Chicago to drop to 8-23 including 1-15 on the road. Things are set for a 7 p.m. tip.

Bonus coverage!

Pacers head coach Nate McMillan had this to say about Otto Porter:

“I think he is a good two-way player and you just see the confidence growing with him on both ends of the floor. Mostly offensively. He’s always been a long athletic defender. Now that he is a guy that can guard the two and the three, they do slide him at times to the four. So, his versatility just allows him to do a number of things. The way he is shooting the three ball, it makes him really, at that position, what you need. He gives them that guy that they are going to put on the best offensive player, he seems to take that challenge.”

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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