The Wizards won on the road! The Wizards won on the road!
In what seemed like a repeat of the same script we've been seeing all season, the Wizards started off slow tonight and clawed their way back in the third quarter. However, tonight's game featured a surprise twist: their comeback turned into a win! This game was by no means a barnburner, but there's no doubt in my mind that a comeback win--and especially a comeback win on the road--means a lot to the confidence of this team.
It was the Wizards first game without point guard A.J. Price, after Price suffered a fracture in his right hand on Saturday against the Warriors. Jordan Crawford stepped in the starting PG role, and even with a slow start, the team benefitted from his--dare I say?--floor leadership.
Lots of notes from the game tonight, but I'll save the parts that stood out for the end:
- Another day, another new starting lineup. With AJ Price out for the next month with a broken hand, Randy Wittman inserted Jordan Crawford in the lineup tonight as the starting point guard. Beal, Webster, Singleton, and Okafor round out the rest of the lineup.
- Thinking about this game, I remember last time the Wizards were in NOLA, the team traded Nick Young and JaVale McGee for Nene and Brian Cook. They won that night, and the post-game quotes were something to the extent of "we wish them well, but this team is a lot less silly, and that'll be a good thing."
- Well this game started off super exciting, with neither team scoring until about 2 minutes into the game. And no, it wasn't good defense at play.
- Five minutes into the first, and the score is 6-2? I would like a pelican to swoop in and swallow them all.
- Around the four-minute mark of the first: Watching Nene guard Anthony Davis was kind of awesome. I can't quite describe it, but everything seemed to slow down and fade away around the two of them. Davis shot one hell of an almost-made-it jumper over Nene. And Nene bit hard on his pump fake. With a game that netted 33 combined points in the first quarter, it was nice to see some actual basketball happen during those 12 minutes.
- At some point, it needs to be universally acknowledged by the team and vocalized by Randy Wittman that Jordan Crawford is the number one offensive option on the team. I know that the premise sounds crazy, but teams need a pecking order. That's not just a basketball or sports necessity: think of all the times you worked on a group project at work or school and no one was assigned or assigned him/herself to be the leader. Nothing really gets done, as humans tend to kind of defer to the group. This is especially evident on the Wizards because of 1) No John Wall and 2) the older players on the team aren't necessarily the "veteran leaders" that would normally take on a leadership role. They were brought in to be role players, and that's all they are. At any rate, Crawford has stepped up on many nights and established himself as the leader. He's currently the lead scorer (14.2 ppg ain't pretty, but he's at the top), and it's time he went from de facto #1 option to actual #1 option. At least until Wall gets back and turns Beal into the star we're waiting for. This concludes your random "Jordan Crawford should be the #1 option" interlude.
- VESELY LIVES! And is getting schooled by Ryan Anderson. Just send him to the D-League to let him get some reps, guys. Come on.
- Looks like Beal is still sporting that confidence he re-found in the second half of the Warriors game on Saturday. It's good to see him remaining aggressive.
- 2 minutes to go in the half and the Wizards are 8-35 on Field Goals. Score is 28-41 Hornets. BARF.
- Thank God for Bradley Beal's ability to be a one-man fast break. Without him, this team would have approximately -90825 points in transition this season.
- Strong finish to the half by the Wiz (punctuated by Beal's fast break dunk). They cut the lead to 6. 36-42 Pelicans at the half.
- 5:40 in the 3rd quarter, Beal gets a strong rebound and passes it about halfway down the court to Chris Singleton. Two things came to mind: hell of a show of strength and aggressiveness from Beal, and DID A GATOR JUST PASS TO A 'NOLE???
- Davis blows an alley-oop, so Beal decides to nail a tough drive-and-1 on the other end.
- The Wizards went on a 11-1 run in the last 4:30 of the 3rd quarter to tie it at 56. Then the Hornets score the last 4 points of the quarter to make it 60-56. This game is not exactly a barn burner, but it's great to see the Wiz still hanging in there.
- Also, I'm pretty sure EVERY game the Wiz get down by 10 points, they climb back into the game in the 2nd half of the 3rd quarter. Every time. It's so bizarre. I mean, it's great to see them stage these comebacks that sometimes turn into wins (most of the time they don't), but there's something about the lineup on the floor of the 2nd half of the third quarter that gets defensive stops game in and game out. This lineup usually includes Singleton, Seraphin, and Crawford (and recently Nene). I haven't been able to nail down a set pattern yet, but that comeback has been a familiar look this season.
- 9:06 left in the 4th quarter: WIZARDS TAKE THE LEAD. WIZARDS TAKE THE LEAD. 63-62. DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.
- First fast break I've seen this year by Livingston, and he didn't connect. Whomp whomp.
- ROGER MASON JR REVENGE THREE POINTER. NOLA retakes the lead with 7:30 to go: 65-63.
- EMEKA OKAFOR REVENGE HOOK LAY-IN. Wiz tie it at 65 with 6:30 to go.
- With 4:30 to go, Beal's got 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 TO.
- Crawford nails a 3, then the next possession, he gets a 3-point play. Wiz take a 6 point lead. WHAT?
- Nene starting to get back in rhythm, even in limited minutes. 10 rebounds tonight. Oh, and 10 points. A double-double? I like that.
- Crawford's got 22-5-4 and a block.
- So you know that Anthony Davis fella? He's pretty damn good. Scared the dickens out of the Wizards down the stretch by taking over on both ends of the floor.
- Chenier and Buchantz are commenting on Ryan Anderson's absence at end of the game. Well he was around, but he missed basically every shot after the first quarter. No way the Wiz would've pulled this game out if he stayed hot. Credit the front court defense. Credit a cold hand. Whatever it was, it was needed for the Wiz to win.
- So this game is ending with a double technical on Greivis Vasquez and Nene. Then there was a 5-second violation on Austin Rivers. Such a weird end to the game.
- Remember that thing I wrote at the top about how Crawford needs to be the #1 option? He had 26 points tonight. Maybe my interlude actually happened.
- FIRST ROAD WIN! FIRST ROAD WIN!
Jordan Crawford: Is "a man possessed" too strong of a modifier for him? I mean, 26 points was huge tonight. I mean, forget that it was on an uber-inefficient 24 shots. This team needs someone to take on the primary scoring load. And if it's Jordan Crawford for now, then so be it. Just peg someone (see interlude above for more detail).
Nene: Very pleased to see him back in good form. He played a total of 20 minutes tonight, and he got a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds). Great seeing him out there, especially squaring off against Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis. Nene's return to the court makes me that much more excited for Wall's return.
Bradley Beal: 15 points on 12 shots? Sure, I'll take it. Why not? He had 7 rebounds and 4 assists, too. Most of all, he had the same confidence he showed in the Warriors game. This team needs that from him every night.
Jan Vesely: He played tonight! But probably because everyone on NOLA is as lanky as he is. He only played four minutes, and he was taken to school by Ryan Anderson. It's safe to say he's still at the end (or out of) the rotation. I'm just surprised he's not going to the D-League to get some reps. He's not going to get any better rotting at the end of the bench.