John Wall had a game-high 30 points and nine assists. Markieff Morris scored 20 points and added seven rebounds off the bench. And Bradley Beal scored 22 points as the Washington Wizards bounced back from back-to-back road losses to down the Brooklyn Nets 102-88 Saturday night.
Both the Wizards and Nets were playing on the back end of a back-to-back, losing the night before. Here’s five takeaways from the Wizards’ win.
1. John Wall Bounces Back with Dominant All-Around Game
A night after Wall vented against the NBA referees saying he has “no respect” for the men in stripe, the Wizards star guard bounced back with a great performance against the Nets. He shot 50 percent from the field, making 12-of-24 shots, and draining three treys on six attempts. And he did it while only committing two turnovers and a plus-14 rating.
Wall also went on a mini-shooting spree, draining a pair of 27-foot threes in back-to-back possessions to push him to 30 points. A third consecutive attempt missed it’s target before Scott Brooks was able to pull the starters.
Maybe Wall needs to be upset at officials more often. For those keeping count, Wall had five three throw attempts. Only Beal had more attempts than anyone else in the game.
2. Markieff Morris Dominates the Fourth Quarter
Markieff Morris has been sensational ever since being moved from the starting lineup to the bench and becoming the Wizards’ sixth man. Against the Nets, Morris had 20 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes, shooting 9-of-12 from the field and draining a pair of threes.
Morris ability to fit in at the small ball center position has been imperative to Washington’s slow turnaround. He has the ability and range to draw opposing fives out of the paint, creating more space for guards Wall, Beal, and Austin Rivers to attack the lane. Morris also has enough strength to be physical with both bigger and small framed fives in the post.
Keeping him fresh mixed the reserves always him to be effective most in the fourth quarter as he was Saturday, scoring 15 points in the fourth. For a stretch, Morris scored on four consecutive possessions with every made shot being assisted by Wall.
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Their two-man action on the weak side of the set was just too much for the Nets. Wall found Morris on a pair of back downs. Then a pick and pop for a three, and a alley hoop where Wall perfectly placed the lob at the rim for Morris to tip in, extending the Wizards lead from 10 to 18 points in the process.
3. Best Defensive Performance of the Season
The Wizards entered Saturday with the NBA’s worst defense allowing over 118 points per game. However, with an added effort, Washington had their best defensive performance of the season, allowing a season-low 88 points.
The 37 percent the Nets shot from the field was also a season-low for the Wizards to allow. Washington did a great job guarding the perimeter. As a result, they held the Nets starting backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie to collective 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting, including 1-of-8 from three. The Wizards’ starting backcourt had a combined 52 points on 20-of-41 shooting. Credit Wall and Beal and the athleticism of Morris and Otto Porter on switches.
The Wizards did a good job with help side defense and not allowing the guards ability to penetrate from the perimeter even when Washington’s bigs were caught in switches. Now certainly Brooklyn is struggling just as much as the Wizards are, but the effort Washington gave throughout the game and rewinding back to the way they defended in overtime against Houston shows just how good their defense can be. Consistency is the key and hopefully Saturday’s glimpse can light a spark?
4. Fourth Straight Home Win
For all the struggles Washington has had, they are showing small glimpses of no panic. Saturday’s win was their fourth straight at Capital One Arena. They are now 7-5 on the season at home. Protecting home court is a start of hopefully turning things around.
Three of those wins coming over Western Conference foes, the Los Angeles Clippers, who have the best record in the West, Houston, and New Orleans. During the same stretch, the Wizards have lost three straight on the road. But, first things first, getting the home wins.
However, the Wizards are about to embark on a four-game road trip starting against the New York Knicks on Monday.
5. Jeff Green Did Not Play Forcing More Lineup Adjustments
The Wizards were without Jeff Green who sat out the game with a back injury. Otto Porter returned after missing one game due to personal matters. Porter went back into the starting lineup, and with Morris still relegated to the bench, head coach Scott Brooks opted to start Tomas Satoransky in Green’s place.
Satoransky played 26 minutes scoring seven points and dishing out three assists and a plus-nine rating. His effectiveness is altered when playing with Wall, who dominates the ball mixed with Satoransky’s lack of shooting aggression. However, he played strong minutes staggered around Wall.
Thomas Bryant got another start at center, scoring two points on a dunk off a beautiful feed from Satoransky. Bryant also added seven rebounds and a steal in 19 minutes.
In crunch time, Brooks opted to go with Rivers with Wall, Morris, Beal, and Porter.
Individually the Wizards have a deep roster, however, one of the many hiccups to their season has been how well those pieces jell together. Saturday seemed like all the right buttons were hit.