NBA Wizards 

Timely stops help Washington outlast Detroit

Not one, but two timely blocks from John Wall helped seal the Wizards second win of the season in as many games. After a strong third quarter in which the Wizards appeared to have gotten control of the game, a poor defensive period had the Pistons shoot 69% in the fourth. Despite the hot shooting by the visiting team, Washington’s late stops allowed them hold on against Detroit for a 115-11 victory. Washington’s “Big 3” of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter Jr combined to score 79 points on 28 of 44 shooting from the floor, just 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. Otto led the way with 28 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals.

The Wizards backcourt had a huge second half, Wall (20 points) and Beal (14 points) created problems for the Detroit defense time and time again. It’s common place to see Wall attacking the rim, but Beal had a couple of huge drives as well that half. They would score 27 and 24 points respectively, with Wall’s 27 accompanied by 10 assists, his first double-double of the year. Beal’s 24 points didn’t stand alone as his well rounded effort included 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks. While they get the credit for coming through late, it was Otto Porter yet again that set the tone early on. He had an electric first half, displaying his ability to score from every level of the floor.

The Pistons got off to a good start, but losing Andre Drummond hurt them a bit at the start of the fourth quarter. That didn’t deter them as they walked the 15 point deficit down with ease. Reggie Jackson scored 11 of his 21 points in the final period and Avery Bradley 8 of his 18, including knocking down two big three-pointers. Tobias Harris also had a solid game for Detroit, but most of his damage was done in the first half.

The Wizards didn’t have an issue scoring, shooting 63% from the floor despite not connecting on one three point attempt in the first half. Detroit isn’t exactly known for their ability to score, but the inconsistency from Washington’s defense definitely didn’t make things tough for them. The Pistons shot 55% from the floor and a blistering 54.5 % from beyond the arc.

The Pistons were sharing the ball well (17 assists) and were dominating the glass, holding a 20-10 edge at the half. Rookie Luke Kennard had a solid first hlaf in the nation’s capital, with 11 points. Andre Drummond almost had a double-double (9 points, 10 rebounds).

The Wizards were buoyed by an assertive Otto Porter, who had 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting in the first half.

 

Everything changed in the third quarter for Washington, they dug in  a bit on the defensive end and started the half on a 14-4 run. Porter remained piping hot, but that’s when his teammates got going. Washington’s backcourt had 19 as a unit in the quarter (Wall 11 points, Beal 8 points), when the dust settled the Wizards had outscored the Pistons 33-16 in the third to regain the lead.

The Wizards move to 2-0 after the win over Detroit, they’ll head out West for a four game road trip. First they’ll play the Nuggets, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers, the reigning champion Golden State Warriors and the young Sacramento Kings. One thing they definitely need to pack on this trip is their defense.

Takeaways

Porter: For the second straight game he’s come out assertive, giving opposing defenses something else to account for. Against Detroit he literally led the attack for two quarters before his fellow max-players took over. Otto’s looked relaxed through the first two contests, if he can keep this up it’s really going to change how teams defend the Wizards.

Wall/Beal: Leadership is what comes to mind, the duo really took over in the third quarter. Showing that they don’t always have to take turns, they can both be feeling it at the same time. Their on court chemistry continues to evolve, Beal’s able to create for others and Wall is looking more comfortable off-ball when Brad’s doing his thing. What stood out most though was their accountability defensively when the team needed stops, they seemed to relish the challenge as they both finished with two blocks a piece.

Defense: Iconsistency on that end of the floor really hurt Washington in the first half, wheenver they were on the same page they got stops. Better even were the steals that were a result of good ball pressure, leading to live ball turnovers and easy points. On this upcoming road trip they will play a team that will make them pay for that inconsistency, so I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on that side of the floor while they’re on the road. As Brook’s said in the posgame presser, they seemed to be in the “middle” on things, whether to hedge, or catch in the pick-and-roll. Decisions have to be made either way, but it has to be done with some conviction.

Second Unit: The bench had a solid debut this season against Philadelphia, not so much against the Pistons. Most of it had to do with the defensive end, they couldn’t get stops and that affected their rhythm offensively at times. The Pistons  second unit outscored them 38 to 22 and that’s on acceptable, especially the type of defense that was being played. It’s one thing if teams are hitting tough shots, but Detroit’s second unit was extremely efficient hitting 17 of their 29 shots.

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