The Washington Wizards improved to 4-1 in preseason action with a 105-101 win on Saturday night in Milwaukee. Five Wizards (Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat, Gary Neal, Otto Porter, and DeJuan Blair) hit double-digits in the scoring column and the team as a whole continued to maintain their newfound, uptempo style, even without John Wall in the lineup.
The only thing more impressive than the way the Wizards played tonight without John Wall was the reason why John Wall wasn't available. Wall was back in D.C. at the Light The Night Walk to honor his friend Miyah's memory and raise awareness and money for leukemia and lymphoma research. If John Wall isn't your favorite athlete, what's wrong with you?
Here's a few quick notes from Washington's performace:
Otto shoulders more of the offensive load with Wall out
Like we saw in last year's playoffs, Otto Porter took on more of a facilitator role with John Wall missing tonight's game. The stats may not wow you, because he's not at the point where you want him taking over games, clearly, but all in all, I'm encouraged. He didn't back down from the challenge of taking on more of the load, he got to the line (he earned 7 free throw attempts), and he didn't cough up the ball (only 2 turnovers) like someone overwhelmed by the responsibility.
Beal continues to be a beacon of efficiency
With John Wall out, I was curious to see how Beal would handle being the focal point of the offense against a Bucks team with plenty of lengthy, versatile defenders. The good news is he didn't fall into the lure of settling for bad shots. He was 7-11 from the field and 4-7 from beyond the arc.
So the good news is the shot selection was good, but in the future, it would be nice to see him earn some more free throw attempts. He didn't get to the line at all tonight, and that won't cut it in the regular season.
DeJuan Blair returns to form
It shouldn't come as a shock that DeJuan Blair looks better after a disastrous start to his time as a Wizard last season. He slimmed down over the summer, and has been productive in the first two preseason games he got to play, both against the 76ers.
But tonight, he showed he could do more than just mop up time against a lottery team. He racked up 10 points and 11 rebounds in just under 11 minutes of action in the first half. It was the first time we've seen Blair play like the productivity monster he was in his early years in San Antonio.
At his size and speed, he's always going to have issues being an effective defender as the league gets faster, and we saw a bit of that tonight. The Wizards were outscored by a point while he was on the floor in the first half, despite his contributions. Still, it's good to see him back to making the contributions many expected him to bring when he signed last summer.
Highlight of the night
The game wasn't on TV, but we assume it went something like this: