The Washington Wizards redeemed themselves from a loss last night against the Miami Heat with their first win of the 2014-15 season over the Orlando Magic, 105-98. Washington started the game off strong with a 28 point first quarter.
Garrett Temple scored 10 points in the first and Wall had six assists early. The Wizards rode that momentum to build a 17 point lead against Orlando late in the third quarter. However, Orlando came roaring back with a 27-14 run in the fourth quarter and pulled within three.
Yet Washington managed to narrowly escape with a win after leaning on the shoulders of Paul Pierce late in the game matched against Ben Gordon. Here are three things we learned from tonight's game.
1. John Wall is good at basketball
After an up-and-down outing against the Miami Heat, Wall bounced back hard against the Orlando Magic. Wall finished the game with 30 points, 12 assists, five rebounds, two steals and two turnovers. Wall took nine trips to the free throw line and came away with eight points.
Wall has dished out 23 assists in his last two games and is shooting 48 percent from the field. It's a small sample, obviously, but those are things you can really get excited about early.
2. Washington's defense needs work
The Wizards, in the past, have relied on defense to win them games. Over the last two seasons the Wizards have been in the top 10 in defensive efficiency. Over the last two games, though, Washington have allowed the Heat and the Magic to shoot a combined 49.6 percent from the field.
Evan Fournier and Ben Gordon combined for 43 points against the Wizards and shot 5-of-9 from deep. That is unacceptable for a team trying to be one of the top defenses in the league. Fortunately, Washington has started slow on that end before in the last two seasons and have bounced back. Lets hop they can do it again.
3. You can't handle The Truth
When Washington signed Paul Pierce, they knew what he was bringing to the table. He isn't the same corner three point specialist that Trevor Ariza is, but he's a versatile forward that can score from long range, in the lane or on the block.He's always been great from the mid-block area and the Wizards used that to their advantage tonight.
Pierce absolutely abused Ben Gordon in the post in the waning moments of the fourth quarter. He went 2-of-4 in the last three minutes of the game and scored four points, but those points prevented Orlando from taking the lead when Washington couldn't get stops.He's going to be essential for the Wizards down the stretch of the season. We've seen him close out lots of teams in the past, but it's refreshing to see him doing it for the good guys now.