The Washington Wizards were in a very bad place just six games ago, a lot has change since then. They’ve lost more players to injury, but regained All-Star level play from one of their big investments. Marcin Gortat has been on a tear as of late, scoring 20 plus points for the second time during this four game win streak. Against the Nets last night, he had 25 points and seven rebounds. John Wall continued his torrid pace this December with 22 points and 13 assists as the injury riddled Wizards are starting to get a bit more healthy. Rookies Kelly Oubre and Jarell Eddie made contributions as well, especially Eddie who hit a few big shots for Washington in his NBA debut.
“John, again, is just playing at a fabulous clip right now” – Randy Wittman, Wizards Head Coach
The Nets didn’t go down easily though, Washington built a 12-point lead in the first half. Brooklyn didn’t panic, they fought back to take the lead in the third quarter. However, Washington would hold a 79-77 lead heading into the fourth and final period.
That’s the last time the game was close, the Wizards went on a quick run to start the quarter and never looked back. It was vintage Wall, manipulating the Brooklyn defense like a savvy vet. There was one sequence in the half court that stood out, a Wizards wing was running off a down screen from Gortat and the Nets defense shifted a bit. In that moment, Wall threw a lob pass that found Gortat at the rim with nothing left to do but throw it down.
With all of the personnel changes due to injuries, Wall’s level of play stands out even more. He’s doing this with teammates that weren’t expected to share nearly this many minutes on the floor with him. Eddie who was just signed last week, said it perfectly when asked about what it’s like to play with Wall: “It’s easy.”
As for the rookie, Eddie endeared himself to Wizards fans very quickly with his performance. During the fourth quarter, when Washington was trying to separate from Brooklyn, it was him that delivered a few body blows to the Nets. The sharp shooter knocked down four extremely timely triples that seemed to take the wind out of the Nets. He was signed for his ability to hit the long ball and he did just that in his debut, going four-of-four from deep.
Brook Lopez (19 points, 11 rebounds) and Thaddeous Young (16 points, 14 rebounds) had big games for Brooklyn, but they had little to no help. Especially with keeping Wall out of the paint, he attacked at will and tormented Brooklyn’s defense with ease. He used his speed to score both in transition and in the half court while setting the table for teammates, giving them great looks, all they had to do was knock it down.
The other rook, well Washington’s first rounder this past draft has started to get comfortable during this stretch. With the injuries on the wing, he’s been able to get extended minutes as a starter. These starts have definitely helped him get comfortable, first it was just playing good defense and shooting the corner three. Last night, he started to put the ball on the floor a bit and attack a bit. He’s showing early signs of being a 3-and-D type of wing, which certainly can’t hurt Washington.
Otto Porter Jr. returned for Washington after missing three games, he played 19 minutes as a reserve and scored seven points on two-of-seven shooting.
As the Wizards continue their climb to the top of the East, they’ve learned something during this recent stretch. Once Bradley Beal returns, they have legit depth on the wings and that is a weapon. It’ll be interesting to see if Eddie can stick around on the roster for the long haul, but things are certainly looking up for Washington.