The Washington Wizards unveiled a new starting lineup in last night’s 102-88 win over the visiting Brooklyn Nets. It may have been the first time that John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Tomas Satoransky started since they were all on the roster. Joining them were Otto Porter and Thomas Bryant. That group set the tone defensively for a game where there wasn’t a ton of scoring, they held the Nets to 30.4% shooting in the opening quarter. Wall had 12 points, mostly doing his damage from the midrange area. Late in the game it was all Markieff Morris, he had a big quarter and proved to be a very tough matchup for Brooklyn during that span. Washington is now 9-14, but as Brooks alluded to after the game they have to figure out a way to replicate similar performances as the visiting team.
John Wall had a game-high 30 points, he also had nine assists and five rebounds. Bradley Beal had 22 points and Morris had 20. Leading Brooklyn was Allen Crabbe with 14 points, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 11, and DeMarre Carroll chipped in with 10. The Wizards lost the battle on the glass, but they did a good job of running the Nets off the three point line. More importantly of keeping their guards from carving them up in the screen/roll like the last time they met in D.C.
The Wizards built a 12 point lead at one time, but Brooklyn fought back to cut the deficit to just three going into the half. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was a big reason for that, as he scored seven crucial points to put the Nets back in it.
Washington started the second half with an 11-0 run that gave them some separation from Brooklyn Nets. It was fueled by defense as Washington dug in and really harassed the Brooklyn ball handlers. John scored 10 more points in the quarter as well, the Wizards built a 14 point lead. The problem for Washington was that they couldn’t get stops, they were called for nine fouls in the period. The Nets took 13 trips to the line, knocking down nine of them. Outside of the foul line, the Nets shot just 29% from the floor. The Wizards held the duo of D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie to a combined 16 points on six of 17 shooting. They also held Jarrett Allen in check, he finished with six points and eight rebounds.
The Wizards and Nets traded baskets to start off the fourth, but Morris is the reason the lead got up to as any as 20 at one point. Morris was splendid in extending the lead. He and Wall ran screen/rolls over and over on the same side of the floor. Each time it would produce a different result, most of which resulted in a basket by Morris. There were open threes, post fadeaways, and more. With his team on the second night of a back-to-back, especially playing double overtime the night before, Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson took his starters out just under the four minute remark. Washington’s starters stayed in another minute or two before Scott Brooks sat them down.
Morris. He, well no one played well the night before in Philly. But it was yet another example of him embracing his new role. He really shot the ball well, knocking down nine of his 14 shots including two triples. His defense was more impressive honestly, he pulled down seven rebounds and had three steals and two blocked shots.
Sato. His inclusion in the starting lineup gave Washington another playmaker and “ball mover” as Brooks said after the game. His multiple efforts on the defensive end showed up time and time again. His size also allowed Washington to switch things a big easier on that end as well. It’s a good fit.
Wall. He was aggressive from opening tip and that always makes Washington more dangerous. He did a good job of taking what the defense was giving him and only had a few of those drives to the rim where he was asking for a call. It was a solid performance from John, especially on the glass.
Defense. Washington held the Nets to just 37% shooting. There were two stretches in the game in which their defense was just outstanding. The first being during the 11-0 run to start the second half. They really disrupted the Nets and kept them to one shot per trip. The other being during that personal run from Keef in the fourth. You can’t build a 20 point lead if you’re trading baskets, Keef himself had a few deflections and steals during that stretch.
One game. It’s only one game, obviously nice that it resulted in a win. Washington has been inconsistent at doing the good things, well the little things all season. They have to find a way to replicate the good things on a nightly basis, until then they won’t be able to climb out of this hole.