Key Legislature: Wizards 118 at Pacers 104 — Washington Dominates, Extends Streak to 4 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 118 at Pacers 104 — Washington Dominates, Extends Streak to 4

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Updated: January 16, 2016

TAI’s Key Legislature… The game’s defining moment, its critical event, the wildest basketball thing you ever saw, or just stuff that happened. Wizards at Pacers, Regular Season Game 38, Jan. 15, 2016, by Troy Haliburton (@TroyHalibur).

It is safe to say that the Wizards are finally getting into a groove with their new offensive system. Bradley Beal’s return to the lineup has had a lot to do with the scoring resurgence. While John Wall is Washington’s best overall player, Beal is hands down the team’s best offensive weapon and, as a versatile guard and elite 3-point threat, the key to success in a “pace and space” style. What young Bao Bao provides to this team: shooting. And, of course, the ancillary benefits that come with opponents having to respect his abilities—he opens up looks for his teammates.

The Wizards played their best ball in the second quarter against the Pacers, Beal’s time to shine in his new, and presumably temporary, role coming off the bench. “Reserve” Beal may not be a permanent fixture of future Wizards lineups, but there should be no denying that it works for the now. Staggering Wall and Beal’s minutes, something both lead guards have demanded in the past, gives the Wizards the luxury of always having a shot creator on the floor, and Beal’s improved ball handling over the last few seasons allows him to create offense for himself and others.

The Wizards started the second quarter with a 12-2 run on the Pacers and comfortably sustained that positive play for the duration of the game. Wall and Beal finished that quarter just as strong the team started it: two back-breaking Beal 3-pointers, both assisted by Wall, allowed the Wizards to take a one-point lead at the halftime break.

It wasn’t just Beal’s eight points in the quarter that led to the second quarter takeover in Indy. Gary Neal hit a few buckets, Garrett Temple knocked down a 3-pointer and played hellacious defense, Ramon Sessions got to the basket/free throw line at will, and even DeJaun Blair managed to make a positive contribution. Got to give it up for both Blair and Wittman for playing him, because after I theoretically declared Blair a walking basketball corpse, he turned around and actually looked fairly competent against the Pacers.

By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Wizards were on cruise control, but rolling, never allowing the Pacers to cut the lead to single-digits. That in itself is an accomplishment for a team that has blown its fair share of leads already this season. Progress.

Luckily for the Wizards, the Pacers are also in the process of re-tooling their offensive scheme by inserting Paul George in the 4 spot and playing smaller, faster, and shooting more 3-pointers. On this night they looked as though they have just as far to go as the Wizards.

Based on last night it would have been hard to determine which of the two teams was struggling to reach .500 and get back into the playoff hunt and which was sitting in the top half of the Eastern Conference. Not to take away from anything that the Pacers have already accomplished this season, especially considering the fact that Paul George is playing at an All-NBA level after returning from one of the most gruesome injuries in recent memory, but it is hard to believe that Indiana today is significantly better than the Wizards.

The Wiz outplayed the Pacers in almost every aspect of that game, but the two stats that were heavily in the Wizards’ favor were the 11 made 3-pointers to the Pacers’ three, and Washington’s 54 rebounds to Indiana’s 35. The Pacers were not able to keep up with the Wizards shooting all night and had even less opportunities to create second-chance points because of the Wizards’ intensity in attacking the glass.

John Wall was displaying the full gamut of reasons as to why he should be an All-Star as he scored 28 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished eight dimes, and limited himself to just three turnovers. Wall ran Pacers point guard George Hill up and down the floor to the point of exhaustion. It’s likely that Hill wasn’t 100 percent—listed as a game-time decision heading into last night’s contest and clearly not able to keep up with Wall—but Wall got into the paint at will and finished a few of those drives with emphatic lefty dunks. Demoralizing for Pacers fans.

The Wizards find themselves very much back in the mix for one of the coveted playoff spots in the East and they are just three games back of being able to nab home-court advantage in the first round. Teams that are in front of them like the Bulls and the Pacers have already succumbed to the Wizards during this four-game winning streak. Now, the Wizards will look forward to the first of two very important upcoming matches with the Boston Celtics. Ride this current wave, continue to improve as a team, and hope that maybe one day they’ll have their full complement of players. That’d be nice in April and May.

 

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Writer
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. He is going into his second season writing for Truth About It, and also writes for sports analytics website numberfire.com. You can find him in a district bike lane in the Northwest neighborhood of Bloomingdale.