Wizards Weekend Wrap-Up
Looking back at the Wizards’ big home wins over the Pacers and Hawks
A proper depiction of Wizardly defense against the East’s top dawg.
[Photo cred: Joe Glorioso]
Wire-to-wire wins in the NBA are generally not much of a commonality. Wire-to-wire wins for the Wizards, however, are pretty much a complete rarity. But a wire-to-wire win for the Wizards against the top team in the Eastern Conference – a team that also happens to boast the league’s top defense – quite seemingly comes around as often as Frank Underwood crumbles in the face of an adversary in ‘House of Cards’ (see Season 1, episode 6). But for this one Friday night, the Wizards were clearly Marty Spinella frying their superior, the Pacers, and the only component missing from the thrashing was the national spotlight.
Just 48 hours prior to their showdown, Randy Wittman griped about the lack of intensity and the negligence to play for a full 48 minutes. Following the 91-78 decision over the Pacers – a game they never trailed even once – the idea shifted and instead, Wittman was heard gloating about his team’s achievement in not letting up. It was a game of runs in which the Wizards proved once again their avoidance of meltdown and persistence to win.
“The ball doesn’t always have to go in for you to win the game, and we proved that tonight.” — Randy Wittman on the importance of defense.
When you two of your best shooters in Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza combine to make just four of their 25 shots and the team as a whole shot under 40% there better be a good goddamn reason why they still won by 13. The number one ranked defense in the league? They forced just eight Wizards turnovers. The next up and coming superstar and gawd of the NBA, Paul George? He he had to shoot the ball 22 times just to score 19 points. The Wizards been struggling at the free throw line much? Oh, but they went 16-for-17 against the Pacers.
Breaking down the game, it’s simple. Sure the Wizards shot just 39% from the field, but they were just missing shots. They still moved the ball well, scored 21 points off turnovers and 18 points on the break. Some quality bench minutes from Martell Webster and Al Harrington didn’t hurt either.
Also, the Wizards carved the Pacers defensively, forcing them to commit 17 turnovers and actually shoot the ball worse than the Wizards did at a 35.4% clip. I need to break down those shooting numbers by Pacers star for mere irreverent purposes:
Paul George: 6/22 (27%)
David West: 4/10, (40%)
Roy Hibbert: 3/8, (38%) points
Lance Stephenson: 3/13, (23%)
And for most of the night, this kind of dismay was pasted all over David West’s face for the majority of the night.
And then there was 1. That became the magic number for how many games the Wizards had to win to clinch a playoff spot after nudging off the Hawks in a 101-97 win on Saturday night. Also, #MillerTime craftiness so sincere, so succulent.
For the second game in a row, the Wizards owned the 3rd quarter. On Friday night, they went on a 13-2 run led by Trevor Ariza to outscore Indy 30-19 in the 3rd. Against Atlanta, John Wall erupted for 13 3rd quarter points and the Wizards erased a halftime deficit to go up by four heading into the final period. Wall finished with 25 points, six assists, and stamped the win with his trademark “This is my city!” motto.
Drew Gooden. Seriously. Besides a few hours a day spent in a Bethesda gym for the past nine months, there’s little justification as to how or why Gooden has been playing so well. Also, there’s not many people asking. The Wizards have relished in Gooden’s unprecedented level of productivity and has the city beaming and yearning for more. Gooden has been playing hammering defense throughout this stretch with the Wizards but against the Hawks, it was his dominating presence on both ends that steered the Wizards to the W. Gooden made all five of his shots, scored 16 points and was a whopping plus-21.
Marcin Gortat squaring up against Pero Antic could not help me resist from drawing a comparison to Phineas and Barnaby from Family Guy.
Photos from #WizSuns and #WizPacers as provided by the ever so sharp lens of Joe Glorioso (@JoeGlo1).