Throughout the year the Wizards have pulled off low-scoring close game wins, but none of them quite had the impact of "they would have lost this game last year" quite like this one. This is the exact game that Washington would have lost a year or two ago. But this team, most notably John Wall and Rasual Butler, kept churning and churning until the team tied the game up.
Then, this happened.
The first true "Dagger" we've gotten from Steve Buckhantz since Jordan Crawford beat Portland two years ago came tonight. The Wizards did not deserve to win this game, but they pulled it off.
With that being said, here are three things we learned from the victory in Orlando.
Resiliency is a recurring theme for this team
Wizard teams of year's past would not have fought back like they did in the last three outings. They've consistently been in bad spots over the last three games, but their heads have rarely hung low and they always try to claw their way back into it.
The team almost did not find their way in Orlando tonight. They were trailing by as much as nine points in the fourth quarter and it looked like the Magic would keep the pressure going. But the Wizards turned it up defensively to halt their run and clawed themselves back in the game.
It took heroics from John Wall and Rasual Butler diving on the floor and drawing a loose ball foul, but it was all worth it in the end. The Wizards fought through two overtimes in D.C. two nights ago against the Celtics, but they pulled off a win. And that was after clawing their way back from a deficit of as much as 25 in Boston the day before.
I know it is cliche to say, but this team has guts and we should absolutely love it.
John Wall may be turning the corner as a game manager
Wall has always been a hefty assist guy and has done a great job of spreading the wealth this season. But this season, especially in the last six games or so, Wall has chosen his scoring spots extremely well.
He is not settling for early clock jumpers like he did earlier in the season and for most of last year. He started the first half 3-8 from the field for six points, but one shot was an end of quarter buzzer-beater attempt with just over three seconds left on the clock and another was a late shot clock jumper that was difficultly contested.
He missed two layups early on, but those were good takes at the rim that he will make more often than not. Then, in the fourth quarter he took the game over as a scorer. Wall scored 8 points on 4-5 shooting from the field in the fourth quarter and only had one assist.
Here is his fourth quarter shot chart.
He took three shots at the rim and another floater within seven feet of the rim. He is rounding out his offensive game and it has really helped the Wizards close teams out.
Randy Wittman is frustrating, but he made great moves tonight
The most frustrating part about Randy Wittman is his offense and it was largely cold today. They do not always take the most efficient shots and some of the sets take a lot of time to get into, but tonight he showed some progress as a head coach.
The Wizards only had 12 three point attempts tonight, but five of those came in the fourth quarter when the floor needed to be spaced the most. Wittman employed a lineup with Bradley Beal, Wall, Butler, Paul Pierce and Nene on the floor early on in the fourth quarter.
Butler played the entire fourth quarter and the Wizards played a smaller lineup throughout the quarter. That enabled Wall to get to the rim easily and it scrambled the Magic defensively.
Not to mention that Wittman drew up a game-winning play with .8 seconds on the clock. He did not have enough time to go to an isolation in the moment, but he deserves credit for drawing up what he did. That is something in the past we may not have seen from Wittman.
It is still an issue that 45 percent of the Wizards' shots against the magic came from midrange, according to NBA.com's shot charts, but Wittman still deserves a bit of credit for adjusting when he did.