Trevor Ariza had the first quarter of a lifetime, John Wall racked up assists like a madman and the Wizards properly disposed of a struggling 76ers team on Saturday night, 122-103. On a night when Philly celebrated its best player in recent memory, Allen Iverson, fans were treated with a reminder of how miserable their current outfit is.
Seriously, go look at what happened to the Sixers in February. They're a mess. They might not win again this season.
Still, there was a lot to like from the Wizards' perspective tonight. The 76ers might be the worst team in the league after deadline deals stripped away an already weak roster, but Washington hasn't always beat up on bad teams this season. Saturday finally gave us a chance to watch the Wizards handle a much worse opponent, mostly without issue.
Washington had control of this game right from the beginning, grabbing an early double-digit lead thanks to Ariza's red-hot shooting. The Wizards eventually led 41-28 after the first quarter and sustained a 74-62 lead into halftime. Those 74 points represent the team's highest scoring first half of the season thus far, topping the 69 put on Miami in January.
Ariza was simply incredible in this one. While we all gush about the small forward's defensive ability, improved shooting has been similarly important to his D.C. resurgence. He put that all on display Saturday, shooting 14-of-23 overall and 8-of-12 from beyond the arc en route to a career-high 40 points. By halftime, Ariza already had six three-pointers and 24 points.
The offensive onslaught slowed a bit in the second half, but the Wizards still finished the game shooting 51 percent overall and 46 percent from beyond the arc.
Wall's passing was a central part of the offensive outburst. We haven't mentioned him much in this recap yet -- a tad rare for the Wizards' franchise player -- but he certainly wasn't quiet. Wall recorded 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting and 16 assists, tying a season-high.
There is more one thing worth mentioning from this game, though, and that's the stunning appearance of a wild Otto Porter. The No. 3 pick in the 2013 draft ACTUALLY PLAYED on Saturday, making this something of a modern miracle. The Otto situation might more nuanced than it seems, but facing arguably the worst team in recent NBA history, this was pretty much the perfect confluence of factors to get Porter on the court.
He even hit a basket, too, finishing the game with two points, one assist and one rebound in four minutes. That's right: OTTO SCORED A BUCKET (look at that young man go!).
All in all, a net positive and an easy win for the Wizards on Saturday night. The win streak extends to six games and Washington is now 31-28 this season.
(p.s. props to Philadelphia for a proper ceremony honoring AI. He's one of the game's all-time greats and a defining figure in recent hoops history. He deserves to be appreciated the way he was Saturday night.)