The Wizards have been slapped around by the Philadelphia 76ers this season, as they’ve been beat by 31, 13 and then 20 points so far.
Well, last night, the Wizards decided that enough was enough and that it was time to punch them back.
After a slow start to the game in the first quarter, the Wizards saw Trevor Booker go to the locker room in some visible pain, and one might believe it could have been all over from there.
But alas, the Wizards stated capitalizing off of Philly’s five turnovers and succeeding on the fast break, which ultimately led to the Wizards holding an eight-point lead by the end of the first quarter and a field goal percentage of 50%.
A key to holding Philly to only 15 points in the first quarter was ultimately the big-man pairing of both Kevin Seraphin and Nene in the lineup to provide that spark on the boards as well as a menacing presence in the post.
Nene continued his onslaught in the second half as he seemed red-hot, sinking 17-foot jumpers and scoring 10 of the Wizards’ first 12 second-half points, but was ultimately taken out in the fourth quarter after he ironically suffered the same injury that Booker was listed as having earlier in the game.
By the time Nene was out, however, things were wrapping up in the Wizards’ favor as Jan Vesely, Cartier Martin and Seraphin held things down in the absence of the two big guys.
While Vesely only had six points, he really proved his worth as he played the clean-up man, grabbing 11 rebounds, four of which were offensive boards. It was really a career night for him as this was really one of his first chances to be out there for an extended period of time (29 minutes).
In his post-game press conference, Randy Wittman (as well as every other player) credited the second unit in the second quarter for a huge chunk of their win. Shelvin Mack, Vesely, and Martin really proved themselves worthy of being on this team in the second, and allowed the big men to get some rest since they were able to not only hold onto the eight-point lead from the first, but extend it to a nineteen-point lead.
While the Wizards had that nineteen-point lead at the half, everyone in the arena had an aura of doubt to them as the Wizards had blown five games straight, many off of having 20-point leads.
But the Wizards really stayed strong and answered every one of Philly’s runs in the second half by keeping the ball moving and capitalizing on every single turnover and missed shot.
The play of Cartier Martin was absolutely essential to this win as he had 20 points, 6 rebounds and went 4-7 from three-point land. The guy was lights out and proved that he was even better than the Cartier Martin that Wizards fans saw last year with the team.
The most amazing stat? In the +/- category, every player went for positive numbers, with Cartier Martin at +20 for the game.
In a truly positive outing for the Wizards (sans the two big injuries, both of which are still day-to-day), Wittman can be proud of his team as they finally found a way to keep up the intensity throughout the game and to be able to hold on to a precious lead.
While the upcoming games against Toronto and Milwaukee are important to the team, one has to think that this team has really got it sights set for Wednesday as they will have a chance to finally play this was against Indiana.
They have the necessary tools, so now’s the time to fight back.