The Brooklyn Nets had won 15 of their last 19 home games. The Washington Wizards had won just one road game since January 26. Naturally, there was only one way Wednesday night’s game in Brooklyn could end—with a completely noncompetitive 125-116 Wizards road victory.
After falling behind 10-0 to begin the game, Washington flatly outplayed Brooklyn over the next 42 minutes of game time to eclipse that lead and build a massive one of their own. The Wizards led by more than 25 points in this one, while the Nets never really recovered from an extended Wizards run at the end of the first half.
The victory puts Washington just three games back of the Eastern Conference’s eighth-seeded Charlotte Hornets. After a couple of depressing recent performances, this win over a solid playoff team should also provide Washington with a sorely needed morale boost entering the final stretch of the season. As is always the case with these Wizards though, the question is whether they have any chance of maintaining tonight’s phenomenal levels of effort and teamwork.
Perhaps most impressive about the win was Washington’s resiliency. The Nets came out of the gate sprinting and quickly took a double-digit lead over the scoreless Wizards. It often feels as though an early deficit sinks this Wizards team like a deflating balloon, but tonight’s Wizards instead buckled down on the defensive end and sustained that same energy throughout the night.
Bradley Beal played all 12 first-quarter minutes and was superb in scoring 12 crucial early points. He would eventually finish with 31 points and a miraculous plus-30 in the box score. Confusingly, Scott Brooks left him in until the final minute despite the game being well out of hand. Beal even earned a technical with just 1:30 left. As you can imagine, he was thrilled.
"Why am I still in this game?" pic.twitter.com/mTemcRo41Q— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) February 28, 2019
Thomas Bryant also brought his signature energy off the bench, scoring six points in the first quarter and 14 in the first half. Jabari Parker also stood out in the first half, scoring eight points and amassing a surprising 11 rebounds in his first few minutes of playing time.
The second half brought more good tidings for Washington as they extended their lead even further. The Wizards at one point were winning the third quarter 31-11 and completely blew the doors off Brooklyn. Even better, the clear reason for the surge was Washington’s commitment on the defensive end—a more-than-welcome change for this crew.
In the fourth quarter, well, Jeff Green did a dunk contest dunk. From there, Washington played out the string (and let their 20-plus-point lead slip down to nine in the final minute, though it was never in doubt).
In essence, the remarkable story of this Washington Wizards basketball game was that the Washington Wizards looked like a real, functioning basketball team (h/t Perd Hapley).
Double TB Trouble
This game featured the delightful non-garbage-time combination of Thomas Bryant and Wizards rookie Troy Brown Jr.! Bryant scored 14 points in just his first 8 minutes of playing time. The young big man seems to have been newly invigorated by his move to the bench and he repeatedly out-hustled Brooklyn’s big men for rebounds. He finished with 18 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
As for Brown Jr., Brooks kindly gave him some playing time when the game was still in contention and the rook capitalized. He started his stint looking a bit nervous; at times he forced things on the offensive end, at others he could have been more decisive. After the early nerves though, he put in a nice all-around effort.
THROW IT DOWN, ROOK! pic.twitter.com/58fA6z4U2w— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) February 28, 2019
Brown Jr. looked like the toolsy, disruptive guard that Washington sought when they drafted him. He got on the glass (including four hard-fought offensive rebounds), dished a couple assists, and stifled D’Angelo Russell in the midrange on multiple occasions. He also hit a couple of encouraging jumpers. All in all, it was a fun night for these two young guys, and for the entire team at that.
Next Up: The Wizards (25-36) travel to Boston on Friday to take on the stumbling Celtics (37-25) as they continue their challenging push for the playoffs.