Marcin Gortat turned in his best game of the season leading the team with 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks as the Wizards hang on to beat the Pelicans 83-80. 4 of the 5 Wizards starters scored in double figures including Pierce with 10, Wall with 11, and Beal with 12.
Both teams came out shooting ice cold in the first quarter. The Wizards finally started to get things going about 5 minutes into the quarter with some nice interior passing from Paul Pierce and Kris Humphries. The Wizards had 5 assists on their first 5 made buckets of the game. The cold shooting continued as the Wizards didn’t score their first field goal of the second quarter until 3:20 in when Andre Miller hit a tough fade away jump shot.
The #benchmob did not provide the scoring punch that they usually do but were very active on the defensive end; particularly Otto Porter. Otto has seen his minutes decrease a little bit due to the return of Bradley Beal and the emergence of Rasuel Butler. As a result, his scoring has been down a little but that doesn’t prevent him from providing energy on the defensive end. Otto had 3 rebounds and 2 nice blocks on the New Orleans bigs in traffic.
Early in the 4th quarter, it looked like the Wizards might be able to put this game away. The Wizards stretched the lead to 10 on the first possession of the 4th quarter with a fade away jumper by Marcin Gortat. The Pelicans would not back down. Aggressive play from Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson kept the Pelicans in this one. The Pels took a 77-76 lead with 2:12 to go on a dunk by Anthony Davis. The Wizards quickly responded with a layup by John Wall and a three pointer by Paul Pierce. The Wiz stretched the lead out to 4 and never looked back.
The matchups tonight were very challenging for the Washington big men. Neither Kris Humphries nor Marcin Gortat could slow down Anthony Davis as he scored 30 points on 11-18 shooting. You want to make Anthony Davis beat you with his jump shot but the Wiz were letting him get to the rim resulting in several dunks and layups. I thought at one point Randy Wittman might go small and switch, Porter, Butler, or even Seraphin onto him as Humphries looked out of his comfort zone guarding stretch 4’s around the arc.
The Wizards switched their rotations this evening due to Nene being injured and the hot hand of Rasuel Butler. Butler checked in for Paul Pierce when Otto has filled that role in the past. Additionally, it looks like there will be no standard big men rotation while Nene is out and Randy is just going to play whoever is hot at the time.
Lastly, the house of guards played good tonight, not great. Bradley Beal probably had his best game of the season as a starter (3 starts) scoring 12 points on 5-11 shooting. John Wall scored 11 points on 5-14 shooting. All of John’s buckets were scored in the paint tonight, not one jumper. John became passive as the game went on and repeatedly settled for jump shots even when it looked like he could take his man off the dribble. John consistently needs to knock down the elbow jumpers for teams to respect his shot. Otherwise, opponents will dare him to shoot over them.
Wiz improve to 10-5, their best start in over 40 years.