Wow. I gotta say that the Wizards are showing a side of themselves that we haven't seen much out of past teams here in the Nation's Capital.
After a cold start where the Wizards fell behind by committing five turnovers in the first minutes (not to mention falling behind by 15 points during THE MIDDLE OF THE SECOND QUARTER), they roared back at the end of the first half and never looked back.
The end result is a 111-100 victory and a 9-3 record. Here are three things that we learned from this game.
1. Wall and Pierce come through when the going gets tough.
The Bucks, to their credit raced to a 15 point lead midway through the second quarter and threatened to make this game a blowout early. But John Wall was not going to let that happen on his watch. He scored all of the Wizards' last seven points in the first half, including a three pointer with 28 seconds left. That shot turned a 42-27 Bucks lead to a much more manageable 50-47 game. Wall ultimately had 19 points, 9 assists, and 5 steals for the game.
In the second half, Paul Pierce came through and scored 14 of his team-leading 25 points. The Truth iced the game by scoring buckets to answer any run that the Bucks had in the fourth quarter, whether it was a three point shot with just under 4 minutes left, or a 19 foot shot with just over a minute remaining. These kinds of shots are exactly why we wanted to bring him here in D.C.
2. Thank God the Wizards have a lot of post players.
The only really bad part about this game besides the Wizards' cold start -- and Otto Porter sitting out due to hamstring tightness -- was when Nene was ruled out of the game due to plantar fasciitis. Again.
Fortunately, we have reinforcements, and they are a plenty.
Drew Gooden III started the second half in place of the Big Brazilian, where he helped spark the Wizards to a lead in the third quarter. Kris Humphries was more impressive, where he scored 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting, and grabbed 9 rebounds.
Kevin Seraphin also continues to show promise with his consistency. He had a poor first half where he missed all four of his shots, but he scored 5 points on 2-of-3 shooting in the second half, and had a stronger performance all-around.
If Nene is ruled out for a good amount of time due to his latest injury, I hope we get to see more of DeJuan Blair.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo can be scary good defensively.
The sophomore Bucks player is a 6'11" wing, which makes him a nightmare when he is on defense since his length could disrupt passes really easily. He had 3 steals, two of them in the first quarter when the Wizards weren't playing well.
The performance we saw Antetokounmpo give tonight, especially early on is the type of game that Milwaukee wants to see him do consistently over the long run. Brew Hoop has a feature on Antetokounmpo's improved production this season, and specifically his last several games. That piece focuses primarily on his offensive game (he scored 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting), but Saturday's game against the Wizards shows the kind of impact he can have on D as well.
The Wizards got their first signature win of the season on Friday. On Saturday, they were emotionally spent, and it showed. But through it all, Washington was able to take the early beating, persevere, and come out at the end. For that reason, this is a character win against another good opponent, which is just as rewarding.
Celebrate away, my friends!