The Wizards looked primed to follow the script we have seem so many times this season: Take the early lead, suffer through foul trouble, and collapse late in the game. However, this wasn’t the case today. Maybe history was on the Wizards’ side, having now won five of their their last six Martin Luther King Day contests.
And while the Utah Jazz were looking to build on yet another winning streak (3), the Wizards had not won two consecutive games since April 4 and 6 of last year. But the Washington Wizards showed fire, heart, and discipline — characteristics that have long been absent from the Verizon Center.
In fact, and to my great surprise, the Wizards led for 46 minutes and 41 seconds. (The Jazz only found themselves ahead of the Wizards on three occasions, for a combined five points and 1:19 of game time.)
While there were plenty of highlights – including Andray Blatche’s chasedown block on Raja Bell, another classic John Wall to JaVale McGee alley-oop, and even a JaValevator tip slam late — there was one play that really made a world of difference today, and perhaps even for the rest of the season.
Why? Well, this win over Utah marks the first time all season that the Wizard have beaten a team with a winning record. Granted it was at home, but this is a nevertheless a monumental achievement for this young Wizards team. Next conquest: A road win.
Check out the Jazz-Wizards Play of the Game after the jump.
The Wizards found themselves up 101-91 with just 3:11 seconds left in the game. A late push by the Jazz cut the lead to four points with just over a minute left. Deron Williams drove into the lane and kicked the ball out to Paul Millsap waiting on the wing. However, he missed the open 17-foot jumper, and John Wall gathered the rebound — protecting the two possession lead.
Wall dribbled to center court and allowing several precious seconds to tick off the clock. With 47 seconds left, JaVale McGee met Wall at half court with a beautiful pick. After a quick jab step left, Wall took off to his right. Williams, forced to run around both McGee and Al Jefferson, simply couldn’t establish position ahead of Wall.
As a result, the entire Utah Jazz squad found themselves in or around the paint to prevent Wall from finishing an easy layup.
Using his great court vision, Wall hit Nick “The Thriller” Young in the corner with a perfect one-handed skip pass.
Wall picked up his 15th assist of the game here — a new career high. The nothing-but-net three-pointer put the Wizards up 105-98 with just 40.5 seconds left. Game, set, match.
Take it away, Steve Buckhantz:
Wall driving … lays it off … Nick Young … DAGGER!