By Dave Johnson
A season-high 64 points in the first half wasn’t good enough for the Washington Wizards. With the score tied to start the second half the Wizards would have to do even better. They responded to the challenge with a 119-113 win to complete the season sweep of the Nuggets.
Here is today’s Wizards Report:
It was the first time in 11 games the Wizards allowed over 100 points, but coupled with the 112-108 win in January the victory secured the Wizards first sweep of the Nuggets since the 2001/2002 season. The Nuggets are ranked the third in the NBA in scoring and tonight the Wizards have to deal with second-ranked offense against the Houston Rockets.
Coverage of the Wizards and Houston Rockets begins at 6:45 on the Washington Wizards Radio Network.
“This is a quality team. For our group, our guys to beat these guys twice, it’s an accomplishment for our guys.”
The game was only tied once and the Wizards never trailed after Emeka Okafor won the opening tip and then John Wall found former Nuggets star Nene for a dunk to christen the game against his old team. The Wizards opened the third quarter with a 13-0 run and held the Nuggets scoreless for the first 5:21 of the second half.
Randy Wittman on D:
“That’s all we talked about at half time. We didn’t talk anything offensively. We got four straight stops coming out in the third quarter, and I thought our intensity picked up from that defensive standpoint, and we outscored them 30-14 in that quarter to take control of the game.”
The Wizards won because:
Nobody tried to do too much for the Wizards. In Tuesday’s loss to the Raptors, the Wizards were slowed by too much individual play. It was not selfish play, but there were too many times when players, in an effort to make something happen, forced plays that were not there. Against the Nuggets the Wizards had seven players in double figures ranging from 12 to 17 points.
The Wizards also secured the victory with rebounds. With the way the Nuggets play teams get spread out on defense and that can add to the challenge on the boards. The Wizards had a 46-39 advantage in rebounds and were led by Bradley Beal with 12. Emeka Okafor had 13 rebounds. Beal had 17 points to match Okafor for the team-high in scoring.
The Wizards need to be prepared for lift-off against the Rockets. Back in December the Wizards actually held the Rockets to 99 points, but lost in Houston. The Rockets have the second best offense in the NBA at 106.4 points per-game. The Rockets also have the second worst defense, but rely on high number of possessions. The Rockets are the only team in the NBA who average over 100 possessions per-game.
Wall did not play in the loss to the Rockets in December and the Wizards failed to catch the Rockets in transition. The Wizards are fourth in the NBA in fast-break defense.