"It wasn't pretty, but we'll take it."
We've heard Randy Wittman say phrases of this ilk a lot this season, and we'll probably hear it again after this one. The Wizards once again showed an alarming propensity to turn the ball over on the road, but they were good enough everywhere else to come up with a 88-79 win over the Phoenix Sun, their first road victory in nearly a month.
You can thank Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Ariza for this win. The two players keyed a 21-2 run during the second quarter, which proved to be the difference in the game. Seraphin was moving confidently and making great decisions out of double teams on the inside, while Ariza caught Martell Websteritis from behind the arc and confidently canned shots from the wings. While neither player did much in the second half, their first-half performance was good enough to give Washington a 14-point halftime lead that proved to be decisive.
Why? The Suns chipped into that margin in the third quarter, then turned it on in the fourth. The lead fell to nine after three, then tumbled to as little as three after the Wizards started turning the ball over like they did against Charlotte. Garrett Temple and Bradley Beal made some really bad decisions with the ball, the latter of which led to the turnover that caused Beal to reaggravate his left ankle injury.
Luckily, John Wall was there to save the day. Quiet for most of the game, Wall came alive when his team needed him most, canning two difficult jumpers, getting a critical steal and driving and dishing to Nene to lead to two free throws. His second jumper pushed the Wizards' lead back to 10 and killed Phoenix's momentum.
The Suns responded again, scoring the next five points to cut the Wizards' lead to seven, but the Wizards responded again. Martell Webster, who was not nearly as prolific as he was the last time these two teams played, nailed a corner jumper while falling out of bounds to push the lead to seven. The Wizards then had a fantastic defensive possession that forced a shot-clock violation, and Nene canned a jumper on the other end to increase the lead to nine. Phoenix got no closer than seven the rest of the way, and the game unofficially ended when Wall hit a beautiful 16-foot fadeaway on the left baseline while eluding Jermaine O'Neal.
There are plenty of things to quibble about, but this team is in no position to complain about road wins. Hopefully, Beal is OK.