Look, I'm not really one to talk about clutch performances, but the Washington Wizards came up big in the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat. They led the Heat 29-25 after the first quarter, but the Heat caught fire in the second quarter and only missed three shots.
They scored 30 points on 12-15 shooting in the quarter and assisted on six of their makes. The Wizards' normally stout defense was nowhere to be found in the first half and the Heat shot 64% from the field as they took a 55-54 lead into the second half.
Washington did not regain the lead until the 1:31 mark of the fourth quarter, but they would hold onto the lead and close the game out in the waning moments of the game.
We're not used to this type of play from this team, but lets relish it. The Wizards last started 19-6 in the 1974-75 season. The team won 60 games that year. And here we are with another winning streak for this team--the Wizards have won six games in a row.
Here are some things we learned from the win.
So the Wizards aren't perfect
Starting off with the negative on such a monumental win for this team doesn't seem quite right, but it has to be done. The Wizards were dreadful in the first half defensively and did not really clamp down until the fourth quarter.
They were coming up against a depleted Heat team without one of their best offensive players in Chris Bosh. But with the way they played tonight against the tough, gritty defense of the Wizards, you would've thought Bosh was on the floor and LeBron James kept his talents in South Beach.
They shot over 60 percent in the first half and ended up shooting 53 percent on the game. Dwyane Wade scored 28 points and dished off eight assists. He took 26 shots, but he managed to create creases for his teammates to attack all night. Hassan Whiteside and Chris Andersen combined to go 5-6 from the field and had dunk after dunk after dunk. Marcin Gortat going down early with two fouls had a lot to do with the defensive mishaps, but the rest of the team should've picked up the slack.
John Wall is clutch....with his shot selection
John Wall's fourth quarter performances this season have been among the best of the best. He's been Chris Paul-esque in the clutch on more than one occasion. In the two games against Boston and Utah game where the Wizards needed a push to pull away, Wall gave them the perfect nudge.
Wall came through in the clutch again tonight scoring 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter. Clutch is a mentality, but for Wall we can safely say his shot selection has a lot to do with it as well. Wall shot 3-4 in the quarter and two of those looks came at the rim. He missed one layup and made two jumpers at his trademark right elbow spot.
But what was the most encouraging for Wall in the quarter was his ability to get to the rim at will with Wittman's small-ball lineup on the floor. Wall was able to get to the line six times and convert on four of those attempts. Wall's fourth quarters have been exciting this season, but it'd be worth taking a look to see what kind of shots he's getting in these late periods.
Nene off the bench may be here to stay
This is not inside information, just an assumption from me. And Nene's bench performances have been to the Wizards' benefit throughout these last few games. Why? Because it's a great way to manage his minutes, the offense can run exclusively through him and he's shooting the ball efficiently.
If Kris Humprhies' production dips a bit Wittman will likely be tempted to get Nene back in the starting lineup, but I think he works well either way. He's a tremendous player and we should be happy to have him on the squad.
Hell, we should be happy about everything. Five years ago the Wizards were a dumpster fire. Now they're second in second place in the East, they've got one of the best point guards in the league, a budding, young talent at shooting guard and a tremendously deep roster. They've matched their best start in franchise history and have a six game winning streak going.
IS THIS REAL LIFE!?