Saturday night couldn't have gone better for the Washington Wizards. Not only did Bradley Beal turn out to be fine, he started and was effective in his limited playing time, scoring 15 points in only 20 minutes. More importantly as far as the team's short-term prospects, they straight up massacred the Detroit Pistons, 106-82. Washington was ahead by ten or more for almost the entire game and saw their lead grow to as much as 28 throughout the course of the game. Because of how lopsided the game was, no one played more than 31 minutes and Nene was limited to 19.
Washington was just the better team tonight. Wall was dominant and none of the Piston guards could slow him down. Meanwhile, the wings got hot from deep early on and shot 47% from behind the arc for the night. What made this even more impressive is that the second unit played for almost the entire second half and saw hardly any open looks.
The Wizards are now 13-14 on the year and will next face the Pistons on Monday in Detroit. Below are my notes on the game.
- The Wizards did an excellent job of playing to their strengths in the first half. They played disciplined defense and held the Pistons to 41 points in the first half, frequently allowing Josh Smith to take outside jumpers or turn the ball over by driving into traffic. Washington's shot selection reflected how effective Wall was in the first half when he had 18 points and seven assists. Almost all of Washington's baskets were assisted on, with many coming in transition, from behind the arc or off of a post up in the half court. Ariza contributed a lot to the ball movement. He had five first half assists and almost all were a product of court vision and decisiveness rather than anything he was attempting to do off the dribble.
- A pair of Beal threes gave the Wizards a 19 point lead, 61-41, with 1:21 left in the first half. He played well tonight and it was easy to forget that earlier in the day there was a legitimate concern he'd blown out his knee. He only struggled when attempting to create shots in isolation, frequently pulling up for long twos despite being checked by much larger Detroit defenders.
- The bench looks so much better now that the team is more or less healthy. Booker has been good enough to hang with the starters lately and a bench unit led by Nene, Webster and Porter is so, so much better than what we were seeing only a month ago. Nene's presence has been key, with guys like Porter, Vesely and even Webster looking much better when the offense is running through him.
- Gortat was playing well before leaving with what looked like an ankle injury. Washington had a lot of success early on playing through him in the post. I was surprised that Drummond wasn't able to block his shot on a regular basis since he's notorious for being able to do this while guarding the post.
- Washington was much less focused in the third quarter and seemed to be toying with the Pistons. However, enough passes connected and shots fell for the Wizards to get away with it and the lead actually expanded. Detroit either gave up outright or was so mind-fudged by their first-half beating that they barely even looked like an NBA team during the quarter. Ariza and Beal were both hot from deeper, with the former scoring ten points in the quarter, and Washington lead by 24 at the end of the third.
- Porter didn't do much of note tonight. He saw some burn and made a few good defensive plays but failed to do much on offense apart from a transition dunk that wound up being waived off due to a Gortat foul. He's far faster with the ball than he seemed to be coming out of college. He's still struggling to get anything going in the half court so focusing more on scoring in transition might do him well.