Seven Wizards players scored in double figures—led by Bobby Portis with 26 points—as the Wizards got back in the win column with a 135-121 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday evening. Bradley Beal added 22 points, his 17th consecutive game eclipsing the 20-point mark, and Jabari Parker also added 22 points for a Washington squad clinging to their playoff hopes for dear life.
This one started out as a layup drill for both squads. The Wizards started 8-of-14 from the field. The bad news for Washington was Minnesota started 9-of-13.
The difference? Washington was hitting their threes in the first quarter and Minnesota wasn’t. Washington connected on 4 of their 11 attempts in the quarter. They also attacked the hole, earning 11 free throw attempts in the opening quarter. Even though the Wolves shot an unthinkable 67 percent and scored 30 of their 36 points in the paint, Washington still led after one quarter, 40-36.
With the reserves in to start the second quarter, Washington reverted to the mean. The second unit only mustered up 4 points through the first five minutes of the period as Minnesota regained the lead. The Wizards’ Swiss cheese defense carried over into the second period. They threw a zone defense at Minnesota, hoping it would bait them into taking more outside shots, but to no avail. The Timberwolves shot a smoking-hot 58 percent from the field in the first half with 52 points in the paint to take a 64-62 lead into halftime.
the wizards are on pace to allow 104 points in the paint tonight— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) March 4, 2019
Karl-Anthony Towns found Andrew Wiggins on a backdoor cut for a dunk to open the second half and it looked like Washington’s didn’t get the message about their subpar interior defense. But a 6-0 run later in the quarter, punctuated by a step-back three from Bradley Beal, gave the Wizards a 77-71 lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the night. Minnesota cut into Washington’s lead at times, but the Wizards’ bench—led by Jabari Parker with 22 points—helped Washington establish control. Parker’s active hands defensively and outstanding play in transition sparked the Wizards as they took a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Parker and Thomas Bryant kept the good time rolling in the fourth quarter.
Thomas Bryant slapping the floor after staring down fans after dunking the ball on the break > pic.twitter.com/XMKuovAlZ2— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) March 4, 2019
Then Sam Dekker, who hadn’t played a meaningful minute since the trade deadline, made his mark on this one with a personal 6-0 run to extend the lead to double-digits and put the game away for good.
It’s time for a good hard look in the mirror
The Wizards won by 14 points and scored 135 points in the process so everything is good, right? Yes, the Wizards looked much improved tonight but let’s not forget that this win came against another team that has significantly underachieved and if the stars didn’t align for Washington, they probably don’t win.
Washington surrendered a mind-boggling 84 points in the paint tonight. And it took an ice-cold shooting performance from Minnesota from three-point range (15 percent) and 69 percent shooting from the free-throw line to help the Wizards win this one.
Bradley Beal played 37:30 minutes tonight, probably five minutes too long as he played well into the fourth quarter even though the game was out of hand. Bobby Portis also played well and continued to get the lion’s share of minutes at the center position which doesn’t bode well for Thomas Bryant as Dwight Howard looks to be getting closer to returning to the floor.
So why all the negativity?
You know how this goes. Washington, who’s lost 8 of their last 12 games with three of them coming against teams well out of playoff contention will now pound their chest after tonight’s victory. Rather than playing guys like Bryant, Troy Brown, and calling up Jordan McRae and Devin Robinson from the G-League—they’ll trot out the same lineup with the same game plan hoping that they can shoot 50 percent from the field once again and get seven players in double figures.
As it stands, the Wizards are three games out of the 8-seed and need a lot to go their way to have a shot.
This is shaping up to be a potentially good day for the Wizards' playoff hopes. They've opened up a 13-point lead on the Wolves. The Hornets, meanwhile, just lost to Portland. Orlando is about to fall in Cleveland. And Detroit is losing to Toronto.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) March 4, 2019
But do we really expect this Wizards team to show up on a nightly basis over the final 19 games of the season?
Next up: The Wizards are back in action on Wednesday as they host the Dallas Mavericks at 7 pm Eastern Time.