The Wizards have been looking for their first signature win. Despite their strong record, they just haven't beaten a team that's expected to a major part of the conference championship picture... until now.
Washington had a big 91-78 over the new-look arch-rival Cleveland Cavaliers who have LeBron James back.
John Wall scored 17 of his 28 points in the third quarter, including a run where he made three straight pull-up jump shots to help get the Wizards extend their lead to 16, 72-56. In the fourth quarter, the offense stalled, horribly. Despite the fact that the Wizards couldn't score a bucket in the quarter which seemed like FOREVER, the Cavs couldn't do it either thanks to Washington's stifling defense:
Been stuck on 86-75 for a while.— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) November 22, 2014
To be exact, the score was 86-75 from 6:19 until 2:16 left in the game. If you were half-expecting the Wizards to allow the Cavs to make this game even more interesting, remember that we are now in a new era of Washington basketball. Bradley Beal made a corner three with 1:25 left to ice the game.
Let's get to some things we learned:
1. John Wall can REALLY take over games.
The franchise guard is not a sharp shooter like Stephen Curry. But after the Wizards allowed the Cavaliers to get back into the game early in the third quarter, when an early 55-42 halftime lead turned into a much closer 60-53 game soon after some missed shots and two quick turnovers. However, Wall scored 17 points in the third quarter, while shooting 7-of-9 from the field, including a time when he made three consecutive pull up jump shots to give the Wizards their first 16-point lead of the night.
This reminds me of his performance in overtime against the Indiana Pacers earlier this month. Now that Wall is becoming a more reliable pull-up shooter, this is going to make him near-unstoppable against opposing defenses.
2. The Wizards offense can be outstanding when the ball is moving.
Despite the cold stretch in the fourth quarter, I felt that the Wizards had a solid game offensively, especially with ball movement. They dished 24 assists, 15 of them in the first half, while the Cavaliers only had 13 assists, and 5 during those first 24 minutes. Those early passes were a big factor as to why they were ahead most of this game.
3. The Wizards showed just how deep their bench is.
The Wizards won the bench scoring battle, 40-9, and had a 28-0 advantage in bench scoring at the half. Yes, Bradley Beal accounted for 12 of those 40 points. But Kevin Seraphin put out a strong performance where he scored another 12 points and his hook shot was on point. In addition, Seraphin was huge on the defensive end where he also blocked three shots.
Akbar questioned whether Seraphin should remain in the rotation despite his improvement. But performances like what we saw tonight will keep him earning consistent playing time over the course of this season.
This wasn't a perfect wire-to-wire win. But we're now 2-0 in national TV games, and we now have a signature win against the team that "experts" believed would be among the NBA's elite. And this is a team that is definitely one of our rivals.
Time for us to celebrate!