The Washington Wizards made a statement to the entire league tonight as they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, 104-96, giving them their best start at home in franchise history at 11-2. Los Angeles’ winning streak snapped at nine games while the Wizards extended theirs to three. Washington has taken care of their Western Conference opponents as they are 4-1 against the opposing conference.
This was a battle against two of the elite point guards in the entire NBA, and John Wall accepted the challenge. Wall finished the game with 10 points, 11 assists, and two blocks. Chris Paul did accumulate 19 points, six assists, and seven rebounds but he also turned the ball over six times thanks to Wall’s exceptional defensive pressure.
Wizards guard Bradley Beal was phenomenal, as he led all scorers with 29 points on 9-of-17 shooting, 4-of-7 from behind the arc. Marcin Gortat was very efficient tonight, as he scored 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting while protecting the rim with two blocks. Kris Humphries and Paul Pierce both added 11 points and brought veteran savvy play that really helped propel the Wizards.
The real MVP of this game was Washington’s defense. They disrupted the passing lanes, leading to 18 Clipper turnovers and Washington in turn capitalized with 21 points off those miscues. Washington wanted to be physical against Los Angeles, and they sure did as they recorded more blocks and steals leading to easy buckets in transition. The Wizards killed the Clippers in transition, 13-to-3; “Lob City” was shut down tonight. When the Wizards hold their opponents under 100 points, they are 13-0 and against the Clippers, that’s an impressive feat.
The Clippers offense never took off, and they have trouble winning games where they have to lean on their defense. Blake Griffin had a pedestrian night, as he scored 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting and recorded only two rebounds. 12 players between the two teams out-rebounded Griffin, which cannot happen if you’re an elite big man. Jamal Crawford was shut down, as he went 2-of-13 from the field and ended with 12 points thanks to the charity stripe.
Washington forced their brand of basketball tonight and when that happens, it’s hard to beat this team. They have proven to be a top tier defensive team and the best in the league when it comes to sharing the ball, averaging almost 26 assists per game.
The Wizards continue their homestand Sunday as they host the Utah Jazz at 6:00 PM EST. The Clippers make a quick turnaround as they have to travel to face the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night at 7:30 PM EST.