For a team that has been questioned as to whether they have put enough quality pieces around all-star John Wall, the Washington Wizards played a full team game on Saturday. With the 98-93 win against the Orlando Magic in Washington, the Wizards have a firm hold on first place in the Southeast division and currently occupy the second seed in the Eastern Conference standings.
Let’s break down what gave the Wizards the win this week:
This was a great night for offense from both teams. For Orlando, starters Channing Frye, Tobias Harris, and Nikola Vucevic combined for 47 points on 63% shooting (19-30 overall, 5-8 from 3-point range), and 26 rebounds. Their starters were on point, too, with all five scoring in double digits, including Victor Oladipo, who returned from a facial injury. However, the Wizards were right there with them and were rewarded for a complete team effort. John Wall contributed 10 assists to the teams impressive total of 31 assists, giving him his sixth double-double of the season with 15 points. As a team, the Wizards shot 50% and had six players score in double digits.
As good as the starters were, the bench is what tipped the scales for the Wizards. A second line of Kris Humphries, Otto Porter, Jr., Rasual Butler, Kevin Seraphin and Andre Miller combined for 48 points on 65% (22-34) shooting, almost half of the team’s 40 rebounds and 12 assists.
The Wizards also unexpectedly impressed with their inside defense. Not really known for having premier rim defenders, the Wizards blocked a whopping eight shots from the Magic. The Wizards were also very responsible with the ball, limiting their sometimes frequent turnovers to just eleven during this game.
The win gives the Washington Wizards a 4-0 record at home, clearly indicating the level of comfort and support they feel when playing for their home crowd. They’ll be off until Wednesday, when they host Dirk Nowitzki and the reinvigorated Dallas Mavericks.
The Orlando Magic have sustained a potentially devastating blow to their rebuilding plans, losing rookie forward Aaron Gordon indefinitely to a fracture in his foot. The Magic are sure to be very cautious, given Gordon’s perceived upside and the fact that these foot injuries have been known to linger and hamper big men’s careers (see Yao Ming).
On the bright side, Coach Wittman has let us know that sharpshooter Bradley Beal will return from injury to begin practicing with the team this week. We are not sure when he will return to play, but with the Wizards playing so well without him, I’m excited to see him bring their game to the next level.
– Paul Brandley