Who else wants some?
Who else wants some of Washington? (Deebo voice)
Ok, in all seriousness…
Washington is looking like the neighborhood bully on the West Coast after securing another win against the Denver Nuggets within a week time frame, 112-110. Washington has won 6 of their last 7 and has improved to a record of 12-18. This team has come a long way from 7-17 and is a much more entertaining organization to watch compared to the barn burners at the start of the season.
The Wizards end their west coast trip 3-1 marking their first time doing so since 2016-2017. Taking out big-name teams such as the Lakers, Trail Blazers, and Denver Nuggets. Ironically, all games were nail-biters and required the Wizards to dig within and pull out the stops for the dub.
A key contributor to these wins is what everyone has been asking for and knew what this team was capable of all season and that is defense. In the win against the Lakers, Washington forced 20 turnovers for 26 points. With that same tone against the Nuggets, Washington forced Denver to commit 18 turnovers that equated to 23 Washington Wizards points.
Last night, Washington didn’t find themselves in a huge deficit and punched Denver in the mouth early. This was a very different tone from a week ago when Nikola Jokic scored 16 points in the first quarter contributing to 40 plus team points.
Washington outscored Denver 3 out of 4 quarters, did not allow a 40 point quarter, and limited the Nuggets offensive power to 22 points in the first and fourth.
Bradley Beal in 36 minutes scored 33 points, shot 100 percent from the free-throw line, and made 53% of his shots from the field. There is nothing that Brad cannot do. This season, I have taken note of Brad’s transition passing, and his ability to find open players should be talked about with some of the best. One of his favorite players to find is Rui Hachimura. When those two players are in transition, they are either looking for the pass or looking to pass to one another.
Rui Habachi-Mura finished with 20 points and 5 rebounds in 38 minutes. Rui’s cap is showing no ceiling with his ability to get better and better on the offensive and defensive end of the ball. He has the ability to spot up shoot from the corner, dribble left then cross right to create space or he can be a threat in transition. He is ready for any challenge and willing to display what he works so hard for in practice.
Last night, it was bbq chicken for Vlatko Cancar. Rui was just abusing him in the paint and perimeter.
Westbrook contributed another triple-double in Thursday night’s win. Russell finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in 37 minutes. Put another W in the column for a Westbrook triple-double and keep the winning streak alive. The former MVP is averaging a triple-double the last 10 games and is currently tied for the franchise record. Darrell Walker was the former franchise leader for triple-doubles. I only say former but Westbrook will get another triple-double.
It’s already written.
Washington commits two detrimental turnovers and gives Denver a chance to take the lead with a 3.
Murray misses a 26-foot step-back jumper with 31 seconds left thanks to the great defense by Raul Neto. To be completely honest this was the best defensive play of the whole game. Murray has the ball at the top of the key and Raul is not giving him any breathing room. Murray is forced to pass and Neto goes over the top of a Jokic screen. Rui contests the shot and Murray misses.
Neto misses a running floater with 5 seconds left and the Denver Nuggets have a 3 on 1 transition opportunity to shoot the three or drive-in for an easy layup. Murray has the ball at the top of the key and with Washington’s luck, I just knew that he was going to shoot the game-winner. Murray does the unthinkable and passes the game-winning shot to Facundo Campazzo. Complete head-scratcher because his shot was nowhere near close to going in.
To make matters worse, both Campazzo and Michael Porter Jr just stood behind the 3 point line rather than cutting to the basket for an easy outlet pass to tie the game. This showed a complete lapse in judgment and Denver got burned for it.
“My fault Nuggets nation.. on to the next one… STICK WITH US!!” Murray tweeted shortly after the game.
Jamal Murray was heating up in the 3rd and carried that momentum late in the 4th, draining 3 after 3. Murray had 34 points and made 6 threes prior to passing up the game-winning shot so the fact that he did not take it has to be haunting Denver fans.
“It was crazy man, I honestly thought Jamal was going to pull up from three,” Beal said postgame. “He had the shot. I was waiting after the game to ask him why he didn’t shoot it, I mean he’d been hitting them all second half. But thank God he didn’t, man, and we were able to get out of there with a win.”
After Game Thoughts
Game Ball goes to Raul Neto. Neto hit some big-time shots and played great defense when it mattered most. Denver committed 18 turnovers and Neto accounted for 27% of those with 5 steals. He couldn’t have played better defense on the missed 26-foot step-back jumper by Murray. Raul slides his feet well and forced Jamal Murray right on a lot of possessions. Neto is stepping up in the role for Ish Smith and it will be very interesting to see how Scottie Brooks controls the rotations once Smith is back from injury.
The Washington Wizards are 7-5 against teams that are .500 or better and 5-13 against teams with losing records. How is that even possible? One of the most frustrating things about this team is that they will play up to their competition and then lower their standard for losing teams. With a team that is trying to make the playoffs or show that they are not a laughing stock of the league, you cannot afford to play like this. Washington has been playing with this fire and has been burned almost every single time.
With the West Coast trip over, Washington will face the Minnesota Timberwolves who have lost six straight. Do not be surprised if Washington coughs up this win but hopes are high that they will keep up the great work.