Washington's Star Guards Supernova in Blowout Win Over Blazers | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Washington’s Star Guards Supernova in Blowout Win Over Blazers

Updated: January 16, 2017

This game was over six minutes into the third quarter. That feels so strange to write, not only because the Trail Blazers were playing .500 ball in their last 10 games, but also because it feels like the Wizards have had just two easy wins this entire season (Saturday night’s win against Philadelphia, and versus Boston on Nov. 9).

This is the play that ended it:


While you’re here, I’d like to bring your attention to a few things on this play.

First, Bradley Beal’s patience inside the 3-point arc, which was on display from the opening tip. The set-up on C.J. McCollum was pro, but the hesitation move after rounding Gortat’s screen was key, as it allowed Beal to survey the floor and find the best option. In previous seasons, you’d have expected him to pull-up for the short midrange jumper, but in this case he found Markieff Morris parked at the 3-point line, who then swung the ball to Wall to reset the offense.

Here’s where the story of the “dagger” above gets interesting. Wall was in full attack mode, starting his possession with a pump fake. While Al-Farouq Aminu and Damian Lillard feigned interest in contesting a 3-point shot from Wall, notice that both players immediately back off, not wanting to get beat off the dribble.

The reason: Wall, to this point in the action, had routinely burned the Blazers defense in the halfcourt and in transition situations. Lillard, in particular, was a regular victim of Wall’s forays to the hoop, as well as his drive-and-dish plays, like this one that ended the first half:

So, with acres of basketball space, Wall launched from the top of the 3-point line.


I was less surprised that Wall hit the shot — he’s shooting 34.4 percent from that zone this season (league average is 35.4%) — than the fact he launched the trey in the first place. After all, he turned down a similar opportunity early in the first quarter, but perhaps that’s to be expected from Optimus Dime, the NBA’s premier pass-first point guard (with apologies to Chris Paul).

Last thing about the play highlighted at the top of this post: It’s a shining example of what the Wizards offense could look like were Bradley Beal to continue to develop his floor game. TAI’s Adam Rubin wrote about the team leaning on Beal-Gortat pick-and-rolls earlier this season:

“The beauty of this newly-effective offensive weapon is that Wall and Beal each benefit from the other’s success. The more defenses are forced to shade the Beal-Gortat screen-and-roll, the more space is created for Wall to use his speed on the weak side. Conversely, as Wall eloquently explains, the more jumpers he hits from the weak side, the harder it is for his defender to cheat into the lane to stop Beal’s penetration.”

Offense is the story of the game. The Wizards, who hit 13 treys in this one (third-most this season), had 75 points at halftime, and they finished the game with 120. The Blazers ended up scoring 101, Washington’s total after three quarters. Add in the fact the Blazers never once led and it all adds up to domination.

The Wizards’ defensive game plan deserves some credit, too. From the opening tip, they sent bodies at Portland’s star guards, forcing Lillard and McCollum to handle pressure from the primary defender and a hedging big (or rotating help), then navigate a third defender if they wanted anything close to a clean look near the rim. Because the Blazers lack a traditional post scorer to run the offense through (Plumlee had particularly rough day at the office), the visitors were forced to improvise with limited results. At one point in the second quarter, the Blazers had seven total field goals (to 8 turnovers), and were shooting 7-for-25 overall (28%).

So, that’s that. The Wizards are officially two games over .500, and once again just about all credit goes to John Wall and Bradley Beal, who combined for 49 points. The “House of Guards,” or whatever you’d like to call them, is one of only four guard combos in the NBA to both average over 20 points per game (Lillard and McCollum, Lowry and DeRozan, and Curry and Thompson are the others).

Washington is now 15-4 when leading after three quarters, and 17-6 at home — only the Warriors and Cavaliers have more wins at home.

The Grizzlies (and fast-forward playoffs) are next.



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John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.