The Washington Wizards easily defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves, 114-101, in a lopsided game that Washington controlled from beginning to end. John Wall looked like a future franchise player, Bradley Beal made it rain from the outside, Nene was excellent and pretty much everyone other than Trevor Booker had a great game. Minnesota, hobbled by injuries and without Coach Rick Adelman, never seemed to be able to find a rhythm and the team's weak frontcourt made each Wizard's life a lot easier than normal.
We'll have more on tonight's win later. In the meantime, here are notes on tonight's game.
- John Wall finally returned to the starting lineup tonight and looked good early on. He was very tenacious guarding Rubio and did a good job of using his length to bother him, although there were a couple of mental lapses. All in all the starters looked good and jumped out to a 17-9 lead by the time of the first timeout.
- Nene was guarding Derrick Williams early on while Webster checked Kirilenko. Why they would have a big man with knee and foot problems guard a combo forward with ball skills and an outside shot is beyond me.
- Vesely had a nice alley oop off a Webster pass shortly after checking in. He also had an assist to Seraphin that may or may not have been intentional.
- Washington was up 29-25 at the end of the first quarter. The Wizards jumped out to a big lead early on, but once Nene went out and especially once Seraphin came in, the team just fell apart and Minnesota got back in the game. Williams and Ridnour looked like the best players on the Wolves, although Williams' nine first quarter field goal attempts were probably a bit more than he should be taking.
- Seraphin and Vesely were both getting easy shots around the basket early on in the second quarter. You know your team needs a rim protector when you give up six points in seven minutes to Jan Vesely.
- JJ Barea and Rubio led the Wolves' second quarter offense. Crawford in particular did a poor job of keeping track of his man in transition.
- Wall was aggressive all throughout the first half, getting to the line and driving and dishing. While his aggressiveness is good, he needs to play more under control. There was one particular instance in the second quarter in which he beat Rubio up the floor and, rather than pass out to a shooter in the corner, went all the way to the rim, tried to dump the ball off to a big in traffic, and committed a turnover.
- Rubio just looks bad this year. He had no lift or burst tonight and Wall repeatedly smoked him. Rubio was also careless with the ball at times and would commit far fewer turnovers if he tried to make more easy plays.
- 60-46 Washington at halftime. Wall, Nene and Beal were all good in their own way for Washington, while Ridnour appeared to be the best player on the Timberwolves. Kirilenko was very quiet, too, and only had 6 points and 3 rebounds in his 17 first half minutes.
- Wall went Super Sayan in the third quarter and took over the game early on. You might not be able to tell by the boxscore, but he's passing very well from the top of the key, is hitting jumpers and is getting to the basket at will when the Wizards' offense breaks down.
- Remember how the Wizards came into the game with the NBA's worst offense? Well, Beal's three put Washington up 87-66 with about three minutes left in the third quarter. Beal's the high scorer with 16 points and I can't recall a single instance in which he stopped the ball or over-dribbled. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if he can become a 20+ point scorer without really needing to dribble, he's going to mesh perfectly with Wall.
- Once Wall came out Washington started getting sloppy. They didn't blow the lead or even lose that much ground, but it's still really annoying to see a team with their record play this lackadaisical.
- The fourth quarter started out much as you'd expect, with a lineup of Price, Ariza, Booker, Crawford and Seraphin playing Minnesota to a standstill. There was a lot of ugly basketball played by both teams. Fortunately, Seraphin feasted on post ups against Johnson and was left in the game despite committing his fifth foul relatively early in the quarter.