January 11, 2019 | Capital One Arena | Washington, D.C.
The Washington Wizards defeated the second-best team, by record, in the Eastern Conference this season by topping the 29-11 Milwaukee Bucks. Yes, the Bucks were without MVP candidate Giannis Amtetokounmpo, but they still are a formidable team without the Greek Freak. Washington has now won three out of their last four against very good playoff teams and are trending towards playoff contention. At 18-25, including 13-7 at home, the Wizards are just two games behind No. 8 Charlotte and 3.5 games back from No. 6 Miami.
The star of the show on Friday night was the always loveable Tomas Satoransky. Pressed into duty trying to save the Wizards season for the second year in a row because of a long-term injury to John Wall, the Czech native just continues to deliver. The 6-foot-7 baller recorded his first triple-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in 35 minutes of play. Satoransky shared that this was his first time accomplishing the triple-double feat ever because it is difficult to rack up enough assists in the European-style game. In typical Sato fashion, he was an efficient 7-of-10 from the field including two three balls and added two assists. He did have an uncharacteristically high six turnovers.
Just over eight minutes into the game, Satoransky had already tallied nine points, five rebounds, and four assists as a part of Washington’s 40-point explosion in the first half. That had him well on his way to earning the triple-double. In the fourth quarter, he had set a career-high 12 rebounds, but was still chasing a couple more assists from reaching double-digits in the category. Just two nights after tying his career-high with 11 assists, the point guard by nature was being egged on by teammates, namely Markieff Morris who sported a blazer on the bench, to chase the rare feat. Jeff Green hit two jump shots with seven and four minutes left to get Satoransky his eighth and ninth dimes, but it was not until Bradley Beal took matters into his own hands that the mission was complete.
“I knew about it,” Satoransky explained about his mid-game realization. “Keef [Markieff Morris] was actually telling me, ‘Oh, you gotta go get it.’ And actually, shout out to Brad [Beal]. He called that play because he knew I was one assist shy from it. It was all love from him.”
Whether it is with Wall or another point guard from Andre Miller to Satoransky, Beal has had a knack for finishing alley-oops at the rim. It happened on Wednesday against Philadelphia and the All-Star shooting guard dialed it up one more time with less than two minutes to go in the game. Executed to perfection, Beal hammered home the lob from Satoransky to get his point guard the coveted triple-double.
On the court after the game, the player of the game was mobbed by deep reserves Troy Brown Jr., Devin Robinson, and Jordan McRae before Satoransky was doused with water in the locker room by all of his teammates. The restricted free agent can thank Ian Mahinmi for the early shower, which will well be worth it when he is able to leverage the accomplishing in contract negotiations this summer. “That was just our natural reaction we were all just so happy for him,” rookie Brown explained to Hoop District about the on-court mosh pit before continuing, “I walked in and somebody handed me a water bottle, so I knew what to do with it.”
I would argue that there is not another player on the team that could realistically get a triple-double or a similar feat and receive such a show of love and appreciation from his teammates like Satoransky did to kick off Friday night festivities. That says something both about the teammate and human being Satoransky is, but also who he is replacing.
Of course, Satoransky was not alone in a well-played game for Washington. Beal continued his All-Star campaign with 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting, five rebounds, and seven assists. Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green each had 20 points and combined for 10 three-pointers. The team as a whole tied the franchise record for made three-pointers with 18 on 54.5 percent shooting, which is easily a season-high.
“It’s a good win for us,” Scott Brooks said. “I thought our guys really competed against the best team in the East, with their record, one of the best. I thought, obviously, Tomas [Satoransky] did a great job of really orchestrating the game and controlling the tempo of the game and making sure guys were in right spots and [getting] good shots. His first triple-double, it was cool to see. The guys, everybody, enjoyed it, and that’s what teams do. You have to celebrate your teammate’s success, and it’s fun to see after the game their celebration.”
To me, I do not think the three nice wins against legitimate title contenders (at least relative to the juggernaut Golden State Warriors) does not change the outlook of this team. They could sneak into the playoff picture, but will almost assuredly get smoked in a first-round matchup with the likes of Toronto, Milwaukee, Indiana, Philadelphia, or Boston because of their poor play on the road alone. Given that, it may be wiser to just play the draft lottery and hope for the jackpot, while getting under the luxury tax by trading Trevor Ariza and Morris (as well as maybe Jeff Green to sweeten the deal on Morris). That’s just my opinionated advice to you to not drink the Kool-Aid because of a brief upswing.
The Wizards will play the Raptors early Sunday afternoon before embarking later that day across the pond in preparation of their Thursday matchup with the Knicks in London.