March 6, 2018 | Capital One Arena | Washington, D.C.
The Washington Wizards had a terrible start to a four-game homestand, but the Miami Heat provided an opportunity to salvage something. The home team quickly jumped out to a 27-9 lead less then eight minutes into the game, but the advantage would dwindle to the point of overtime.
Despite their best efforts to otherwise, the Wizards came away victorious behind strong late play from Markieff Morris. The power forward finished with a double-double, 16 points and 13 rebounds, important three-pointer with 1:07 to play in overtime, and strong contest of Dwyane Wade’s potential game-tying shot.
(Photo: Ned Dishman via Getty Images)
More Sloppy Play Nearly Blows Game
A huge reason why Washington was able to quickly get out to an 18-point lead, besides the fact that Miami played the night before, is that they did not have a turnover through the game’s first nine minutes. By the end of regulation, the Wizards had 18 turnovers that the Heat translated into 29 points. Washington also surrendered 60 points in the paint on 30-of-40 shooting to Miami, which is tied for their season-worst (Oklahoma City on January 25).
As if they wanted to send Wade out on top in potentially his last game ever in D.C., the Wizards inexplicably fouled him on an and-1 with 2.8 seconds left in regulation to force overtime as well as in overtime with 12.9 seconds left on a three-point attempt to see their lead cut from four to just one. On the first foul, Bradley Beal should have simply let Wade score the layup instead of strongly contesting the drive and on the second foul, which was a questionably call, Kelly Oubre Jr. should have simply backed off and not give the officials anything to consider. Wade finished the game 0-of-5 from three. Tomas Satoransky also missed two out of four free throws in the final 22 seconds after making all 21 of his free throws since becoming the starter.
Bradley Beal Had A Great Game
Much has been made about Beal’s lack of clutch shooting and it is worrisome because this season he is 1-of-15 from the field in the last 30 seconds when behind by five or fewer points or tied. However, and even though Beal missed a 20-foot step back jump shot with 1.6 seconds left and the win, that should not take away from his stellar performance. In 43 minutes, Beal finished with 30 points on 12-of-16 shooting including 6-of-7 from beyond the arc, seven assists, and six rebounds.
“It was good, it was cool,” Beal said about potential fatigue. “I was a little tired, but for the most part at this point of year you’ve got to duke it out and fight it out. When Otto [Porter Jr.] went down there was no way I was coming out of the game anyway. So, I just continue to push myself as a mental challenge more than anything. But, I’m doing everything I need to do to take care of my body too.”
Otto Porter Exits Early
Early in the fourth quarter, Dwyane Wade hip checked Porter as both tried to play a long outlet pass. No foul was called, and Porter remained on the floor in agony for at least a minute. That would not stop the small forward from draining a 26-foot three-pointer from the left slot seconds later, but then he would exit for the locker room and not return for the rest of the game. Porter’s hip injury history has been well documented in the past including this season and would be a huge blow to the Wizards as they continue to play without John Wall. It does not sound like too serious of an injury, but even if he is less than 100 percent, his hot post-All Star break stretch may come to an end.
“Bruised hip,” Brooks shared. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. I think it was his right side. Day-to-day, don’t know much until we see how he feels tomorrow morning at practice at 11 [a.m.] tomorrow.”
Ramon Sessions Makes Debut
Because of the dramatics of the game, Sessions making his debut for Washington this season will fly under the radar, but for at least one night only, he was the backup point guard to Tomas Satoransky over Tim Frazier who was the only available player not to see the floor. In 13 minutes of play, Sessions had six points on 1-of-5 shooting, one assist, two turnovers, and a -17 plus-minus. There seemed to be some chemistry issues when Sessions was playing with Morris as the result of over-passing that can be worked out in practice. It will be interesting to see if Sessions continues to run the second unit or if Frazier does after a one-game hiatus.
“Just wanted to see,” Brooks explained Sessions’ playing time after he did not see the court during his first 10-day contract. “Heard nothing but great things about him, coached against him. He does attack the basket. I thought he had a couple of chances to get to the free throw line. He got their once or twice. I like what he did. The unit in that second quarter struggled, their plus-minus is not going to be good, they struggled there. We stopped moving the ball as well as we did in that first seven or eight minutes, but I thought he played solid. First game, good to see him out there.”
Lack of Center Production
In 23 minutes of play, Marcin Gortat had eight points on 2-of-8 shooting, six rebounds, an assist, and two turnovers. Most notably, he had an important charge drawn and two free throws in overtime. He did his usual thing with screen assists and helped hold Hassan Whiteside to just eight points and six rebounds despite the Heat’s center usual dominance against the Wizards. Gortat, despite irrational hate from fans, will continue to be a serviceable big man, but may be on the decline.
Two of Washington’s ridiculous signings during the summer of 2016 craziness, Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith, provide the team next to nothing. Mahinmi can serve as a defensive anchor, but any benefit provided on that end of the court is offset by his terrible hands on offense and ridiculously high foul rate. The NBA champion played just 4:23 against Miami, his second fewest minutes of the season, and was benched in the second half. Smith has rarely cracked the rotation this season and even when he does see the light of day, rarely shows reason for more playing time. He is supposed to provide energy off the bench, but cannot back it up with substantive contributions. His jump shot is completely cold after a resurgence last season and he is a poor defender. In the playoffs, the Wizards are going to have to go small with Morris and Mike Scott often and they should strongly look into investing their first round pick in a big man this summer.
Next Game: Washington will head to New Orleans for the first leg of a road back-to-back on Friday before heading for South Beach on Saturday.