On a night where the Wizards were finally able to pull off a very gritty win against the 76ers last night, all was out-shadowed by the thump heard around the world. That thump was the Wizards' star rookie Bradley Beal hitting the ground.
Beal had already aggravated his wrist earlier in the first quarter and was seen favoring it for a while, but eventually got back into the swing of things. But just as the game was coming down to the finish, Beal went down very awkwardly on his right leg on the Philly side of the floor. As soon as he hit the floor, it was very evident that something was VERY wrong. As he laid on his stomach pounding the floor with his fist repeatedly, you knew he wasn't getting up anytime soon. The entire life had been sucked out of the arena to the point you could literally hear Phil and Steve talking on the other side of the arena. It only looked worse as Beal was rolled onto his back and then picked up and carried off by Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton to the locker room.
The worst was feared.
But for now, the worst seems to have been avoided. Wittman stated post game that the doctors told him that it was a straight ankle sprain and that nothing else seemed to be out of the ordinary. But with Beal out, the attention gravitated towards John Wall, who found himself with the ball in his hands in the final seconds of the game with a chance to increase the Wizards' one point lead.
Wall mentioned post-game that he likes to have the ball in the final moments when the game is on the line, and he made sure to prove why he should be the one. As he dribbled down the shot clock, Wall finished the play by sinking a jump shot from just inside the arc. You know, that jump shot that he's been criticized for all his young career. On the night that his number was called, Wall answered with confidence. And to make things better, he did it all in front of David Falk, who was sitting a couple of rows back.
Wall ended up with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting on the night. The Wizards' rebounding also played a major part in this tough win against a defensively tough Philly squad. Emeka grabbed seven alone in the first quarter and 16 overall to go with his 12 points. Nene added to the effort with nine boards and Ariza snatched up eight, as well.
It's still yet to be seen how long Beal will be out, if at all, but it is worth noting that he did walk himself to the showers last night after the game. But with a couple of days off, fans should hope that Beal can walk himself onto the plane to Minnesota Wednesday morning as the Wizards go on a quick two-game road trip.
Emeka Okafor: Emeka has got to the point with the Wizards that I can say that as a fan, I’d appreciate seeing him on this team next year. I can’t believe that I’m saying that after all the slander I induced on him in the first month or two of the season.
He amounted seven rebounds in the first quarter alone, and finished the night with his millionth double-double, grabbing 16 rebounds and 12 points to go with it. He was a big part of keeping plays alive tonight, finding ways to tip the ball back out to the backcourt if he couldn’t pull the rebound down, himself.
Jrue Holiday: Holiday was not much of an impact on tonight’s game, mostly due to his horrendous shooting, going 4-for-19 on the night. He did manage to get some crucial buckets for the 76ers in the fourth quarter, but his otherwise dismal effort was a big reason the Wizards were able to pull this out. He finished with 14 points, six assists and three boards.
John Wall: Wall ended up with 16 points, six assists and four boards tonight. But most importantly, he seems to be getting the jumper down a little bit better. Other than an ill-advised three pointer in the fourth quarter, he was sinking a few of his jumpers, most importantly the late one to put the Wizards up by three with 4.4 seconds to play. He still seems to be trying to do too much on the fastbreak, often going for a contested shot rather than pulling it back and finding a better, more open look or the dish to someone else. With the way he’s been struggling, however, it’s nice to see him pull out a night like this.
Team Play: One of the big reasons for tonight’s win was the fact that this was truly a team effort. All starters ended up with double figures in points and the team had 23 assists on 34 baskets. This is something that Randy Wittman had hammered on after the Pistons game and it seems like the Wizards have started to respond.
There was a lot less selfish play. Instead, the team seemed focused on finding the open man for the bucket and making more passes than taking shots.
Jan Vesely: It’s been a while since he’s been any feature in the post-game recap; mostly because he hasn’t played since February 8th. But tonight, Wittman pulled Vesely out of the doghouse in order to give Nene some breathers. It was the same ol’ same ol’ with Vesely, though.
Vesely went minus-7 in his first 90 seconds of play in the first quarter and was getting outrebounded and outhustled on every single play. He still looks absolutely clueless on the floor. He does not have any kind of spacing or awareness on the court. There’s really not much else to say about him that I haven’t already said. He’s showing very little to no improvement in any aspect of his game.
I will give him this though; he had a few decent plays tonight to sprinkle over the plethora of rotten meat he provided otherwise. He scored a decent bucket in the first, then sprinted to the other end to draw a charge (which led to a technical from Doug Collins), and in the third, he managed to pull off a layup from a lob from Wall. Poppa Honza will be happy to see that, at least. But this all means it’s more support for Wittman to use him more.
Randy Wittman: Wittman’s rotations in not only this game, but the entire season, have been headscratching to say the least.
In the first quarter, he pulled Nene (who was +8 in seven minutes) and put Vesely in (who went -7 in his first 90 seconds). Even with Price struggling, Wittman decided to leave him in for most of the second quarter. And it all culminated in the first half with Cartier Martin set to check in with just over 30 seconds, but then the referees determined it was too late. Instead of putting him in after the timeout ten seconds later, he left him on the bench. Now I’m not and have never been a coach, but it feels like Wittman is just pulling names out of a hat when it comes to his rotation. He’s been highly criticized for this all season, but in what world does Jan Vesely in the first quarter help anyone’s cause?