Things can't go much better in the nation’s capital, Elena Delle Donne arrived just in time to catch the Wizards surging.
Washington handled business, defeating the Los Angles Lakers 116-108 on Thursday night, to extend their home win streak to 16 games and improve their record to 21-9 overall since December 1st.
The matchup had all the makings of a trap game, a let down the Wizards of years past would succumb to, but not a team led by both John Wall and Scott Brooks. Wall completely controlled the last 8 minutes of the game, ensuring a Washington victory.
All five starters scored in double figures for the 18th time on the season. Marcin Gortat continued his machine-like consistency, posting another double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds. He had some huge follow-up tips on 4th quarter Wall drives. John took over late when he was needed, in a sometimes hostile home environment, dropping 11 dimes and putting up 33 points.
Bradley Beal (23 points) came out very aggressive for the Wizards offense, carrying most of the load. The Lakers could not be stopped from distance early, leading to a very slim 2 point advantage 31-29 at the end of the 1st quarter. Jason Smith graced us with a vicious putback slamma-jamma.
The Wizards used a strong defensive period to extend their lead and take a 58-44 advantage at halftime. Beal told Chris Miller at halftime, “Once one goes in the basket, it looks like an ocean at that point, I’m just gonna continue to shoot with confidence.”
D.C. looked like they were going to fold midway through the 3rd, when the lead was cut to 69-63 on multiple DeAngelo Russell threes. Wall, however, took command of the offense on his way to 11 assists for the game and a 90-79 3rd quarter edge.
The Lakers had cut the lead to 91-91 with 9 minutes left the 4th. John Wall decided it was his time to take over. With just over a minute left, it was John’s moment again, hitting his patented free throw line jumper to put the Wizards up 5, 110-105. The final dagger came with 38.1 left, as John received the pass from Brad and knocked down a mid-range jumper to put the Lakers out of their misery.
And now for some game notes.
What a Strange 2nd Quarter
The Wizards bench unit started the second quarter and could not put the ball in the basket. This would normally be the point where teams get back in the game and John and Brad have to push the lead again.
The Lakers however, could not score if their lives depended on it. Halfway through the period they had only scored 4 points and racked up nearly 14 turnovers. By the time you looked up at the score when the starters were all back in, the Wizards had pushed a modest 2 point lead to 19 points. They started the quarter up 2 and ended the incredibly strong defensive period leading by 14.
Feed the Panda
Bradley Beal has been hot since the start of December, and tonight was a continuation of confidence. He came out the gates firing, hitting 3 threes in the first quarter and stayed aggressive throughout.
When he gets going, there are few teams in the league that can handle the onslaught. He scored a quick 19 points in the first half alone. The aggressive nature of his drives forced defenders to give him space, opening up the long ball. The only thing that could stop Brad was slight foul trouble. Beal ended the game with an efficient 23 points on 9 of 17 shooting.
Oh and there was this:
Fortress of the Phone Booth
The Verizon Center does not always look like a home court advantage, even if the players act like it. There were so many Lakers fans it was impossible not to notice. Even Steve Buckhantz could not help but sigh and mention the amount of purple and gold.
Washington plays different on their court, the confidence overflows and guys look like they are having fun. The way things are going, some might wonder when another team will eventually storm the castle.
John Wall is Our Point God
The guy is just incredible. With the lead slipping midway through the 4th, John did what he’s been doing all year. A complete takeover. The crowd was quiet and the Lakers were in control, but Wall did his job and turned the tempo around. A young John Wall doesn't take over the game in the same way.
This also happened: