This one didn’t feel like the season opener. Nope, this one had the feeling of a first-round playoff matchup.
John Wall led the Wizards with 28 points and Bradley Beal scored 25 as the Wizards hang on to beat the 76ers, 120-115. Marcin Gortat played one of his best games in years with 16 points and 17 rebounds while the reserves combined for 41 points led by Kelly Oubre and Jodie Meeks with 14 a piece.
I thought the young 76ers might come out and cough the ball up until the early game jitters wore off but that wasn’t the case. Ben Simmons, who looked like he might be rookie of the year and Joel Embiid took it right to Washington early. But John Wall and co. weren’t having it. Although his shot wasn’t falling, Wall got his teammates involved as he had four assists in the opening quarter and imposed his will to score evidenced with this backdown dunk.
Washington led 32-23 after one.
The reserves, a huge question mark coming into this season showed signs of improvement. They did not play well in the early moments of the second quarter on defense but held their own on the offensive end. Kelly Oubre knocked down three of his first four three-pointers while Jodie Meeks also provided a scoring punch but it was the 76ers that led, 59-56 at halftime.
Bradley Beal, who had a cold first half, came out guns blazing to start the third quarter. Beal scored nine points in the first five minutes of the half for the Wizards. After few transition opportunities in the first half, Wall was able to get out for some nifty fastbreak layups to stretch the Wizards lead to eight, 82-74.
Wall and Beal would combine for 25 points in the period as the Wizards led, 90-82 entering the fourth quarter.
Philly was on fire to start the fourth quarter. The 76ers hit their first four three-pointers of the period to shrink the Wizards lead to two, 102-100 in an instant. And that’s when the Wizards turned this one around. Careless passes from the young 76ers led to highlight reel plays on the other end for Washington. It looked like the Wizards had this one in the bag as they led 115-108 with just over a minute to play. But again, Washington would have to survive one more barrage of three-pointers.
With the Wizards up two and Philadelphia looking to score in transition, Beal poked the ball free and Otto Porter was there to save it from going out of bounds. Philly sent the Wizards to the free throw line and that would be it as Washington would close this one out.
Wizards win the opener, 120-115.
The bench looks much improved
The reserves combined for 41 points tonight led by Oubre and Meeks with 14 a piece. Oubre was hot from three-point range connecting on three of his first four attempts. He then spent the second half attacking the rim and crashing the glass including this putback dunk:
Mike Scott played well knocking down a three-pointer off the bench as well as a few floaters in the lane. Ian Mahinmi played solid defense while Tim Frazier added five assists. This was easily one of the best performances from the reserve unit as a whole in recent memory.
The Power Forward position could be a rotating door until Markieff Morris returns
Jason Smith started the game but got injured early on. Regardless, he was pretty ineffective. After the Smith injury, Oubre and Scott spent the remainder of the game in the power forward position.
Oubre took advantage of the increased playing time with 14 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes of play. It’ll be interesting to see if Scott Brooks opts to start Oubre or continue bringing him off the bench.