For the second straight game, the Wizards played a subpar game and still managed to come away with the win. For most of the game, the Wizards looked lackluster on both ends of the court, but things started to click in the fourth quarter. Or shots just started dropping. Really, there is a difference between an offense firing on all cylinders and a team just getting ridiculously hot out of nowhere. It would be misleading to attribute to the fourth quarter offensive outburst to ‘pace and space.’ Some of the seven threes made by the team in the fourth definitely were a result of pushing the ball, but there were also several contested threes that you would never count on going in.
Regardless of the “how”, the Wizards are now 2-0 for the first time since 2005 – that seems like a long time even for the most cynical, jaded Wizards fans – and beat two underrated teams on the road. This was a gutsy win that, until the fourth quarter, seemed like a total no-show from the entire team. The Bucks got ahead to a 12 point lead midway through the first quarter and held a double digit lead for the remainder of the first. The first quarter was filled with much of the same sloppy play that plagued the Wizards in the season opener in Orlando. John Wall, despite the awesome numbers and clutch play, continues to jump the pass way too often. He did so six times in the first quarter, and those are the plays most frequently responsible for his turnovers.
Out of the second unit, Ramon Sessions provided the biggest contribution, pouring in 23 off the bench. Aside from him, we got to see Jared Dudley for the first time. Still getting into game shape, Dudley didn’t do anything that jumps off the box score, but Dudley is without a doubt the second unit’s best passer. Gary Neal and Nene almost always look for their own shot, and the possessions with those guys can go by with minimal ball movement, so Dudley’s composure and unselfish play is a welcome addition.
This, like the Orlando game, was hardly an impressive showing by the Wizards, but two times in a row now, the Wizards have gutted out wins that they probably didn’t deserve. Everyone wants to talk about Wall and Beal, but the truth is, at least for the first two games of the season, they really have been the story. Beal is getting to the hoop more often. He’s not doing the disappearing act that was all too common last year. And John Wall is an MVP candidate if the Wizards win 50+ games. Neither of the opening games was particularly impressive, but this team is learning how to win games.