Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.
I would characterize this as a good loss despite Mike Conley still being out for Memphis. The Wizards hung with a tough team on the road, and had a chance to win. They just couldn't quite find the buckets. But their defense locked in on Memphis in the fourth.
Bradley Beal was incredible. Here's his shot chart before a few late misses:
Also, John Wall is fast.
They tried to lose this game. They really did. It wasn't even dumb mistakes (besides Courtney Lee losing a key possession of his foot). They just kept coming up short on shots, even at the rim.
But they kept at it, stayed consistent and pursued their gameplan. It's working again. They'll get Conley back, they'll get Tony Allen back, and they're going to be a problem in the second half of the season. It's not about talent, it's about determination.
Oh, and James Johnson did this:
A really good loss in a season full of them. They hit the Heat with a haymaker to start the game, and when the Heat got back up and started to work the body, they hung tough.
But LeBron James had one extra gear and they didn't. Tonight was one of the few games you could really tell how much they missed Eric Bledsoe. But they played hard and smart, and almost took out the champs.
LeBron James had 37 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and five steals. He attacked, and found ways to get in transition, he finished through defenders. Throw in a defense that was active and intense for once and you've got a quality win without Dywane Wade.
No one will remember it, but Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen's defense were as important. They disrupted interior passing enough to stall the Phoenix offense and let the perimeter defenders gamble on the edge.
But seriously, LeBron.
They can't defend the Bobcats.
If they get hit with a top flight defense, they just don't have a counter-punch. Their offene is predictable, it just executes really well. Great teams can play when things don't go their way.
The Mavericks get blown out by Charlotte.
They ate up the Mavericks. Just ate them up. Al Jefferson was like the Cookie Monster down low against DeJuan Blair and Samuel Dalembert. They had no chance.And when the perimeter game started to open up as the Mavs collapsed, there was no chance for Dallas.
Atlanta ran right into the Bulls' beartrap. If you start falling into their tendencies, and couldn't get out of the muck. Their injuries were too much, especially inside. Starting Gustavo Ayon against Noah is going to have bad repercussions.
Anthony Bennett! 19 points, 10 rebounds! He's alive!
Meanwhile, the Cavs played yet another game with consistent approaches at both ends. It wasn't crisp, but it was effecive. They've got great speed on the perimeter and are starting to use it correctly.
The defense is still a problem, but they're rotating better.
The Kings hada good chance in this game but fell back in their old habits. Their effort defensively just isn't there on the road, and offensively they try and go for the homerun way too often. They don't stic with anything, so they get stuck.
The Thunder played terribly in this game, and won. They couldn't hit anything outside of Kevin Durant's magic for most of the game, but they hung in with defense. Durant plus defense keeps them in almost any game.
LaMarcus Aldridge was awful and they still almost won. Their offense got sloppy the longer the game went on and they just couldn't outlast OKC. Still, they got an open look from their All-Star power forward for the win. Sometimes it's not your night, but their big record was built on winning games like this. Regression was inevitable.
Their raw bigs ate them inside, and they knew how to defend LA. Pretty good win.
This team. Is Awful.