For awhile now, fans have been talking about "the run" the Wizards needed to make: The hypothetical win streak, fueled by a slightly more forgiving schedule and key players returning to the lineup, that would allow the Wizards to make up ground after their abysmal start and get a foot hold in the playoff race.
Friends, it is possible that "the run" has begun. The Wizards leave Indiana on Friday with a 118-104 victory, their fourth straight victory. They took control of the game early, pestering the Pacers into 5 turnovers in 5 minutes. The shots weren’t falling early, but the Wizards held a 13-7 lead despite shooting just 5-16 midway through the first quarter.
The Pacers responded, attacking the Wizards somewhat unconventional lineups, including Drew Gooden at center and Garrett Temple at power forward, and a Gooden/DeJuan Blair front court when Temple briefly left the game with a shoulder sprain. But hot shooting from the whole team and John Wall relentlessly attacking the basket spurred another Wizards run, and they went into halftime up 59-46.
Washington picked up exactly where they left off in the third quarter. The defensive intensity wavered slightly, but the offense clicked like it rarely has for the team this season. The Wizards moved the ball as well as they ever have. They entered the fourth quarter up by 16.
The Pacers continued to fight, but the Wizards always had an answer on the other end. DeJuan Blair played perhaps his best basketball as a Wizard, ending the game with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals in 22 minutes. Bradley Beal had a phenomenal game off the bench, with more points (22) than minutes (21).
The Wizards are now back to .500 and just half a game behind 8 seed Orlando.
You know it's a good night when John Wall is mean mugging on the court. pic.twitter.com/Ybu4TF46WT— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) January 16, 2016
Notes from the game
The Pacers had no answer for John Wall
Wall ended the game with 28 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists. He scored 12 points in the third quarter alone, attacking the basket with a ferocity we had yet to see in 2016. Wall also took care of the ball, totaling just three turnovers in the game.
Defenses ain't built for John Wall. https://t.co/cmaikZBEqS— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) January 16, 2016
Kelly Oubre continues to shine as a starter
Immediately after Oubre was drafted by the Wizards, there was a ripple of concern through the Wizards fanbase. Upon seeing Ombre’s cockiness and infamous spikes shoes, many worried that he was going to be the second coming of Nick Young. If anything, Oubre has been the exact opposite: He has embraced his role on the team as a three-and-D player, working hard on the defensive end and letting the game come to him on offense. Though he still has many areas that need improvement (including finishing at the rim, as was evident tonight) his maturity and work ethic are making him look like a steal for the Wizards. Oubre was particularly impressive tonight in his pesky defense on Paul George and C.J. Miles, leading to sequences like this:
More injury scares
Garrett Temple hit the ground hard after a blocked layup attempt. Though he was slow to get up, he stayed in the game, only hit a hard screen minutes later, spraining his shoulder. The typically stoic Temple writhed on the floor in pain, and was not afraid to make his displeasure known to the referees. Temple went back to the locker room briefly and returned to play. Though we have no reason to expect Temple won’t play tomorrow in Boston, it would be nice if the Wizards could catch a break with the injuries.