The Washington Wizards took down the Brooklyn Nets 117-103 in their final game before heading into the NBA All Star break. Washington's Gonzaga duo of Rui Hachimura and Corey Kispert combined for 36 points on 14-24 shooting from the field to lead the Wizards, while Brooklyn, was led by Patty Mills who finished with 22 points on 8-14 shooting from the field, Nets center LaMarcus Aldridge added 16 points while rookie sensation Cam Thomas posted 20 points. The Wizards out-scored the Nets 54-28 in the paint, dished out 26 assists and held the Nets to 40.4 percent shooting from the field. Washington improves to 27-31 on the season moving them a game behind Charlotte and Atlanta for a play-in spot with 24 games remaining. Below you will find takeaways from tonight's contest.
Ish Smith: was off the charts in Washington's win over Brooklyn. Smith controlled the pace of the game and kept pressure on the Nets defense using his unmatched speed in the open court to create mismatches. Makes or miss, Smith was looking to push the pace. The result was the Nets at times being on their heels, which Smith took full advantage of, either scoring on his own or finding cutting/open teammates for in rhythm shots. Smith completely disrupted the Nets game plan off the bench, finishing with 15 points and 6 assists with ZERO turnovers on 7-10 shooting from field. Wes Unseld Jr couldn't have asked for better production from his reserve floor general.
Anthony Gill: showed what maximizing your role is all about. His impact on the game was much greater than what his final box score numbers shows. Gill helped keep Drummond off the boards, outplayed Blake Griffin and helped contain Lamarcus Aldridge, holding him to 16 points on the game, considering that Aldridge hit the Wizards up for 27 points back on January 19th, trust me, that was a win for Washington and a big part of that was Gills consistent defensive pressure. Gill also kept Brooklyn's defense occupied by posting 12 points and 3 assists on 4-7 shooting from the field and 2-2 from 3-point territory. Performances like these will force Unseld Jr to find a permanent spot in the rotation for Gill moving forward.
Corey Kispert: is figuring out his way in the league as of late after an up and down first couple of months to the season and Washington is better off for it. Kispert has adjusted from looking to be solely a spot up shooter, to a shooter who can not only spot up, but also move well without the ball, set great screens to free up teammates and score at the basket when he's ran off the 3-point line. Lastly, he's become a solid defender which allows Unseld Jr to keep him on the floor even when he has cold spells shooting the ball. Kispert displayed all of these attributes against the Nets, scoring 16 points on 6-9 shooting from the field and 4-6 from deep. The rookie out Gonzaga also added 2 steals. Kispert is starting to thrive in his role as a rookie and his game is growing more and more right before our eyes.
Washington Reserves: scored 65 points......let me say that again...the Washington Wizards reserves scored 65 points, on the road, on a back to back. It's the best game we have seen from Washington's reserves all season and they were the reason Washington walked out of Barclays victorious. I already mention what Ish Smith and Anthony Gill did, but they were far from alone. Rui Hachimura was unstoppable, especially in the fourth quarter, where he scored 13 of his team high 20 points. Most of those baskets were set up by Ish Smith. Deni Avdija also had a highly impactful game, finishing with 13 points, a team high 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. The versatility defensively from Hachimura, Avdija and Gill gave the Nets problems. All three had the quickness to stay with the Nets guards Patty Mills, Cam Thomas, Seth Curry and Jevon Carter when they had to switch out, the speed to rotate out to contest shooters and dig down to help on the Nets bigs inside, and were also strong enough to defend Aldridge and Drummond in the paint. Then offensively, they made Brooklyn's front court work and they exploited mismatches that came from Brooklyn switching defensively. It was the ideal group effort that is needed from here on out if Washington is to make a run toward a play-in spot. Washington couldn't have asked for anything much better going into the All Star break than what they got in their win over Brooklyn.