The Washington Wizards opened an NBA season at home Wednesday night for the first time since 2011.
Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers came to town - and brought some loud, chanting fans with them - but it was the Wizards who would come out on top.
Led by John Wall’s 28 points, eight assists and five rebounds, Washington squeaked by Philadelphia with a score of 120-115 at the Capital One Center in Washington D.C.
Bradley Beal tallied 25 points, while Marcin Gortat notched 16 points and 17 rebounds.
In his NBA debut, 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons had 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Embiid finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds and a block.
- The Wizards shooting from outside was not good. As a team, they finished 6-of-22 from behind the arc. Wall didn’t make one, Porter didn’t make one, and entering the fourth quarter, Beal - the team’s best outside shooter - had only attempted two shots from deep. Kelly Oubre Jr. shot well from outside though, going 3-of-6 from deep. The third-year wing finished with 14 points and eight rebounds in 34 minutes off the bench.
The Wizards went 6-16 last season in games where they made shot 30 percent or less from three-point range.
- Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi had a tough time guarding Joel Embiid. The 23-year-old 7-footer played 27 minutes - much more than what was reported for his minutes restriction - and used his time to make Wizards defenders look foolish. For his first points, Embiid hit two free throws after Jason Smith fouled him at the rim. This was after he quickly drove past Gortat and left him at the three-point line. Then, Embiid cradled the ball about 15 feet from the rim before hitting Gortat with a jab step and draining a jumper over him.
And then there was this:
A man this large shouldn't be able to do this pic.twitter.com/9FWOYbIIFN— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) October 19, 2017
Mahinmi didn’t do much better, and Embiid drew two fouls off him early. Mahinmi, who the Wizards signed to a $64 million contract last season, had three fouls in his first five minutes of play and tallied six points and four rebounds in 14 minutes of action off the bench.
- The Wizards didn’t really have an answer for Robert Covington, a Tennessee State product who started at power forward for the Sixers. Early on, it was Smith who was assigned to guard Covington while Porter stuck to Simmons. This was a mismatch, and it remained so for Wizards defenders even when others guarded him. Often times, Covington was forgotten about by defenders as his teammates created. The 6-foot-9 forward made seven three-pointers, and all were assisted. He finished with 29 points, which led the Sixers.
- Jason Smith made the first opening night start of his 10-year NBA career on Wednesday and played just seven minutes. Smith exited the game after spraining his right shoulder and never returned. He attempted one shot and grabbed one rebound.
- Paul Pierce said this on ESPN’s pre-game show: “I do see Bradley Beal becoming an All-Star this year. This is going to be a breakout year for him.”
- Fultz, an Upper Marlboro native who starred at DeMatha Catholic, made his debut in his hometown with 10 points. He is the sixth No. 1 overall pick in the last 20 years to not start in his debut – joining Anthony Bennett, Andrea Bargnani, Yao Ming, Michael Olowokandi, and former Wizard big Kwame Brown. Jeff Van Gundy wasn’t a fan of Fultz’ free throw form, saying, “That’s a bad looking free throw right there. That does not look fluid at all.”
- The Wizards locked arms during the national anthem.
- This was the most disrespectful Joel Embiid did Wednesday.
Embiid, trying to make a blooper show, tried to disrupt the end-of-quarter entertainment by walking in front of a 'Secret Service' dunker.— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) October 19, 2017
- This was the most disrespectful thing John Wall did Wednesday.
Next Up: The Wizards stay at home to take on Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons on Friday at 7 p.m.