Remember that old saying, "live by the three, die by the three?" You know, the one that probably rung true for most of your basketball-watching life but has since been upended by the pace-and-space era of the NBA?
If you weren't convinced the Washington hadn't fully embraced the movement, you are now after their thrilling come-from-behind 118-113 win in Milwaukee. What started off as another classic grind-it-out game that saw Washington's offense sputter -- riddled with far too many contested long-two's, careless turnovers, and a suboptimal eight three-point attempts by halftime -- turned into a doozy of a finish with Washington sinking a flurry of threes to ice the game.
And best of all, it came out of nowhere. The third quarter started in horrendous fashion, with each starter seemingly taking turns handing the ball off to the other team. There was Marcin Gortat mishandling the ball on two separate occasions, one that led to him spinning right into help, resulting in a travel, and another as he dribbled it off his foot. Then there's Bradley Beal committing a wholly unnecessary fourth foul on Jerryd Bayless as he fired off a three and Wall throwing off-target passes to teammates that weren't open. It got so bad in that third quarter that we even saw someone (Kris Humphries) attempt to closeout on Michael Carter-Williams of all people at the three-point line, only to get blown-by on a simple head-fake.
By the end of it, you hardly got the sense that the Wizards were on to something. They were down double-digits and had made a total of five threes at that point.
But Randy Wittman -- still experimenting with different lineups -- settled on one that would prove to be fruitful. Then boom, the five-man group of John Wall, Ramon Sessions, Bradley Beal, Jared Dudley, and Nene quickly fired off 11 unanswered points to recapture the lead in a matter of two minutes, all because of, you guessed it, space.
It started with Wall, hounded by a Milwaukee trap off the pick and roll, finding his outlet in Jared Dudley who would quickly turn to his left and deliver an assist to Ramon Sessions for three. On the next possession, off a broken play, Dudley will pick up the ball and find Beal for the corner three. Then, in a mesmerizing span of five consecutive possessions, the Wizards ripped the heart out of the Bucks faithful, canning threes each time down the floor, three of which came off John Wall pick and rolls. With shooters around the floor and one lone big man in the middle, Washington did what so many teams continue to do across the league. Run high pick and roll, station shooters around the arc, and live with the results.
And if you stay attached to those shooters? Fine, Wall will simply waltz into the lane unimpeded, look to his shooters, then deliver a dump-off pass to his big man, as he did to Marcin Gortat with under 30 seconds left that earned his big man a trip to the free throw line.