Jacob Raim - WashingtonWizards.com
The Wizards broke out of their two game slump by coming from behind late to take down the 76ers, 90-87. The big news was Bradley Beal's injury down the stretch as he crumpled to the floor and had to be carried off the court. Here are some thoughts on the Wizards win:
1. Wall's Clutch Play
Wall was clutch for the Wizards the entire night, but the final two minutes were what sealed the deal. After Beal went down, Wall scored the Wizards' final six points to give them the late comeback victory. Wall started by hitting an 18 footer to put the Wizards within one. Then Wall forced Holiday into a tough 20 footer, grabbed the long rebound and was fouled by Holiday. Wall hit both of his free throws to put the Wizards up one. On the ensuing Sixers possession, Wall blocked Turner's short jumper and hit a 20 footer of his own on the other end with just 4.4 seconds left to put the Wizards up by three. Wall showed that confident swagger of a star that we haven't necessarily seen of late. Wall was 7/11 from the field in the game and 3/6 outside of 16 feet. Wall chipped in six assists against just two turnovers and added five boards. He looked more comfortable running the offense then he had the last couple of games and was playing, as usual, faster than anybody else on the floor. Plus, he had this spectacular 360 lay-up.
2. Great Defense
These two teams statistically are two of the very best defenses in the NBA with the Wizards ranked sixth in opponent points per game and the Sixers seventh. Both teams defensive prowess was on display as there were long stretches on both sides where they had trouble scoring. The Sixers shot just 38.8% and the Wizards were a tick better at 42.5%. The game was played at a slow pace with little offensive rhythm which typically suits the Sixers better than the Wizards, but the Wizards were able to overcome that. The Wizards also did a little more on the glass than the Sixers did, led by Okafor's 16 rebounds. The notable defensive effort for the Wizards was the job done on Jrue Holiday, particularly by Wall, who shot just 4/19 from the field.
3. Beal's Injury
The scary moment of the game came when Beal crumpled to the floor and had to be carried off, putting no weight on his left leg at all. Thankfully Beal's x-rays came back negative and it is a sprained ankle and not something more serious, but at the time it looked bad. The Wizards though did a good job re-focusing and finishing off the game despite obvious concerns about Beal. Now all we can do is hope he is healthy soon.
4. Nene is Back
Nene missed just two games but his absence was certainly notable in the two losses. He came back last night and scored 15 points on 7/14 shooting and added nine rebounds. His presence makes the offense function so much more efficiently, and while it wasn't a smooth offensive game in general, Nene's presence was certainly noticed. Wall looked noticeably more comfortable running the offense with Nene in the lineup and he was given a touch almost every single offensive possession. The offense runs through him a reasonable percentage of the time and he did a nice job scoring or drawing defenders.
5. Starters Performance
The starters carried the day for the Wizards in this one as the bench managed just 17 points on 6/24 shooting. The starters on the contrary all finished in double figures and shot about 50% from the field as a group. On a day when the bench was providing limited production, the starters really stepped up and carried a huge percentage of the offensive load. The starters also played extremely heavy minutes in this one and whether by design or due to the inefficiency of the second unit, every starter played at least 30 minutes.
6. Return of Jan
Jan Vesely had seen DNP next to his name on the stat sheet for the last eight games. But last night he worked his way back into the rotation and had a reasonably effective game for somebody who probably has some rust to shake off. He showcased his athleticism and agility with a couple of alley-oops and ended up with six points on 3/6 shooting in 16 minutes. He got out on the break and ran every chance he got and while he may have been out of sync on a defensive rotation or two, it was a nice return to the lineup on the whole.