Jacob Raim - WashingtonWizards.com
The Wizards were all over the Timberwolves on Friday night, leading by double digits the entire second half and cruising to a 114-101 victory. Here are some thoughts on the game:
1. No Answer
There is really no simpler way to put it, the Timberwolves just had no answer for the Wizards on Friday night. Washington's athleticism and depth were too much for this depleted Minnesota team. Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota's two leading scorers, were out and the Washington took advantage. The 13-point margin of victory was actually the closest of the second half.
2. Wall Starts
John Wall started his first game of the season last night and was matched up against the dynamic Ricky Rubio. Wall played aggressively on both ends of the floor, getting to the hoop regularly against Rubio and also forcing him into some bad shots and turnovers on the other end. Wall's minutes were limited to 21 in the blowout, but he still managed 14 points on 6/10 shooting and 5 assists compared to Rubio's 4 points on 1/8 shooting and a 6/5 assist to turnover ratio. Wall's athleticism was also on full display with a couple of highlight reel buckets, including this one.
3. Shooting the Lights Out
Washington didn't win the rebound battle, didn't get out in transition a lot, didn't win the turnover battle by an excessive amount and were only 10/17 from the free throw line. What they did do was shoot the basketball extremely well from the field. The team shot a blistering 57.8%, their best number of the year, and also shot 47% from beyond the arc. All five starters shot better than 50% from the field and only Okafor, with eight points, didn't get into double figures. The scoring was balanced as well with nobody having more than 19, six getting into double figures and 11 getting on the score sheet in total. On top of that, 29 of the 48 made baskets were assisted.
4. Crawford's Back
Jordan Crawford only scored in double figures once over the road trip, coming back slowly after missing four games due to an ankle injury. That one game in double figures did include his heroic buzzer beater against Portland though. But last night he looked like he did before the injury, shooting the ball with confidence and finding space on the floor for open looks. In the end, he finished with 19 points on 7/10 shooting, including 3/4 from three point range. Going forward, having Crawford as a consistent scorer is crucial.
5. Bradley Beal
Beal's scoring was down over the last three games of the trip and there were rumblings about his wrist bothering him after a fall in Denver. That looked to be a thing of the past as he played a very solid game, scoring 16 points on 6/11 shooting over 25 minutes, a relative break for him after all the minutes he played on the road trip. Beal also blocked four shots including one incredible block on a fast break, which you can see here. Beal and Wall seem to be meshing more and more each game and Beal is putting himself into position for Wall to find him for some good looks.
The Wizard allowed the Wolves' thin front line to grab 22 offensive boards, which on a night where Washington didn't shoot as well as they did, probably would have been a recipe for disaster. Minnesota outworked Washington on the boards all night and were consistently getting two or three chances per trip. Six Timberwolves grabbed at least three offensive boards including guys like Ridnour and Rubio. On the night, Washington was out-rebounded by Minnesota 48-35.
7. Starters' Production
The five Wizards starters - Webster, Nene, Okafor, Wall and Beal - each finished at least +15 and scored 65 of the 114 points, when no starter played more than Webster's 27 minutes. Earlier in the season the bench was picking up the slack for the starters, but in recent games the starters have done their fair share of the work.
8. Fast Start
Another game, another fast start. The Wizards opened the game shooting over 60% in the first quarter and the Wolves were on their heels from the get go. This game though, there was no letdown of any kind until a slight dip in the fourth when the game was in hand. Washington followed up their 29-point first quarter outburst with 31 in both the second and third quarters. Consistent scoring across four quarters is a great thing to see.