No, you weren't dreaming. Yes, Otto Porter scored 22 points, the Wizards hit 15 3-pointers, and yes, Bradley Beal was in fact wearing a headband.
Any questions as to whether or not this roster could run a modern pace-space-offense were answered quickly in this one, with the Wizards trading the Gortat postups and Bradly Beal hand-offs of years past for a bevy of three pointers, including three from Otto Porter. Generally speaking, the starters looked good, getting into their sets quickly and shooting confidently from the perimeter, ending the first half with 13 three point attempts -- hitting 61 percent of them.
The reserves however, struggled to slow down the 76ers in the second quarter, making this game more competitive than it ever needed to be. Over the final three minutes, the 76ers went on a 12-3 run. Philadelphia went 5-7 over that stretch including 2-2 behind the arc, while the Wizards were 1-3 with three turnovers.
The Wizards seemed to come into their own in the second half however, tightening the screws on defense and eliminating costly turnovers. They went off for 38 third quarter points, largely on the back of Bradley Beal layups, Otto Porter jumpers, and two Kris Humphries 3-pointers.
The Wizards finished the game hitting 57 percent of their 26 three point attempts, which should instill confidence in the most pessimistic of Wizards fans. Better yet, the Wizards pace was 109.3, which would have lead the league by a country mile last year. (The Golden State Warriors, for reference, finished last year at just 100.6) Yes it is the preseason, but these seem to be the Wizards we dreamed of after last year's surprising playoff run.
A few miscellaneous notes:
- Otto Porter. Wow. I think we all expected him to improve this year, but he scored 22 huge points tonight, shooting 4-4 from the 3 point line and 8-10 overall.
- The boxes the Wizards used in training camp seem to be paying dividends early. Offensive spacing was excellent throughout this game, leading to open threes, layups and glorious, glorious ball movement.
- The jury is still out on Beal's headband, but he does seem to be committed to improving his shot selection. In the first quarter, he turned a pick and roll with Gortat into a pull-up three-pointer. He missed the shot, but him taking it with confidence is very, very encouraging.
- Humphries looked great at the stretch-4 spot. He made 2 of his 4 three point attempts, but more importantly he attacked hard closeouts effectively off the dribble. If he's able to do that consistently the sky's the limit with this offense.
- Gary Neal likes to shoot. Alot. He didn't look so great in the first half, but his play in the second half shows he could be a valuable sparkplug off the bench.
It's important to take preseason performance with a grain of salt, but tonight should instill confidence in both players and fans alike that Wizards can keep up with the NBA's elite offenses. Lets see if they can keep the ball rolling against Kevin Seraphin and the New York Knicks on Friday.