Back in D.C., the Wizards Swat Away the Hornets | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Back in D.C., the Wizards Swat Away the Hornets

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Updated: April 6, 2017

washington wizards, charlotte hornets, nba, john wall, kemba walker, truth about it

[picture via Monumental Sports]

After being away from D.C. for a week and half, Washington returned home sporting a three-game losing streak. Their recent slide came against elite Western Conference competition, but each defeat was marred by faulty defense, loss of composure and plenty of excuses.

The Los Angeles Clippers gutted the Wiz for 133 points, and Markieff Morris’s ejection hindered their ability to make a successful late comeback. In Utah, John Wall was visibly upset throughout the contest from the lack of calls, and he received a questionable technical for knocking Rudy Gobert in the midsection. After the loss to the Jazz, Wall ripped the refs and was later fined $15,000 for his candid assessment. Golden State then whooped Washington by double digits on Sunday evening. The media coverage focused on the negative reaction Washington’s players had towards the Warriors—specifically former Wiz Kid JaVale McGee—for clowning them at the end of the blowout loss. The skid also allowed the Toronto Raptors to jump ahead of the Wizards for the 3-seed.

So when the pesky Charlotte Hornets, who are fighting to gain a postseason berth, came to town and jumped out to a twelve-point halftime lead, there was a feeling that this team’s rocky patch might turn into a bigger issue. During intermission, the usually subdued Scott Brooks ripped into his team. He challenged them to either compete or quit.

The coach’s stern lecture helped Washington focus, and they produced a fantastic second-half effort to defeate Charlotte 118-111. The Wizards blitzed the Hornets in the third quarter, outscoring them 36-18. Charlotte Coach Steve Clifford credited Washington’s turned up defense and tougher reserves were deciding factors in the match-up.

The Hornets shot 9-for-22 from the field (40.9%), 0-for-8 on 3-pointers, and committed four turnovers to only three assists. Washington, meanwhile, went 14-for-22 on field goals (63.6%), 4-for-8 from downtown, and had eight assists to only one turnover. Charlotte’s stellar point guard, Kemba Walker, scorched Washington for 20 first-half points and finished with a game-high 37, but could only muster 6 points in the third quarter, misfiring on all five of his long-range attempts.

John Wall, who had just five points at halftime, poured in 14 points and dished out 6 assists in the decisive third quarter. The All-Star’s final line was 23 points, 13 assists, and 6 steals. Bradley Beal chipped in 19 points, and Markieff Morris added 14 points.

While the starters delivered in key situations, it was the bench that was the biggest difference. The second unit has been a sour spot for this team all season, but as of late the bench has consistently made a positive impact. The additions of Brandon Jennings and Bojan Bogdanovic have been upgrades. Jason Smith and Kelly Oubre continue to marvel with their stellar play. Ian Mahinmi has finally rounded out into a solid big. However, it is more about how this group has performed cohesively than about individual accomplishments. There is no longer deep slippage when Brooks goes to his second five. Versus the Hornets, Oubre and Smith combined for 8-for-14 on 3-pointers and 32 points. The plus/minus of Jennings (+15) and Bogdanovic (+11) were remarkable. And Mahinmi’s rim protection and pick-and-roll coverage were at an elite level.

It wasn’t over by the end of the third quarter, though. Charlotte cut the Wiz’s advantage to six with 2:43 left in fourth quarter. Washington responded by making four consecutive buckets by four different players. Otto Porter’s dagger corner 3-ball secured the Wizards’ 47th win of the season and 30th home triumph. It is now officially the most wins by a Wiz squad since 1979, and matched the home victory total of the 1988-89 Bullets.

The Wizards are reaching newfound franchise milestones, and the 50-win goal is very much attainable. Most importantly, this squad overcame their own self-inflicted negativity of the past week and hopefully can gain momentum to finish the remaining four games strong.

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Adam McGinnis
Reporter / Writer / Media at TAI
Adam is a bro from the Midwest who's been bopping around the District of Columbia for years. He's down with a range of sports, etc. and has covered the Washington Wizards for TAI since 2010.