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Wall's 32 points power Wizards past Pistons
Wednesday night marked the fourth of the Wizards’ five-game preseason slate, but it certainly felt as if head coach Scott Brooks was using it as his team’s dress rehearsal ahead of next week’s season opener. The presumed starting five for Washington played extended minutes as far as preseason games go and led the way to a 102-97 victory over the Pistons in Detroit.
With the Wizards’ final game of the preseason slated for Friday night against the Guangzhou Long-Lions, Wednesday was their final exhibition test against an NBA team. John Wall’s 32 points and eight assists were a big reason for Washington passing that test, as the All-Star point guard controlled the game and hit big shots to seal the victory down the stretch.
After Washington had controlled most of the game, Detroit eliminated a 14-point third-quarter Wizards lead, making for a back-and-forth finish. But Wall’s 13 points in the final six minutes of the game (he also assisted on a Markieff Morris slam) shut the door on the comeback-minded Pistons. It all added up to a lot of positive signs as the Wizards begin to look ahead to the marathon that is the regular season.
Four big takeaways from Wednesday’s win in the Motor City…
As far as minutes go, John Wall’s 31 paced the team, while Bradley Beal logged nearly 29 minutes and scored 17 points. Ian Mahinmi logged just 11 minutes, and Markieff Morris played 25 (15 points, seven rebounds). Otto Porter Jr. rounded out the starting group with 22 minutes, but struggled from the field in limited shot attempts (1-for-6).
The Numbers That Count
Coach Brooks noted at the outset of camp that the Wizards’ style this season had three major pillars: defense, pace and 3-point shooting. Additional emphasis was placed on scoring in the paint when the Wizards aren’t making 3’s. Wednesday was an exercise in the latter, as the team shot just 10-for-32 from deep but still shot 47 percent from the field. Washington outscored the Pistons in the paint by four and did even better (a 14-4 advantage) scoring on the break. And while the team as a whole didn’t shoot well from distance, John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for a strong 6-for-11 showing.
Smith and Sato The Wizards’ bench was in a bit of a funk from the field on the night, but Jason Smith and Tomas Satoransky shined bright for the second unit. Smith logged 26 minutes and led the bench with 14 points and six rebounds. Satoransky turned in a usual performance for him, scoring six points while dishing out six assists and adding three rebounds. Austin Rivers also added seven points off the bench. Jeff Green (26 minutes) and Kelly Oubre (19 minutes) rounded out the rotation.
Pending Dwight Howard’s health (back) the rotation that Scott Brooks used was more or less what we can expect come opening night next Thursday. Foul trouble caused some shuffling Wednesday and the minutes of the likes of Wall, Beal and Porter will likely tick up a bit, but the Wizards are solidifying a 10 or 11-man group to start the season.
Overall, the Wizards played with good pace and defended really well Wednesday. Holding any NBA team under 100 points is a good sign in today’s league, and the 23 points off 16 Detroit turnovers is also encouraging. Washington moved the ball well offensively, too, something that was a hallmark of their success last season.
Friday night at Capital One Arena, the Wizards will host their Global Series (pres. by Alibaba Group) game against the Guangzhou Long-Lions to round out the preseason. Tip-off on NBCSW is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.