Jacob Raim - WashingtonWizards.com
In one of the most entertaining games of the year, the Wizards and Nuggets played a high scoring, run and gun ballgame with Wizards coming out victorious, 119-113. Washington had the strong lead to enter the fourth quarter but the Nuggets went on a big run to get back into the game before the Wizards held them off. The Wizards got their season series sweep over the Nuggets in the process. Here are some thoughts on the game:
1. High Scoring
This game was highly entertaining with both teams running all night and shooting the ball well – an outstanding offensive effort on both sides. The combined 232 points were the most that have been scored in a Wizards game this year. The 64-64 score at the half was the most points Washington scored in a first half this season, and the most points they conceded in any half. Both teams shot the ball over 47%, had quality balanced scoring and moved the ball well to the tune of 27 assists. Overall, the biggest difference in terms of scoring was the three point shooting. The Nuggets shot just 4/22 from three and the Wizards were 11/24. AJ Price was 4/6 from three to lead the charge.
The other key to the game, other than three point shooting, was rebounding. The Wizards dominated on the glass, particularly on the offensive end, getting second and third looks all night. The Wizards outrebounded the Nuggets 49-36, and 18-8 on the offensive end. Denver is the second best rebounding team in the NBA in terms of boards per game, so to outrebound them by this margin is truly a testament to the Wizards work on the glass. Okafor was his usual dominant self on the boards, grabbing 13 rebounds. With all the Nuggets outstanding rebounding bigs, some of the wing players really chipped in on the boards and made life easier for the Wizards big men. Bradley Beal grabbed a career high 12 rebounds, getting good positioning all night on the long rebounds off of all the Nuggets missed threes. Martell Webster had seven rebounds, especially helping out handling Faried on the glass. Faried himself was held to just four rebounds on the night.
3. Balanced Scoring
For the first time this season, the Wizards had seven in double figures. Wall, Ariza, Nene, Price, Beal, Okafor and Webster all had 12 or more points to contribute to the 119 the Wizards put up. Okafor probably had the most polished offensive night, scoring 17 points on 8/14 shooting. Price knocked down 4/6 from three point range and got into double figures for the first time in February. When a team moves the ball like the Wizards did tonight and has this many players knocking down shots, there is no one player an opponent can key on and they become very difficult to defend. It was assuredly one of the Wizards best offensive efforts of the year, and the definition of a full team performance.
4. Second Half Opening Moments
Many times in the NBA, you can point to certain moments of a game and say, that was the turning point and that was what made the difference. That stretch was easy to pinpoint last night, with the Wizards going on a 13-0 run to open the second half, holding the Nuggets scoreless for the first five and a half minutes in the process. The lead was eventually pushed to 18, a cushion the Wizards would need as the Nuggets eventually cut the lead to as close as two. The Wizards had that solid lead to fall back on and made the Nuggets work so hard to get back into the game. When they finally did, the Nuggets seemed spent and could not finish the comeback.
5. Bradley Beal Getting to the Line
When the best scorers in the league aren't shooting at their best, they find other ways to score, primarily getting to the hoop and trying to draw contact. Beal's jump shot was not at its best last night but he earned 17 points by attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line 11 times, sinking nine of them. Beal is a very talented FT shooter at about 80% and it was great to see him actively try to draw contact and get to the line. He only averages about three FTs per game but as his offensive confidence and comfort level continue to grow, hopefully this is something we will see on a more regular basis.