WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards have a winning streak! The Washington Wizards have a winning streak!
The 120-91 victory over the Orlando Magic was easily the most satisfying win of the season. The Wizards actually got out in transition, pushing all five guys forward whenver the Magic even missed a shot. John Wall was mostly excellent in his limited minutes, save for a rough stretch at the end of the second quarter, but the majority of the running was done with A.J. Price at point guard. You see what happens when the point guard pushes the ball, the wings run the lane and the bigs dive to the rim? You get what you just saw. Suddenly, Jan Vesely looks like a real player, and so much more happens.
Sure, Orlando's transition defense stunk, but that's a formula that can be replicated. The Wizards have played pretty good defense all year, but haven't capitalized in the open floor. Given their half-court limitations, that's what they have to do. Keep up this kind of running, and it's possible.
The game notes:
- Thought it was interesting to see Martell Webster begin the game on Arron Afflalo rather than Bradley Beal. Beal started on DeQuan Jones. I guess the idea is that Beal wouldn't grow tired trying to chase Afflalo around a maze of screens.
- There aren't too many people that Emeka Okafor can score on in the post. Andrew Nicholson is one of those people.
- I didn't really like the way A.J. Price pressured Jameer Nelson on ball screens. He was very slow to recover one time, and Emeka Okafor had to pop out and hold off Nelson's drive far longer than he should have. That caused Okafor's man, Nicholson, to beat him for offensive rebound position.
- Great aggression from Beal early, but we've become accustomed to that now. His floater in the lane was excellent, as was his running up the right wing for two free throws. Beal wouldn't have made those aggressive pushes to the basket a month ago.
- The Wizards' work on the secondary break continues to be solid. Nene got a couple post-ups early in the shot clock by fighting for position and giving his guards a nice passing lane.
- The only way you can get away with starting two centers is if you pound the smaller 4 man on the glass. Okafor did that to Nicholson throughout that first quarter.
- That was not the most encouraging John Wall drive on his first possession. He got his shoulders by Jameer Nelson, but couldn't explode to the rim and had to pass it off.
- I like the way Wall is now jumping around to ice pick and rolls. We really didn't see a lot of that in his first two years.
- John Wall in the post? John Wall in the post.
- Kevin Seraphin has to avoid the temptation to shoot every mid-range jumper. There was one play where Wall tried one of his patented one-on-four fast breaks and threw it out to Seraphin when he got in trouble. Instead of resetting the offense, Seraphin launched a mid-range jumper with no rebounders underneath. Why is he taking that shot?
- When Jan Vesely learns to anticipate moves rather than reacting to them, he'll stop fouling. Until then, he'll foul, foul away.
- It never ceases to amaze me how Wall finds the man in the weakside corner driving left. How can people say his court vision is below average?
- Good things happen when the Wizards pitch it ahead. Good things happen when the Wizards pitch it ahead. Good things happen when the Wizards pitch it ahead. Good things happen when you pitch it ahead.
- The Wizards' rotations: on point. Also, look what happens when Vesely contests without fouling!
- How about those rim runs!
- In all seriousness, this is why you have to all be committed to running. The big man can run, but if the point guard doesn't push the ball, it's all for naught. Similarly, the point guard can push the ball, but if the bigs and wings don't run, then it's also all for naught. The Wizards had all five guys running on each of their second-quarter fast-break points, and it paid off.
- I was about to say that Ariza-to-Beal pass was a bad one, but wow. Guess not.
- Ariza really played well defensively and running the break. If there was a way to track the number of times a wing fills the lane without getting the ball, that'd be the way to measure Ariza's value. If he has more of those than actual shot attempts, he's had a successful game.
- Wall's jump shot still looks a bit stiff. He still seems to search for it rather than taking it organically within the flow of a possession.
- Oooof Wall is rusty. It was not smart for him to try to walk the dog at the end of the half, of course, but his defense slipped in his second stint and his timing looked all off offensively.
- You could see the Nicholson slam coming from a mile away. Okafor jumped way out to overplay the pick and roll, but instead of going back when Nelson held the ball, he stayed there, letting Nikola Vucevic slip the screen. Vucevic caught the pass and found Nicholson cutting from the baseline. Poor recognition from Okafor, who otherwise had been solid.
- The decision to have Webster check Afflalo worked out well. More size helped counteract all of Afflalo's herky-jerky fakes. Afflalo had zero first-half points and didn't score until an inbounds pass later in the third quarter.
- I'd like to see more dribble handoffs with Beal. He played hide and seek really nicely on one to get Price an open three.
- Okafor hedged out too high on a couple pick and rolls, which cost the Wizards. He needs to do a better job of recovering when he goes to trap the ball-handler. It cost Washington on a couple of plays.
- Seraphin did it too and it led to a dunk. The Magic clearly made an adjustment with how they want to attack those plays.
- Wall's first jumper in the third quarter was much more fluid. Like how he released it at the highest point.
- Fun to see Beal throw it down with two hands.
- Well, I think Wall got revenge on Ish Smith for this. Wow.
- Pretty amazing that the Wizards scored 96 points in the third quarter when they average 95.7 per 100 possessions this year. That's the value of running.
- Oh man, drag screens in transition leading to alley-oops for Vesely. This is an incredibly exciting development.
- I ignored most of the fourth quarter, not going to lie. Great, great win.