The Washington Wizards beat the Brooklyn Nets 125-116 on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from the game...
1. The Wizards may be the most enigmatic team in the NBA this season. They have taken on so many forms throughout the year that predicting their results is a fool's errand.
Wednesday's win over the Nets was a perfect, mercurial microcosm. They went down 10-0 early, forcing a Scott Brooks timeout. Then, somehow, they rallied to hand a beatdown to a legitimate playoff team in the Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn also happens to give them trouble. The Wizards had lost four of their last six against the Nets and three straight on the road.
The Wizards got just their fourth win in their last 16 games. They snapped a four-game losing streak. Just when they appeared to be veering towards rock bottom, Washington responded with an impressive win against a good team.
2. There may be something to this Thomas Bryant on the bench thing. For the second straight game, he responded to his demotion with a huge outing to lead the Wizards' second unit.
Bryant erupted for 14 points in his first eight minutes and finished with 18 points and five rebounds for the game. Ed Davis and the Nets' bench were no match for him.
When Brooks first put Bryant in the starting lineup back in November, he was hoping to give that unit a spark, and it worked. Bryant has done the same thing for the bench.
After the Wizards went down 10 points in the first quarter, Bryant helped the bench flip the game around. There is no secret he provides a boost of energy. Though that has been nice for the Wizards to have off the opening tip, it can be very helpful off the bench and especially after a slow start.
3. This was one of Trevor Ariza's best games of the season. He had 23 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.
Ariza had a stretch in the third quarter where he was making plays over and over on both ends of the floor. He had nine points in a span of one minute and 28 seconds.
Ariza set the tone defensively and was scoring in a variety of ways on the offensive end.
4. Ariza helped the cause as the Wizards did an excellent job of cashing Nets turnovers into points on the other end.
Brooklyn had 16 turnovers, and the Wizards converted those into 29 points. Over and over they had players break loose in the open court for fastbreak dunks.
The Wizards are second in the NBA in deflections and forcing turnovers, yet they are a mediocre 13th in fastbreak points. They don't do as good of a job as they could at making teams pay for their mistakes. In this game, that wasn't the case.
5. Troy Brown Jr. got some first half minutes in this one and played well. He knocked down a three and a stepback jumper soon after entering and had five points and three rebounds by halftime.
It was one of those spurts that brought a lot of fans saying "I told you so" on social media, as many have been advocating for him to play more. Especially with where the Wizards are in the standings, it seems like a no-brainer.
Brown, though, made some rookie mistakes. He bit on a pump-fake by Shabazz Napier and sent him to the line for three shots. It will take time for him to learn from those miscues, but the only way to do that is by playing.
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