By Dave Johnson
As we inch in to the off-season, we are taking time on Daily Wizdom to review the 2012/2013 season. In their 29 wins, the Washington Wizards were able to deliver some strong memories to offer hope for the future.
Number 7 on our top 10 list of Wizards games from this past season is the 105-103 win over the Rockets on February 23 at Verizon Center. Earlier in the month the Wizards had put together a three-game stretch that included wins over the Clippers, Knicks and Nets. The win over the Rockets came 24 hours after a home win against the Nuggets.
The list so far:
9------Wizards beat Miami 105-101
I welcome feedback on our top 10 list or anything else at email@example.com.
Audio review of win over Rockets:
My game recap from that night:
The Washington Wizards handled the storm. The NBA schedule makers created a basketball version of a high pressure system with back-to-back games against Denver and Houston. A night after their win over the Nuggets, the Wizards wiggled out a 105-103 victory over the Rockets.
Winning breeds confidence. With the Houston Rockets shooting threes and making them like layups in the first half, the Washington Wizards didn’t panic. The Rockets were 13 of 28 from three-point distance in the first half and built a 17-point lead at 48-31. The Wizards didn’t fold. They persevered and tightened up on defense and were efficient on offense.
In 48 hours the Wizards were able to snare wins over two of the highest scoring teams in the NBA The Rockets are second in the league in scoring and trail only Oklahoma City. Denver is third in scoring. The Wizards beat the Thunder at home in January.
Bradley Beal led five Wizards players in double figures scoring with 21 points. The Wizards rookie continues to go from strength to strength. Beal was part of a critical 7-0 run in the third quarter when he hit a three-pointer and assisted on two field goals. Beal’s final line included 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
To pull out the win the Wizards went inside against the Rockets' four-guard lineup. Emeka Okafor scored 7 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and made it to the free throw line with score tied at 103 with 5.2 seconds left in the game. To go Okafor on the block was a departure from the closing seconds of games or quarters when John Wall or Bradley Beal get the ball.
John Wall on the final play:
"I know if I get the ball they are going to sink in like they do every game at the end of quarters. I’m basically the only one that will penetrate. We get them moving a little bit, they double the post, and we swing it to find the easiest outlet. We catch them off guard, they usually think I’m getting the ball or Brad is getting the ball, but we can go to the low post, and those guys can finish or they can make free throws. It makes it tough.”
"This team is pretty unique where you legitimately have guys at every position that can put the ball in the bucket. So at the end of the game Coach (Wittman) drew up a play and said hey, ‘whoever the mismatch is on is who we’re going to’. It wasn’t for me or Nene, it’s whoever (Carlos) Delfino was guarding.”
“I went big with 21 seconds at the end of the game, and I said whoever has the smallest defender on them that’s who I want the ball to go to. I’m a firm believer in going at mismatches, and the flow of the game. I felt Emeka Okafor played outstanding, and he was doing a great job when he got the ball down there. I coach by feel; I don’t have a set play we will go to every time. Houston stayed small all game long and I just decided to go big and it worked out well.”
Okafor made the first free throw, but missed the second. On Okafor’s missed free throw, Beal was the hero. He grabbed the rebound and dribbled to mid court before he was fouled with 1.9 second left. He made one of two free throws to give the Wizards the two-point margin of victory.
Beal said he knows often forwards don’t expect guards to rebound on the free throw line and he was able to pull the surprise for the game-clinching board.
“I thought Asik (Omer) was going to box me out. I kind of disguised it like I wasn’t going to go in. Most bigs, they don’t ever box out a guard. It was a long rebound and I just ended jumping up for it. I was in the right place at the right time I guess.”
Trevor Ariza finished with 18 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals. Ariza was 8 of 12 from the field and was able to use his defense to score in transition. Ariza and starter Martell Webster have become an effective combination at small forward. Ariza’s effort against the Rockets was especially important with Webster saddled with four fouls. Webster still had 12 points.