The Washington Wizards survived through misses on potential game-winners by both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to record their second win of the season.
Winning for the second straight game, after starting the season 0-5, the Wizards remain undefeated in the new year 2021.
Their superstars - Russell Westbrook (24 points, 10 assists) and Bradley Beal (27 points, 10 rebounds) - led the way with double-doubles. Center Thomas Bryant finished with 21 points (9-12 FGs) and 14 rebounds in just 27 minutes of action.
BIG game from the big fella.- Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) January 4, 2021
Thomas Bryant with 21 points, 14 rebounds, and the game-winning dunk!#WizNets | @nolimittb31 pic.twitter.com/3gZQTqnXpx
Does defeating a heavily-favoured team like Brooklyn mean that they have turned the corner or is the final scoreline of 123-122 evidence that it's just one game.
Have the Wizards turned the corner?
With a win over the Nets, a team considered to be among the championship contenders, there's bound to be optimism in the Wizards camp.
Their blowout road win in Minnesota, a couple of days earlier, helped them register their first W of the season and this quite possibly, even if it came on the final possession, could be the turning point of the early portion of their season.
Maybe the squad have figured something out in this win? It is their first win with Westbrook in a game he didn't have a triple-double, having recorded one in each of the four games he previously played.
24p-5r-10a for Russ tonight 💪💪💪#WizNets | @russwest44 pic.twitter.com/B7LTWCqG8t- Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) January 4, 2021
Coming into this game, Bryant only averaged 17.3 points and 5.5 rebounds on 65.2% shooting from the field but his explosion in this game made him only the fourth player in the last 30 seasons to shoot 85% or better over a 3-game span (min. 30 FGA).
Was playing Davis Bertains more the key? Coming into this game, he averaged 10.3 points in 21.1 minutes off the bench but in this one, he finished with 15 points and a team-high +16 in his 30 minutes of playing time.
Just a make-or-miss league
The final possession in Wizards-Nets: pic.twitter.com/GYw68KyWlR- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 4, 2021
Even with those misses on the final possession, the Nets' superstars finished with efficient shooting percentages from the field.
Durant racked up 28 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists on 8-of-15 shooting while Irving finished with 30 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, two steals, and two blocks on 10-of-20 shooting. So, the duo missed the shots that mattered the most in a game in the second week of a regular season. Should a lot be read into that?
The answer is simple - No.
It's not like the Wizards won the game with their defence on the final possession. The missed shots, both of which weren't necessarily tightly contested, aren't going to stop the Nets from having the ball in the hands of either of their superstars in clutch situations going forward.
In fact, Washington's defensive rating ranks among the bottom five in the league through the early days of this season. The offense, which ranks in the top 5 in the league, was never the issue because through seven games, they've allowed 120.3 points per game - also among the bottom five in the league.
Additionally, it's quite possible the Wizards caught the Nets at the right time. Brooklyn seems to still be figuring things out, having stumbled to four losses in five games after starting the season with a couple of dominating victories.
What's more? A true test of whether the 'Wizards have turned the corner' would be if they win or have a positive record over their next three games - all against the playoff opponents in Philadelphia, Boston, and Miami.
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