The ball is moving and the Washington Wizards are headed in the right direction. On the strength of a season-high 32 assists that produced a season high in points, the Wizards defeated the Orlando Magic 120-91 for their third straight win.
Here is today’s Wizards Report:
“That was as good of basketball as obviously we’ve played all year round, all around—defensively, offensively. Offensively, as I told them, that was a beautiful thing tonight, to watch that. With ball movement, you could just see everybody feed off of it. The ball is moving, everybody’s touching it, whether you get the shot or not, you’re involved.”
With true point guards John Wall and A.J. Price back from injuries the Wizards are more suited to being able to play an up-tempo style of basketball. Price had a season-high 18 points to go with 6 assists and Wallhad 12 points and 6 assists. The Wizards had a 29-4 advantage in fast-break points.
More on the break in this Born to Run feature:
(produced by Wizards’ radio host Ben Raby)
“(Wall) gives us that extra gear. And now, guys have to run harder. You see bigs running harder because they know if they get to the rim, they’re going to receive a pass. I’m a firm believer, it doesn’t matter what level of basketball. You can go down to pee wee, high school and college—guard play is important. If you get good guard play, you have a chance to win games. John coming back helps that obviously.”
The change in the Wizards offense has been dramatic. On the season the Wizards are averaging 90 points per-game, but have scored over 100 points in two of their last three games. Against the Magic, the Wizards shot over 50 percent (56.1%) from the field for the first time this season.
While the Magic closed the first half on a 13-0 run in the final 1:34, the Wizards did not suffer one of those extended offensive droughts that have plagued the team in games all season. The Wizards lowest point total by quarter was in the fourth when they scored 24 points. The Wizards opened the game with 28 points in the first quarter and then had 31 points in the second and 37 points in the third quarter.
Emeka Okafor led six Wizards’ players in double figures with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Over his last twelve games Okafor has averaged 10.7 points and 10.8 rebounds.
Okafor court side:
Perhaps the player to benefit the most from Wall and Price’s return has beenJan Vesely. Last night Vesely produced 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Magic head coach Jaque Vaughn on the Wizards:
“They did a good job of responding and pushing it to 10 really quickly in the game which made it an uphill battle for us. We just needed better transition. We talked about it before the game and just what John Wall does and how he creates a tempo that everyone feeds off of. I think at half it was 19-1 transition points, which is tough to overcome. In the paint they were able to get some touches in the paint and at the free throw line they were able to get double-digit points around 15 by half time. In between free throws and transition points, which are what we call easy buckets, and they had a lot of easy buckets.”
The Wizards finished 21 of 25 at the free throw line and were 15 of 15 in free throws at halftime.
Garrett Temple with Glenn Consor: