The Washington Wizards beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 92-89 on Tuesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...
Gutsy win: The assumption when John Wall went down for two weeks with a left knee injury was that the Wizards would absolutely need Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and their starters to lead the way in order for them to win. On Tuesday night, much of the credit should go to the bench.
To be fair, Porter was the closer in their win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, a victory that snapped a two-game skid. Porter (22 points, eight rebounds) hit two big shots in the final minute to help seal the win, one a hook on the baseline and the second a jumper from about 20 feet out. But the Wizards' second unit came through with perhaps their best collective performance of the season.
The Wizards were reeling in the first quarter when head coach Scott Brooks turned to the bench early looking for a spark. That's exactly what he got as Kelly Oubre, Jr., Jodie Meeks and Tomas Satoransky helped Washington claw back. After trailing by 11 points with just over a minute left in the first quarter, the Wizards took the lead at the 9:33 mark if the second on a Meeks three. The Wizards had 25 bench points in the first half and 49 for the game.
Satoransky did a nice job pushing the pace and distributing. He had six assists to go along with seven points and a steal. Ian Mahinmi had eight rebounds and was plus-18. He did a solid job guarding Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 20 points and 17 rebounds but missed shots in key moments in the fourth quarter.
Meeks had 12 points in 17 minutes. Mike Scott caught fire in the second half to put in 12 points in 20 minutes with five rebounds and two steals. Oubre had 16 points and four rebounds. More on him in a moment.
The Wizards' defense was excellent after the first quarter. The Wolves only scored 59 points in the final three frames and Andrew Wiggins, who had 11 points in the first half, managed only two in the second.
The Wizards are now 11-9 on the year and 2-2 without Wall this season.
Beal struggled: This was Beal's worst game of the season so far, or at least the worst that he was not ejected from. He never found a rhythm and just didn't look like himself. Beal finished with eight points on 2-for-11 shooting. He had just four points in each half. Jimmy Butler was harrassing him all night and deserves some credit.
Early on there were a few shots for Beal that rolled in and out. Perhaps he got discouraged because the usual aggression just wasn't there. He only attempted one three, for instance.
Gortat and Morris M.I.A.: With Oubre, Mahinmi and Scott playing so well, Brooks kept starters Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. Gortat started the game well and finished with nine points and seven rebounds. Morris was off all game and ended it with two points on 1-for-6 shooting. Morris has not been playing well lately, just 13 games back since returning from his injury absence.
Oubre keeps getting better: Oubre continues to make plays we didn't see from him just months ago. He grabbed a rebound and took it coast-to-coast for a layup. He drove baseline, spun to his left and finished. He hit a running floater in the lane with his right hand.
He even threw a pass behind his back on the fastbreak to set up a Mike Scott dunk:
Kelly Oubre with the behind-the-back dish. Beautiful pass. pic.twitter.com/Uu0Hhyjf5p— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) November 29, 2017
Oubre's game continues to develop in a variety of ways. He's a better dribbler, passer and shooter than he was last season and he's making the Wizards' bench a much better unit.
Up next: The Wizards move on to Philadelphia for the second game of a back-to-back set and for their second matchup with the Sixers of the season. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.