What just happened?
Washington started the game locked in, rushing out to a 10-0 lead. The Cavs answered with a 9-2 run of their own, and the game stayed close with the Wizards clinging to a 27-24 lead at the end of the first quarter.
But the Wizards never stopped attacking, however, and it paid off. After trading baskets early the the second quarter, the Wiz clawed their way back to a 54-43 lead at the end of the second quarter.
John Wall, who has by his own admission needed to play better for the Wizards to start winning again, ended the half with 21 points on 15 shots, 4 assists, and 4 steals.
The Wizards didn't let up in the second half, starting the third quarter with a 8-0 run, extending the lead to as much as 22 points in the quarter. Randy Wittman staggered the rotations masterfully, and Bradley Beal, who had been having a rough shooting night, carried the offense masterfully to end the third quarter.
Things got a little interesting in the fourth quarter, when LeBron put the team on his back and the Wizards got sloppy with turnovers and dumb fouls. Gortat picked up his 5th foul with 8:15 left in the came. The Cavs got within 10. But you know what’s nice? building yourself a 20+ point cushion. The Cavs couldn’t come back, Wizards win 97-85
What We Learned
1. John Wall is BACK
Wall finished the game with 35 points (14-24), 10 assists, 4 rebounds and 5 steals. But it goes beyond the numbers: Wall was bending the defense like we have yet to see from him this year, and he was all over the floor on defense, swarming and deflecting.
Sometimes, you have to have a stretch where John Wall is flat to appreciate when John Wall is on fire.— Jake Whitacre (@jakewhitacre) December 2, 2015
2. Meet the new Wizards Death Squad
With Nene out due to injury and Humphries struggling, Randy Wittman did something that would have been unthinkable last year: He rolled out a lineup near the end of the first half with Otto Porter at power forward and Jared Dudley at center. It was his go-to lineup again when Gortat got into foul trouble in the 4th. Too small to be considered "small ball", the lineup was quickly named "tiny ball":
Tiny ball was brilliantly deployed when LeBron was resting. Did some really interesting things on D. Great move by Randy.— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) December 2, 2015
The Wizards just had a lineup with Jared Dudley at center. And Dudley hits a 3. 44-36, Wizards/— Jorge Castillo (@jorgeccastillo) December 2, 2015
It's a lineup that will need to be deployed strategically (much like the Warriors' famous Death Squad lineup) but wow it is nice to have in our arsenal.
3. Humphries continues to struggle
It's a blessing in the curse: The Humpthrees Era rose and fell quickly. After his 23-point performance in Orlando, Humphries has failed to score in double digits and has lost his starting spot to Dudley. But if Humphries hadn't been struggling as much as he has, Wittman likely wouldn't have deployed Jared Dudley at center.
Wizards fans, celebrate. I leave you with this:
Don't panic, CELEBRATE.