1. Wizards continue to find ways to win
No matter how many times we say "this was a game the Wizards would have lost last year," it never seems to stop applying. After starting out to a 9 point lead to start the second, Washington, looked listless and ineffective on offense for much of the rest of the game. Bradley Beal was a non-factor, and the Wizards failed to hit from beyond the arc and get to the foul line.
The Magic led most of the 2nd half, including holding a 6 point advantage with 6 minutes left in the game. But the Wizards scratched and clawed their way back, tying the game with a Rasual Butler free throw with 16 seconds left. Kris Humphries rebounded a missed Victor Oladipo jump shot and called a timeout with just .8 seconds left in regulation.
The Wizards had actually found themselves in a similar situation against Boston on Monday, and the best they could do was get up an awkward 30 footer from Rasual Butler. I'll leave the breakdown of the play to the master, Prada, but suffice it to say things turned out quite differently this time. For a different angle, here is what it looked like from the perspective of Monumental Sports' Dan Nolan, seated near the Wizards bench.
2. The Closer
No, I am not talking about the mid Oughts police procedural starring Kyra Sedwkick (that's on my personal blog), I am referring to the inspired late game play of Washington's star point guard John Wall. For the second straight game, Wall's inspired late game play propelled the Wizards down the stretch. With the Wizards trailing by 6 points with around 4 minutes left, Wall proceeded to assist a Rasual Butler three, assist what would have been a Bradley Beal three (Beal stepped out of bounds), attack the Magic defense for two layups, and hit a tough contested 9 foot bank shot that cut the Magic lead to 1. According to NBA.com stats, Wall is shooting 51.6 percent in the last 5 minutes of games where the Wizards are within 5 points of their opponent.
3. Miller has still got something in the tank
CSN's J. Micheal wrote about the efficient offensive play of backup point guard Andre Miller this year. The per game numbers don't look like much, but when you look at what Miller does with his time on the court, he's showing he can still play at a high level despite his age. On a per-36 minute basis, Miller is averaging 11.9 points and 9.2 assists, to go along with his remarkable 63 percent shooting from the field. His per 100 possession assist numbers are the second highest of his career, which is made all the more impressive by the fact that unlike that year, Miller does not have George Mikan running alongside him. Keeping up with the young guys on defense may still be a challenge, but on the offensive end, Miller holds his own.
TAI, WizofAwes, WizardsXtra and WaPo. We appreciate the Post's tip pun, we were tempted to go with something innuendo-y for a title here, but for once our better judgment prevailed. Don't get used to that. Our recap is here and for a view from the other side, the Orlando Pinstriped Post's recap is here.
5. Big Game on Friday
Winning close games against teams like Orlando and Boston is nice, but things get serious on Friday night when the Los Angeles Clippers come to town. Who wins the battle between two of the NBA's top point guards. This is a great opportunity for Washington to show they belong to be considered among the elite in the entire NBA.
When your boy hits that game winning tip.....