wizards 109 raptors 92
3/31/2013 - Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Wizards vs Raptors Photos
NBA.com Game Highlights
This was John Wall's game from beginning to end. The Wizards young superstar continued his assault on the league in what Randy Wittman assesed as a better performance than his 30+ and 40+ games earlier this month.
Wall got great support from his teammates and the Wizards really just toyed with Raptors after keeping things close in the first quarter. After the game, I told my colleauges that this reminded me of a Wizards/Spurs game only Washington played the role of San Antonio.
The good news is that Washington is looking like these last two months are no fluke. In years past, we've seen teams end non-playoff seasons strong and give fans what amounted to false advertisment and hope for the following year. I know many will remain skeptical and this organization deserves some of that but this does feel different. If for no other reason, the one thing that everyone was wondering this year, about how Wall and Beal would mesh is being answered on the court and the results speak for themselves.
Speaking of Bradley Beal, he went from game time decision to en fuego with 30 minutes off the bench in his first game back since re-injuring his ankle. You want to talk about an impressive stat line for a guy who's missed the last few games? How about 8-for -14 from the field and 6-of-9 from behind the arc, four assists, two rebounds, and 24 points. Beal wasn't alone, though, as Washington got good performances from just about everyone who dressed including our favorite 6th overall pick -- the Dunking Ninja, Jan Vesely, who messed around and nearly got a double-double with nine points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes of play.
So, maybe, just maybe we were a little too harsh on the Wiz Kids. Maybe John Wall does mean that much to this team. After all, if you project Washington's numbers with a healthy John Wall we would be gearing up for a potential playoff run instead of the lottery. This team's goals for the last 10 games has nothing to do with losing. Per Wall and Webster last night, the Wizards are gunning for the 9th spot and want to take that momentum into next year. If the Wizards can figure out how to play on the road like they have been at home, the 9th spot and a whole lot of curious and eager DC basketball fans could be on the horizon.
John Wall's stat line won't really jump out at you. He dropped 18 points on 7-for-15 shooting, picked up six rebounds, dished out 10 assists and had a pretty good plus/minus of +28. What was impressive though was the way he controlled the game, his ability to dictate tempo, the level of confidence that he's playing with and watching the players on this team get better simply by playing with him. This stretch of basketball for him has been impressive and fun to watch. People are taking notice around the league, teams are having to face guard him further out from the basket now, and it's opening up holes and lanes for everyone including himself.
Martell Webster: Not nearly one of his better games, but Martell contributed in a number of different ways and as the old cliche goes -- a lot of those things won't show up in the box score. What you will see is a bad shooting performance, 2-for-9 from the field, but his eigh rebounds, three assists, and plus/minus of +24 helped him make up for his offensive struggles. If there is one constant about Martell it's that he's constantly giving it one hundred percent. His energy is infectious and he seems to be in good spots at the right time. It's refreshing to see that when a Wizards starter doesn't have a relatively solid offensive night, the team can still be effective. If W3bst3r would have been on tonight, who knows how bad this game would have been...for the Raptors.
Rudy Gay: Speaking of bad nights, Rudy just never got the car warmed up. He was frustrated with calls all night, got called for a technical foul, and just looked as if he was going through the motions. I don't know if it was the odd 6pm Sunday tipoff, the rumors of him being shutdown, or a bad Cadbury egg, but the guy everyone was excited to potentially see the Wizards trade for made everyone feel better about the decision to abstain from a trade with Memphis for at least one night.
It wasn't just about the win, it was how they went about it. The Wizards won the turnover, rebounding, assists and shooting battles, and througout the game just looked like a superior team, all this without starting PF Nene in the lineup. Toronto looked frustrated, rushed shots, were outmuscled and could not find an answer to shut down Wall and Beal.
This team is playing with no restrictions. They are loose, they are confident, and they are having fun and that's more than can be said for the past few years. The Wizards are now 22-18 since the return of the Game Changer. Washington won for the seventh straight game at home, and have a 20-17 record at the Verizon Center which is the first time they have an above .500 record after 35 games since 2007-2008.
Jan Vesely's free throw shooting. I honestly don't even know if Dave Hopla can help poor Jan, but this is obviously something that has to be addressed in the offseason. When you are limited in the productivity that you can provide to an NBA team, you must be able to do the simple things well. You know, like play defense, run plays properly, and shoot FREE throws. Jan is tied for 437th in the NBA in FT % at .308 for the season, there are only 26 players who are shooting a worse percentage right now and only two of those players have anywhere near the amount of attempts as Jan (39) -- Lou Admundson and Viacheslav Kravtsov.
Even worse than Jan's free throw shooting though was the Raptors defense, particularly in the 3rd quarter, where someone apparently threw away the scouting report on Bradley Beal. B3al connected on four 3-pt shots before Toronto decided it would be more effecitve to guard him closely.