The Wizards squandered a 22 point lead, but still squeezed out a victory in the desert, 131-127, on Tuesday night.
In a surprising turn of events, Washington’s bench carried most of the offensive load scoring 65 points on the night, but John Wall made his usual superstar plays down the stretch to help Washington start their five game road trip with a win.
Everything was clicking for Washington early in the game as they jumped out to a 38-25 lead at the end of the first quarter. Bradley Beal got the Wizards off to a hot start, scoring 15 points in the first six minutes of the game. Ian Mahinmi stepped up after Marcin Gortat got into early foul trouble. And Jason Smith saw early first quarter playing time, after many fans questioned why he was removed from the rotation, and produced solid early results.
The lead ballooned up to 22 at one point in the second quarter, but then Phoenix started to make their way back into the game in what felt like the longest quarter in NBA history. The Suns were able to whittle the lead down to 7 by halftime in between several scuffles and lengthy video reviews.
Washington got off to a disastrous start in the third quarter with Beal failing to get foul calls as he attacked the rim, and Phoenix hitting everything they threw up on the other end. The Suns took an eleven point lead at one point during the quarter before the bench made a run at the end of the quarter to take a 94-92 lead.
With five minutes left in the fourth quarter and the game tied at 110, John Wall took over late on both sides of the ball, scoring 8 points, and adding an assist and block during the final stretch to help Washington escape with the victory.
Bradley Beal scored 27 points on the night. Bojan Bogdanovic came off the bench to drop 29 points (including a perfect 16-16 from the free throw line), and Ian Mahinmi had himself a night with 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 steals of his own. The Point God finished with 25 points and 14 assists and Jason Smith tossed in 17 points off the pine.
Beal’s Crazy First Quarter
Brad was feeling himself in the first, as Eric Bledsoe failed to run him off the line. He put up 15 of the Wizards first 19 points on 6-7 shooting and 2-2 from downtown.
The chemistry between John and Brad was never more apparent then during the transition plays early on. Coach Brooks pulled Brad with more than 5 minutes left in the period, but the tone was already set.
A Polish Trend
Marcin Gortat picked up his second foul with 7:53 in the first quarter. The big man hasn’t been able to stay out of foul trouble in the past few contests, forcing coach Brooks to alter his game plan.
More importantly, Gortat fails to gather any sort of comfort with his teammates and recognition of the opponents play style. He does most of his work in the pick and roll with John Wall, but the combination has looked shaky recently due to a lack of any chemistry.
Second Quarter Brawling....I Kid
Jason Smith set a solid screen on Tyler Ulis early in the second and the refs made a bad call. Jared Dudley tried to get the young Sun’s squad ignited by going up and head-butting Smith and got himself ejected. Somehow Brandon Jennings was also ejected; the whole thing was over-blown and bizarre.
The official word was Jennings used finger guns. Finger pointing leads to hurt feelings. Right at the end of the second quarter Marquese Chriss ran over to Markieff Morris and tried to instigate further but the altercation was brisk and he was awarded a tech for his efforts.
Mahinmi at His Finest
Ian did everything team president Ernie Grunfeld brought him in to do. He was clogging up the paint, stealing passes and preventing the pick and roll. In a night when Gortat could not find his rhythm, Mahinmi stepped in and played like a starting center.
The big man finished the night with a near triple double, and everything he did could not show up in the stat line. Mahinmi finished with a +36 line along with 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 steals.
Tweets of the Night