The Washington Wizards beat the Philadelphia 76ers 123-106 on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from the game...
1. For one night, the Philadelphia 76ers appeared mortal. After losing four of their previous five against Philly, including a 17-point drubbing the night before on the road, the Wizards gave the Sixers a beatdown of their own, and in doing so notched a victory that can be added to the list of their most impressive this season.
The Wizards took a five-point lead after the first quarter and grew to 15 by halftime. They held them off in the third quarter by scoring 29 points and then fought and fought to keep the lead until each team emptied their bench with under three minutes left.
In a span of four days, the Wizards beat the Thunder and the Sixers, two of the NBA's best teams. They have won four of their past six games, all since they learned John Wall would miss the rest of the season due to left heel surgery.
This has been an impressive response, to say the least, and the wins over OKC and Philly bode well for this weekend as they take on the top teams in the East, the Bucks and Raptors.
2. Otto Porter Jr. is just fine, guys. After spraining his right hand in the loss on Tuesday and requiring X-rays afterwards, Porter came out with one of his best games of the season the following night.
Porter still had his right wrist wrapped with black tape, but it didn't affect his play. He was brilliant, scoring 23 points on 8-for-15 shooting with six rebounds. It was the fourth time this season he's scored 20 points or more, and his fourth straight game with 10 or more field goal attempts.
On Tuesday, the Wizards couldn't provide Bradley Beal with the necessary help to win. In this game, Porter looked the part as their No. 2 scoring option.
Head coach Scott Brooks indicated before the game that Porter was close to moving back into the starting lineup from the bench. After the way he played on Wednesday, it wouldn't be surprising if that move happened this coming weekend.
Beal, by the way, was unstoppable. He had 34 points and five assists, shooting 13-for-21 from the field and 6-for-11 from three. Beal has been searching for his long range shot all season and may have finally found it.
3. When the Wizards traded for Trevor Ariza, there were some who said at this point his career, at age 33, he had lost a step and that he was essentially just a catch-and-shoot guy. So far with the Wizards, that has not been the case.
In fact, Wednesday's game defied that stereotype altogether. Though Ariza went 0-for-4 from three, he still scored 17 points because he was relentless in attacking the rim and he cashed in on a series of plays in transition by running the floor.
Ariza may be 33, but doesn't play like he has the mileage of a guy in his 15th year. He does an excellent job of moving on offense, and in this game he was rewarded for it.
4. Thomas Bryant again saw his role diminished in the first half with the Wizards having to make adjustments to battle Embiid, arguably the game's best center. Bryant played only four minutes in the first half and was held to zero points.
But in the second half, Bryant came out swinging. He popped off for nine points in the third quarter and did an excellent job helping the Wizards hold off what the Sixers hoped would be a second half push.
Bryant has shown the ability to learn and adapt quickly from his mistakes, and that was on display in the last two games. He had a lot of trouble in the first half on Tuesday night going up against Embiid (35 points, 14 rebounds) and wasn't perfect in this one, but he stuck with it and figured out a way to make an impact.
Though he didn't play much even in the first half of this game, it would seem likely things will go back to normal once the Wizards play other teams. He should come in handy against the Bucks on Friday and could be good to deploy on Brook Lopez, who can stretch the floor.
5. The huge game from the Sixers' bench on Tuesday did not carry over in this game, as the Wizards held a big advantage in their second unit. Their bench outscored that of Philly's 51-to-12.
The biggest difference, beyond Porter getting hot, was how the Wizards limited Landry Shamet. On Tuesday, Shamet had 29 points and made eight threes. In this game, he had five points and only one three.
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