John Wall had a triple double, Bradley Beal poured in 22 points on 16 shots while turning in a spectacular floor game, and the Wizards did just enough to take care of business against the Philadelphia 76ers, 106-94.
The Wizards came into tonight looking to snap a two-game skid, but more appropriately to prove they can play with the same level of effort they did against the defending champs on Wednesday. For the first 24 minutes, they did exactly that, led by Bradley Beal who turned in one of his best all-around offensive performances, but for much of the second half, the script had flipped.
Ten third quarter turnovers, including a string of about 4 consecutive cough-ups, was enough to breath life into the their opponent and keep them within striking distance. And the Sixers pounced on each opportunity by pushing the ball in transition with Ish Smith and searching for corner threes. In the halfcourt, it was more of the same we're used to seeing from this defense: unnecessarily doubling the post, evoking help rotations on the perimeter which they'd inevitably find ways to screw up.
This was supposed to be a game they put away in the third, and for them to not live up to that is incredibly disappointing. It overshadows everything, from Wall's triple double, to Gortat consistently rolling hard down the lane, to even Beal's aforementioned floor game.
It says a lot about their second unit, which continues to see Drew Gooden and DeJuan Blair soak up the frontcourt minutes with Nene sitting out. It begs the question as to why Kelly Oubre still doesn't see a single minute of action. Or why Otto Porter is getting staggered in with the bench mob only to not be featured as an offensive initiator. Or why they've seemingly handed the reins to Gary Neal and asked him to fire away whenever he see's a sliver of daylight.
It's tiresome at this point. The coaching staff can't continue to trot out the same bench unit and expect different results. It's not happening. Maybe it's time to stagger Bradley Beal's minutes as his minutes ramp up. The sample size is small, but since coming back, his in-between game has been much improved. He's manipulating space in ways we haven't seen from him before (even in the playoffs). He fooled a handful of Philadelphia big men tonight on switches with head fakes, left-to-right speed crossovers, and hesitation moves, and once he got by that initial defender, he shielded the ball away with his body or by cradling it in his arms before going up strong at the basket.
Against the Sixers, the Wizards managed to keep their lead intact, but if there's one thing we've learned this season, it's that this outcome would look much different against an actual NBA roster.