Jacob Raim – WashingtonWizards.com
The Wizards lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Kings in Sacramento last night, 95-94. Here are my thoughts on the game.
1. Offensive Consistency
In the first quarter, the Wizards (and the Kings for that matter) opened up the game scoring at a torrid pace. The Wizards put up 31 points and shot 57 percent from the floor. But each quarter after that saw the offense get less and less productive. The Wizards scored an acceptable 25 in the second, but then faltered, scoring only 21 in the third and 17 in the fourth. Part of this was the game naturally slowing down from its frenetic beginnings, but the team shot only 35 percent in the deciding fourth quarter. The Kings were better on offense in the second half by nine points and that was just enough.
2. Wall’s Distribution
People have criticized Wall’s court vision over his first two years in the league, suggesting it was not good enough for him to be an elite point guard. Watch the tape of last night’s game again and that argument will seem laughable. During Wall’s 26 minutes, he had 10 assists and made just about every right pass, it seemed. He only turned the ball over once giving him a ridiculous 10:1 A/TO ratio. His shooting is clearly not where he wants it to be yet but his point guard play has been phenomenal. Whenever he gets the ball on the defensive end he’s gone and either getting to the hoop or creating fast break looks. Plus his athleticism was on full display going up and over Garcia on Ariza’s lob to him for a three point play.
3. Wall and Nene
While it may not have resulted in a win last night, this Wizards team, and particularly the offense, operates so much better when Wall and Nene are on the floor together. While neither guy is at 100 percent or able play the huge minutes we’d like to see, the two make the offense tough to defend. They both draw defenders to them and create space and open looks for teammates. The offense moves so much better when at least one of them is in the game and at times looks downright scary when they are both in. They are both such good passers, and having that high/low movement is awesome to watch.
4. Nene’s Complete Effort
Speaking of Nene, he had one of his best games of the season last night. He was so effective in the low post, drawing defenders and either attacking the basket or kicking out to the open man. He had 15 points on 7/12 shooting, nine boards and six assists.
5. Beal’s Shooting
Beal’s long-range game this year has been inconsistent, but for those that watch his shot on a nightly basis, it’s clear that he at some point would be a very good jump shooter. I’m not saying it’s going to be like this every night but he was ridiculous last night. He set career highs in points and three pointers with 26 points and six threes and did it on 9/14 shooting from the field and 6/7 from three. He also works so hard for those open looks, moving so well without the ball and being so active to find space that he deserves most of the open looks he gets.
6. Wall and Beal
While Beal’s shooting was the story of the night for the Wizards, another part of his game that we continue to see is his ability to attack the basket. Wall does the same thing and when you have a backcourt where both players can drive and finish as we saw at times last night, it is tough to defend and wears a defense out. When these two play more together and learn to really play off each other, it has the potential to be a fantastic backcourt.
7. DeMarcus Cousins
The Kings’ best player last night (and most nights), was the mercurial Cousins. While he still can’t shoot a jump shot, his rebounding and low-post moves are elite. He really hurt us last night and was, in my opinion, the biggest reason the Kings pulled out the win. He played 43 minutes and the Wizards forced him into shooting under 50 percent. But when the Kings needed a big bucket, they went straight to him.