In the second half of a season filled with build ups and let downs, the Washington Wizards played one of their most complete games of the season this year to push their winning streak to four and the 76ers losing streak to seven. The Wizards have won five of their last six games, and they managed to pull this one off without their best player.
With Wall missing his first start in 203 games, Ramon Sessions stepped in and performed up to par. Sessions had 19 points and seven assists. He pushed the pace, found guys in the open floor and showed exactly why the Wizards coveted him in the first place.
He worked well with Gortat and Beal. The duo put out a collective 39 points on 18 shots, missing only 3 from the field combined. The Wizards hovered around 70 percent shooting throughout the entire game, but fell under that 70 mark in the final quarter of play and never managed to climb back over it.
The 65 percent clip the Wizards shot was the highest percentage they've shot all season long. The previous high was 58 percent against this same 76ers team just one week ago. The Wizards assisted on 34 of 44 made field goals. That mark fell just one assist shy of their season high and gave them their second highest assist percentage of the season of 77 percent, falling just short of a 78 percent mark piled up against the Denver Nuggets in early December. Six players had, at least, three assists and no player shot more than 10 times per game.
The Wizards offense just clicked today and it was great to see without their best player. It's great to see the rotation players finally settling into roles as the playoffs come closer and closer--especially after so many different combinations have failed this season.
It's fitting that the Wizards' performance came on the night they matched the 2004-05 Wizards for the most regular season wins by this franchise since the 1978-79 season. The Wizards are playing against bad teams right now, but they are peaking at the right time and all of their key cogs are back healthy.
Don't know how to react? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Just do the following:
1. Find a reclining chair.
2. Lean back, kick your feet out.
3. Put your hands together.
4. Rub them against each other.
I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. Here are three things we've learned from this one.
Ramon Sessions is a viable backup option
The fear of Ramon Sessions being the next version of Eric Maynor will have to wait til next season. Sessions has proven enough in his limited time with the Wizards that he's going to be a viable option to back John Wall up.
Sesh is averaging 9.8 points, 3.4 assists and 2 turnovers on 68 percent shooting from the field in his last five game.s Of course, that number is not sustainable and he should not be looked at as a major threat to score off of the bench. But his penetration over the last five games has kept the second unit from falling completely apart as it has in the past.
He's able to play with Wall as well even though both lack a proficient jump shot at this point. He knows when to cut and where the ball should go, and that's important when you're trying to break a defense down without a jump shot. Sessions still struggles to finish at the rim and that could hurt later, but he's been almost as good as Miller was last season around this time. The trade should not be declared a win yet, but it is looking extremely positive.
An active Marcin Gortat is a good Marcin Gortat
It seemed like the Wizards made a concerted effort to get Gortat going early in the game and it paid off at the end. In his last four games, Gortat has only missed seven of 38 shots and has averaged 16.5 points per game.
When he's running the floor and being used in pick and roll situations, he's great. This is the second time in four games that he's only missed one shot and a lot of that has to do with the space he's operating with early on in the game. The Wizards should make an effort to keep Gortat in the game offensively because when he's playing well on that end the team plays well.
Bradley Beal looks great
Beal had his fifth straight game of at least 15 points scored and he notched his eighth game out of 10 with at least that same point total. Beal also dished out three assists, making it his sixth game in a row with at least three assists dished out.
And the best part about his night tonight is he only played 23 minutes. He handled the ball a lot more than normal tonight with Wall being out and produced in that situation. He didn't settle for too many jumpers, attacked the basket and made an effort to look for the open man after he beat his defender off the dribble.
For as rough as his season has been this year, Beal's play is trending up and has been for the last couple of weeks. This is a great thing if you believe in getting hot at the right time.