The day began much to the anxiety of Wizards fans as their squad once again faced the daunting task of playing a basketball game away from home. A task that hasn’t resulted in much success. And while they have been winners of all but one of their last nine games in DC, it was about time the Wizards showed proof of their awesomeness to opposing fans, in opposing cities.
And they DID. And what a win it was for the Wizards. With plenty of offense and just enough defense, the Wizards overcame a slow start to both halves and once again persevered, making play after play to fend off the Bucks - IN Milwaukee - and earn a very rare road win, only their 4th of the season.
Go ahead and credit this win to Bradley Beal’s career night. DC’s #1 teen was prolific off the bench, scoring a career high 28 points in dazzling fashion, once again leaving fans and critics in fascination. I'll have more on him later.
The Wizards’ road victory extended their winning streak to four games now and the momentum swing might be at a season high. A team that has been hounded for their lack of success away from home defied those criticisms with a convincing victory that was driven by multiple factors. For one, let’s just say Beal wasn’t the only offensive machine last night. Nene was virtually unstoppable, especially in the final quarter, scoring seven points and grabbing six boards in the final eight minutes of the game. And he made Samuel Dalembert’s life absolutely miserable. Sam had no idea what to do with Nene, committing foul after foul and getting punished down low. He was eventually tossed after his sixth foul, five of which were drawn by Nene.
The concern this week had been how the Wizards can maintain their momentum going into the All-Star break while facing two road games. After last night’s win, there is some relief as the surging success at home will not be deemed a disservice.
Now it's time to wrap things up in Motown tomorrow night.
Folks, we have a bona fide superstar in the making here in DC, and his name is Bradley Beal. Just two games back from a wrist sprain that not only shelved him five games, but was noticeably bothersome for a few weeks, Beal was just magnificent against the Bucks. The few games he was absent had seemed like a lifetime and last night, Beal showed us why. Coming off the bench, he poured in 28 points and shot 4-5 from the 3-point line. While his offensive game was on par, Beal was also stout on defense, finishing with 2 blocks and 2 steals. Every game is progression for this guy. So calm, so smooth, and oh so efficient. His stroke is money. His spacing and awareness on the floor is rare amongst his age group and the more Beal improves, the more excited WE get for what’s to come from this soon-to-be elite back court.
John Wall: Somewhere in the midst of Bradley Beal’s career night and Nene’s dominance of Samuel Dalembert, John Wall finished with a double-double and again was the conductor of an unselfish offense that ended up with all but 13 of their shots being assisted. Wall had 10 of them to go along with his 14 points. He has become a natural facilitator, displaying a lot more patience, waiting for plays to unfold, and allowing his teammates to get in orderly position before feeding them the rock. As long he manages to remain collective in the half court offense, combined with his electrifying playmaking abilities in transition and at the rim, the Wizards will always be in position to finish games on top.
Brandon Jennings: This might as well be part II of Wall’s spotlight. Jennings was a complete dud last night. While a number of his shots were fair looks but just misfired, credit Jennings’ bad outing to some good defense. Wall in particular defended Jennings pretty well and was a cause for his 3-17 shooting.
Let's just keep talking about the Wizards...
A road win. As mentioned earlier, the two formidable obstacles between the Wizards and momentum going into the All-Star break were two road games, and fortunately the Wizards broke through the first one. But besides the win, what’s not to like here? The Wizards are gradually becoming the feel-good story of the NBA with a newfound success that’s driven by young players evolving, veterans bestowing leadership and quite simply, they are a group that's gelling and playing team basketball. I always say 4-28 is just too deep of a hole to climb out of, but hey, if the Wizards continue to apply the same strategy and mindset, and the players continue to perform, there’s no telling where this success may lead them.
Martell Webster had an off night. His focus may have been derailed a bit early in the game after a clumsy turnover and two quick fouls, which lead him to the bench midway through the first quarter. For the game, Webster took only 4 shots, making just one of them for 2 points. No worries here, though. In fact, I’m sort of delighted that even a quiet night from Webster didn’t bar the Wizards from victory, considering the consistent high level of production he provides on a regular basis.
Gotta simmer down on the turnovers. A stretch in the fourth quarter featured a lot of unwanted #ThatsSoWizards moments, but luckily the Wizards were able to get away with a few of them, simply because the Bucks would reciprocate those mistakes. Matter of fact, this probably makes Milwaukee the feature for this segment. Yeah screw it, we’ll go with that instead.