March 9, 2018 | Smoothie King Center | New Orleans, LA
The mantra for the Washington Wizards recently has been ‘Everybody Eats’ and that was exactly what they did tonight in New Orleans in a 116-97 rout of the Pelicans. The home team was without their All-Star big man and MVP candidate, Anthony Davis, who suffered an ankle sprain earlier in the week. Nevertheless, Washington is known for playing down to the competition, but when it mattered most, everyone showed up and played at a high-level to secure the victory.
(Photo: Layne Murdoch Jr. via Getty Images)
Six Wizards In Double-Figures
Offense was next to unlimited for Washington. The Wizards outscored the Pelicans in every quarter of the game expect in the garbage time fourth. Additionally, the Wizards’ second unit outscored the Pelicans’ starters, 50-38. Otto Porter Jr. finished the night with 19 points and scored 16 of his points in the first half. Markieff Morris and Bradley Beal had a combined 33 points. The team collectively shot 47.9 percent from the field. Mike Scott, Jodie Meeks, and Kelly Oubre Jr. were all in double-digits and combined for 35 points.
New Orleans’ starters were non-factors except for Rajon Rondo chiming in 11 points. No other player from the Pelicans’ first-unit was in double-figures. Additionally, the starters shot 37.8 percent from the field and was 0-for-6 from behind the arc.
Passing The Rock Creates Offense
The Wizards are hard to beat when they are all playing on one accord. They showed that tonight in New Orleans by passing the ball. The team had a total of 34 assists, which is fourth most during this season. Tomas Satoransky only contributed eight points, but he led the Wizards with nine assists. Ramon Sessions kept that going on the second-unit by chiming in with seven points and six assists. For the 13th straight game, Beal had five-or-more assists with seven against the Pelicans. This ball movement is what contributed to Washington’s success on the offensive end.
Washington Played Better Basketball Top To Bottom
The Wizards had issues with taking care of the ball when they were on their three-game losing streak over the last week and change. However, tonight Washington took care of the basketball. The Wizards had a total of 12 turnovers compared to the Pelicans’ 15. New Orleans’ carelessness with the basketball generated 16 Washington points. Additionally, Washington had 20 fast break points compared to New Orleans’ 15. Moreover, Washington owned the boards, outrebounding New Orleans 49-38.
It is this style of basketball that allowed Washington to dismantle the Pelicans. However, it is worth noting that without Anthony Davis, the Pelicans struggle. For example, Jrue Holiday averaged 24.9 points on 52 percent shooting over the last 10 games, but tonight, without Davis, Holiday had a measly four points on 2-for-8 shooting.
Second-Unit Started Slowly, But Recovered Late
Early in the game, Washington’s bench shot 20 percent from the field and that is when the Pelicans took their first and only lead in the game, 27-26. Overall, the second-unit shot 18-for-42 from the field and was 5-for-11 from downtown. The second unit still contributed but the slow start is concerning because Washington will need its bench to be able to maintain leads or be the spark when the starters are struggling for this team to make a serious run in the playoffs. Scott was a bright side with 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting in 15 minutes, which may signal the end of the slump he has been in recently.
Hitting On All Cylinders
Granted, the Washington Wizards defeated an Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins-less Pelicans team tonight. Nevertheless, they showed how great this team can be when they are: passing the ball, taking care of the rock, and playing to their elite potential.
This team is still without their All-Star point guard, John Wall. Once he is integrated into this team’s new style of play, Washington is a serious contender. The objective for the Wizards should be playing this way every night. Washington is in control of their own destiny with the standings in the Eastern Conference being so tight. It is up to the Wizards how far they go.
Next Up: Washington will head to Miami to take on the Heat Saturday night to complete their back-to-back. Miami is 5-5 over their last 10 games. However, the last time these two teams matched-up the game went into overtime as the Wizards almost blew their 18-point lead. Washington can take notes out of their own book from tonight’s game in New Orleans and play with the same level of energy against this feisty Heat team that is trying to remain in the playoff picture.