Story By: Sol Tucker
Photos By: Sol Tucker
There have been some serious doubts about the Wizards this season, but don’t look now, they have won four straight games and Bradley Beal is an All Star for the first time ever. Never say never with this team. They have just a few more games to keep getting it right before the second half of the season.
Last night against the Blazers, you could see that Beal continues to emerge as one of the best in the league and found a way to get under the skin of Damien Lillard on several occasions. It appears that Scott Brooks has also found a way to keep his bench ready to step in and make some good defensive stops to help his team late in games, which was missing for the first 10 games of the season for sure.
The biggest take away from this game was that the Blazers led 43-31 after the first quarter even while the Wizards were shooting 61.9 percent from the field. This is when Portland’s bench entered into the lineup and the offense came to a screeching halt. The Wizards bench of Neto and Matthews had their own agenda, hard nosed basketball. Several doubles of Carmelo Anthony led to two Blazers turnovers and six quick points for the Wizards, which in the fourth quarter would lead to a huge difference.
Another solid take away from the late minutes of the game was that the usually reliable Gary Trent finished 6-16 from the field. Anfernee Simons and Carmelo Anthony were each 2-10. Rodney Hood was 0-3. Portland’s bench was a combined 5-25. One word DEFENSE. It does work and apparently Brooks has found a way to get his bench and even his starters to play some of it. Do it more and games will come. Stop forcing plays that don’t work and get a good mix of Beal and Westbrook and the W’s will come just like that have for the past four games.
Next up for the Wizards, a struggling Lakers team. Can they make it five in a row and defeat two of the best teams in the NBA back to back? Only Beal and Westbrook know the answer to that. Its all or nothing for both of them on Monday night. Win Monday, confidence in this team goes to a season high and so does the future for the second half of the season.