The Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 107-89 on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from the game...
1. There is one obvious parallel between the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers this season in that both teams lost an All-Star guard for the year due to injury. For the Wizards, that was John Wall. For the Pacers, that was Victor Oladipo.
The Wizards, though, began playing well once Wall went out back in late December. For the Pacers, it has been a much different story.
They have now lost three straight games since Oladipo’s shocking injury, including on Wednesday night to Washington. The Wizards beat the Pacers for the first time this season and did so in blowout fashion, winning by 18 points.
Washington rebounded from a pair of tough losses, one a smackdown against the Spurs and the other an inexcusable letdown against the dreadful Cavaliers. They earned a much-needed victory as they now await the Milwaukee Bucks, who come to town Saturday with the NBA’s best record.
The Wizards may be terrible on the road this season (6-20), but they have been excellent at home. They are now 16-9 at Capital One Arena, having won seven of nine there.
That includes a win over the Bucks earlier this month. But that was without Giannis Antetokounmpo, who should change things of course.
2. It’s Jeff Green’s world and we are all just living in it. The Wizards veteran tore up the Pacers for 23 points, six assists, five rebounds and two blocks in 29 minutes.
Green had 16 points in the first half alone and was a big reason why the Wizards built a 19-point lead early on. He knocked down threes (3-for-7) and made the Pacers pay for trapping him with smart passes.
It has happened a few times this season where Green single-handedly changed a game for the Wizards and this one can be added to the list. Not bad for a guy making only $2.4 million in a one-year deal.
3. Green did all of this off the bench, as he was removed from the starting lineup for Otto Porter Jr. after starting the last 23 games. With Porter in a shooting slump, head coach Scott Brooks bumped him off the bench, apparently to get him going.
The change worked better for Green than it did for Porter, who again struggled, posting only three points in 16 minutes on 1-for-5 from the field and 1-for-4 from the perimeter. He is now averaging 8.8 points in his last five games while shooting 30.3 percent overall and 24.1 percent from three.
4. Some of Porter’s recent issues may have been explained on Wednesday night as he departed with a sprained left toe early in the second half. He left for the locker room in the third quarter and never returned.
Porter, if you recall, battled a left toe contusion earlier this season, one that kept him sidelined on-and-off. It's not clear if he sustained the most recent injury during this game or if it has been lingering.
The Wizards happen to have two days off before their next game, so that should help his chances of not missing time.
5. There’s a reason why Brooks always bristles when reporters ask him about the subject of ‘garbage time.’ He doesn’t believe in the phrase, knowing himself what it is like to come off the bench for a few minutes at the end of a blowout. He insists that is important time for the players it is afforded and that they should never scoff at the opportunity, even during a meaningless part of a game.
That philosophy came to life on Wednesday, as Brooks rewarded Jordan McRae for what he did the night before in a loss to the Cavaliers. McRae helped the Wizards come back from down 25 points in Cleveland and cut it to three to set up a final possession with a chance to tie.
After seeing that, Brooks rewarded McRae with some more meaningful minutes. He came off the bench to start the second quarter and ended up with 12 points and three boards in 26 minutes of action.
It was a nice step for McRae, who has patiently waited for an opportunity spending much of this year with the G-League team.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS: