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Wizards' defense steps up to down Nets, 102-88
Saturday night’s meeting between the Wizards and Nets was an even playing field in one sense: both teams had traveled after playing (and losing) on Friday night and were looking for a quick rebound win. Washington got what it was looking for on its home floor, shooting 51.9% from the field and playing some of its best defense of the season on the way to a 102-88 victory.
The usual suspects headlined the Wizards’ win, as John Wall’s 30 points and nine assists on 12-of-24 shooting (3-of-6 from 3-point) gave the offense the charge it needed after a slow start. Bradley Beal (22 points) and Markieff Morris (20 points, seven rebounds) helped shoulder the bulk of the scoring load on the night. Otto Porter Jr. (personal matter) returned to the lineup Saturday and scored seven points, while Tomas Satoransky (seven points) stepped into the starting lineup in place of Jeff Green (back), who was inactive for the game. Still, Wall's performance shined brightest on the night.
"A lot of teams switch one-through-four, one-through-five and with his quickness he seemed to really get to the paint and attack," said head coach Scott Brooks. "And also create for others. Nine assists, so that’s really an All-Star performance.”
Washington’s had a bad habit of allowing early leads to plague them of late, but after Brooklyn jumped out to a 10-4 early lead, the Wizards locked in and used a 20-9 run to gain a 24-19 lead after the first frame. The Nets eclipsed 20 points in a quarter just once Saturday, with 30 points in the final frame. Still, the defense that the Wizards have preached all season was the reason for the win. In total, Washington used 19 Brooklyn turnovers to score 20 points. Moreover, the Wizards set season-lows for opponent scoring and field goal percentage on the night.
While neither team shot the 3-point ball well (just eight makes for both sides), the Wizards had their way scoring in the paint, outscoring the Nets inside 52-42. Moreover, they used easy baskets to put together key runs at the beginning of quarters. With just a three-point lead going into the half, Washington started the third on an 11-0 run that featured just one 3-pointer (from Wall). To start the fourth, it used a shorter 9-4 run to continue to create space (a 15-point lead) before ultimately leading by as many as 20 in the final frame.
Morris and Wall dominated in the second half, scoring 18 and 16 points, respectively. Beal chipped in 10 points after intermission, and the trio helped the team find a rhythm on both ends of the floor. In the final two quarters, Washington shot a blistering 60.5% from the field and a much-improved 46.2% mark from 3-point range. Conversely, the Wizards held Brooklyn to just 41.7% from the field and 14.3% (2-for-14) shooting from 3-point range in the second half. Morris' game continued to stand out among his teammates.
“[Markieff Morris] had it going and we loved the matchup that he had," said Bradley Beal postgame. "Even with the bigger player on him, we wanted to just challenge him—challenge his feet, challenge his quickness. Keef got the best of him so he got a hot hand.”
Ahead for the Wizards is a long stretch away from home. A trip to New York to meet the Knicks on Monday night will start a four-game road trip with stops in Atlanta, Cleveland, and Indiana. Tip-off in New York on Monday is set for 7:30 P.M. ET.