The Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 134-125 on Saturday night. Here are five observations from the game...
1. So, the new-look Wizards might be kind of fun.
For the second straight night, they blasted an opponent with a balanced scoring effort, lots of dunks and Bobby Portis screams into the crowd.
Things, of course, won’t always be this easy. They just beat up on the Bulls one night after smashing the Cavs. Those two teams place among the four-worst records in all the NBA.
The road will get a bit tougher on Monday against the Pistons and then extremely difficult on Wednesday in Toronto in their final game before the All-Star break.
But the early returns on the Wizards after their pair of trades on Wednesday are good. They play hard, they can score and they at least have enough to win against the bad teams.
The two straight wins follow a stretch of five losses in six games. The Wizards are 10th in the conference with a shot at the 9th-place team, Detroit, up next. At 24-32, Washington is two and a half games behind the 8th-place Miami Heat, who play the Warriors on Sunday.
2. Friday was Portis’ time to shine. On Saturday, it was all about Jabari Parker.
The new Wizards forward had a classic revenge game, tormenting his former team to the tune of 20 points on 9-for-15 shooting. He also added six assists, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
Parker clearly had an ax to grind coming into this game based on his comments the day before about his frustration with the Bulls coaching staff. And his quest for vengeance seemed to translate in a variety of powerful dunks. He wasn’t just there to score. He was there to punish the rim.
The Revenge of Jabari Parker 👿 pic.twitter.com/S8yqfmdv54— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) February 10, 2019
Parker led a huge effort from the Wizards bench. They scored 64 points compared to 38 for the Bulls reserves. Chasson Randle pitched in with a career-high 20 points.
The Wizards gave up a good player in Otto Porter Jr., but already it’s clear how they improved their depth in this week’s trades. They basically got three players for one in their rotation since Markieff Morris hadn’t played in weeks due to injury.
3. As expected, it was strange to see Porter in a Bulls jersey going up against his former Wizards teammates. What was unexpected was some of the plays he made.
Porter came out with some extra zip in the first quarter. He was more aggressive than we are used to seeing him, attacking the rim and finishing through traffic.
Porter ended up with 17 points and two steals. As much as there is to like about the Wizards’ side of the trade – they got two nice players and some much-needed financial flexibility – the Bulls did well for themselves. He is a nice fit with what they are building.
Porter is a good veteran complement to Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. Add in whomever they get with their 2019 first round pick, which should be a top selection, and they will have a solid group to build around.
Porter’s contract was a problem in Washington, but they can manage it in Chicago with young players who have yet to break the bank.
4. The Wizards had their best offensive first half in over a decade. They dropped 76 points against the Bulls, their most in a first half since 2006, back when Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison were lighting it up in the good old days.
The Wizards shot 57.1 percent overall in the first half and 10-for-18 from three. Their bench outdid that of the Bulls, 35-15. They blitzed them in the second quarter with 42 points.
It has helped the Wizards played Cleveland on Friday and then the Bulls, but their new-look roster has already shown some serious offensive potential. Everyone knows Parker can score and both Portis and Wes Johnson can stretch the floor.
5. There is a new Wizards injury to monitor as Jeff Green did not return after halftime with tightness in his left hip. He was replaced by Parker in the lineup to begin the third quarter.
Green can be added to the Wizards’ list of injuries that includes Troy Brown Jr., who is not expected to return until after the All-Star break due to his left ankle sprain. Then, of course, there is John Wall who is out for the year and Dwight Howard, who does not appear close to returning.
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