Wizards coach Scott Brooks scrapped the film talk at halftime. He was irritated that his team had played soft. His team was irritated it had played soft. They allowed 65 points to the Detroit Pistons and trailed by seven after two quarters.
“I was very excited to talk to them,” Brooks said of his crew.
A dominant third quarter suggested his message was heard, at least temporarily. The Wizards allowed just 16 points, outscored the Pistons by 17 in the third, then hanged on following a defensive regression in the fourth. Their second win of the season was a 115-111 fluctuating victory. Washington is 2-0.
Three points from Friday night:
Reggie Jackson remembers
In the summer of 2015, John Wall pointed out that he was being paid the same as Detroit point guard Reggie Jackson. This did not please Wall, who since has signed a super-max extension to stay with the Wizards and become one of the highest-paid players in the league.
It appeared Friday — and in past matchups — that Jackson was very interested in playing against Wall, and even Beal. Wall blocked Jackson’s final shot (it was a help block after Wall switched with Mike Scott and Jackson drove around Scott) to deliver one of the biggest plays of the night with 14 seconds remaining and the Wizards up two points.
Jackson, demonstrative and physical, was engaged throughout the night.
“I think he would be — the comments to that were in the past,” Wall said. “I think he would want to live up to it and play a good game against us.”
Jackson guarded Wall much of the night, bumping and riding him when he tried to turn the corner. Eventually, Jackson had five fouls and the Pistons had to hide him on Kelly Oubre Jr. late in the game. Jackson and Beal also had an odd interaction underneath the basket when Beal was trying to take the ball out, had to grab Jackson and pull him aside to get to the ball. It was a mild incident by NBA standards, but reflective of the combativeness that Jackson was bringing to his matchup with one of the best backcourts in the league.
“He’s a good player,” Beal said. “We respect him. We respect all our opponents. He’s competitive. He wants to win just as well as we do. It’s nothing dirty out there. He’s just competing his butt off, just as well as we are. We’re not going to get punked and he probably feels the same way.”
“They’re great players,” Jackson said. “They’re proven in this league. It makes it tough when you can’t necessarily really play them. Feels like we weren’t allowed to play basketball. Personally, I might be ashamed of myself if I wore stripes into the building tonight.”
Brooks shakes up rotation
Following extensive minutes for an all-bench group in the opener, Brooks shifted his rotation to put Beal and Otto Porter (28 points) on the floor with bench players Friday night. The rotation change upped Porter’s minutes to 37:50 in the second game of the season. No one played more. It also helped the bench group put together a more stable outing in the second game.
Jason Smith (shoulder) was not active Friday, so Oubre started. Brooks said Smith may be back to playing Monday against Denver in the first game of an early four-game West Coast road trip. Markieff Morris (sports hernia surgery) may start to deal with some contact Saturday in practice.
Losing Morris and Smith meant more minutes for Mike Scott and Oubre. It also meant that when Jackson was in foul trouble, the Pistons were able to move him off Wall, sliding Stanley Johnson onto Beal and putting Avery Bradley on Wall, and moving Jackson to the corner with Oubre. Detroit can’t do that if Morris is healthy.
Offense is cooking
In two games, the Wizards have made just 13 3-pointers. They have only 18 fastbreak points. Those two categories were where Washington was supposed to draw the crux of its offense from. After taking 22 3-pointers in the first game, Brooks said Thursday he wanted his team to shoot more. He said it again Friday before the game. They ended up shooting just 17.
Not being efficient in those categories actually shows what a dangerous offensive team Washington can become. It has scored 120 and 115 points, respectively, in the first two games despite not rolling along from 3 or in the open court (the latter a partial byproduct of mediocre defense). Beal has made just two 3-pointers in the first two games combined.
“That’s scary, that’s scary for us,” Wall said. “We know we can score the ball with the best of them. It’s just, can we be able to stop people?”
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